Saturday, July 11, 2009

'It' Fashion Then and Now

'It' Fashion Then and Now by Marie Hilland

Retro fashion styles have been around for a long time. Take the rock and roll Teddy boys, for example, who mimicked Edwardian styles. With the current economic recession, we are all cutting back on our spending. The disposable age has gone, and is replaced by the make-do-and-mend attitude. As bargain designer wear flies off the rails in charity shops, it is time to look elsewhere for that little black dress or Chanel suit which has stood the test of time.

With vintage clothing becoming more and more popular, prices are rising, and so it could be time to search through our mother's, grandmother's or even big sister's wardrobes for some hidden gem of a fashion item from decades ago. To be able to distinguish between what is hot and what is definitely not, we need to establish what was 'It' in the 1950s, 70s and 90s.

In the 1950s teenage fashion emerged for the first time, and with it some exciting looks. New synthetic fabrics appeared, making it possible to use pastel shades and white, which had previously yellowed when washed. Dior created a shaped fitted jacket with nipped in waistline, worn with lavish full calf length skirt which used vast metres of fabric.

Full skirts were supported by starched nylon bouffant petticoats. Chanel created a slim and sleek skirt and slender tunic. The swoop line or empire line was huge with teenagers. Tapered ski pants worn with cowl necked or roll necked black jumpers emerged as part of the Beatnik look in the 1950s. The Kelly Bag and Chanel's quilted bag were much coveted items which have been copied ever since.

The early 1970s saw the arrival of loons, skin tight canvas trousers with huge flairs in bright funky colors, worn with wooden soled platform shoes. Embroidered smock tops with glittery mirror beading was all part of the hippy look. Long bell-sleeved tee shirts with screen prints of album covers designs have recently made a huge come back. Tailored tweed hacking jackets were worn with jeans.

The mid 70s saw groovy young things turning either to the glitzy world of disco or the bondage and safety pin look of punk. Flares were replaced by drain pipe jeans, platform shoes by pointed toe stiletto shoes, cowboy boots and wooden clogs. Skirt lengths were mini, maxi or midi. The disco scene saw hot pants a plenty, often with matching smock tops and heels with criss cross strapping around the calf. Big names on the High Street for disco clothes were Bus Stop and Chelsea Girl with stretch tops, light reflecting clothes and baggy satin or silver fabric trousers. Punk designer clothing focused on Westwood and Maclaren's Seditionary clothes.

The 1990s saw minimalism creep in, with low key jewelery, cargo pants, ripped faded denims, Adidas wind pants and baggy jeans. Distressed aviator jackets and leather pants appeared once more. Beaded cashmere cardigans, pashminas, petticoat dresses and strappy floral print dresses were accentuated with a flash of cleavage, courtesy of the Wonderbra. Tight lycra or leather black skirts and cinch belts demonstrated an emerging reaction to the scruffy grunge look. Black began to be worn by absolutely everyone. Capri pants arrived and refuse to go away. Lycra clothing also appeared, originally in sports wear but working its way through to skin tight tops, catsuits and pants.

For more of today's 'it' fashion picks please visit The 'It' Guide.

Marie Hilland

Fashion Director of The 'It' Guide

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