Evolution of the American Clothing Through the Decades
• In the 1930s, bigger was better, with doublebreasted suits, full-cut trousers, and tuxedos with tails setting the standard for how a gentleman should dress. Also: the dawn of shirtless sunbathing.
• 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.
• In the 1940s, war changes everything. The government restricts the use of wool, and singlebreasted jackets and cuffand pleat-free pants become the norm. Once the boys come home, big style roars back with wide lapels, spread collars, and roomy suits.
• 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.
• In the 1950s, conservatism and conformity rule, with trim tailoring and similar accessories (hat, pocket square, cigarette, and martini) for just about everyone. Downtime sees the occasional glimpses of flair (shantung jackets, madras prints, Hawaiian shirts).
• 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.
• In the 1960s, the revolution arrives, with JFK's patrician formality giving way to flared trousers, flower shirts, wide lapels, and other assorted grooviness.
• 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 1970s, the peacock revolution leads to the rise of loose-collared culture. Deconstructed tailoring (leisure suits, et al.) takes rise and floppy collars rule.
• In the late sixties and seventies hippie fashion took over and loosefitting, 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.
• In the 1980s, it's morning in America, with broad shoulders framing power ties and suspenders. Bold colors and graphic patterns convey a new national confidence.
• Fashion in the ‘80s was a melting pot of personal styles; Multiple trends were combined in different ways to form one’s own look. Of all the decades in the past century, ‘80s fashion is remembered with the most outrageous styles. Subtlety in fashion was never practiced— everything was the bigger the better.
• In the 1990s, the bridge to the 21st century brings great change, with the loose, baggy silhouette of the early '90s leading to a slimmer suit profile. Business casual enters the lexicon.
• The rising world of hip-hop also became a big influence in ‘90s fashion, inspiring baggier fitting pants for women as well as men. Whatever its expression, comfort was the key factor in clothing choice for most women in the ‘90s. The decade began to reject the moneyed styles of designers and opt for more causal wear.
• In the 2000s, men start dressing up again, and the current era of sartorial individuality -- via colors, patterns, or style -- commences.
• The 2000s are often described as a mash-up decade. The decade did not have one or two particular styles like prior ones, but a multitude of fashion styles that included recycling fads from past decades, and calling it vintage. The overall styles of the 2000s are best described as polished versions of earlier fashions, honing in on the basics to create new styles that were inspired by the past.