Last night, whilst catching up on the BBC’s adaptation of ‘Partners in Crime’ I found that I was coveting Tuppence Beresford’s (Jessica Raine) outfit. The combination of a woollen tartan box coat, mustard hat and cardigan, and those wonderful 1950’s cigarette trousers. A perfect outfit for the troublesome, nosey, and wannabe spy Tuppence. When making a mental note to cobble up a similar outfit, I got to wondering why vintage clothing is so popular.
I am always a fan of a good collar, preferably laced. When looking for a ball gown, I was more inclined to the vintage styles, simply for their ease and elegance. Something I personally feel many affordable modern gowns are lacking. Accentuating the waist is a must. Clothing for me has always been a reflection of my mood, and the different eras, and histories behind them mirror the type of mood I am in. Are we more in tune with the mood and movements of an era, rather than just the fashions themselves?
The Roaring 20’s has always been held as the beginning point for vintage fashion. Coco Chanel helped to revolutionise fashion of the 20’s, reinforcing the idea that women were capable of much more than wives. She paved the way for comfortable, loose fitting clothes, even fashioning a line of sportswear dedicated to women. The Jazz Age was an exciting and invigorating era for women, no longer held back in the home. ‘The new breed of women’ or flappers were showing off their knees, cutting their hair into bobs, and showing disdain for any respectable behaviour. This was a time of glamour, riches, and a new sense of freedom. A time, which in this economically restricting present are gazed upon with a warm sense of nostalgia.
With the War over, and rations being lifted fashion took on a whole new turn. Fabric was more readily available, creating the big blooms and wonderful skirts so synonymous with the era. The fifties were all about showing your neighbour that you could afford the very best after the constraints of the war. The typical tiny waist and conformity of body shapes to fit the fashions began in the 1950’s, with the perfect hour glass figure taking precedence. Yet, with these conformities, individuality was still celebrated; as long as one stayed within societies standards. This showing off defined this era. The fifties glamour is still on display today, not only with Rockability, but also in high end fashion, most notably Louis Vuitton’s 2010-2011 winter collection.
The fifties encouraged individuality, and the Swinging Sixties fully embraced it! Hemlines grew shorter, and many items of clothing could be mixed and matched with different outfits. Daring colours continued to be used; and people started to move away from making their own clothes, and into buying them, ready to wear. The 60’s individualism also reflected the social changes of the time, becoming more flirty and exciting. Needless to say, the social movements of the 60’s still have a massive impact on what we wear today, and how far we can push those hemlines.
The 80’s has forever become known as the reign of the shoulder pads. However through the expansion and globalisation of celebrity, fashion took on a whole new turn. Smaller subgroups, such as punks and yuppies, with their own distinctive identities became popular, with individualism at the very forefront. Much of the outlandish styles of the 80’s still hold sway over much of the fashion industry today, celebrities like Madonna, Rhianna, Lady Gaga and many more using this individual basis to stamp out a name for themselves.
In respect to today, the rise in vintage fashion may hold to the rose tinted view that these were better times for all. The Rockability chick and the hipster, cigarette in hand, are both looking towards the past, dazzled by the glamour each period promises.
Yet, with the emergence of fashion from these eras, each being promoted by the high end fashion houses, proves that the spirit of these times are far from dead. Invoked for public consumption when the time is right. Vintage fashion goes beyond this, it is the individual who is speaking out and declaring what they feel like wearing, away from what is expected from them, and in their own way keeping the flavour of their chosen era alive. How better to do this than through the living art of fashion!