Vintage Fashion Timeline

Sometimes you just want to wrap your head around the big picture. We explored this quest earlier in the vintage jewelry through the decades post. Now we’re happy to present a simple diagram that walks you through the major retro fashion eras. Please enjoy our vintage fashion timeline and let us know what your favorite styles are in the comments.

Vintage Fashion Timeline

Beautiful fashion through the decades

How vintage fashion has changed over the years

Fashion is influenced by a variety of forces: social, political, and cultural. The early 1900s were strongly impacted by a general air of progress. The industrial revolution spawned new materials, processes, and hope. Advancements were not limited to the realm of corporations; the suffragette movement granted women increased empowerment. This independence translated to more comfortable fashion: lighter fabrics with less constrictive silhouettes. World War I introduced a sense of worry, but by the 1920s the jazz age dismissed any concern. The flapper girl carried a tremendous influence: she required clothes that moved freely and fabrics that showcased her trim physique. The party was short-lived with the sudden crash of the stock market.

vintage dress forms

1912 dress forms

The financial crash was only made worse with the Dust Bowl and by the 1930s people were seeking positive and happy inspiration. The glamour of the movie star provided the perfect vision. Fashion responded with body-conscious and seductive qualities. Soon women and men alike didn’t have the luxury of focusing on personal appearance. World War II plunged the world’s population into darkness; rations impacted every aspect of life. Fashion became more subdued and the overall effect was a charming and inventive reuse of available materials. At the end of the war, hope became infectious and women embraced an exaggerated feminine look. Waistlines were emphasized and fuller skirts were in vogue.

The girly girl chic template was broken by the 1960s. Mini skirts, mini dresses, and funky fabrics echoed the general attitude of empowerment. Civil rights, Woodstock, and the “space race” all collided to make a decade of change driven by the youth culture. Pop culture continued to be dominated by the younger crowd in the following decade. Anti-government, back to nature movements cropped up often during the 1970s and fashion as a result went back to its 1910 roots: comfort and ease. Billowing pants and dresses flowed, organic hues flourished, and traditional gender roles were challenged (think Diane Keaton’s iconic look in Annie Hall). Understandably our vintage fashion timeline only highlights the biggest moments; please help us fill in any gaps we’ve missed. We look forward to your contributions!

Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: Wikipedia, Lone Star College, and the people who post their images without restriction.

For our readers: What era speaks the most to you? What styles do you enjoy mixing and matching?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments will be subject to approval by a moderator. Comments may fail to be approved or may be edited if the moderator deems that they:

  • contain unsolicited advertisements ("spam")
  • are unrelated to the subject matter of the post or of subsequent approved comments
  • contain personal attacks or abusive/gratuitously offensive language