Jun 13

Fashion Pieces That Changed What Women Wear

“What we wear is a statement of who we are. There is much more to the shoes on your feet and the coat on your back. What you call trendy today, may have been something more to your ancestors. Fashion Items That Changed The World is a video list created by TheRichest. It briefly details eight significant items from fashion history that made the fashion world what it is today.

We have updated the list to include a few more iconic items so what you see below are the most influential and revolutionary fashion trends and statements of all time…the history of clothing and accessories that we wear today

marilyn-monroe-in-bikiniThe Bikini

On the 5th of July, 1946, Louis Reard unveiled a daring 2 piece swimsuit, known as the bikini today at a popular swimming pool in Paris. Western countries banned the daring swim piece from public beaches and pools and the Vatican declared it sinful. The ever controversial Marilyn Monroe took the new fashion head on and posed in photos wearing it. By the end of the century the Bikini had become the most popular swim wear worldwide with many different styles, shapes and cuts. Go here for the complete story on the bikini.

high heelsHigh Heels

High Heeled shoes were originally created for wealthy men to show off their social status. They were the ideal shoe for horseback riding as they kept the foot locked in the stirrups. Catherine De Medci was the first woman to wear heels to make up for her short height. In 1950’s the stiletto was born by Roger-Henri Vivier and grew quickly in popularity and is still a firm favorite today. The complete story on high heels is here, but also check out All About Shoes here in the Library and How To Walk in High Heels.

leather jacketThe Leather Jacket

The leather jacket was worn by aviators and the military in the early 1900’s. The late half of 20th century saw the leather jacket appear in Hollywood movies. All characters who wore this piece of clothing was regarded as cool. In most popular culture examples, the jackets are worn by people cultivating a rebellious image.  The Punk culture  “rocks” the leather jacket with accessories such as chains, studs, and cuts. So celebrities from movie stars to punk rockers to the Queen of Jordan have helped make the leather jacket an iconic item. You can read the fascinating history here.

 audrey hepburn in little black dressThe LBD (Little Black Dress)

Fashion icon Coco Channel introduced the world to the LBD in a 1926 Vogue issue. Before this black dresses were reserved for only those who were mourning and it was considered to be indecent when worn otherwise. With the rise in color TV we saw a rise in popularity of the LBD because colored clothing looked distorted on black and white screens before Technicolor was invented. It was intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral color. Its ubiquity is such that it is often simply referred to as the “LBD. The “little black dress” is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a “rule of fashion” that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Check out all the ways to wear the “little black dress”

The black Givenchy dress of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, epitomized the standard for wearing little black dresses accessorized with pearls (together called “basic black”), as was frequently seen throughout the early 1960s. A complete history of this wonderful garment is here.

sunglasses Sunglasses

Centuries ago, the Inuit wore flattened walrus ivory “glasses” to block harmful UV rays from the sun. In early 1920s, sunglasses became widespread among movie stars to avoid recognition by fans and to hide redeye from powerful lights on sets. In 1938, LIFE Magazine claimed that sunglasses were simply a fad in America. During WWII Ray-Ban created anti-glare lenses for American fighter pilots which has become one of today’s most iconic styles, the Aviator. Fashion trends also draw on the “cool” image of sunglasses and association with a particular lifestyle, especially the close connection between sunglasses and beach life. In some cases, this connection serves as the core concept behind an entire brand. Read the extensive history of sunglasses here.

Wonderbra adThe Brassiere

The Brassiere derives from the French word “upper arm” and was first used in 1893. The Brassier was popularized by Vogue in 1907. However, garments designed to support a woman’s breasts date back to ancient Greece. By the 1920s most women had adopted a bandeau-style bra that flattened the breasts for the desired flapper dresses of the day. But it was the Hollywood starlets of the 1950s — think Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield — who embraced the increased support in bra design, inspiring a generation of women to adopt the “sweater girl” look.

The 1960s was a time of protest and fashions allowed women to go braless — some even burned their bras. But by the 1990s full support was back and the Wonderbra — thanks to supermodel Eva Herzigova — became a bestseller.

