Women’s fashion through the decades

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women. In connection to fashion, this day is all about women’s progress, legislation, trends and major world events that accompany each decade of fashion.

In the last century, women have come really far and one example of how far we’ve come can certainly be found in fashion. In honour of this special day, I will look back at the evolution of women’s fashion over the decades.


The 20th century sparked a trend in terms of what was acceptable for the female population to wear. Women started to dress in clothes that expressed their desire for more freedom. As the years passed by, the image of women continued to change in terms of their public appearance.


In the 1910s, skirt length began to rise from the floor to above the ankle. Although this may not seem like a drastic change in today’s world, it was a huge step for women at the time. The silhouettes created by clothing became less bulky than previous years, and more vivid colours were used. Hairstyles changed as well from long hair and buns, to more practical bobs with smaller hair accessories preparing for the Jazz Age.


The 1920s busted in with an amusement of music and dance styles that set up ways for more simple styles for women. This is not to say, however, that the clothing was not risqué for the time. Shapeless tube dresses with a hip level waistline and a skirt barely covering the knees were considered stylish in the conservative majority of the population. Flapper dresses that clung to the upper portion of a women’s body and draped in elegant folds paved the roads for the glamourous styles of the 1930s.


Despite that this era was referred to as the “dirty thirties,” fashion in the 1930s was largely distinguished by the return of ladylike appearances. Women accentuated their curves by wearing form-fitting outfits. New fabric was introduced that created a sleek and flirtatious look for gowns.


Due to the war in the 1940s, a uniform look became popular, which included short skirts, padded shoulders and tailored seams. At this time, women preferred these clothes more because they were too busy with their jobs and helping out with the war.


During the 1950s, women tried to mimic the styles worn by movie stars and celebrities. The 1950s also saw a surge of teenage girls trying to appear more mature. This era marked a great emphasis on the return of full skirts and synched waistlines.


The 60s delivered a more vibrant era of styles. Women all over began accessorizing with hats that Mrs. Kennedy made famous, as well as her cosmopolitan attire.


The 1970s were about comfort and colour. Disco inspired a whole new world of clothing traces from bell bottom pants to tie dye and animal prints to jumpsuits.


In the 1980s the use of fabrics that were easy to care for, stretchy leggings, skirts, off the shoulder sweat shirts, headbands and bracelets became extremely popular.


In the 1990s, fashion was quite different. The look expanded on the dress-down style previously seen in the 1980s. Women began to wear shorter skirts and comfortable athletic clothing. The pantsuit also became a distinctive trend at this time.


The early 2000s retained much of the styles from the 90s. New styles at the time were heavily influenced by music genres such as hip hop, heavy metal, punk rock and pop. Not only that, but most fashion of this era can be classified as a combination of trends dating back 40 years.

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