Seventies to Noughties Fashion Style ~ Part 2

Seventies to Noughties Fashion Style ~ Part 2

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A beginners guide to Style Evolution through seventies till noughties (2010) globally through the lens of pop culture, literature, music and politics, this article is second in series of Fashion & Style Evolution globally.

Fashion is a mirror of society, culture, politics and economics of its times. It acts as the visual compass that is set in motion by the turn of various events affecting the society. By the time seventies hit in, Fashion and Style had varied forms to explore and express.

Disco Seventies

Seventies, Bee Gees, Abba, disco, sequins, bell bottoms, jumpsuits and hot pants made Saturday night fever a huge rage. So much so that New York’s Studio 54, considered as the cultural marker of seventies, became one night club where musicians, actors, designers, models and socialites frequented for crazy parties.  

Day wear of seventies looked back to forties for inspiration. Shirt dress in bright colours and prints was quite a hit. The Mods of sixties played with Hippies to create a mish-mash- teaming short sheath dress with long pea coat for extra style. The Prairie dress was a more common phenomenon among the housewives – a long dress with high neck and full sleeves in dainty prints reminding one of the Edwardian era. The women who went to work were influenced by two people – Diane Von Furstenberg and her wrap dresses that could double up as day wear and evening wear and Margaret Thatcher’s power dressing in the form of coloured suits and pussy bow silk blouses. The wide legged or bell-bottom pants with high waist in bright colours were also striking for casual wear. Denim on denim trend started back in seventies. Levis became a major hit with every man and woman wanting to lay their hands on all kinds of denims – high waisted, bell bottomed, flared, skinny, bejewelled, patch worked or even acid washed.  

While the current generation might try to introduce words like gender fluid collection, the OG proponent David Bowie made it rather cool in seventies to dress fluidly. In fact, most pants and shirts could be cross-worn by either gender for the sheer presence of colours, bold prints and materials that were widely acceptable by all. Think of leopard prints, paisley prints in silk and stripe tee-shirts in velour. Bold coloured Palazzo Pants and Kaftans became Host-wear for anyone who hosted the parties. Silver, Gold and White were the colours of clubbing – think of halter necked jumpsuit and big chunky hoops teamed with platform heels or strappy heels. Roy Halston was the man behind the craze of jersey fabric halter neck dresses in silver and whites. The earthy tones and long silhouettes of skirts still worked for the hippie styles while Punk became a major style segment popularised by Vivienne Westwood.  

The decade seemed to embrace everyone – much like the spreading cultural movements for equality of genders, LGBT rights, demand for equal wages and climate change dialogues. Music scene saw the rise of bands like Abba, Bee Gees, Cher and David Bowie on one hand while Beatles, Led Zepplin and Rolling Stones carried their own legacy. There was space for everyone and every kind. During the latter part of the decade, it gave way to the athleisure wear of the eighties bringing in leotards, tracks, sweatshirts etc.  

Style Icons to follow in seventies – Diane Von Furstenberg, Joni Mitchell, Bianca Jagger, Cher, David Bowie, Diana Ross, John Travolta, Farrah Fawcet, Abba, Elton John 

 Maximalist  Eighties  

If seventies were all about mish-mash, eighties raised the ante, quite literally. Maximalism got its due recognition with broad shoulder pads, bright bold colours, chunky accessories and big hair do’s. Hip-hop and MTV culture spread the love for athleisure wear with sneakers like a house on fire whereas Jane Fonda and her fitness videos got everyone wearing bright leotards and leg warmers for their fitness routine. Also the hot dance routine in Flash Dance made gym wear rather sexy. On the other hand, working women started entering board-rooms ; the need to create dominance led to increasing popularity of broad-shouldered blazers and suits. Remember Princess Diana and Julia Roberts flaunting the blazer suits ? More casual approach was seen in America’s favourite show – Seinfeld where Elaine Benes too wore blazers over dresses and pants.  

The decade started with soft romantic looks carried forward by the Prairie dresses and blouson and skirts looks. While high end designer wear with bright colours and taffeta became coveted by the wealthy, few American designers like Ralph Lauren opted for “Preppy”– the one with chequered jackets and handknit sweaters for elegance. Lady Diana’s initial years were this new romantic look coupled with preppy style. Later she opted for bolder and glamorous choices.  

Eighties can’t be spoken without the mention of Madonna and her body suits, leather jackets, bracelets, coloured stockings and punk fashion. A punk movement characterised by PVC and/or leather biker jacket, ripped leggings, white sneakers with visible socks and big hair was quite a rage in the eighties. So was the idea of cropped tops and high waisted denims. Harem Pants and overalls, baggy pants, turtle neck sweaters, see-through dresses, polka dots, off-shoulder tops, graphic tee shirts, big sunglasses, corsets, big belts were just some of the must-have items if you wanted to be the style diva in the eighties.  

