Fashion and Adversity Part 1: From War to Cottagecore BY RHIANNON

Times of extreme change are always reflected in fashion.

Come with us as we escape on a fanciful trip through the fashionable past, collecting clues from those who have thrived before, and getting a glimpse of our stylish future…

Are We on the Verge of a Decadent Decade?

Since we’re all living in hope of it soon being safe to socialise again, it's easy to draw comparisons with the Bright Young Things of the Roaring Twenties. A century ago, a generation who had lived through a nightmarish past in the form of WW1 flung themselves into an uncertain future. How? By embracing full-on, exuberant, and unashamed GLAMOUR!

Don't we deserve a little decadence, dahhling?

Showered in sequins, dripping with beads and embellishments - attention-grabbing pieces filled wardrobes and dancefloors. After all, there was some serious partying to be done.

We can’t help wondering just how Roaring these Twenties might be, when we too are given the chance to make up for lost time.

Did anyone else feel inspired to come out of lockdown with a more adventurous approach to style?

(All items shown above are currently available at RetroStar)

Rations, Restrictions and Patriotic fashion

During the Second World War, fashion was forced to cast off its embellishments and extra yards of fabric to become a stylistically simple affair. This was due to the strict rationing of materials, including the banning of extra pockets and unnecessary buttons, and the halt in production of anything considered superfluous.

It wasn’t just about following the rules either. Dressing excessively meant you were using resources that could have helped the war effort - it was unpatriotic.

As a result, an instantly recognisable look was born of necessity. Wartime saw skirts become shorter (due to fabric rations), and darker colours become the practical and fashionable choice, as clothes were often styled to look more uniform-like in solidarity with soldiers.

Today, perhaps our version of war fashion’s simplicity could be the pared-down wardrobes many of us will emerge with post-lockdown. There are no rules, restrictions, or patriotic colour palettes, but let’s face it - how many people could stay home week after week and not find themselves re-evaluating everything they own?

Could we be entering the age of the 'Capsule Wardrobe' - an elusive concept finally realised by having too much time on our hands?

Rather than a resurgence of 1940's war fashion, perhaps it is the shift in our shopping habits that forms a link between now and then. The recent boom in our determination to shop local and support small businesses is an act of solidarity with our struggling economy, after all.

Similarly, perhaps a more unifying version of patriotism is to give the whole planet a helping hand by ‘making do and mending’ instead of contributing to landfill.

By choosing more sustainable options and embracing the value of second hand and vintage, we are using our clothes - as they did in wartime - as a way to play our part during a time of adversity.
A wartime colour palette with pieces from RetroStar

Dear Nature, We’re Coming Home

Why do we always crave what we can’t have?

Or, how Cottagecore is comforting us during Covid.

There's no denying it; our reaction to being restricted to our homes for weeks on end was to start longing for nature pretty much immediately. As time went on and Instagram filters made our hearts grow fonder, the natural world seemed even more faultless than when we'd left it.

Nature-focused trends soared in popularity as the pandemic progressed.

But one trend in particular helped us immerse ourselves in the dream of a simple, self-sufficient life in the countryside - even as our reality became increasingly cut off from it.

More, more, Cottagecore!

The Cottagecore trend gave us a way to bring the nature we craved into our wardrobes, with its focus on botanical prints, natural fabrics and earthy colour palettes. But it also gave us a way to make the most of staying in – by championing traditional crafts, old fashioned skills, and all things cosy. (Think knitting and embroidery.) As Vox puts it, ‘Cottagecore under lockdown […] became a way to spin the terror and drudgery into something adorable.’

Knitted Jumper, $37, RetroStar

Dreamy trends like this let us bring a romanticised idea of the past into our present situation. (Q: Did you ever actually frolic in the forest with flowers in your hair post-covid? A: Ummm.) But these trends also give us hope of a future where we can feel close to nature again.

If you’ve got the perfect outfit for a woodland picnic then it’s going to happen one day, right?

We're all for trends that add a dash of hopefulness.
Dress, $20, RetroStar

This same reaction to adversity occurred in the worlds of art, music and literature in the late 18th century, when Romanticism handed us some rose-tinted glasses through which to look past the disillusionment and rationalism of the Industrial Revolution, and focus on the beauty in nature.

What has the past taught us? When things get too real, we turn to nature.

As for the future; the Cottagecore aesthetic is set to thrive in spring, and with Taylor Swift championing the trend, it'll continue to reign as the perfect antidote to reality.

Dress, $39 from RetroStar
Cottagecore aesthetic at RetroStar
Skirts from RetroStar
How does fashion help you keep looking forward in times of adversity?

Are you emerging from iso with a new perspective on your personal style?

We hope this trip into the past brings a smile to your future xXx

P.s Don't miss Part 2 of this blog - Fashion and Adversity: From Faeriecore to Futurism


Created with images by LollipopPhotographyUK - "couple romantic together" • Dariusz Sankowski - "Adventuring flatlay" • J Williams - "Black and white image of a sewing machine needle" • skeeze - "ingrid bergman star movie" • Annie Spratt - "Colorful thread spools" • Valiphotos - "road forest season" • JillWellington - "daisies summer flowers" • JillWellington - "pretty woman wildflowers summer" • Bru-nO - "travel planning vacations"