From full-length corseted dresses to casual jeans and sneakers, fashion has changed and evolved consistently through the years. One constant, however, is the cyclical nature of style. History has a funny habit of repeating itself in the world of fashion. We’ve seen it happen countless times where some of history’s legendary trends often end up re-emerging in the present. But you can’t blame us for recycling some of the best and most-loved trends. After all, the past is overflowing with iconic fashion statements, some of which defined the style of an entire decade. To help you reminisce on the past—and get insight on potential future trends—we compiled this list of some of the most influential fashion trends by decade.
Flapper style reigned supreme in the roaring 20s. Perhaps the most notable article of clothing which headlined this trend was the flapper dress, which featured a drop waist, a loose but straight fit, and beaded detailing. Common accessories included cloche hats, fringe wraps, long pearl necklaces, and bead or feather headbands. More casual styles included golf knickers, sailor blouses, and sweaters worn with plain or pleated skirts.
Elegance abounds in the 1930s as evening gowns in luxurious materials such as liquid satins and silks were in vogue. The Hollywood glam movement brought on the rise of fur accessories, silk scarfs, and lots of jewelry. More ready-to-wear looks included mid-calf dresses with an abundance of flounces and frills, and women accessorized with berets and tilt hats. In addition to elegant and glamorous styles, sporty looks such as high waisted lounge pants and wide-leg trousers inspired by sailor and military styles also thrived.
The war largely influenced fashion trends in the 1940s. Hemlines rose to the knee due to the strict rationing on fabric, and many people began sporting victory suits. In addition, trendsetters often wore bright, patriotic colors. When it came to silhouettes, A-line was the style of choice. Further, fit-and-flare skirts and dresses were widely popular in addition to puffed shoulders on blouses and dresses.
Many fashion experts remember the 1950s for its feminine and modest dresses. This included the 50s swing dress, a tea-length style with a full circle skirt, as well as the form-fitting sheath dress, also known as the pencil dress. Women often wore such dresses with petticoats and a pair of kitten heels, pearl necklaces, and white gloves. Youthful patterns such as polka dots, gingham, and border prints were also in vogue. Additional styles popular during this period include high waisted jeans, head scarfs, and peter pan collar blouses.
The 1960s marked a large shift away from longstanding fashion trends in exchange for more modern and experimental styles. Short for modernism, the mod movement thrived in the 1960s. Largely inspired by British bands such as The Beetles, the modernist movement included elements such as bold prints and stripes. Popular menswear included fitted pants, collared shirts with slim fits, and tailored suits. Throughout the decade women swapped out their sleek suits for baby doll dresses, peasant tops, kitten heels, and fake fur. Paneled dresses with black and white colors and geometric patterns, such as polka dots, were also very popular. Space-age fashion that features boxy silhouettes and the use of synthetic materials such as nylon and spandex also played a large role. One of the most defining fashion moments in the 1960s, however, was the creation of the iconic miniskirt which women almost always worse with a pair of go-go boots.
The hippie influence and disco subculture combined to form some of the hottest fashion trends in the 1970s. Typically, people sported tight tops and loose bottoms. Men and women alike embraced hippie and bohemian styles such as tie-dye t-shirts, bellbottom pants, sheepskin vests, mariner’s caps, corduroy pants, and patches. For men, the Peacock Revolution was especially influential as it did away with traditional masculine fashion norms. It replaced them with styles such as shirts with frilled collars, bright-colored clothing, and crushed velvet suits.
The 1980s marked a break away from traditional gender roles as women began to incorporate conventionally masculine elements into their wardrobes. Shoulder pads and power suits allowed them to make a statement. The 80s featured loud, attention-grabbing colors and patterns such as neon and animal prints—cheetah, giraffe, and zebra were the most popular. Jeans had seen better days as many sported destroyed and distressed their denim pants with rips in the knees or acid-washed fabrics. Leg warmers, leggings, and spandex marked the rise of the aerobics craze and became a staple in many wardrobes.
The 1990s marked the age of grunge, punk, modern prep, and hip hop. Grunge trends included styles such as oversized clothing, casual attire, and minimalistic pieces. This was in direct contrast with the modern, preppy look, which featured plaid skirts, knee-high boots, khakis, blazers, and button-up shirts. Those who chose to adhere to the punk aesthetic would sport black outfits composed of leather jackets, hoodies, boots, and skate shoes. Like many other decades, popular music also had a large influence on the fashion scene. Hip-hop artists popularized tracksuits, bomber jackets, gold chains, and crop tops. Additionally, noteworthy trends of the 1990s included parachute pants, leather jackets, denim overalls, halter tops, platform shoes, and black and red leather pants.
The rise of fast fashion in the 2000s meant that many trends burned bright and fast throughout the decade. As such, there is a wide variety of different styles associated with this unique fashion era. Some of the most notable styles include crop tops, low-rise jeans, platform flip flops, cargo pants, and tracksuits. Plus, no list of 2000s fashion trends would be complete without mentioning denim—it came in every form, including jeans, hats, jackets, skirts, and shirts.
While the 2010s aren’t officially over yet, there are already several iconic trends that we are sure to remember from the current decade. Parent-inspired trends reigned supreme during much of the decade. Styles that were popular in the 80s such as “dad sneakers” which featured a chunky double-sole and “mom jeans” with high-waisted, straight-leg fits thrived. Other trends from past decades, such as miniskirts from the 60s and bomber jackets from the 90s, also reemerged. When it came to jewelry, big and bold were the defining trends as statement necklaces and egg-sized cocktail rings attracted the attention of many. Additional noteworthy trends include boyfriend blazers, shearling boots, tiny sunglasses, and bold Aztec-inspired prints.
Cozi Bear Boutique is a premier online clothing and accessory boutique where you can shop the latest trends at an affordable price. To find in-fashion clothing inspired by many of the styles on this list, take a look through our extensive catalog of hand-picked women’s boutique clothing items.