Today lingerie is big business. The bust supporter has come a long way .In 1955, a Canadian brand developed the “Wonderbra” which was the first push up bra on the market. Victoria’s Secret revolutionized the bra by showcasing intricate patterns and designs at fashion shows. It is estimated that $16 Billion per year is spent on bras worldwide.

Everything you could want to know about the bra is here, but don’t forget to look at our library section on All About Bras and check out out those 31 different types of bras and what is best for you.

fashion-paper-mini-dressThe Mini Skirt

Mary Quant created the mini skirt in 1965 and named her design after her favorite car the Mini Cooper. Quant wanted to create something practical and liberating allowing women to “run for the bus”. Owing to Quant’s position in the heart of fashionable “Swinging London“, the miniskirt was able to spread beyond a simple street fashion into a major international trend. The style came into prominence when Jean Shrimpton wore a short white shift dress,on 30 October 1965 at Derby Day, first day of the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia, where it caused a sensation. With the rise in hemlines, the wearing of tights or pantyhose, in place of stockings, became more common. Mary Quant cited this development in defence of the miniskirt:

Many European countries banned the Mini Skirt because they believed it was an invitation to rape. The Mini Skirt however became a symbol of woman’s freedom and expression in the late 60s. It is now a staple in woman’s fashion of all ages. You can read more about the miniskirt here or look at the video on 10 ways to wear the miniskirt.


THE world’s first knitting machine was invented in 1589. Queen Elizabeth I believed that the knitting machine was a national treasure and imposed the death penalty for anyone who attempted to take one out of England. In the 1930s the circular knitting machine was invented. It produced the first seamless stockings by knitting tubes of fabrics to which separate foot and toe pieces were later attached.

One of the most significant advancements in hosiery was the advent of nylon in 1938. The first nylon stockings appeared in New York stores on May 15, 1940. More than 72,000 pairs of nylons were sold on that first day. Before this, the majority of stockings were made of silk. As a consequence of the popularity of nylon stockings the Japanese silk market collapsed almost overnight. In the first year on the market, 64 million pairs of nylon stockings were sold and manufacturers could not keep up with demand.

But the shorter hemlines of the 1960s made stockings with their necessary suspenders, garters and garter belts difficult to conceal. As a result, fashion designers attached the stockings directly to panties and created the pantyhose. Nylon still remains the most widely used fibre in the production of hosiery. However, today, most hosiery is also made with Lycra, which gives the garment elasticity, durability and a better fit.

Want to know more, click here

vanessa-hudgens in blue jeansBlue Jeans

Blue jeans are, without a doubt, one of America’s biggest contributions to fashion, if not to the world in general. They’re a universally worn and loved garment that today are an important section of most people’s wardrobes—not to mention a $60 billion dollar global industry in their own right. It’s their versatility and staying power that led none other than Yves Saint Laurent to tell New York Magazine in 1983, “I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity—all I hope for in my clothes.”

Learn all about them here.

Jun 09

Fashion Changes Since the 1920s

We have seen more fashion changes since the 1920s then in any other time period. As you have seen in the “Fashion Timeline”, each era of history has its own influence on women’s fashions, but the greatest changes have taken place since the 1920s and for that reason we pay special attention to the changes in dresses and skirts, blouses and tops, accessories, shoes, and hairstyles. From the 1920s to the 1990s, popular fashions reflected the mood of each decade and showcased changes in society as the styles of clothing and accessories evolved with the times.

in the 2000s interestingly enough, styles have not changed greatly but have largely been updated from past eras. We hear the 60s or the 70s or the 80s styles are back in style. Let’s revisit some of the biggest trends of all time, from jazz age sass to Coco Chanel–inspired chic to the psychedelic 1970s. This is one history lesson you don’t want to miss!

It is amazing to see how the different events in history have influenced and changed the way people have dressed throughout time. Some of the most popular fashions are classic, they can stand the test of time and hardly ever “go out of style”, only experiencing minor changes to keep up with the trends.

Other clothing items could be considered “fads”, styles that are only popular for a short season and then never worn again. Often certain fashion trends are dependent on the tastes of particular groups of people or cliques and are usually associated with social status or cultural preferences like the type of music a person likes. Fashion can also be influenced by world events such as war or the economy. For example, during World War II, people were only allowed a certain amount of fabric so they were forced to create simple outfits that were practical enough for wartime duties.

