Fashion Through the Decades: An Exploration of Fashion from the 1920s-1970s
Pre-pandemic, we worked with Sabrina Dunne Photography to capture how style has changed throughout the years. While fashion may not be at the forefront of everyone's mind at the moment, this collection as a whole makes me pause and reflect. As I look through our final images, it reminds me that every decade, we have had some adversity to overcome. Every decade has had major defining moments: WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, Civil Rights, Cold War, and Vietnam. And while Covid-19 will be the thing that defines the 2020s, we wont be able to look back and see exactly how for years to come. In the meantime, we can reflect on our past and see how far we have come.
Releasing these images makes me smile. Something that seems superficial on the surface, fashion, can actually have an impact on society, the way we interact with others, and how we feel about ourselves. I hope you enjoy this photographic journey through styles from the past century. All looks are available for purchase.
1920s: Flapper Gowns and Drop Waists
The Roaring Twenties was a decade of opulence and luxury. As social changes post WWI fueled women’s empowerment, especially women gaining the right to vote, hemlines rose, waists dropped, and decorative beads, fringe, and other embellishments added playful elements to the dress that reflected the exuberance of the decade. The heavy prevalence of Jazz music and prohibition also inspired recklessness amongst the youth, showcased in the movement of embellishments on dress.
Shown here, available for purchase: 1980s does 20s flapper style beaded and sequin dress, lots of accessories available listed under accessories.
1930s: Bias Cut Gowns
Following the Great Depression, the women’s ready-to-wear market exploded. This allowed women to experiment a bit more with fashion. They all turned their eyes towards Hollywood to showcase the latest trends. The bias cut garment, dresses and lingerie, are the highlight of this decade, and Hollywood showing women with long, lean lines, made of silk, velvet, or chiffon left a fantasy that American women wanted to capture in their own wear. Rayon was a less expensive alternative to silk, and this material was carried over to many of the ready to wear lines. Fur soared in popularity during the 1930s, as a piece of luxury every woman wanted in their wardrobe.
Shown here, available for purchase: 1930s Bias Cut Gown.
1940s: Workwear and War Effort
As WWII raged, women entered the workforce in droves, and fashion changed dramatically as women needed practical fashions in which they could work. Furthermore, hemlines raised once again as materials became scarce as much was needed for the war effort. It was post war, at the end of this decade that changed fashion yet again.
Late 1940s - 1950s: Christian Dior's New Look
Christian Dior's New Look collection debuted in 1947 and took the fashion world by storm. Structured shoulders, a nipped waist, and a full skirt were the defining features of his collection that rocked the fashion scene for more than a decade. The fit and flare style carried over from daywear to evening wear. It was copied and imitated by designers around the world. Novelty prints and costume jewelry, particularly pearls, became all of the rage.
Shown here, available for purchase: 1950s Nautical Stripe Shirt. Dutch Dancers Full Skirt. Red Tilt Hat.
1960s: Mini-skirts and Pillbox Hats
The 1960s embraced a second wave of feminism in the US. Women were seeking new ways of dress that didn’t restrict their movement or their freedom of expression. Two styles emerged simultaneously: the proper fitted suit and hat, a la Jackie Kennedy, was the inspiration of working women, and the baby-doll or mini-dress was embraced by the younger generation.
1970s: Hippies and the Disco
As with the previous decade, fashion splintered off in many directions in the 1970s. Disco inspired sequins, showcasing skin, and club wear. Whereas the free love movement of the hippies inspired bell bottoms, crop tops, and flowing maxi dresses. The cross over, both styles embraced platform heels in footwear.
While the 1980s and 90s tended to have their own styles, its these previous decades, each with their unique flair, that brought inspiration into the modern decades in regard to style. Nowadays, design teams from fast fashion brands scour vintage shops to pull inspiration from decades past to incorporate into modern wardrobes. The great thing about modern fashion is that there is no one trend to follow; you too can pull inspiration from the past and incorporate different eras into one look unique to you.
Wardrobe and Style: Bloomers and Frocks
Photographer: Sabrina Dunne Photography
Model: Nina Sarahphina