Fashion through the decades: 60s & 70s

Swinging 60s

From the start to the end of the decade. Womens fashion in the 60s was extreme style and attitude. In the early years, the obvious fashion idol was Jackie Kennedy with her perfectly white pearls and tailored suit dresses. By the middle of the decade, iconic supermodel Twiggy had women freeing their minds and bodies into clothing that didn’t require any extra thought or effort. From modest to “there is no such thing as too short,”

We can also thank the 60s for colored/patterned tights - white, black, purple, fishnet, herringbone or lace. Tights covered up ugly knees and didn’t cause garter gaps like sheer stockings did. Once pantyhose were perfected they were the savior of women’s legs anywhere. They camouflaged hair, bumps, bruises, and wide kneecaps. Even skin tone tights were thick and dark. To go bare legged in the ’60s was still too immodest.

Many of today's contemporary “modern” clothing is still inspired by mid '60s fashions. A-line mini skirts, contrast collar shift dresses, textured tights, low heel flats and tall boots, swing coats and floppy hats… The list goes on and they all have roots in the sixties! The current trend for retro sunglasses is also heavily inspired by the 60s.

70s Fashion

There’s a reason the 1970s continues to be one of the most stylish decades of all time. From flares to bell sleeves, shearling coats, and mini skirts, the ‘70s birthed an eclectic mix of style influences that evolved quickly in a 10-year span. Skirts got shorter, boots got taller, and a range of style icons like Jane Birkin and Jean Shrimpton helped spearhead some of the era’s most memorable fashion moments that continue to inspire today. Here are just a few of the most iconic 70s items:

Caftan dresses: These were Grecian inspired and worn with high heels sandals and beads or pearl necklaces. The caftan became a frequent style of hostess dress. Long, tent shapes with an optional empire belt and huge kimono sleeves that came in bold colors and big exotic prints were also worn by many soul and jazz singers.

Prarie blouses or hippie blouses: A popular feminine trend in the early 70s. Some had big pilgrim collars or middy collars, ruffles, bow ties, pintucks, and lace insets. They were romantic in white or pastel solid colors and of course hippie-like in small floral prints.

Jumpsuits: These were viewed as a stretchy adaptation of overalls. During the day the jumpsuit was made of double knit polyester, cotton or denim with a zip or button up front, pant pockets and oversize collar. The denim jumpsuit with a zip up front revived the overall look. Evening jumpsuits slimmed down the look into a stretchy bodysuit with a sleeveless or halterneck top.

Fashion through the decades: 40s & 50s

40s

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Despite the hardships of World War 2, the 40s were still a milestone decade for style, despite 1930s fashion being a hard act to follow. It was a decade of trailblazing styles and new silhouettes, and many of the styles we’re still supporting today. From Joan Crawford to Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Doris day, we chart the era’s style iconic, and top trends, that paved the way for 1950s fashion.

Put simply, 1940s women’s fashion was about creating an hourglass silhouette with masculine details, such as padded shoulders nipped in high waist tops, and A-line skirts that came down to the knee. This was the everyday shape for clothing, from suits to dresses. Even trousers had a similar high waisted, wide leg shape. If a woman was not naturally an hourglass shape, the clothes were designed to help her achieve the look. Being put together, cheerful, and practical was the job of women during WW2. Fashion accessories for this time included hats, gloves, handbags, and jewellery to complete an outfit, while natural makeup with bright red lips helped paint a happy face during difficult times.


50s

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There are two main silhouettes in 1950s fashion – the wasp waist with full skirt & the slim fitting pencil skirt. Both are iconic 50s looks that held great influence until 1956 & can be portrayed as super sexy or fun & flirty – all depending on how you wear them.

The beauty of the 50s era is that there is a ‘look’ that will suit everyone’s shape – the more womanly the better. For those who lacked curves, these were created easily with a bit of help from belts, foundation garments and plenty of net & padding!

From a fashion point of view, this was the rise of the ‘ready to wear’ phenomenon (RTW). Clothing was now being manufactured ‘in mass’ & with greatly improved standards in construction & cloth quality. Variety was now available & imports started to return from, in particular, Paris.

Dior’s iconic ‘New Look’ arrived in Paris in 1947 & due to it’s vastly different shape to the war years – had an enormous impact on the fashion world. Style was now back on track, ironically picking up from where it left off before the pause created by the war. Dior created a succession of silhouettes (which he based on letter shapes!) line A being an a-line silhouette which was achieved by a widening towards the hem & was quickly followed by the Y-line, created by wide dolman sleeves tapering to a slim skirt. However, Dior’s initial look continued to dominate for many years with fashion looking nostalgically to the past with its boned bodices & full petticoats.

Must have 50s accessories:- 

  • Red lipstick

  • Chiffon scarf

  • Gloves

  • Waist cinch belt

Fashion through the decades: 20s & 30s

Flapper Fashion - 1920s

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Before the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis who brought us the iconic 1930s fashion styles, there were the super chic (and now very well known) styles of the roaring twenties. From the ultra-glam flapper girls to the first waves of cool androgyny, 1920s fashion was all about liberation, finally being able to try new things while having a lot of fun in the process.

