Fashion has always been an integral part of our lives, something that adds culture and colors to our lives. Over the years, the fashion industry has changed dramatically, with new and exciting fashion icons that set new trends – from Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga and Kendall Jenner. With New York’s fashion week around the corner, followed by London fashion week and Paris fashion week, we take a look down memory lane at the most iconic fashion trends of the past decades.
2020: The brighter the better
Although we’re only going into 2020, it’s safe to say that one of the most influential names today for women’s fashion is Billie Eilish. Although the British singer isn’t in the fashion industry, her unique style is part of what makes her one of the most interesting celebrities to look up to in the coming year. It was in 1930 when people started looking up to Hollywood stars for fashion inspiration, and it’s very much relevant to our days.
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s time to look up Billie Eilish and see that the fuss is all about. The fashion trends we’re expecting to see this year include bright, neon colors, disco collars and statement-trench-coats. Without even trying, Billie Eilish somehow became one of the biggest trend-setters this past year. It’s interesting to see that some of these trends combine vintage trends with a modern twist – scroll down to see what we mean.
2019: All puffed up
Choosing just one fashion trend for 2019 is hard, not to say impossible. Two of the biggest trends, that are somewhat opposite, are the puffer coats and the short shorts. The 2019 winter was especially harsh, and perhaps that’s one reason why the puffer jackets became so popular. It’s been around for a while, but in 2019 it seemed as if everyone was wearing it. We’ve all seen them, we’ve seen too much of them, and while they are as comfortable as can be, their look is controversial.
Once again, though, we have no doubt that celebrities know more about fashion than any of us, and so if they say it’s stylistic, we take their word for them. The second trend is the no-pants pants: shorts that are either too short, or coupled with long shirts, so that it almost seems as if you’re not wearing pants. Don’t ask us why, but it’s been all the rage in 2019.
2016: Off the shoulder
The two biggest trends of 2016 go hand in hand: off-the-shoulder everything, coupled with a choker necklace. We all remember the choker necklace, perhaps the hottest trend of the mid 2010’s, and the off-the-shoulder trend probably came around to complement the necklace. Much like any fashion trend, opinions about it were contradicting; some found it to be the latest fashion statement, while others thought chokers have no business on people’s neck.
Off the shoulder tops or dresses, that complemented the variety of choker necklaces, were also spotted everywhere we went. Judging by these trends, it seems as if 2016 was a particularly nostalgic year, bringing back old-school style. Another hot trend that started in 2016, and is still around today, is the t-shirts and hoodies manifesting brand logos, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s and Champion.
2014: The return of the crop-top
While when it first emerged in the beginning of the 2000’s the crop top was paired with low-waist jeans, when it made an impressive comeback in 2014, it was somewhat more conservative, as it was normally paired with high-waist jeans, skirts or sleek trousers. 2014 gave a more sophisticated interpretation to the crop top, allowing women to reveal their figures, without revealing too much.
With its new take, the crop-top became proper evening wear, rather than a casual everyday top as it was back in the day. But crop-tops weren’t the only fashion trend of 2014; I remember a time when people wore ponchos, a modern interpretation to the Mexican ponchos. It seems like years ago when everyone was wearing them (everyone including celebrities), and the year when they were most popular was 2014.
2012: Shoes, shoes, shoes
Sneakers were always in and out of fashion, but in 2012 we saw something different, that hopefully we’d never see again: the wedge sneakers. The idea was combining the casual, comfortable sneakers with elegant footwear, creating this unnatural hybrid platform-sneakers, that for some reason conquered the fashion world.
In terms of fashion, the 2010’s were very much occupied with footwear, and to be more specific, comfortable (meaning controversial) footwear, from the UGG boots, to the Crocs (we all remember the Crocs – the ones with the holes) to the wedge sneakers.
From the year 2000 to 2010, fashion was out of control, and we don’t mean that in the good sense of the word. People were all over the place, trying to wear colorful or unique clothes, anything that would make a statement. The Normcore movement was created around this time, as a reaction to the recent fashion trends.
