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Apparel Styles of the 1950s to 1990s

Updated on December 18, 2017
viryabo profile image

I look at today's fashion and see how it is inspired by vintage style. The character & uniqueness of old age chic ...That's what I love!

The fabulous clothing styles of the 20th Century may have been relegated to the archives history, with a few bespoke ones good only as display in the museums of classic arts, but a good number of trendy styles like the poodle skirt (one of the top fashion styles of the 70s) and the trumpet skirts of the fifties are reappearing, albeit in modified forms, on the fashion runway.

Fifties to Nineties Fabulous Clothing Styles
Fifties to Nineties Fabulous Clothing Styles | Source

From swirling evening gowns with floor sweeping hems and chic ruffles, to divine full and flared miniskirts, many of the twentieth century fashion trends have become the hit styles of the 21st century.

And it’s good to know that some of today’s most successful fashion designers base a good number of their creations on vintage fashion, as they tend to re-create fabulous clothing of a bygone era, blending it with modern cuts and embellishments to give a new twist.

Trending styles that has inspired today’s creations include:

  • Mini dresses
  • Mini skirts
  • Jumpsuits
  • Fishtail gowns
  • Platform shoes, block heels, kitten heels
  • Denim (skirts and jackets)
  • The little black dress (LBD)
  • Flared pants
  • Fitted and flowing elegant dresses and gowns

The modern reproductions of the above clothing and footwear designs are recreated to suit the present times, the modern woman's temperament, and the general hot fashion trends.

Does this tell us anything?

It does . . . Those designs of decades ago still stands the test of time!

1950s Fabulous Clothing

According to popular polls (also see below), more people seem to be in favour of fashion of the fifties. Could it be because of the sheer elegance of the fashionable clothes of that era, or the graceful fluidity of a woman’s carriage when all dressed up walking down the street? Probably both.

The fashion of the 50s is characterised by the following:

  • Chic Dior dresses
  • Crinoline evening dresses
  • Long trumpet skirts
  • Circle and poodle skirts
  • Hip-hugging jackets
  • Pencil skirts
  • Figure-fitting sheath dresses
  • The ‘sack’ dress (a throwback from the 20s)
  • Tunics with bell-shaped peplums
  • Large wide stoles
  • Mink or sable edged evening coats

There were also tailored coats made in lace, chiffon, and organdie. These were worn over narrow summer dresses and long pencil skirts.

The fabulous clothing of this decade was not only graceful and shape flattering, it was also a mix of many new styles from the early to late fifties. So if you feel inspired to ‘go’ vintage style and want to dress like women of the 50s, the above are some styles to motivate you.

Fabulous Style of the 50s
Fabulous Style of the 50s | Source

1960s Fashion Trends

In the very early 60s, fashion hadn’t changed that much from the fabulous clothing of the earlier decade but by the mid-60s, the London mod scene became the ‘dictator’ of trends. Hemlines started to become shorter and shorter, finally capping it with the popular mini skirts and dresses, by the mid-sixties.

It was during this fashion era that the quintessential girlie look developed and clothing designs were characterised by slim cuts and simple lines. Tubular clothing and skimpy A-line dresses gave way to flared and pencil cut skirts of the past and the peace sign was introduced into fashion . . . and we mustn’t forget the bold prints of the sixties clothing.

Sixties styles include:

  • Paisley shirts
  • Bell bottoms
  • Culottes
  • Tunics
  • Unisex clothing
  • Polyester pants
  • The mini and midi
  • Sleeveless shift dresses
  • Brocades
  • Sheer dresses
  • Princess panel dresses
  • Overskirt dresses
  • Batiste dresses

Some of the great fashion designers that created some of these fabulous clothes include British fashion icon Mary Quant, Biba, Pacco Rabanne, Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, and Ossie Clarke. Fashion icons include celebrities like Twiggy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy who “led the charge with her ubiquitous clean dresses and pillbox hats.”

And boutiques like Biba and Miss Mouse that promoted and sold some of the 60s designs played major roles in endorsing the new, more relaxed and colourful clothing styles for fashionable women.

Trends of the 60s Women
Trends of the 60s Women | Source

1970s Fashion

This was the era of hot disco scenes...

The 70s brought denim and neutral tones into the spotlight alongside pantsuits, corduroy, and leg warmers, and women were crazy about platform heels and maxi dresses. These were the rave! And though platforms were "chunky" and looked somewhat bulky and awkward, every woman had at least a couple of pairs.

The seventies heralded in its own style of fabulous clothing as it was a period of individual expression. It was almost like a free-for-all ‘anything goes’ period than about fitting in with a particular trend.

Many women dressed in ways to please themselves though it doesn’t imply that they had no interest in high fashion. Clothes and fashion accessories modelled on the runway were more radical designs than the styles of the previous decades.

Prominent styles of the seventies include:

  • Midi and maxi dresses and skirts
  • Hot pants
  • Full length flowing gowns
  • Flared pants
  • Bell Sleeve blouses
  • Pant suits
  • Hippie clothing
  • Dungarees (overalls)
  • Karl Lagerfeld suits (Chloe)
  • Blazers
  • Jacket and skirts suits
  • Soft 'wet look' leather elastic-waist pants

Popular fabrics of the 70s clothing include exotic prints, polyester, satin, checks, and very bright coloured textiles. Clothing designs with embroidered details, including corduroy and velvet were quite popular too.