Dresses and Skirts – From Mini to Maxi, Pleats to Pencil

skirts mini  maxi pencil pleated

Changes in skirts and dress fashion have changed and varied dramatically between the 1920s to the present, as well as within each decade. In 1920, only a few years after World War I, skirt and dress hemlines rose and waist lines lowered to the hip. These changes accompanied the boyish flapper fashions that marked the 1920s as a decade of decadence and fun. During 1926 to 1928, hemlines were reported to be at their highest but once the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression set in, hem lines returned to a more conservative length (below the knee or lower). 1930s boasted a return to femininity and Hollywood glamour was idolized. Evening gowns showed bias-cuts and diamante accents and were made of chiffon or velvet. For a more casual look in the thirties dresses were slim-cut and had wide shoulders and a belt around the waist. Real fur accents and floral prints were also popular during this era until World War II broke out and the glamorous look of the decade lost its luster.

During World War II, luxurious fabrics like wool, silk and nylon were highly regulated and women’s skirts and dresses were often made of viscose and rayon. Skirts and dresses would also be made out of anything that could be found within a home (like curtains, nightgowns or bed sheets) due to the illegality of using excess fabric when making an outfit from about 1942 to 1947. With the economic boom in the 1950s, glamour become fashionable once again and A-line and pencil skirts were very popular form-fitting fashions. Dresses in the decade would often feature stylish ruffles or lace accents and were usually knee-length or tea-length. Going into the late fifties and 1960s mini-dresses and maxi-length skirt outfits entered the scene. Mod styled dresses with short skirts and bold, colorful patterns became popular. Mary Quant, a Mod fashion designer is one of the people credited with creating the iconic mini-skirt of the mid-sixties. In the late sixties and seventies hippie fashion took over and loose-fitting, flowing maxi skirts and dresses became dominant. Disco music and dance also influenced dresses with slender lines, flowing skirts and the shimmering fabrics that would look best in a night club.

As we entered the 1980s, fashion evolved once more. Skirts and dresses were once again longer and featured straight lines and more serious design. As more and more women joined the professional work force business suits became a trend for women with straight conservative skirts and broad shouldered, boxy blazers topped the look. In the eighties, fashion became highly influenced by music stars and movies with eclectic looks shown off by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and movie star Molly Ringwald. In the 1990s, skirts and dresses were not as prominent and more casual looks became acceptable with hip-hop and alternative music setting the scene for fashion early in the decade. Skirts and dresses were usually short and even provocative, especially in the latter part of the decade, however loose and flowing dresses as well as long denim skirts were also notable trends.

dresses 20s to 80sBlouses, Shirts and Tops

In the 1920s, the jumper blouse was introduced and became incredibly popular. Usually the jumper blouse was made of cotton or silk and had a sailor collar. Perfect for pairing with a skirt, it usually reached just below the hips and would be accompanied by a belt or sash. Another popular type of twenties blouse was a low-cut v-neck shirt with a chemisette attached to promote modesty. Knitted long-sleeve shirts with rounded collars and tank blouses were also popular in the decade. For men, polo shirts, dress shirts and sweaters were the tops of choice. Going into the thirties, feminine blouses that featured v-necks and long bow ties attached around the neck, sleeveless blouses and knit shirts of satin and linen were popular. During the war-torn forties nylon and silk were replaced with rayon and viscose for formal tops, while terry cloth, linen and even canvas were used for leisure shirts. Women who worked during World War II wore military style shirts that had button-up collars, and women who were a part of the American Woman’s Auxiliary Corps would wear a full war military outfit.

After World War II ended, up until the mid-1950s trends in women’s fashion changed again. Round-neck styles on sleeveless shirts or long sleeve shirts were popular, as well as polo-necks. Dolman sleeves dominated fashionable tops in the fifties and sixties, too. The 1960s brought ethnic print blouses, ribbed turtleneck sweaters and boat-neck tops into mainstream clothing. And, shirts for men and women often featured “wild” patterns. From the late sixties to the mid-seventies, brightly colored shirts and blouses with psychedelic patterns were trendy and hippie fashion made Indian cheesecloth shirts, peasant tops, tunics and Nehru jackets popular for both men and women of the era. Space-like and futuristic fashions also became popular and many tops were made out of suede, leather, vinyl and plastic.