Normcore was the opposite of everything we’ve seen until that point: it was all about normal clothes, nothing too extravagant, nothing that attracts too much attention. Normcore fashion describes pieces that are as plain, simple and normal as can be, since, according to the originators and followers of this movements, fashion isn’t about individuality, but the other way around – being a part of the norm.
2007: UGG(ly) shoes
Remember when UGG boots used to be the hottest thing, literally? Everyone loved them because they are incredibly comfortable, like walking outside wearing pajama boots and stepping on clouds; the only problem is, it also looks like pajama boots, so it’s hard to explain this trend, which hasn’t really disappeared from the world, but at least we don’t see as much of as we used to see a few years back.
The iconic UGGS originated in Australia and quickly made their way to the U.S. and by the mid-2000’s, the comfortable, yet questionable, boots were the hottest trend around the world. As is the case with most fashion trends, you either hate them or you love them.
2004: The crop-top
The beginning of the 2000s can be described with one word, fashion-wise: chaos. It was a mess when it comes to fashion, and people were all over the place, trying different things and in every direction. Some would say that people wore too little, and they might be right. That’s when the crop-top took off.
In terms of accessories things weren’t much different: colored sunglasses, blazers, hoop earrings, colorful makeup and camouflage hats. And fitting for these weird, minimal trends, of course, the mini skirt was back in fashion. There’s no one defining trend we can put our finger on; all we can say is it was an interesting year in fashion, but one that no one really likes to remember.
2001: Denim, denim, denim
We all have embarrassing moments in our past that we rather forget, and more often than not, these moments include unfortunate outfits we somehow thought looked good, simply because we didn’t know any better. The beginning of the 2000 definitely marked a low-point when it comes to fashion, and perhaps we should’ve learned something from the fifties’ fashion icons.
Looking at this photo of Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake, all-American symbols of style, one question comes to mind: what were we thinking? Denim jeans will forever be around, they never go out of fashion, and we’re glad to have something we can always count on. But in 2001 something happened that made people think it was okay to wear denim-everything.
2000: Sex and the City
In the beginning of the 2000s, women’s fashion was greatly influenced by HBO’s hit show Sex and the City, featuring Carrie Bradshaw, a New York born and raised fashionista, who breathes and lives fashion. Unlike the seventies with the disco fashion or the fifties with the New Look, there wasn’t really one look that defined the year 2000 or the decade to come.
As reflected in Sex and the City, women’s fashion was about women empowerment – wearing whatever they want, whenever they want, without confining and restricting rules. Some fashion trends inspired by Sex and the City were stiletto heels, desginer handbags, berets and overall big brand names, such as Manolo Blahnik shoes.
Once upon a time people thought velvet was everything. To be honest, though, velvet was the least of their troubles. Some of the best hits of 1997 include see-through clothes (mostly worn by outgoing celebrities, but not exclusively) and leather pants. We remember the leather pants as they are featured by Ross Geller on Friends.
Most of the nineties trends, however, didn’t originate in the nineties, but were influenced by the style of the seventies. The leather pants or the halter tops that were a big hit during the late nineties were inspired by previous decades. A weird combination of the seventies’ looks with a modern twist created the beloved nineties trends.
1994 was actually a good year in fashion, compared to the years to come. Some of the best trends we’re trying to revive today originated in the beginning of the nineties, including crop-tops, bike shorts, baby doll dresses and chokers. Unfortunately, some of these were either forgotten or pushed aside by the plaid pattern.
Plaid was over everything: jackets, shirts, skirts and dresses. A T.V show that was particularly influential (fashion-wise and otherwise) in the mid-nineties was the popular sitcom Friends, where the spoiled Rachel Green, portrayed by Jennifer Aniston, was considered somewhat of a fashion icon. She did wear everything that was trendy at the time, including denim on denim, baby doll dresses and shirts, and of course, plenty of plaid.
1993: Overall, things are good
They’re called overalls, but back in the nineties, they were pretty much everything, and could even be worn on top of nothing at all – if you were feeling saucy. This was back before the skinny jeans took over the fashion world by storm, at a simpler time when baggy jeans, also known as mom jeans or boyfriend jeans, were the only thing we knew.
