Because so many great fashions have come before, it’s only fair that we pay homage to the fashionistas who have paved the way. Mini skirts, trench coats, Converse All Stars–all these styles that remain popular today originated in other decades like the 50s and 60s. What’s in vogue is really just a conglomerate of all the fashion that has happened in last century. So it’s easy to look back at the last six decades to see how fashion then has inspired fashion today.
1950s – Cuffed Jeans
Denim burst onto the scene in 1871 when a Jewish tailor and American immigrant combined his efforts with Levi Strauss & Co. In the 1890s, Levi’s created and mass distributed their 501s. The rest is history. While jeans were originally created for miners, farmers, and cowboys, with the release of their 501s, Levi’s became a household name. In the 50s, denim became associated with the bad boy culture of greasers. Think The Outsiders. Many styles of jean became popular during this time: lighter washes, darker washes, and cuffs. Cuffed jeans became popular with the greasers; they wore them with converse and their leather jackets. Today, the same is true. Jeans come in all shapes, all sizes, and all washes. And we love to cuff ’em.
1960s – Animal Print
The 1960s were a time of counterculture and revolution. The 60s were all about Bob Dylan, the Vietnam War, and the assassination of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The whole decade was rife with tension. So it’s no surprise that animal print gained prominence in the fashion world. People needed a distraction, and music, drugs, and fashion provided that diversion. Fashion looked a lot like mini skirts, mop-top haircuts, and bell-bottom jeans. Animal print also became popular. In the 1960s, the it-girls knew it, loved it, and wore it. And animal print shoes have always been a classic look because it’s subtle but still a little wild.
1970s – Crop Tops and High-Waisted Pants
The 1970s are remembered for the Sexual Revolution: abortion was legalized, both Penthouse and Hustler magazine were replacing Playboy, and AIDS began to get very real and very scary. The 1960s had undone many sexual taboos, so it’s no surprise that the clothes in the following decade showed a whole lotta skin. And so the most iconic duo was created: the crop top and high-wasted pants. The look is everywhere today, and for obvious reason. The crop top shows off your best assets like your shoulders, your belly, and your arms. And the high-waisted pants do the same thing–show off your best asset.
1980s – Oversized Sweaters
With the 1980s came big hair, big pop stars, and big shoulder pads. Madonna and Michael Jackson were huge influencers in the world of fashion: sequins, mesh, and wedding dresses. But fashion was different for the girls who listened to Madonna rather than dressed like her. Oversized sweaters were very popular in the 1980s. Because high-waisted jeans were all the rage, oversized sweaters were often tucked into the jeans with a stylin’ belt and loafers. So maybe we’ve recycled the loafers, but oversized sweaters are still in fashion today. And we style them in a similar way. A great way to find such sweaters are thrift stores and your mom’s closet.
1990s – Leather Jackets
To be fair, leather jackets first came onto the scene in the 1950s when James Dean donned his. And then again in the 1970s with punk rock. Both Dean and the Ramones made the leather jacket absolutely iconic. So it’s no surprise that the counterculture in the 1990s inspired a resurgence of the leather jacket. And it didn’t take long until it became mainstream. Soon Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, and Johnny Depp (total nineties heartthrobs) were all rocking the leather jacket. And today, the jacket is more popular than possibly ever before. It’s no longer only the punks who wear it; every cool girl today owns some leather.
2000s – Double Denim
I don’t know when this happened, but apparently double denim has made a comeback. But for it to have made a comeback, it had to have been popular in the first place. Enter Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Fashion in the 2000s was sort of outrageous–visible thongs, (very, very) low-rise jeans, and bandanas. So maybe we should be thankful the one trend that’s survived from the 2000s is double denim. However, double denim today is done a little more gracefully, maybe because we’re no longer obsessed with tanning and hip huggers.
If we can learn anything from fashion, it’s that history repeats itself. Whether it’s double denim or cuffed jeans, fashion will always resurface and either remind us of why we stopped showing our thongs or remind us of why we do. Comment below your favorite trend from the past.
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Recent college graduate, avid reader, lover of music and all things Yankees. Collector of pins, patches, and records.