TV Shows, Music Culture and Movies became a major source of style influence for everyone. Musicians were rock stars – their styles were emulated by their fans as an ode to their icons. Think of electric wires like Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Cher, Donna Summer, Diana Ross and Roxanne lighting up a storm on stage. Bon Jovi, U2, Guns n Roses, Marvi Gaye, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Police, Lionel Richie – who should we even miss out in this mad music party that highly influenced style of the eighties?  

Grungy Nineties 

The maximalist eighties gave way to the beginning of grunge and minimalism in nineties. While supermodel phenomenon was at its peak with models like Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington ruling the fashion weeks and brand shoots, pop artists like Britney Spears and Spice Girls influenced the youth with their funky mod style. They brought in sass and verve to youthful fashion. The minimal look was seen through the decade with women preferring boot cut jeans, baggy pants, hoodie, basic tee-shirts and Air Jordans for the casual day look and slip dresses in satin or velvet for evenings. It was the time when everyone was taking fashion rather easy and slipping in more comfortable wear. 

Athleisure, Grunge and minimalism became the pivots for exploring styles.  

The reigning trend of nineties were slip dresses, boot cut denims, crop tops, halter neck tops, tube tops, leather jacket, strappy sandals, scrunchies, leopard and snake-skin prints, leather and gold chain chokers and biker shirts. Young people in the 90s wore flannel shirts, long-sleeve thermals, ripped jeans and Converse sneakers in part to emulate Kurt Cobain, a counterculture icon of Nirvana band. He became the accidental fashion icon for millions. Movies like Pretty Woman, Men in Black, Pulp Fiction, Matrix, Titanic and Before Sunrise gave major style goals to different people whereas popular sitcoms like Friends, That ’70s Show, Everybody Loves Raymond and Will & Grace influenced the daily styles of youth. Fashion became easily achievable with the boom of world-wide internet, the absolute game-changer in the way fashion would be consumed in future. Supermodels mattered only to high end designers, for most working class – they found their inspiration from sitcoms and movie characters which they enthusiastically recreated from second hand-stores ( a rising culture in USA) and stores like Walmart, Primark and Tesco.  

Nineties gave the freedom to choose your own individual style over what’s trending. Globalization in truest sense allowed people to appreciate styles and cultures of different regions. Style icons like Princess Diana resorted to more comfortable wear making biker shorts and sweatshirt a rage. You can be super chic like Naomi Campbell in monochrome look with black biker jacket or you can rock a slip dress in satin like Gwyneth Paltrow, you can be sophisticated like Jennifer Aniston and her minimal styles or you can overboard with Madonna’s style. Choice is yours. 

Y2K Noughties 

The 2000s fashion is fairly recent and everything seems to have happened right in front of us. From the boom of internet to beginning of Fashion bloggers phenomenon, from TV shows like Friends, SATC, Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girls influencing the fashion to Music icons like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Cristina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry forming their cult presence through their risqué styles, this decade has seen fashion evolve at a faster rate than ever. Cultural movements like Gender Equality, Pay Parity, LGBTQ and Environmental crusade became prominent with expressionism increasing through personal blogs, Youtube videos and online protests. 

It is also the decade when retail giants like Zara and H&M started selling fast fashion to aspiring fashionable millennials at an unprecedented speed. Globalization of Fashion was at its peak. Everyone wanted to look flawless and emulate the looks of their favourite TV stars, movie stars and musicians while blurring the regional and geographical boundaries.  

Socialites like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie and actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker set the tone for fashion of the year with their daily outfits of the day and red-carpet styles. International Bloggers like Atlantic-Pacific, a fashion and personal style site by Blair Eadie, became a phenomenon thanks to internet. The Street-style culture became more acceptable and designers worked reverse; inspiration was sought from street-style and adapted in high end designs.  

It was the decade of tank tops, halter necks, crop tops, low waist denims, bedazzled denims, juicy couture track suits, big belts, skinny denims, baggy pants, cargo pants, tunics over leggings, leopard prints kind of a decade. There was also a sort of boho vibe with a lot of paisley patterns, asymmetrical tops and skirts and also a fair share amount of maxi skirts. A kind of office wear was still trending, but done less formal. Like, pantsuits but with colourful tops underneath, or blazers but paired with distressed denim. 2000s allowed denims to see its form in all shapes – skinny, tapered, acid washed, ripped, flared, boot cuts, low waist, high waist, coloured. Popular accessories were bandanas, sunnies and layered necklaces. Another major statement was the handbag and the designer logo. The early and mid of the 2000s saw an explosion of designer logos as they were a status symbol (LV and Gucci, but also Chanel). They were on bags, scarves, belts, caps and on the clothes too. Who’s Who of the society loved to flaunt their designer bags, shoes and belts with logos.  

Style Icons – Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Cristina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Queen Rania, Victoria Beckham

The evolution of styles and its recycling through the decades clearly hints – Do not discard your beloved clothes. Those Styles will come back 🙂

Falguni Patel

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