In the 1980s, as styles became slightly more casual and T-Shirts and polo shirts became acceptable tops, and for formal or business-wear, boxy tops with shoulder pads, blazers, dress shirts and sweaters were popular for men and women in the decade. Over-sized tops were popular in the 80s and 90s as well. The 1990’s saw a lot more commercialization of fashion with designer labels appearing on the outside of clothing as a way to promote status and trendiness. That trend continues today as it is not uncommon to see people wearing stylish casual shirts that host a bold Guess or Ralph Lauren logo on the front. The nineties also saw an increase in the popularity of crop tops and halter tops as women’s styles became more provocative. In the late 80s, 90s, and in today’s fashion, T-shirts have become more of a way to express individuality and a person’s tastes and preference with sassy catch phrases, funny pictures, or pop culture references appearing more and more in the mainstream.

blouses and tops 20s to the 80sShoes

In the 1920s, women’s shoes would often feature high and wide heels whether on a pump or loafer style shoe. Many women would even wear heeled shoes with their swimming costumes as a mark of femininity. Oxfords of varying styles and colors were popular too with men and women, as well as lace up boots. During the 1930s strapped heels and pumps surged in popularity, while more traditional styles of heels were still worn. For men and women, laced leather leisure shoes were popular for outdoor activities and exercise during the decade. In the forties, as a result of the war, shoes became more conservative and practical. Women’s shoes were usually made with flatter heels and had either cork or wooden soles.

Flat shoes, sandals, heels and pumps with rounded toes and feminine lines were worn by women in the 1950s. Saddle shoes, white lace up shoes with brown or black leather accents, were also popular for both men and women. Canvas basketball shoes (high-tops) or black leather oxfords were worn by men. Suede shoes also enjoyed moments of popularity during this decade. In the 1960s, black slip-on boots (most likely of leather or faux leather material) were popular for men and women, and heels became thinner on pumps. Vinyl boots, moccasin-style loafers with wide heels, wedge heels, and slip-on heels with leather cut-out patterns were all popular in the 1970s. Sandals and western style cowboy boots were also popular with both men and women.

In the 1980s, pumps were designed with higher and thinner heels than in decades before and they became more of a hit. For casual wear, tennis shoes (both high-tops and standard ankle high shoes) and leather dress shoes were very popular. Flats became popular too, especially with working women. By the 1990s, styles had returned to Earth and the casual look was key. During this decade leather substitutes became more popular due to environmental concerns, and cork-soled sandals like Birkenstocks defined the alternative look early in the decade. Walking shoes had bulkier heels, and gym-type athletic shoes were most people’s every day choice. As with the late 1980s and 1990s, branding became a driving force behind shoe sales. People would show off their Reebok, Nike or Adidas shoes with pride and special editions would sell for hundreds of dollars.

Shoes 20s to 80sAccessories

From the 1920s to the 1990s, accessories have changed tremendously, but some items like jewelry have always remained popular. Fashionable hats were highly popular from the twenties to the fifties and were often an everyday item in a person’s ensemble. For women in the 1920s helmet style, draped hats, cloches, turbans and pokes were all popular and usually featured a variety of fabrics, cut-outs, lace accents, feathers or other details. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s other styles of women’s hats were popular as well with berets, homburgs, bumpers, bonnets, and wider brimmed hats all seeing time in the spotlight.

For men, bow ties and long ties have alternated their turns in the favor of fashion. From the twenties to the nineties the length, width, fabric, colors and patterns of neck ties have varied according to trends, but they have almost always been a necessity for men’s business dress and formal wear. Men would wear fedoras, golf caps, automobile caps, Panama hats and other nearly timeless styles of hats up until the seventies, after which hats became less popular as casual styles started to dominate the scene. Baseball caps, skull caps, beanies and other types of casual hats remain popular with men and offer a way to display their favorite sports teams to the world.