In the past couple of years we’re seeing a trend of vintage clothes, specifically from the seventies and the nineties, that are making a comeback. The mom jeans are among those those pieces, and we’re hoping to see the overalls join them on the shelves. All it takes is for a celebrity to take the initiative, make the first move, and we’ll be seeing overalls everywhere in no time.
1990: Covering up
In 1990, jackets became a mandatory piece for every outfit, even if they weren’t really required by the weather conditions. Sometimes fashion acts in mysterious ways, and people wear jackets as a fashion accessory, and not as a means to fight the cold weather. Go figure.
That’s why in 1990, you couldn’t spot a celebrity at any event not wearing some kind of jacket. The popular materials were the classic leather jackets or fuzzy coats. It wasn’t only jackets, but blazers as well: you could wear any shirt you liked, as long as you paired it with a blazer – you had yourself an outfit.
By the end of the eighties, people’s awareness to animal rights began to rise, and so fur was out, and faux fur was in. Other than that, 1989 was a good year for American designers, who could be more fluid and creative with their designs, as there was no restricting length for skirts and dresses, in contrast to previous decades where either long, short or midi-length were acceptable.
Two of the biggest names in fashion during the late eighties were Madonna and Princess Diana; although they weren’t in the fashion industry, they were considered huge fashion icons that made 1989 a successful year in terms of fashion.
1986: Athletic style
In the mid-eighties people were into Aerobics big time. So much so, that athletics evaded fashion: it was all about tights, sweatpants and tracksuits, both as casual wear and evening wear. These were accessorized with athletic accessories, to complete the outfit, including elastic headbands, athletic shoes and the infamous leg warmers.
Today, leg-warmers aren’t even a thing for athletes, let alone as street-wear. It seems like absolute crazy-talk if we even consider leaving the house wearing tights or sweatpants rather than tailored pants or jeans, but that’s the beauty of fashion: it’s fluid and it changes faster than we notice.
1983: Big shoulders
Big shoulders were a big deal at the beginning of the eighties – big shoulders to fit a big decade. Puffed sleeves were everywhere, off-the-shoulder sleeves were big. This trend was for both women and men – the bigger the shoulder pads, the manlier the man. Like any other trend, this was inspired by the greatest Hollywood stars, who rocked the big shoulder pads.
That was the hottest trend of the eighties, and right behind it came the Hawaiian shirts. Where did the Hawaiian shirt craze come from, you might wonder. The answer, as always, is Hollywood. The Hawaiian shirt was inspired by the iconic character of Tom Selleck, Thoman Magnum, in Magnum P.I. that was a hit throughout the eighties.
1982: Back to black
Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin were the it-girls of the eighties: they were the girls who had everything – the boyfriend, the looks and most importantly, the perfect style. Hall was Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, although dating a rock star was just one of the things that created her appeal, and Helvin was the girlfriend of David Bailey.
As is often the case with celebrities, although they weren’t celebrities per-se, but close enough, Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin were somewhat of trendsetters back in the eighties. When the two best friends said that black was back, people took their word for it, although the eighties were also a very colorful decade.
1980: Shine bright
The one trend that defines the eighties better than the rest are the neon colors. After the seventies ended on a somewhat dark note, the American society needed something to cheer them up, and what can do a better job than colorful clothes? Because everyone knows we aren’t what we eat, but we are what we wear.
Neon colors were the latest rage in the beginning of the eighties. To complement the bright color, people wore mostly oversized sweaters, sweatshirts or wind-jackets. Neon colors didn’t just take over people’s clothes, but accessories and makeup as well: everything was brightly colored, from earrings to eye shadow.
1978: Counter culture
By the end of the 70s, the free-flowing spirit of the hippies somewhat dimmed down, and with it the free-floating silhouettes of the hippie style. Instead, sophistication was back on the table, and that’s when fitted vests took over the fashion world, for both men and women.
Shirts collars were only getting bigger with the year, and in 1978 it was all about wearing a giant collar. On the outskirts of society, on the other hand, the counterculture was at its prime during the late seventies. That’s when ripped jeans and leather were most popular, two pieces of clothing that would make an impressive comeback in ten years or so.
