American Fashion History Since 20s Through the Decades

American Fashion History Since 20s Through the Decades

16.12.2021 Off By manager_1

six women wearing white pants posing

The Roaring 20s

Women in America felt a renewed sense of independence and freedom after the end of World War I. The “flapper”, a new generation of American women who wore modern clothing, emerged during this decade. American women used to aim to appear older than they were. But, after the 1919 implementation of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, women started to want to look younger. The hemlines of women began to be shorter and looser, while the lengths of their garments reached unprecedented levels. This was a departure from the restrictive and uncomfortable styles of previous decades. American women in the 1920s cut their hair to fit under the cloche. This was a tight-fitting felt hat that was worn tilted to cover the forehead, and sometimes the ears. In the second half of the twentieth century, the flapper dress and the cloche hat were often worn together.

The 1920s saw American men dress more casually than ever before. Men opted for casual wear with cuffed trousers and flannel jackets in the 1920s. Both men and boys started wearing short knee pants (known in the knickers), topped with casual button-down shirts and lightweight sweaters. In the 1920s, men’s shirts were made from stripes of a variety of colors, mostly pastel greens, yellows and blues. They also had a white collar. Bow ties were also popular during this time.

1930s and 1940s

The 20s were “roaring”, but the decade that followed was quiet. The Great Depression of 1929-1939, which lasted for ten years, devastated the American economy. It also diverted attention away from fashion. Survival became more important than ever. The struggle for survival produced an amazing movement: the Harlem Renaissance. People of color, especially Black Americans, revolutionized literature, art, and fashion. The Zoot Suit was the most popular fashion trend of this period. This high-waisted, wide-legged and tight-cuffed suit was a symbol of the period’s “coolness”, which was popularized by Black, Mexican, Italian, and Filipino-American men.

World War II

World War II was a pivotal event that took place in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Because of its impact on fashion, it deserves special recognition. While many of us have lived in war-torn countries, few people have witnessed a nation devote their entire industry to war efforts, also known as “total warfare”. The USA’s total war resulted in major failures in many areas of society, including fashion. Certain clothing items were lost because fabric was being used for other purposes such as parachutes and rope, or netting. Stockings, also known as “hosiery”, were no longer available for women.

The logical thing to do is to stop wearing stockings during the war. No! The war brought about the same attitude in America as in life: fashion was treated with the same care. They tried to keep a sense normalcy even in hard times. Amazingly, women were able to adapt by painting their hosiery. They used foundation at first with black eyeliner pencils to draw their “seam.” Later special products such as liquid stockings and leg makeup were introduced. Fashion was like the frontline soldiers.

1950s: Post War Era

Fashion returned to prominence in America’s culture after World War II. This decade saw an economic boom, and a huge push towards consumerism. It is a trend that continues to this day. Rationing was no longer necessary after WWII ended. Access to a wide range of fabrics made it possible for everyone to have a choice. This decade saw the rise of department stores across the country. They provided Americans with access to a broad range of consumer goods.

The 1950s saw women expected to dress and look a certain way. Many of them complied with this new standard of beauty unlike the independent, fashion-forward flappers of Roaring 20s. The 1950s saw American women focusing on their roles as homemakers after their husbands returned from the war. The acceptance of women as one was encouraged and there was no need to wear radically different styles. The hemlines fell to mid-calf length or even below the ankle during this decade. Meanwhile, the hourglass silhouette gained popularity. For suburban housewives, flowing, brightly colored skirts were the norm. The more fitted, knee-length pencil skirt, which required a tight girdle to highlight the hourglass figure, was popular for working women.

1950s fashion for men was very similar to previous decades. Men wore suits, sweaters and casual button-downs. They also wore slacks made from similar fabrics. Men opted for solid colors, rather than patterns as in the 1920s.

1960s: The Age of Counterculture

The 1960s in the United States were marked by the rise and transformation of counterculture movements, which revolutionized social norms throughout the country. The 1960s saw a shift in youth culture that rejected the societal emphasis on conformity that had been ingrained over the previous decade. The 1960s brought a new phenomenon: unisex clothing, such as leather jackets and denim jeans that could be worn by all.

