From Sophisticate to Style Supermarket

The Festival of Britain symbolised postwar optimism. Early 1950s day dresses were classic and trim. The calf length dirndle skirt for teenagers was worn over stiff nylon petticoats. American casuals arrived, and the blue jean. Conical bosoms were admired, and Italian design influenced long jumpers and stilettos.

1960s strong economy encouraged textile innovations, contemporary art  and  pop culture. Dress  reflected  Victoriana, hallucinations, India and the space age. Hemlines rose well above the knee, tights replaced stockings, underwear became minimal. Little girl looks were in.

1970s dress reflected ethnic cultures or retro looks from the 1920s to 1940s. Bright colours, textures and patterns were combined in eccentric, adult styles. American denims in ‘used’ finishes  were universal. Hemlines were ‘mini’, ‘midi’ and ‘maxi’. Individual boutique looks coexisted,  from  Laura Ashley   innocent nostalgia to Biba  retro vamp.

1980s boom  economy  fashions reflected  a money obsessed, image concious society. Designer labels and  active sporty styles, emphasising teamwork, predominated. Working women often ‘power dressed’ in wide shouldered,  sexy styles. Street fashion sub cultures cross influenced mainstream fashion, drawing from Punk,  New Romantic, Gothic  and Ethnic Chic.

Dress in the  cut-back 1990s  was  entirely down to a woman’s  individual role, limited  only by personal wealth. Seasonal fashion ephemera, manufacturer driven, happened alongside classic styles. Fashion  became a global melting pot and famous names struggled in a highly competitive market.

As the 21st Century rolls on, clothing will continue to be a vital choice, but will fashion be conditioned increasingly by forces outside our control ?