By 1975 people fell in love with jumpsuits, and we can’t say we blame them. While some vintage trends should stay in the past, they had some good ideas; if there’s one vintage item of clothing we wish would make a comeback one of these days are the jumpsuits.
After the bell-pants mania, it was only a matter of time until the bell-sleeves appeared. By the mid-seventies, everyone were on board with the latest fashion trends – they weren’t reserved for any population. Goldie Hawn, Jackie Kennedy and Olivia Newton John were some of the prominent names that were on board with these disco trend, including the bell-pants, scarves and everything.
The fashion industry embraced the spirit of the time and started designing disco clothes. Disco attire was composed of platform shoes, bell-bottom pants and a buttoned shirt, usually patterned or colorful. Other than the bell-bottom pants and scarves that were inspired by previous decades, spandex was very much in fashion in the mid-seventies.
All spandex everything, partly since the material is comfortable for dancing. Spandex shorts, pants and leotards and jumpsuits – jumpsuits everywhere and for every occasion. This reflects on the eighties’ aerobics style that came a few years later, and perhaps it was inspired by the disco culture.
1970: Flower children
Bell-bottom pants – wide-leg pants – also known by their less official name “hippie pants,” were very popular around this time. These pants made an interesting comeback in the beginning of the 2000s, but it was it quickly replaced with the skinny jeans. The hippie culture didn’t appreciate miniskirts or tried to celebrate femininity in any particular way, but rather men and women alike wore either bell-bottom pants or long skirts and maxi dresses.
This period is known for very bright colors, that matched the spirit of the flower children and the festivals, such as the notorious music festival Woodstock. Capes and ponchos were the latest rage, as well as a new invention of the seventies: midi-length skirts, which, unlike the skirts of the fifties, were low at the waist.
1967: Mod fashion
The modernism subculture was influenced by British music, specifically rock and R&B. For men, this meant wearing sophisticated suits and patters, and as for women, this meant polka-dot dresses, patterned dresses, black and white dresses or colorful dresses.
Around this time, knee-high boots replaced the popular stockings, to go with the mini skirts and dresses. In a way, this style resembles the kind of alien style we see in movies – sleek, body-hugging suits with knee-high boots. We’re not sure how they come up with these outfits, but this is one trend that’s ought to stay in the past.
1962: The pillbox hat
Since she married John Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis became a fashion icon and an inspiration for the nation. She was always impeccably dressed, and a few of her accessories were particularly iconic, including the pillbox hats she put on the fashion map. In 1962, everyone was wearing these hats, followed by Jackie Kennedy.
White gloves were another trademark accessory of Jackie Kennedy, though she wasn’t the one to introduce them to he fashion world. Although most trend-setters were Hollywood stars, there was something about Jackie’s gentle, sophisticated style that put the eyes of the nation on her.
1960: Miniskirts forever
Since the early sixties, miniskirts have become a symbol of women’s liberation, and in a way, they still are. The first miniskirts were designed by Mary Quant, followed by big names in the industry such as André Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent. It wasn’t an American trend, but a worldwide statement of women’s independence. British model Twiggy sported miniskirts with knee-high boots, and in the U.S., Gloria Steinem raised some eyebrows with the short skirts.
When big names in fashion, namely Dior, failed to include miniskirts in their new collection, women who were considered the first feminists and called themselves the “British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts” protested outside the Dior fashion show, holding signs reading “mini skirts forever.” Today it seems like more of a prophecy than a protest, since miniskirts did leave a mark on the fashion world, and they were around for a very long time.
1958: New Hollywood
Marilyn Monroe was the one who started the “Hollywood fashion” – glamorous, unapologetic style which consisted of fitted dresses, bold jewelry and daring makeup, specifically red lipstick. She was followed by actresses such as Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor, who was known for her luxurious style. Halter tops
All throughout the fifties, summer attire was very popular among women, and it was one of the biggest changes in the fashion world; it was only in the late fifties that the high-waist bikini became popular in the U.S., but when it did, it was a huge hit.
1955: Going bold
It was during the 1950s that American fashion icon Marilyn Monroe emerged to our awareness. The actress and model signaled a wind of change when it came to women’s fashion: after nearly two decades of plain, utility clothing, Monroe celebrated femininity with form-fitting outfits, mainly dresses, and her signature red lipstick. Her dramatic makeup and bold dresses put her on the map as a fashion icon.