Mod fashion originated in London and quickly made its way to the United States by the mid-1960s. Mod fashion was characterized by bold colors and geometric shapes that were bold, and became a popular choice among the wealthy youth of the United States. The Mod look was rejected by “Greasers”, who emerged all across the country challenging Mods’ colorful designs. The name Greasers is a subgroup of working-class youth who originated in the 1950s and gained popularity over the next decade. The leather jacket, previously worn by military pilots, is now popularized by Greasers. They also wore tight-fitting T-shirts and distressed Jeans.

In the 1960s, the Hippie counterculture movement was born in California. It quickly spread to the East Coast, especially to Greenwich Village, New York City. After the 1967 Summer of Love, when almost 100,000 people gathered in San Francisco to celebrate their love, the Hippie movement was born. This socio-political event sparked social change and acceptance of other lifestyles. Many hippies rebelled against consumerism and wore handmade clothing and accessories. Along with floral patterns and bright tie-dyes, bell-bottomed pants, long maxi skirts became very popular. In the 1950s, women resented the padded brassieres and girdles that were popularized. They preferred to wear long, untied hair and avoid make-up.

Black Americans in the 1960s embraced counterculture as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. Afrocentrism was a focus on Black Americans’ African heritage. For example, the dashiki was inspired by an African tunic and became popular among Black youth in New York’s Harlem area. It then spread across the country.

1970s: The “Me” Decade

The 1960’s youth counterculture movement set the precedent for modernity and change, allowing fashion trends to thrive in the 1970’s. In contrast to the 1960s, Americans took a backward step from politics in the 1970s and opted instead to be focused on themselves. This shift has been called a “return of normalcy” by many, giving the 1970s their nickname as the “Me” Decade.

Unisex clothing was first introduced in the preceding decade. Pantuits and daywear with masculine edges were very popular among young women as more women entered the workforce. For everyday wear, women wore skirts of varying lengths. They opted for mini-skirts that were tight fitting. Hot pants, a tight-fitting, short-length, sleeveless, and hem-lengthening style that was popularized in the 1960s, were a fashionable choice for young women in the second half of 1970.

In the second half of the decade, both men and women favored loose-fitting bottoms and tight tops. Blue jeans became a wardrobe staple in 1970s. They were worn by all ages, including children and adults. Bell-bottoms remained popular and are still a favorite style of this decade. Many women opted for maxi skirts that were ankle-length and dresses with slits at the sides that reached their thighs. Bold patterns were a popular choice for both men and women, as well as sports jackets, chunky sweaters and pleated pants.

1980s: The Age of Creativity

The fashion of the 1980s was very similar to the 1970s. However, by 1984, Madonna and Cyndi Laper had brought a new style to the decade. They were known for their unique designs and bold color combinations. The first time women wore leggings made of cotton were worn with thick sweaters and off-the shoulder tops. Young women wore loose-fitting, figure-hugging parachute pants that ended just above their belly button. Layered clothing is also gaining popularity. Mini skirts made from spandex or denim were often paired with leggings and legwarmers. Accessory were very popular during this time, especially for teens and young adults. For casual wear, women wore large hoop earrings and brightly colored glasses. For a fuller look, hair was frequently permed. Makeup included bold eyeshadows, a heavy foundation and bright lipstick.

The 1980s saw the rise of power dressing, a new fashion trend for professional women. Power dressing, which has its roots in the 1970s and gaining popularity in the 1980s, refers to a fashion style that working women use to assert their authority in their professional environment. In the 1980s, women were expected to be in the workplace. However, women felt the need to achieve equality in the workplace, and fashion was their preferred weapon. For power dressing, you needed to pair tailored blazers with shoulder pads and a fitted skirt that reached the knee.

Men in the 1980s moved away from the tight fitting clothing of the 1970s and opted for looser, more comfortable fabrics. Activewear, which combined sweatshirts with sneakers, was very popular among young men. Nike’s success in athletic wear had helped it to become a global brand by the 1980s.

