The Evolution of fashion How did we get from poofy skirts to graphic T-shirts

Walking into a museum can be educational, but some may find that what was considered fashionable over history to be very entertaining and silly today. When you look at your own clothing, you probably think that your clothing looks fine. Right? People in the future would probably think that people in the 21th century dressed like idiots. The cavemen would hardly understand the fashion of today. Every period in time believed that what they wore was normal. What I am wondering is why and how did clothing styles change?

Floral hats showed others that you were rich

Fashion passion

Many people may think that the only reason people dressed nicely in the 1900s was to impress others, or dress appealingly for men or women. But that was not the whole story. Many designers from that time period thought that the curves of the female body should be hidden. As said in the article by Yvette Mahe, ¨The notion that a dress or shirt should be attractive, did not sit well with elders, and went against the rules of being a proper English lady.¨ The only reason women and men dressed nicely was to impress the elders. Making a positive impression on older family members was very important to people then.

Edwardian fashion model from the 1900

The early 1900s began a new period of ways to dress. Women began exploring brighter and more noticeable colors. Men became more interested in colorful suits and pants. As soon as the color trends were started, many designers from all around the world began to explore deeper into fashion. For children, many dresses with floral or plaid designs came out. Older women began to wear plaid dresses. Corsets became less popular as well because clothing became less able to be worn with corsets.

As time passed, designers created dresses with tighter fabrics to show off the female body. Different lengths of shirts and dresses, as well as more patterns and intricate bathing suits were explored. This is when things really began to change.

Feeling Floral

What are you wearing? Blue shirt? Red pants? Yellow hat? Was it hard to decide what you were wearing today out of the many choices of clothing items that you may own? Throughout the 1940s and 1960s, it was not so hard. The average person had only had 5 items for dinner wear, 10 items for daily wear, and maybe one or two pairs of night shirts or dresses. As stated earlier, I explained many things about how people were starting to wear newer and more colorful clothing. The 1950s were a time when new colors were explored and the fashion industry grew. Color pictures were also being introduced. The fashion industries started to take advantage of the color trend.

Now women wore dresses colored with pastels and neons with polka dots and stripes. Dresses for women had cinched in waists or were banded tighter around the waist to show off women's curves. Men wore leather jackets and suits, with ties in bright reds and blues. Magazines began to have more shirts, pants and casual dresses and less fancy dresses just for dinner. Older people were wearing fancier, yet casual clothing. The 1970s were a time of rebels, pop, punk and funk. (Probably around the time your parents were born). Now that people were familiar with color print, dresses and shirts were like modern art! Clothing had squares, triangles, swirls and frills. On night gowns, designers made womens nightware more appealing with embroidery and lace. Men wore fewer suits. Instead they wore more shirts and sweaters because the suits did not have as much of a bang as they used to. Mens nightwear became less feminine as “nightgowns were a thing of the past”.(1900 nightwear article). Men now wore things such as robes and sometimes just undergarments.


Exercise Era

Fashion trends sometimes followed the release of a popular movie. Popular fashion shown in the movies was often the start of a fashion trend. The exercise era, which was around the late 1900s, was also known for starting new trends for what to wear. This was around the time when you saw disco outfits and bell bottom pants. Soon there were afros, rainbow shirts, fur and flowers. Usually most trends you see in the late 1900s came from the rich, movies or TV shows. Following the music video “Physical” by Olivia Newton John and Nike's infamous "Just Do It" advertising tagline, American’s sweated and jazzercised themselves through the era. Jane Fonda was everywhere, although she wasn't the only celebrity putting their workouts on VHS. Your mother may still have a copy of Debbie Reynolds' fitness video released in 1983, called "Do It Debbie's Way." Sweats, spandex, leg warmers and high top sneakers even became part of everyday streetwear ( The 80’s fitness craze by: Pam on the website GO RETRO!) Many people began to wear workout clothes as everyday dress to make a statement. Teens wore punk like makeup as well as wearing varsity like jackets and brightly colored leggings.

Spunky punk

The 1990s welcomed the start of a new fashion era. It was the beginning of denim and crop tops and the start of more alluring clothing. This was a time of fishnets and denim shirts and pants. This was probably the birth year of an older cousin or sibling. This was also the time that the most iconic movies came out such as,”Clueless” and “Austin Powers”. Those movies sparked many ideas in the fashion industry. Business was booming with denims, skirts, shirts and crop tops. But as you also know the 1990s was also a punk year, the beginning of expressing what you believed in. Female teens would wear high waisted jeans (as we call today mom jeans), puffy long sleeves or sweaters tucked into their pants. Men would wear khaki pants with sweaters or leather jackets and jeans. But that was only the beginning of a brand new fashion era.

Austin powers (left), Clueless (Right)

New beginnings

Finally! The 21st century! The new century! Usually most of my fellow students born in the years between 2000-2004 know that fashion stayed the same between that time. If you don't know what that looked like, then picture what people wore in the 2000-2004 period. Just think of shows like “Suite Life on Deck” or “Lizzie Mcguire”. As I recall, it was mostly a time of graphic t-shirts and jeans or leggings. I personally was a huge fan of leggings and crop tops. Around 2010, fashion drifted back into more modern and less 1990s. In 2010, people began to wear more jewelry and women wore leather jackets and also began to create their own styles instead of basing themselves off others. In 2010 I was 5 years old and just starting kindergarten. This was a time of showing off what you look like, and not caring as much what other people thought about you, no matter what nationality or what size. Also a big trend was leather jackets, pink clothing, stripes and clutch purses. For men, it was v-neck tees and graphic tees. Many men wore calming colors such as coffee browns, light browns, pastel blues and yellows, whites, greys and blacks. Moving on toward 2013, plus sized clothing and models were introduced. This started the spread of self-confidence all over the world. The population was becoming more accepting of plus sized people. Heavier people were less self conscious and showed off their bodies. So many people felt body positive, that fashion designers all over the world became obsessed over creating plus sized clothing.

Now last but not least 2017, just kidding! That's today! The body positive energetic nation of fashion. The year to say, “I-dont-care-what-other-people-say” kind of year. The kind of year where you can wear whatever you want. Just remember, stay true to yourself and be confident in yourself and what you are wearing.


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