/Historic Passion for Fashion

Historic Passion for Fashion

Kayla Dimick

Staff Writer

   What do you think of when you hear the words “modern fashion?” Do you think ripped skinny jeans, pencil skirts and flannel shirts? You may not know it, but most of the hottest looks of today were also the hottest looks of yesterday.

   “‘Modern fashion’ is somewhat of an oxymoron,” said Molly Noonan, beauty and fashion writer for “DailyCandy Chicago.” According to Noonan, fashion has always been and will be rooted in history.

   Noonan said what we see on the pages of popular fashion magazines such as Vogue or Vanity Fair is most likely an evolution of some fashion trend of the past along with the overall mood of the nation.               “After all,” Noonan said, “style is a direct reflection of cultural, political and socioeconomic events.” 

   According to Noonan it is through fashion that we can draw parallels between past and present. As the old adage goes, “history repeats itself.”

   If you can believe it, every decade, from the 1920’s to the 1990’s is present in the looks of today.

   Tick, tock goes the cloche.

   One of the major fashion trends that was ever popular in the 1920’s and is recently emerging from the past is the cloche (pronounced kl-osh) hat.

   Cloche hats are most often identified with flappers, who were young and trendy girls of the era. According to fashionera.com, cloches generally took the form of a bell-shape and had a low brim that skimmed the eyebrow.

   The word “cloche” is a French word, which literally translates into “bell.” The cloches of the ‘20’s were often embellished with sequins and adorned with feathers, commonly worn to parties.

   However, the cloches of today take a more simplistic approach with simple colors and fabrics. You can find cloches in such places like J.Crew or even Target for those with a lesser budget.

   Mute becomes the new cute.

   The prosperity and partying of the 1920’s soon fell to the Great Depression in the 1930’s. When the unemployment rate was 25 percent nationwide, people didn’t have extra money to spend on extravagant clothes. Instead, they opted for a more muted color palette and simpler style.  

   According to fashionera.com, a new fabric called rayon was introduced in this era. Rayon could be used to make several different garments, therefore saving money. Chanel started using cotton, and soon its image was changed from cheap fabric for work clothes to haute couture.   

   Noonan said that at the beginning of the recent recession, the fashion industry saw a resurgence of muted color palettes and minimalist styles reminiscent of those in the 1930’s.

   Also, there has been a recent increase in the use of cotton in fashion, much thanks to the recent “the touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives” ad campaigns.

   Not only is cotton cheap, it is also Earth-friendly; both major concerns in modern times.


   As the United States began to pull itself out of the Great Depression, it found itself in the middle of a world war. Everybody had to pull together for the war effort. Men went overseas, children collected scrap metal and newspapers, and women joined the work force. Everything was rationed.

   According to an article titled “Why 1940’s fashions are relevant today” on helium.com, people focused more on providing for their family than buying the latest fashions, so they wore what they had out of the back of their closet.

   Because of the recent economic crisis, the people of today are taking similar actions, reusing and remaking their clothes to produce new ones.

   Also, patriotism was at its highest, and was reflected in the fashion of the period. Similarly, now, the United States finds itself in the midst of a war in the Middle East and militant styles have come back on trend this season.

   Military jackets, pea coats and bomber jackets have been seen on the runway as well as on the street. Since they are so popular, you can find these coats almost anywhere from Kmart to Macy’s.

   In a cinch.

   When World War II ended, the American people needed and wanted stability. People started moving to the suburbs, having children (later known as the Baby Boomers) and establishing a prosperous middle class.

   According to the educational movie Happy Daze, materialism and conformity became the norm in suburban middle class. With this conformity eventually came rebellion.

   Rebellion came in many forms, but one of the most popular was rock ‘n’ roll, which had a heavy influence on fashion. Some of the most defining looks of the time are still popular today.

   For example, blue jeans went from work clothes to a symbol of rebellion. Now, blue jeans are an everyday staple, and everyone wears them, not just the rebellious.

   Another look that was popular among Greasers was the leather jacket. Leather jackets have recently remerged and stars such as Rihanna and Beyonce have been seen wearing them. Among greaser women, cinch belts were popular. Originally, cinch belts were only available in elastic, but as their popularity zoomed, they were made out of many different materials such as leather.

   Now, cinch belts can be found in any color, fabric and size. They can be in found stores such as Forever 21 and Mod Cloth.

   Mad, mad men.

   The conformity of the 1950’s was soon left behind by the tumult of the 1960’s. The nation was in the midst of the Cold War, and the nation broke many traditions of the social norm with movements such as Civil Rights.

