Dressing By The Decade

After Sybil covers a century of fashion having a sampling from each decade. So to simplify what was the look for each decade I give you an image along with term to capture the direction and interests of designers and their customers of the time.

1900- La Belle Epoque
The late Victorian and Edwardian fashion periods, generally favoring frilly, fussy and layers and layers of materials, laces, silks, etc undercoats. In France this period was called the Belle Epoque and was very decadent. As fashion evolved...

1910 - S-Bend & Directoire Style
Fashion reflected the interest of the "gentler" sex in the Suffrage Movement, with women wanting to take up new forms of exercise and becoming more actively involved. Clothes became less voluminous and cumbersome than before, the straighter silhouette is favored so no more crinolines, awkward bustles and hooped skirts, however womens attire was copiously decorated with laces and embroideries and the corset lived on with a new shape introduced the "S- Curve" thrusting forward the bust and hips back. Then the teens were war torn and womans roles changed and fashion reflected that and their needs, hemlines became shorter, sturdier materials favored and pleats, folds and strategically placed buttons were used for decoration. The corset slowly disappeared and the brassiere was invented.

1920 - The Roaring Twenties
Fashion again reflects the times and probably for this period more than ever, it was about jubilance and liberation. The Flapper dress with its dropped, undefined waists and flat bosoms with lack of darts or shaping and fringy hemlines all expressed freedom. A fine rather than tight fit , a smooth look easy to move in and dance the Charleston. HAIR AND HEMLINES all became shorter, Scandalous, dropped waists, silks and fur-trimmed coats all ready for action, fun, fun, fun.

1930 - The Depression with Escapism in the Silver Screen
There was a dramatic drop in hem-lines and to lower-calf and waist was brought back to its "proper position". For evening wear Dresses were usually sleeveless and always floor length, emphasis was on cut expect bias cut clothing that molds the body and hits the hips, bust lines are low and waistlines fall a little below the natural waist pioneered by Madeleine Vionnet. Fabric skimmed your curves and figure but fell elegantly and not looking like a second skin fit. However the later part of the decade changed dramatically seeking influence in the Victorian embellished bodice again.

1940 - Fashion on a Ration
Wartime restrictions influenced fashion and economy of material supply and usage. Fashion became pared down and influenced by practicality. Skirts became shorter falling just below knee, however in later end of decade they became longer, but not full more simple and straight lines, Broad shoulders came into fashion and high waisted trousers with blouses and jumpers being shorter and to the waist band. Silk was replaced by cheaper man-made Rayon which draped just as well and dyes were limited so colours were muted and insipid, Clothes were militaristic however in 1947 Christian Dior broke ground with introducing the curvy silhouette referred to as "The New Look".

1950 - The NEW Look
Prosperity meant socialising became de rigueur which subsequently meant an increase demand for evening wear. The use of opulent fabrics and trimmings and lavishly made wear was the order. Bracelet sleeves came into vogue on coats, dresses & suit jackets, the idea to show off stylish long gloves and wide bracelets. Snug fitting waists and full skirts were favored but also the pencil skirt came into fashion with a slit to allow for ease of movement, and cropped tops and with high waisted length trousers. Not forgetting 1950's prom dresses typically with high bust lines and small ribcage and all in tulle or taffeta, gorgeous.

1960 - The Swinging Sixties
Experimentation, political rebellion with a sexual revolution, couture was knocked of its throne for street-wise fashion, boutiques emerged and the "Mod" look was popularised and very British, Mary Quaint and cool Britain. Introducing the mini skirt hitting at or above the knee, shorter sleeve lengths on all types of clothing including jumpers, cardigans, blouses, jackets. Coats became shorter too , hemlines were an expression of womans new found liberation. Waistlines were less fitted and empire and babydoll looks were popular as were swirling psychedelic patterns. Fashion met and intertwined with art.

1970 - The Hedonistic Seventies
Then came the maxi dress, and new materials and prints like jersey and knit mixes all close fitting, body conscious and plunging necklines. Dresses, skirts, trousers and shirts with whimsical prints were usually cut narrow with thin and high waists, think A-line. Slim, easy and floaty. Styles varied between bohemian, to glam-rock to disco dancing obsessions with Saturday Night Fever skimpy and glamorous clothes to punk customisation.

1980 - The Aspirational Eighties
Celebrated excess, wealth and ostentatiousness. O.K. think "Dallas" & Joan Collins in "dynasty", it's BIG shoulders on tailored suits in jewel colours, padded shoulders on dresses, coats etc, all tapering and highlighting the waist with thick belts and fitted skirts to the knee. The term coined was power dressing highlighting the movement of career women. The "baggy" look was popular too with slouchy and loose fitting tops and drooped shoulders, waists were always fitted and on the natural waist-line, trousers were full, long and baggy. Clothes were load as was the priorities of society and designers started boldly printing their names and logos all over their clothes.