Women no longer resisted the feminine New Look of Dior, but rather embraced it. Women’s wear was sexier than in the past, and they enjoyed the luxurious style, including long dresses and fur – fur was mandatory for women in 1955, especially for evening wear.
1952: The rise of the bikini
Although the firs bikini was designed in 1946, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 1950s that it gained momentum, thanks to stars such as Brigitte Bardot wearing it and bringing it to life. We all know the classic 1950s bikini, the one where the bottom part was high-rise, reaching the waist, making it look almost like a one-piece swimsuit (compared to the style of today’s bikini).
Women’s swim-wear back then was less about swimming about more about the looks – looking like the ideal pinup girl. The bikini, however, wasn’t the obvious choice of swimwear at the time. On the contrary – the bikini was reserved for the more daring women (Hollywood stars, for example) while most women preferred the one-piece swimsuit, although, as we said, the difference between the two wasn’t as dramatic as it is today.
1950: The New Look
Dior’s New Look was very much still in fashion going into the 1950s, though not all women were happy about the restricting dress code. For some, going back to the past (fashion-wise and otherwise) wasn’t a good thing – they wanted to move forward rather than backwards. Still, Dior’s New Look fashion was the latest fashion statement at the beginning of the fifties.
Although it was created post-war, it was about going back to the traditional looks of the forties, featuring full skirts and wasp waists. It was named the New Look, although it was about old rules – emphasizing structure and the women’s body lines.
1947: Celebrating femininity
Women’s fashion during the 1940s was about creating the “hourglass” figure: padded shoulders and high-waist tops coupled with A-line skirts created an hourglass silhouette. The biggest name in the industry, much as it is today, was Christian Dior, the brand that celebrated the hourglass silhouette with waist-cinching jackets, which received the name “New Look.”
The tight-fitted jackets and the petite waist created by the A-line skirt and high-waist jacket was a blast from the past: Dior was abandoning the more loose, liberated women-ware of the 20s and 30s, instead bringing back the style of corsets of the early 20th century. The everyday clothes that characterized the beginning of the decade weren’t part of Dior’s dream, but rather a vision of going back to the good old days.
1940: The hourglass
At the beginning of the 1940s, women’s fashion was all about comfort, not in the sense that “you’re best look is when you’re comfortable,” but in the sense that they didn’t have time to be occupied with fashion with everything else going on at these confusing times. Fashion was shoved aside, and the word that can best describe the stile of 1940 is utility.
While at the time it was considered rather simple attire, for us, in the year 2020, what women wore during the 1940s is considered as high-fashion, glamorous and over-the-top as it can get: gloves were a mandatory piece of clothing, as well as hats and purses.
1930s: Welcoming the bias cut
Today we look up to celebrities and Hollywood stars to inspire us (fashion-wise and sometimes otherwise). The 1930s marked the era when women began to look to up to Hollywood stars as trend-setters. Coco Chanel was still around, but she was considered the rival of the more sophisticated fashion trends that were on the rise. Hats were still very much in fashion, but the cloche hats were replaced with berets and tilt hats.
You can learn about the historical changes of every decade by its fashion trends: while in the twenties, women’s fashion was somewhat more liberated, in the 1930s it was back to sophisticated outwear; the high waist-line was eliminated and women’s waist was back at its natural place, puffed shoulders were the latest rage, and draped dresses as evening wear that featured the bias cut – accentuating the woman’s figure and curves.
1920s: Short hair, don’t care
Some of the prominent names of the fashion world in the 1920s are Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer and Gloria Swanson, all American actresses. The brand name Coco Chanel, to this day one of the biggest names in the fashion industry, started its way in the 1920s and set the trend of women suits – a skirt and a matching jacket.
The “office” suits were coupled with the trendy bob haircut – it was very uncommon seeing women with long hair these days – covered by the iconic cloche hat. The hats were worn by women both for everyday, casual wear and for nighttime outings, in which case they were paired with simple, silk gowns or fringed flapper dresses – the ones we’re all familiar with from Hollywood depictions.