   People of the decade were influenced by First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s glamorous sense of style: her French manicures; pillbox hats and simple geometric dresses.

   Thanks to the popular TV show Mad Men, set in a 1960s advertising agency, fashion has seen a recent increase in glamour.

   Increasing in popularity are cocktail sheaths, pencil skirts and draped blouses, all of which have been seen on Mad Men.

   “Add this to matte red lips, black liquid eye liner and a neck full of pearls and this season’s evening look seems to have taken a page from the Eisenhower era,” Noonan said.

   Robin Jones Kerr, 15, an avid Mad Men viewer, said that the show has influenced her hair and makeup choices. “I started straitening my hair and wearing more eyeliner,” she said.

   Her mother, Michelle Jones, 48 and also a diehard of the show, said, “My favorite dress is a Mad Men inspired black dress with a little jacket a la red.”

   When I say, “jump”, you better jump.

   The glamour of the early 1960’s soon transformed into the gritty, androgynous hippie look of the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

   The textbook “A People and a Nation Vol. 2.8” states that in this time, Americans experienced another economic recession, marking the end of post-war prosperity and governmental betrayal with the Watergate scandal, along with tensions from the Vietnam War.  

   Bellbottoms, platform shoes and miniskirts were popular. One trend that was popular then and is popular now is the idea of jumpsuits.

   In the 70s, jumpsuits were made with large floral prints and bell-bottoms.

   Although jumpsuits have recently come back on trend, they are some that are modified slightly from the 1970s version. They can be found in solid colors with more tailored leg lines, which is the more recent version, or exactly like those of the 70s, floral and all.

   Celebrities such as Tyra Banks and Selma Blair have been seen sporting the jumpsuit and can be found at JC Penney and Saks 5th Avenue.

   Punk isn’t dead.

   Leaders of the 1980’s were determined to end the tumult and rebellion of the 60’s and 70’s with a new conservative coalition and Reganomics. However, just as we saw in the 1950’s, an increase in conservatism almost always leads to rebellion.

   One major form of rebellion in the 1980’s was punk rock and its fashion. Originally, punk rock started out in the underground scene in the 1970s, but gained momentum and popularity in the 1980s. Popular looks of punks were studded leather, Mohawks and fishnets.

   But, according to Noonan, punk is far from over.

   Noonan said, “Still going strong is the power trip-punk fusion of 1980’s “street wear.” Acid washed skinny jeans, metallic mini skirts, studded biker jackets, ankle boots and shoulder pads simultaneously page homage to 21 Jumpstreet and Dynasty.”

   Just as the punk rock look has seen a reawakening, so has the “power dressing” of the 1980s made popular by the TV show Dynasty.

   Fashionera.com states that women of this era felt as if they could finally become anyone they wanted to be, and as a result, power dressing became popular.

   Women needed to dress for their corporate jobs and wanted to not only look sexy, but look ultra-confident. Shoulder pads and structured jackets became popular as a result. Jackets, blouses and dresses with shoulder pads can be found on the runway as well as on the street.

   Smells like teen spirit.

   The 1990’s marked the end of the 20th century with the idea that less is more. Fashion-era.com reports that as people started working from home and business’ dress codes relaxed, people of the ’90’s enjoyed the idea of dressing down.

   The supply of retail goods was high, but sales were sluggish due to a minimalist fashion approach.

   An underground music genre popular among teens, called Grunge, soon became mainstream and gained widespread popularity. One of the genre’s biggest bands was Nirvana with their number one single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

   Grunge fashion consisted of baggy flannel shirts and blue jeans. Overall, it was meant to portray a, once again, androgynous and unkempt look. 

   Now, we are seeing flannel shirts everywhere in this season’s looks. The only difference is that today’s flannel is more fitted than that of the Grunge era.

   Fitted flannel shirts can be found at any department store or even the supermarket due to their heightened popularity.

   In the year 3000…

   Believe it or not, the future is here. As we approach the dawning of a new decade, the catwalk and the sidewalk have been seeing futuristic trends. The most obvious futuristic trend present today is the use of metallics. Anything from handbags, to heels, to eye shadow has been seen in metallic shades lately.

   One person taking this trend to heart is singer Lady Gaga.

   Gaga has been seen wearing extreme geometric lines, over the top and embellished shoulder pads, and even went as far as wearing a dress completely made out of plastic bubbles in her appearance on Saturday Night Live.

   In the words of Lady Gaga herself, “Baby, we could make a home in the stars. Baby, in a galaxy somewhere far. Oh, you’re my future love.”