Forty Years of Fashion - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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Fashions come and go and somehow they come back again. Apparel Search traces the last forty-plus years of fashion—from go-go boots and chic Jackie O looks to status bags and a return to 80s-style skinny jeans.

Yesterday's fashions will undoubtedly resurface again as fashion moves its way through the trend cycles time and time again. Sometimes the fashions of the past emerge again with so much influence from a bygone era that it makes us think we traveled back in time. Other fashions merely draw inspiration from the past, presenting updated and recreated styles that flaunt a modern twist. Here, a timeline of some of the most memorable fashions and key trends of the past several decades.

Even if we were not there to experience it ourselves, we all recall the fashions of the '60s. The era began with ladylike looks (think dresses and gloves) carried over from the '50s, but ended up with a focus on peace symbols and mod minis. Art, notably Pop art, also influenced apparel.

The '70s ushered in an era of go-go boots, platform shoes, and disco-inspired looks. It's difficult to recall this era without thinking of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Bell bottoms and flared pants were key trends along with hot pants and spandex tops. Hippie looks reflected ethnic influences with key looks ranging from loose-fitting robes to kimonos and caftans. These styles were inspired by the clothing of India, Africa, and beyond. On the other side of the spectrum, fur was the ultimate status symbol.

Power dressing was a key message of the '80s. Excess was demonstrated through big shoulders and big hair, which mirrored the styles we saw on popular television shows such as “Dynasty.” Let's not forget lots of lace and the layering of several necklaces and bracelets, which were trends introduced by Madonna, who later branded herself as a style icon. Music was undoubtedly a heavy influence on fashion—from Hip hop looks to 80s-style “hair bands” such as Bon Jovi, Poison, and Whitesnake. Here, skinny jeans were offset by big hair.

Grunge was a fashion buzzword during the '90s, but old basics such as music and sports also influenced the styles. Baseball caps were worn backwards, and high top running shoes and sports jerseys were also key items. Men's underwear became outerwear as jeans sagged below the waistline. Clean, minimalist looks inspired by Calvin Klein were also being worn by luminaries such as Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.

Status bags continue to be a key accessory for 2000 and beyond—think Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel. Art is also playing a major role in fashion as popular artists such as Murakami designed eye-popping prints for luxury brand Louis Vuitton. Skinny jeans are back in fashion along with Rock-inspired tees reminiscent of the Bon Jovi era. Mini skirts from the '60s are also dominating the trends, and Madonna is still going strong as she jet-sets around the globe on her Sticky & Sweet Tour.

Trivia: Did you know that 40 years equals 4 decades?  Yes, it is true.

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