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Fashion Through The Times: How Fashion Has Changed Since the 1920s!

“Fashion is an ever evolving way of expressing who you are and how you feel today.” –Civilian Style

Pierre Balmain was once quoted to say a sagacious adage about fashion. He has coined the maxim that asserts that good fashion is evolution, not a revolution and how indeed fashion has evolved throughout the times. In fact, if you viewed it from a slideshow of various fashion photos throughout a century, you would see an impressive myriad of different clothing styles, shapes, and colors. Largely influenced by the various events in history, the events of a particular time have an integral role in developing fashion the way it is today. People have dressed differently throughout the time and in much simpler and earlier times; women were not given as much free rein in their manner of dress as they are given today. Some of these fashion styles are still evident in today’s modern clothes—just given a contemporary update. However, there are also those styles that have stood the test of time and remain as stylish and fashionable today as they were two decades prior. These are the clothing staples that hardly ever go out of style, and if one is a fashion forward individual, these are the items that should always find their way into their closets.

How fashion is shaped through a particular decade or time depends on trends or particular tastes of groups, people or cliques. In other instances, social status and cultural preferences play a significant role. World events contribute to how fashion is shaped as well—especially during wartime or an economic crisis. Fashion is one of the most fundamental aspects of history that reflects the events, the mood and the cultural climate of a decade and if you are interested to see how fashion has developed throughout the years—from the 1920s to the nineties, this article showcases just how many styles—from wholesale clothing, retail ones, shoes, accessories and an individual’s manner of dress have changed throughout the times.


Skirts and dress fashion had significant changes made between the 1920s down to the present. Apart from that, changes were not made only once every ten years as there were dramatic variations within each decade. A good example of this is in the 1920s, where only a few years after the First World War, the skirt and dress hemlines rose, and waistlines were then lowered to the hip. It was known to be the decade of celebration, fun, and decadence, so as a result some changes were made to accompany the flapper fashion that marked this decade.

In the Second World War, some fabrics were highly regulated such as wool, silk, and nylon and as a result, women’s skirts and dresses were oft made of rayon and viscose. This was the time wherein fashion was characterized by flexibility and ingenuity as almost anything found in a home (curtains, bedsheets, and nightgowns) were often made into dresses and skirts as it was illegal to use excess fabric in making an ensemble. During the economic boom, however, fashion was once again glamorous and at times opulent with A-line and pencil skirts defining the fifty’s decade. In the 1980’s however, fashion was more pronounced and featured more serious designs such as longer dresses and skirts. This was mainly owing to the fact that more women were joining the professional workforce and as a result, business suits were given a feminine update to accommodate the working woman.


The twenties defined the innovation of the jumper blouse which became wildly popular. Made from fabrics such as cotton and silk, the traditional jumper blouse was marked by its addition of a sailor collar which made it the perfect match to a skirt which reached just below the hips accompanied by an accessory such as a sash or a belt. This was also the era that introduced the low-cut V-neck shirt which came with a chemisette for modesty. In the thirties, blouses, knit shirts made of satin and linen were the trend. Feminine v-neck blouses were also rather popular. During the war time, viscose and rayon for formal tops supplanted nylon and silk. Leisure shirts were often made with canvas, linen and terry cloth. After the war, a boom in fashion was again seen as evidenced by round-neck styles on sleeveless shirts, polo necks, and long sleeve shirts. The fifties and sixties introduced the Dolman sleeves which dominated the fashion industry as well as popularized the use of ethnic prints in blouses, ribbed turtleneck sweaters, and boat-neck tops. As fashion entered the eighties, it became more relaxed and casual as polo shirts and T-shirts became contemporary everyday tops that were acceptable as corporate wear and formal wear. Additionally, the eighties was the decade that introduced the over-sized tops. However, it was not until the nineties were fashion saw a big market for designer labels to promote style and status. Logos became a trendy thing in fashion and until today, you can still see modern garbs with labels boldly proclaiming its brand with an emblazoned banner at the front. Fashion also became a lot more sultry and provocative with women baring their stomachs and shoulders as with the popularity with crop tops and halter tops. This was the era where fashion became a way to express their preferences, personality, and individuality.


The twenties footwear marked the feature of a high and wide heel that was often seen in pump or loafer style shoes. Oxfords were also a significant trend with styles accessible to both men and women’s fashion. The thirties saw the surge of popularity in strapped heels and pumps while traditional styles were still worn. In the fifties, flat shoes, pumps with rounded toes and sandals were widely worn by women while saddle shoes, white lace-up shoes with color accents were both popular for both sexes. The eighties introduced the contemporary design to women’s pair of pumps with higher and thinner heels than they were with their older counterparts. Leather shoes and tennis shoes were the popular footwear for casual days.



Indeed, fashion and style have come a long way since its inception and each decade has brought something new to the industry. Today, fashion is no longer a means of dressing one’s self for comfort and what is appropriate. Today, fashion became a medium of self-expression, a way for women and men alike to showcase their individuality through their choice of clothes and ensembles.


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