1990s: The Decade of Anti-Fashion

Fashion in the 1990s was much simpler than the flashy fashion of the 1980s. In the 1990s, adults wore loose-fit jeans and plain T-shirts with knit sweaters. Teenage and pre-teen girls opted for neon-colored clothing in bright colors, such as hot pinks and greens. These bright colors were gradually replaced with more subtle shades, such as coral, turquoise and lilac by 1992. The rise of popstar MC Hammer saw the birth of the parachute pants. These relaxed-fit cotton pants have tapered legs and a drawstring waist. Comfort was the main focus for Americans in the ’90s, as they rejected the uncomfortable clothing trends of the previous decade.

Grunge music was a hugely popular fashion trend in 1992. Plaid flannel shirts and stonewashed jeans took the place of brightly colored clothes. Dark colors such as brown, gray, forest, green and forest green were favored. Doc Martens, a British footwear company whose black leather boots were a favorite among American youth, was a popular choice for grunge fashion.

The wide-leg jeans from the 1970s were reintroduced in 1995 with the introduction of chunky black boots, and the baby doll shirt, which was very popular among teenage girls and young women. Alternative styles and Punk became mainstream fashion in 1996. They brought with them short, spiky hair and black clothing. The skort (half-skirt, half-shorts) and the spaghetti strap tank top were the most popular late 90s styles for young women. Capri pants and low-rise jeans, which are a tapered, mid-calf-length pant, were very popular. Most young women wore crop tops in the 1980s, along with high-waisted, tapered pants. The “Rachel” hairstyle, based on Jennifer Aniston’s 90s TV series Friends, became very popular with young women in the second half of the decade. The pixie cut was also popularized at the time by feathered bangs.

2000s: The “Mashup” Decade

Fashion in the 2000s embraced a more minimalist approach to fashion, and incorporated a variety of styles from different periods. Designers began to incorporate more color and pattern in their clothing by the 2000s. They took inspiration from vintage clothing from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The fashion of women took a more feminine turn with the introduction of miniskirts and jackets made from denim, as well as halter tops, bell shirts, capri pants, low-rise jeans and capris. The tunic dress, which was often worn with a thin belt at one’s waist, gained popularity in the middle 2000s. Ballet flats were a mainstay in women’s fashion by 2007, along with long button-down shirts and sweater dresses.

This decade saw men’s fashion resemble the 1980s. They incorporated athletic wear into their everyday clothes. Men wore sneakers, sweatshirts, and baseball caps. They paired them with bootcut jeans. As more men wore black leather jackets and motorcycle boots in the 2000s, they rediscovered 1960s style. In the 2000s, working men wore slim fitting pants, with a button-down shirt and a button-down blouse. In the second half of 2000s, men started wearing tighter fitting clothes than ever.

2010s: The Skinny Decade

We are now at the start of the 2020s. This gives us an opportunity to look back at the decade before. The “tight fitting” clothing style that began in the second half of 2000s? It spread even further. Jay-Z, an American rapper and icon of pop culture, is an example. He was strongly anti-skinny jeans in 2009! Jay changed his mind just a few short years later in 2012, reflecting the growing trend toward tighter cuts for men.

The cultural shift to “body positivity” was evident in the fashion of the 2010s. People who identified as women felt confident enough “challenge dominant ideas of feminine beauty,” which led to tight-fitting clothes for curvier bodies.

Fanny packs, or “bumbags” to Commonwealth people, made a comeback from the 1980s. Athleisure, which were practical clothes that were originally intended for exercise, has migrated to everyday life. This meant leggings for women as shown above. Men started wearing shirts that had their sleeves cut off. The original Vans skateboarding shoes were introduced in 1960s and quickly gained popularity.

We are now at the present. Style is cyclical according to Western wisdom. This means that old fashion is reintroduced as new fashion. While we wait for the return of Zoot Suits or parachute pants, don’t forget to wear a clean, modern suit when you go for your next job interview.