After WW1, things loosened up (literally) when it came to ladies fashion - the corsets came off, skirts got shorter and thanks to one particular fashion legend, Coco Chanel, trousers for women were acceptable for the very first time! Fashion is eternally grateful to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel for so many definitive 1920s fashion styles, and some of the greatest fashion ‘inventions’ still to this day, for example; the little black dress, skirt suit, costume jewellery, espadrilles… But her greatest, most overarching influence? It has ot be the liberation of women’s clothing and the concept of ‘casual chic’ in the 1920s. Chanel led the trend for a flatter, corset-free bust, a streamlined silhouette with no hyper-waistline and as we already mentioned, she popularised trousers for women… So next time you let you are feeling bloated or just want to through on something loose fitting and baggy, you can aim your thanks to this woman.

Moving on to another iconic 20s style…

When it came to popular materials in the 20s, for evening dresses most were made of fine fabrics like silk, chiffon, taffeta and light velvet. They were usually sleeveless for young women and long sleeves for older women. Own anything with a dropped waist? You can thank the 20s for this iconic feature along with layers/tiers of fabric creating some fullness from the waist down. For those wanting to stand out and be more glamorous than the rest (basically anyone with good money) Beaded dresses were the way to go. Although everyone often thinks fringing and metal sequins when it comes to flapper dresses, this was actually quite rare. We often also think of these dresses as being short but this too is a myth! Real flappers wore knee-length or longer gowns that swished and swayed white dancing to jazz.

1930s

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Although the 1930s is remembered as a time of economic struggle, 30s fashion was an era of revolutionary style thanks to advancements in clothing production and the popularity of Hollywood cinema. As well as Great Depression (which began with the stock market crash in ‘29) causing an increase in the resourcefulness of ‘day wear’ fashion, as women could no longer afford to change outfits from day to night as the may have done before.

Advancements in technology also began the following following trends we still widely use today such as zippers as fasteners, fitted bras with cups and the bias cut method (a process of cutting material at a 45 degree angle so that it clung to the body.)

30s KEY ITEM: A “feedsack” dress, which as the name suggests, is a ladies dress made using the material from a sack of animal feed. (Bags from flour were also used!)

HISTORY BEHIND THIS ITEM:  Although the trend of the feedsack dress actually began in the ’20s when resourceful women realised they could upcycle the material used for the sacks to make clothing for themselves and their family, the trend grew rapidly due to economical necessity during the Depression era (30s). It didn’t take long for those in the animal feed industry to catch on to this ‘fashion’ trend, and competing companies released floral patterned sacks for women along with novelty prints such as animals, clowns, etc sacks for dresses made for the children. This led women requesting their husbands to buy the more ‘stylish’ feedsacks with their final outfit in mind.


Crazy For Corsets

Corsets Today

In todays society, corsets are usually only seen when it comes to costumes, stage performance or "waist training"; although a few do still buy or make them for the uses that they were designed for hundreds of years ago. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Madonna & Beyonce often wear corsets on stage while touring to add drama and femininity to their performances. High fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen have been seen regularly using corsets or similar in their collections. Among many celebrities, reality star Kim Kardashion uses a waist trainer to "achieve a small waist" (DO NOT TRY THIS NONSENSE AT HOME!)

You are more likely to see a corset 'inspired' fashion piece such as the one pictured below which can be purchased from ASOS.com. (I must admit I am not a fan of these 'fashion corset/wasbie, over the tshirt' looks but each to their own!)

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The History of Corsets

If you read online there is various conflicting reasons for why corsets were created. Was it to change a persons body shape? Was it to supports ladies chests? WAS IT TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN? I just don't know the correct answer so I am just going with what wikipedia says since that is OBVIOUSLY true...

"The earliest known representation of a possible corset appears on a Cretan figurine made in c.1600 BC. The article of clothing depicted might be perceived as a corset, but is worn as an outer garment, and leaves the breasts exposed."

"The corset first became popular in sixteenth-century Europe, reaching the zenith of its popularity in the Victorian era. While the corset has typically been worn as an undergarment, it has occasionally been used as an outer-garment; corsets as outer-garments can be seen in the national dress of many European countries


Want to know more or learn how to make your own corset?

Whether you just want to push your sewing skills to the limit, have an interest in historical fashion or want to wear your handmade corset this is the class for you! Our fabulous tutor Emma with take you through the practical corset making process whilst also telling you all about the history of corsets - she's an expert!

At this course you will learn:

  • Corset Tailoring
  • Toile fitting
  • Pattern alterations
  • Working with synthetic whale boning and steel boning.
  • Hand finishing skills
  • Inserting eyelets.
  • History of corsets

To find out more or book on, follow the yellow bric...ok just follow this link: https://bookeo.com/sewconfidentglasgow?devent=42552P9MXRP164ACFAFAD4_2018-10-20_8cCcV6gciO0w