1980s Fashion and Style

Women of the earlier part of 1980s loved soft textiles and neutral colours like beige, brown, tan, and pale orange but by the later part of the decade, bright neon colours became highly popular.

In the 80s jeans went from smart, sporty, or a casual ranch weekend wear to a hot fashion trend that became glamorous wardrobe must haves. There was spandex and shoulder-pads, and popular fashion accessories were belts, scarves, and bracelets.

Interestingly, when you think of the 80s, you’ll remember hair spray, and excessive makeup, and bright flashy apparel.

Styles of the 80s include the following:

  • Turtleneck
  • Pleated skirts and sweaters
  • Frilly and lacy tops
  • Silk blouses
  • Denim jeans (with wild bleaching, stone washing, dyeing and pre-made holes)
  • Pleated pants
  • High-waist pants (snug fit)
  • Tunics with leggings

The 1980s was the era of the Yuppies who had more disposable income than their counterparts of previous decades. This group of young and upwardly mobile professionals were utterly brand loyal and wearing certain brands of clothing became their way of making a fashion statement!

Popular brands of the eighties include:

  • Ralph Lauren
  • Calvin Klein
  • The Gap
  • Lacoste
  • Jean Paul Gaultier
  • Donna Karan
  • Vanderbilt Jeans
  • Moschino
  • Vivienne Westwood
  • Giorgio Armani
  • Dolce and Gabbana

Further Reading:

Vintage Clothing Styles We'll Hate to See Comeback

Fabulous Clothes of the 1990s

Minimalism was the hot fashion trend of the 90's which simply meant 'less is more'. It was unlike the loud and not-so-classy 80s.

Lycra played a prominent role and the hip-hop trend, long hairs, and Goth styles made a great impression on fashion. Some common items of clothing and fashion accessories from the 1990s are:

  • Flannel shirts
  • Black leggings
  • Silk blouses/shirts
  • Birkenstocks
  • Denim
  • Turtlenecks worn under sweaters
  • T-Shirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Over-sized sweater
  • Low heeled shoes

Around the mid-eighties, fashion became inspired by styles of the 70s with the young crowd wearing bell-bottoms, tie-dye tops, and homemade jewellry. However, by the end of the decade, fashion became more similar to what we saw in the new millennium.

Sexier attires reappeared and tight fitting clothes were worn once again as glamorous and fabulous clothing slowly returned to the fashion scene making fashion designers breathe a sigh of relief.


See results

© 2009 viryabo

Comments Are Welcome

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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 3 years ago

      That makes the two of us Sandyspider. Thanks for visiting.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I enjoy seeing the fashion trends. Audrey Hepburn was always up there in my book of classy ladies.

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 5 years ago

      Audrey Hepburn certainly looked lovely and elegant at every stage in her life. She's someone I'd like to emulate.

      Great hub, thanks for the inspiration.

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Voted for 1950's.

      1960's was my decade, but I love the 1950's fashion style a lot better. Loved the strong appeal of vintage. I'm a fan of all these comeback. Count me in!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      And even the mini outfits. I can't believe i used to wear such short skirts made from a quarter of a yard of fabric. LOL.

      Thanks for visiting Ebower.


    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 6 years ago from Georgia

      It is very interesting to me how fashion is always recycled. I remember wearing bell-bottoms in the 90's and it's fascinating that the 90's and 70's are coming back in today.

    • profile image

      himangi 7 years ago

      hey this thing just influence me a lot i m very happy to visit this ..admirable..good ...

    • mysisters profile image

      mysisters 7 years ago

      Great Hub. Audrey is definitely an inspiration. I really love how a lot of styles from back then are coming back.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      I agree yenajeon. Real fabulous clothing.

      Thanks for visiting and for leaying a nice comment.


    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 7 years ago from California

      I love 60's fashion. Its gorgeous! It's going to make a comeback soon, I predict for spring 2011!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      LOL!!! Lisa, yes, those shorts are hot. You are right. Fabulous clothing and style really is a personal expression and a personal fashion signature. And as fashion seems cyclic, we can be bold enough to don unique styles from any era. Its all about being bold and different.

      Thanks for visiting and for leaving such nice comments.


    • Lisa Hess profile image

      Lisa Hess 7 years ago from

      Thing about fashion is that it is so rich in terms of personal expression and when the time is right can be so hot and sexy too. Can't get enough - feed me hot fashion. Those tattered shorts with the gstring make me want to be a very bad girl.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Thanks keira. I can tell that you do love fashion. Style is nice!

    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 8 years ago

      You are fabulous my friend.:) I love fashion. Great hub and I love when you had your touch of class.:) God Bless.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      The bygone era fashion style still beats today's IMO. That's why i love vintage inspired clothing. They 'ooze' class.

      Thanks for your visit and nice comme nts Gpage.


    • GPAGE profile image

      GPAGE 8 years ago from California

      Very god hub. I like to look back at all of the styles. Really interesting!


    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Hi bingshee,thanks for the visit.

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      very informative. like the audrey look.