Fashion Features News Emilyjanewoolleyvass  

Vintage fashion changes through the eras.


Women wanted to appear to be living lavish lifestyles with fur and silk worn hand in hand. You were nobody without a fox round you neck. The Flapper dress was born, a dress with intricate beads, think  The Great Gatsby. )

It was all about suits having tailcoats (a coat that is longer at the back to show off a high waisted trouser.) Of course this then was adapted to have a lapel, which then encouraged the birth of  a decorative handkerchief.

Exotic prints (snake, feathers and bows were used in excess.)



The economic crash, (Wall Street) left people tightening their purses, home dressmaking became very popular. Hemlines were made to the calf, art deco was favoured and velvet and knitwear were worn.

Men sported Reefer suits, Lounge suits and Plus Four suits. A suit for every occasion.

Bowler hats were sported and the Macintosh coat inspired by the trench coats of trenches in World War One. The lightweight waterproof coat became popular.


World War Two meant women were working the expected role of man whilst they were all at war.

They had to work in factories, which meant no skirts were only worn for leisure. The high waisted trouser came in to fashion.

Materials such as wool, cloth and leather were scarce, there were limits on pleats, buttons and pockets. Utility fashion was born, but women still found a way to look good.

When men were not fighting in the war they were expected to look well turned out, suited and booted.

The 40s gave us The Charity Shop! The Red Cross set up a waste not want not attitude shop space full of donated goods to help those in need.

The 1950s


vintage 50s









The war was behind them. People had new ideals, such as the perfect housewife.

Think (Cath Kidston polka dots.) The dresses were cinched in at the waist, complimenting a curvier figure, hourglass figures were sought after. Cat eye glasses were worn.

Bullet bras were a thing ! Imagine two ice cream cones… enough said.

Matching cardigans were popular, along with fur coats with bold prints.

Pin up Girls were brilliant ways of selling items in the 1950s.

These were were often curvy cartoons of women with bandanas in their hair and wearing something a bit less than they usually would.

High waisted trousers, swimming costumes and two pieces were a favourite.

Men quiffed their hair, and leather was worn to rebel. Fashion trends such as Teddy Boys wore creepers (shoes with large soles) came to be the norm amongst younger generations wanting to be different.

Before the 1950s young people were expected to dress like their mother and father and be seen and not heard. After the war young people wanted their own identities hence the first ‘Teenagers’ came about. (Think Grease.)


This was the era of free love, the morning after pill meant people were more free to do what they wanted, the days of being cooped up inside in the kitchen were soon gone for women, (not having to marry the first man they slept with.)

They could do what they wanted and when they wanted. Dresses were chopped short and no longer cinched in, surely to rebel even further.

1960s mod

Designers such as Mary Quant really helped the mod scene evolve, producing daringly short skimming dresses, with bold prints with her most famous being the monochrome flower print supported by Twiggy.

1960s beehive

Women had short choppy crops, lots of mascara, and beehives. The bigger the volume in women hair the better. They looked modernised, wearing clothing in the shapes that were inspired by space.

Towards the end of the 1960s homosexuality was legalised, which meant men were more free to wear what they wanted.

Mick Jagger famously wore a white dress in The Rolling Stones, more and more men were wearing looser jeans and shirts.

19609By the late 60s hallucinogenic drugs were used in excess, making Psychedelia a heavily popularised look. Prints were bold, designers such as Emilia Pucci became known for their use of kaleidoscope patterns.

As for men they had plenty of choices, the working class dressed up,  but also opted for a sportier look such as an Adidas tracksuit, bowling bags and trainers.



With 1969 bringing the summer of love the Hippie movement was still quite strong, or had at least altered perceptions. With the war in Vietnam still looming over people , it was idolised to support the Peace Movement.

Many people were influenced again by the 1940s , with a new take on tea dresses, lapels and knitwear.

Music became a huge influence for the way people dressed, introducing music subcultures.

Artists such as David Bowie provided inspiration for alternative apparel.

The Clash evolved the PUNK movement, fashion designer Vivian Westwoods’ tartan design was hugely popular.

Men were experimental, Y fronts were worn, double denim, Ralph Lauren became a loved brand, knitted waistcoats, fur coats and brown leather. This was the year of mullets, fringe.

Track jackets were also worn.

Glam Rock was also born, a place where both women and men wore platforms.


Toward the late 70s people were bringing back the turban often worn in 1920s Glamour girls, very Vogue.

top of th pops1980s

This was the era full of power dressing – (Think shoulder pads.)

The Yuppies (young, upwardly, mobile, professionals.) Princess Diana wore darish outfits, even though she was a royal her look was heavily popular during the era and was copied throughout the nation.

Doc Martens were worn a lot amongst Skinheads and Rude Boys.

The New Romantics wearing androgynous, flamboyant, floaty outfits.

Acid House music had deep routes in rave culture, which is something the 80s and 90s went on to evolve. The Smiley Face print was heavily used, along with brighter clothing, informal, and shell suits.

Unitards were worn, sportswear was worn everyday, something called Leisureware was born… Athleisureware.

Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan is an iconic look of the 1980s.

Ghetto Blasters (Boomboxes) were carried around with people and large hoop earrings were the key accessory.


The 90s was a time for Grunge, (Nirvana) the flannel shirts, converse and acid wash jeans.

Denim was loved, and tartan made a come back, (think Clueless and Bratz dolls.)



Fuzzy Bucket hats made by Kangol were heavily 90s.

bucket hat





Do you remember when everybody started wearing chokers again? They were made in the 90s much like me.

Zig Zag hair partings, big hair clips, hairbands with those plastic balls on the ends. Butterfly clips, Juicy Couture tracksuits. Bunches, and really obvious highlights. Lip gloss, and curtain fringes.

Who remembers the iconic Justin Timberlake ramen noodle hair?

Boy bands came about, baby faced men in baggy jeans and hair gel spikes.

Graphic tees, and skate culture. Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and The Spice Girls. Cultural appropriation didn’t exist, people embraced cultures by wearing kimonos with jeans, corn rows and bindis.

Now we are exactly 100 years on from the beginning, if you click the eras below you can hear some musical influences from each era.

1920s  1930s  1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s

Words Emily Vass

1 Comment

  1. Max

    Awesome article. Lovely easy read & very insightful.

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