Handbags and purses have also always been popular with women, but the styles have changed throughout the decades. In the twenties and thirties, handbags would often be used as vanity bags that featured a built-in mirror and could be used to touch up one’s make-up and hair while out. In the fifties and sixties handbags became more of a fashion statement and would coordinate with the type of occasion one was attending, larger, more practical bags were used for shopping or a day out with family while smaller, fancier bags would be used for parties or fancy evenings out with friends. In the seventies, eighties, and even nineties, handbags and purses became more of a catch-all with women narrowing their collection down to just one or two, a more formal bag and an everyday work type bag. Presently, the type of handbags women own have become even more of a status symbol than in the past, with designer bags from Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Fendi, Prada, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and others costing thousands of dollars being the only purses women use, and often the only luxury piece of clothing many women own.

accessories 20s to 80sHairstyles

Short boyish haircuts were popular throughout the 1920s to the late 1930s. In the 1940s, hair was often still hid under hats, but usually was longer and tied in a bun or other up-do. During the Second World War, scarves and turbans were also popular. Hats and turbans (sometimes even worn together) remained popular until the 1960s. After this time women began to perm and/or dye their hair. Wigs were more popular after this time as well, and the wearing of hats declined dramatically. Men’s hair (just like the short women’s cuts) of the 1920s and 1930s was usually neatly combed and groomed, and usually parted to the side. Hair for men was “greased” back. In the 1950s hair was still greased back, but hairstyles usually consisted of more hair on the top of the head (especially biker styles). For women in the 1950s, hair was waved and fit to frame the face, or to be pulled back. Some actresses had wore their hair extremely short-way above the ears, as if it had been cut with a hair trimmer.

In the 1960s, beehive and flip-style hairdos were more popular for women. For the men, bowl cuts, such as the ones that are similar to what the Beatles wore are very popular as well. These looks continued on to the late 1960s. From the 1970s on, long, straight hair was popular for women, as well as for some men. Hairstyles were usually parted down the middle. Large puffy hair worn by Motown singers were considered stylish from 1969 on to the 1970s, and short wavy hairstyles like Jodie Foster wore in 1976 were popular too. During the seventies layered haircuts were also popular and this trend continued into the 1980s. From the mid to late eighties big hairstyles that were teased and curly or wavy with bangs were very popular. In the early 1990s straight hair and long spiral perms became popular, while later in the decade angled bobs and shaggy, mid-length haircuts were made popular by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox on the TV show Friends.

From the 1970s to the current time punk hairstyles such as shaved heads, Mohawks, and painted hair were worn. These were usually the hairdos of those who wanted to make a statement, or just simply to be different from mainstream society. Many mainstream and independent artists had punk hairdos. Heavy metal hairstyles for men were quite popular, especially after the 1980s. Male heavy metal rock groups would tease and/or color their hair, which usually was let to grow long. There are still standards for hairstyles in the present. For the workplace hairdos are very conservative, usually in a straight style, or sometimes waved or slightly permed.

Hairstyles 20s to 80s

Designer Fashion

Names of designers that were alive during the 1920s and the 1950s include Jeanne Lanvin, Pierre Cardin and “Coco” Chanel. Each of these designers have set his or her personal mark. For instance, Lanvin is remembered for her intricate trimmings, lavish embroideries, and beaded decorations. These were all implemented in clear, light fabrics. Chanel is remembered for designing fashions of clothing as if it would be what she would wear. She also is known for masculine-cuts and silk blouses. Pierre Cardin is known for items such as his draped pale blue mohair dresses or jacket with fur-trimmed head. Designers from the 1960s include Yves Saint Laurent and Mary Quant. These designers were thought of as revolutionary style artists. They introduced items such as mini and/or maxi-length dresses, bright-colored sweater and mini-dress outfits, and a variety of new accessories such as laced tights as well as new cosmetics.

Designers lavin cardin Chanel

With globalization and the massive changes to society over the last eighty years, fashion has changed to cope with the differences. Designer ranges from small independent designers to large fashion houses that have existed for several decades. And, while trends still dictate the fashion world, modern designers have often drawn inspiration from the past and have modified classic looks from the past eighty years to be the height of fashion today. Designers for mass retailers seem to be less focused on creating ground-breaking images in fashion and more focused on adapting popular styles to fit all purposes and body shapes. As we have become more sedentary, our waistlines have expanded and clothing has adapted to that as well with more retailers offering larger sizes and more figure-flattering options.