Will clothes and dress-makers still be around in the future?
Exactly how high should a skirt be?
Is red the ultimate power color of all time?
When will bell-bottomed pants be back?
Why wear clothes?
According to experts, the original purpose of clothing was primarily functional. Garments were used to help protect us from the rain, the sun, the cold wind, and other unwanted elements in the environment.
Later, such cultural aspects as modesty and religious practices were added to the original list of reasons why we wear clothes. Specific rules were then included on how to wear these clothes, how they should look, and the things they signify.
The idea of fashion came in relatively recent as compared to all the other reasons. However, it is just as important as the others. It may take some persuasion for us to accept the fact that such a simple act as dressing up has something significant at all.
Fashion, for all the original shallow connotations we knew of it, actually covers the combined social, artistic and political trends of the times. Fashion, in effect, is the unofficial barometer of the people’s likes and dislikes, mores, and popular ethics.
Some fashion trends, however, defy logic when viewed against today’s perspectives. Sociologists and historians in the future will have their hands full for a long time when they shall be putting things in their proper historical places.
For a quick scan, let us check what happened in fashion in the last 100 years.
A rundown on 20th century fashion
The beginning of the 1900s saw the corset, a 19th century fashion hold-over, slowly abandoned. Women’s skirts still trailed on the floor but the gowns were narrower. Paris became he arbiter of style.
In 1920, fashion entered modern times. Clothes became comfortable because hemlines rose to the knees, perfect for dancing the Charleston. Knickers and drawers were out and panties were in. Clothes now used zippers, hook-and-eyes, snaps, and buttons for fasteners.
From 1930 to 1945, shoulder pads strangely became the rage. The hemlines, raised a decade earlier, were now lowered. Nylon was used in the making of stockings, although there was a temporary shortage for sometime because of the war.
In 1945 up to 1960, the couturiers ruled. Dior introduced the New Look. Balenciaga presented the high-waisted dresses. Givenchy made mix and matched separates. Balmain cornered the market for luxurious clothes, while Chanel invented the braided suit with gold chains and shiny costume jewelry.
In 1964, Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt and shocked the world. Hemlines kept on rising with micro-minis. Hippies took the scene with bell-bottom jeans and tie-dye shirts. Women loved Jackie Kennedy’s signature pillbox hats.
In the 70s, bell-bottoms still ruled. There were additions, however. Polyester, rayon and jersey dresses and shirts became popular. There were now three different skirt lengths to choose from: maxis (ankle-length) midis (mid-calf) and the original minis. Then, there were the hot pants, a shorter version of regular shorts.
The 80s had Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein in the scene. The street urchin look was popularized by Madonna. Leg warmers seen in “Flash Dance” became the rage even for non-dancers.
Shoulder pads made a splashing comeback courtesy of the TV shows “Dallas” and “Dynasty”. Tattooing and body-piercing began. Men and women wanted acid-washed jeans as well as Michael Jackson jackets.
When the 90s came around, retro clothing took off. It was the decade of supermodels. Whatever Kate or Naomi or Cindy wore, the women wanted them. Princess Diana, not a model, also inspired many with her dresses.
When 2000 rolled in, it was the turn of the music scene “look”. Heavy metal, hip hop, low-rise jeans, spiked hair - these fashion markers were most popular.
Fashion trends are like seasons, leaving and returning in cycles. Only that they go away when no one is looking and come back when least expected. There are no formulas, nothing cast in stone as far as fashion is concerned.
For fashionistas, don’t throw out your old clothes. They may look funny now, but you’ll definitely strut in them sometime in the future when they are back in fashion.
On second thought, you can do the strutting right now. Somebody has got to jump-start things.