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Decades of Women's Fashion

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Melanie Kill

on 20 January 2015

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Transcript of Decades of Women's Fashion

Decades of Women's Fashion (1950-1970)
The Glamorous 1950's
In the 1950’s women’s fashion returned with a vengeance. Post War with the men home the women moved back into their house duties but with flair. Glamour and defined waists were the key for the 1950’s, mainly known for two silhouettes, the full skirt and the pencil skirt, (both emphasised the narrowness of the waist). The most well-known trend was Christian Diors "soft rounded" look. Poodle skirts were a popular but short lived trend.

The Accessories of the 50’s were all about matching and looking polished. Sunglasses especially the classic cat’s eye shaped ones, made a big impact, often decorated in Rhinestones. Hats with corsages made of fruit or other items were used to trim them. Gloves were high fashion and were worn everywhere. There was even 'glove etiquette'. Women often also carried a spiked umbrella. The shoes often very high, but with rounded or peep toes and low cut front. Other shoe fashions were strapped sandals with finer heels, kitten heels, metal tipped steel stiletto heels. One of the most well known shoe fashions was from the mid 1950s, the pointed toe shoes, winkle pickers.
The Swinging 1960's
The 1960’s were a diverse time in fashion from the classy first lady ‘Jackie O’ Kennedy’ and her divine Pill box hats to the mod fashions of Twiggy and later the bold Pucci prints which made the 60’s fashion come alive. The hem lines in skirts were getting shorter and the shapes were more A line than the waist hugging 1950’s. The 1960’s fashion was rebellious and had the “basically anything goes attitude of the modern world” (Sydney's Vintage Clothing, 2015). Bright prints, solid bold colours, sequins, buttons and large hip pockets were all common place in the fashion trends. One of the biggest introductions to the 1960’s trends was the mini skirt which could be up to 5” above the knee in length. There was also the introduction of skinny pants and cigarette pants and later on the classic bell bottom pants were a huge hit.
Costume jewellery was huge in the 1960’s. Large, chunky pieces most commonly seen made using beads, flowers, and rhinestones. Brooches were worn on suit and hats. Probably the most well know 1960’s fashion statement was the Pill box hat. Belts were a hit and could be seen either in the skinny or wide variety. Shoe ranged from the conservative sling back and stilettos through to the plastic or leather boots. Go-go boots were a must have fashion item for a young trend setter to pair with the mini skirt.
1970's - The Me Decade
Swimwear and Underwear
According to the writers at Hair and Makeup Artists Handbook (2014), movies, magazines, advertisements and television were all influences on fashionable hair styles of the 50's. The Italian cut, pixie cut, curled and waved short hair such as the bubble cut, poodle cut, longer styles such as the high ponytail, pageboy or brushed-under bob and the bouffant. Setting and pin curling was a daily task for a 50's woman.
Swimwear and Underwear
The 'Me Decade' involved disco fever, therefore giving women freedom to wear what they wanted from pants, suits, hot pants, dresses and skirts of three different lengths. Casual wear staples included bell-bottoms and hot pants paired with peasant-style tops, tight t-shirts, sweaters or tube tops. The 1970’s introduced the skirt in three different lengths – mini, midi and the maxi.
Women's evening wear included silk jumpsuits, matching pant suits and maxi dresses. The wrap dress was a popular design for women of all shapes and sizes. Disco involved lycra pants, metallic jumpsuits and long-winged mini dresses.

Swimwear and Underwear
"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." – Coco Chanel.

Although clothing is a necessity we use to cover and protect ourselves from the elements it’s also much more. It’s a way of expressing our individuality, our status and who we are or how we want others to perceive us. Advancements in technology between the decades meant we have enjoyed a rapidly changing fashion world with trends changing every decade. Over the years fashion has taken steps in many different directions advancing in technology and design quality from the 50’s post war where clothing moved from practical to a way to look glamorous, while fulfilling the duties of a housewife to the disco dancing 70's. Follow our walk through the decades to discover the ever changing world of women’s fashion.

One-piece swimsuits with low cut necklines and high cut bottoms grew popularity when actress Farrah Fawcett appeared wearing a tight one-piece. String bikinis and netting designs were alternatives. The thong bikini made an appearance in Rio.

The first push up bra was created in the mid-70’s. Seamless cotton underwear was launched for women’s comfort and hygiene, and came in floral and neon prints. The design was lowered at the hips and the cut was higher at the leg.

Hairstyles involved layers, soft curls and flicks to long and short hair. A popular hairstyle was the long feather layered cut to the shoulders with flicked back curls. Soft large curls and straight long hair that was parted in the middle with no fringe was worn throughout the entire decade. Layered messy hair worn by women wanting low maintenance hair, the more layers in the hair would involve less time to style. The Afro was worn by African-American women, the hairstyle resembled a fluffy cloud of hair.
The conical bra gave women their defined shape up top. Most women wore girdles or a roll-on. Some chose a sturdy all in one corset. The net petticoats were worn to give the skirts/dresses their full look. Seamless stockings were now available and many women wore a Suspender Belt.

Swim wear consisted of corset style bathers that could be worn either strapless or with small straps that buttoned onto the inside or worn halter style. Other popular styles were the Play Suit and the Apron Style Swim Suits. A bathing hair cap was also worn when swimming.

The decade saw the birth of the platform shoe, where the sole ranged from 2 to 4 inches thick. Cork shoes and knee-length boots were popular due to their versatility and affordability. Floppy wide-brimmed hats, shoulder handbags, necklaces with peace signs, bangle bracelets and mood rings were popular accessories.
As with the fashion trends so to were the hairstyle vast and changing over the decade. At the beginning of the decade styles such as the beehive and bouffant remained the most dominant styles moving on to the mid 60’s with pixie cuts making a big hit thanks to Twiggy. The end of the 60’s saw long sleek hair as the go to fashion hairstyle.

Moving on from the one piece in the 1950’s to the bikini that fell just below the navel. Prints were usually bold and exotic. For those who still preferred a swimsuit with some cover-up value a bikini with the baby doll top were a popular choice.

The underwear of the 1960’s was the same as the trends in general, vast and changing to reflect the times. Unstructured bras, frilly knickers, and cute nighties were just some of the trends.

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As society changes so does our need to evolve in the fashion world. Although there are changes throughout the decades one thing never changes and that’s our love of fashion and the human form. Whether it’s the glamorous 50’s, the groovy 60’s or the disco dancing 70’s, we have watched the fashion evolve and be reborn in the next era with a twist to keep up with the times. We hope you have enjoyed this small glimpse into the wonderful world of woman’s fashion.
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