For many years women’s beauty standards have undergone countless changes. Along with them, fashion has also undergone a metamorphosis of its own, which has been lasting since the beginning of time. In the last two centuries, the focus has been shifting from one clothing staple to another with the speed of light, and this pace doesn’t seem to slow down any time soon.
At the beginning of the 20th-century, society still preferred modesty over seductiveness. The accentuated waistline was seen as attractive, which prompted women to wear corsets. The female sex was most of the time dressed in wide puffy blouses with ruffles and embellished with various details, among which lace.
High necklines were in fashion as well, frequently accessorized with ribbons. The skirts were long, fitted on the top, and flowy on the bottom, covering the ankles. The Gibson Girl hairstyle was in full swing and always accompanied by extravagant hats and hairpieces.
The accentuated and high waistline continued to be the leading beauty standard. The hobble skirt became the newest trend. Any outfit was, yet again, combined with the latest fashionable eye-catching hats. In the 1910s, and especially during the war, women were often seen wearing trousers and overalls, something that was unusual for a female to wear up until that point.
The 1920s fashion was a breath of fresh air. Many associate it with the Gatsby style. Women wore flowy A-line dresses with knee-length, intentionally visible stockings. Jewellery pulled the whole outfit together. Long pearl necklaces and braces, the very prominent headband, and, of course, don’t forget about the hats, which started to become less extravagant and simpler. The cloche hat was the newest obsession, together with a very short bob-like hairstyle.
The 1930s were followed by simplicity and elegance. Everyday casual looks consisted of mid-calf skirts, tucked-in shirts, and modest hats with small decorations on them, not taking too much attention from the rest of the outfit. This decade’s evening wear was exquisite. The ladies wore long gowns with a flowy ending, making women look slimmer and giving them a more elongated body shape. The evening dresses were most of the time made out of satin, which made them look more expensive and highly fashionable.
Fashion and style were highly affected by the raging war. Both men and women could be spotted wearing military uniforms. Clothes were, in general, much more plain-looking and less striking. Nevertheless, the evolution continued its course. Post-war women’s fashion incorporated knee-length A-line skirts and puffy shoulders. Around this time, shoulder pads became popular as well, giving women a more structured and boxed shape.
The mid-century styles are often associated with poodle skirts, cardigans, colourful dresses, and accentuated waistlines. The pencil skirts were a major trend since they gave women a nice hourglass figure. Marilyn Monroe became a prominent icon and sex symbol of the 1950s, thus leaving an unerasable influence in the fashion world.
Randal Kleiser’s 1978 Grease is the perfect cult film that depicts what’s in and what’s out in the 50s fashion industry. It draws a significant distinction between the clothing styles of teens and adults, and also between the dress styles of different groups of teenagers (the good girl, the bad girl, the popular girl, the nerdy girl, etc.), thus giving us a sneak peek into the greatest fashion inclinations of the time.
The 60s take fashion in a completely different direction. Designers started feeling the new groove and introduced novel trends on the market. Every day looks consisted of capri trousers and the notable miniskirt, initially introduced by British fashion designer Mary Quant. The go-go boots and stiletto shoes became popular items too.
Bold colours, daring designs and joyful patterns dominated this decade and revolutionized women’s fashion. The hippie movement was also around the corner, bringing its own distinguishable style.
The hippie look continued to dominate the runways by bringing even more showstopping pieces. Among the fashion trends that reached their peak during the 70s are the famous bell-bottom pants, the tie-dye shirts, the Birkenstocks, maxi dresses, mid-length skirts, sweaters, jumpsuits, to name a few.
As women entered into workplaces dominated by men, fashion provided them with the very much-needed empowerment by creating professional pantsuits and blazers. Casual garments were paired with big jewellery pieces such as hoop earrings, chokers, long pearls, and necklaces, many of which were combined with peace sign lockets.
The very prominent style of the 1980s has been embedded in everyone’s memories, including the younger generations. Given its skyrocketing popularity, the fashion choices of the ninth decade of the 20th century are still being praised and admired. The bold and colourful make-up is one of the first things that define the 80s fashion along with the note-worthy hairstyles. The unspoken motto might as well have been “the bigger and fluffier the hair, the better.”
Well-known clothing pieces include trench coats, jeans, denim and leather jackets, as well as baggy jumpers, “off-the-shoulder” sweaters, and power suits, which continued to be designed with broad shoulder pads. Great hype was also built around athletic wear, some of the most stylish clothes being the jazzercise bodysuits, tracksuits, leg warmers, and headbands.
During this last decade, a lot of previously trending clothes came back in fashion, the choker necklace, tie-dye T-shirts, and bell-bottomed jeans being one of them. Women were often seen exposing their bellies by wearing crop tops and miniskirts. Velvet was the new modern fabric. Accessories consisted of the tiniest little bags and fanny packs, the tinted sunglasses, scrunchies, and hair clips.
Familiar with the term Y2K fashion? This particular clothing style was all over the place, giving the 21st century a brand new and innovative introduction into the fashion world. Dressing up according to this trend meant stocking up on your wardrobe with low-rise jeans, capri pants, tank tops with thin straps, and tube tops. Clothing items were accessorized with huge belts, hoop earrings and the infamous ugg boots, which everyone agreed to be the worst fashion nightmare, yet everyone was wearing them. Pop culture stars, including Beyonce, Pussycat Dolls, Avril Lavigne, and Britney Spears, ruled the fashion industry and influenced tremendously the direction in which it continued to evolve.
The 2010s caused a boom in women’s fashion. Clothing pieces were created hand in hand with the novel body positivity movement. Messages like “Every body is a bikini body,” “Love your curves,” “Embrace your body” spread like wildfire. Women were encouraged more than ever to accept the way they look and abolish the toxic beauty standards. Mom-jeans, boyfriends jeans, rompers, skorts, bralettes, pencil skirts, yoga pants, bike shorts, off-the-shoulder dresses, and shirts, all of these are just a tiny preview to the never-ending list of stylish wear.
The monochromatic outfit was a great minimalistic approach that made women radiate with elegance and class. Additionally, designers kept coming back to older clothing trends and successfully combined them with the new ones. For instance, leather jackets, chokers, and crop tops became more popular than ever. Out of nowhere, everyone wanted to get their hands on Gucci’s loafers and Valentino’s rock studs. It’s fair enough to say that Kim Kardashian pretty much defined the fashion of this decade.
It’s still too early to determine the style of the 2020s. But one is for sure: the first years of this decade have undoubtedly left a memorable impression. So far, the accessory complementing everyone’s outfits is a facemask. On the bright side, trending clothes from previous decades, mostly the 1990s and 2000s, have uninterruptedly been coming back to life by being modernized and incorporated in current trend looks. This decade’s fashion journey may have started on the wrong foot. However, the 2020s are yet to leave their fashion mark.