Over the past five decades, media such as music, film and television have played large roles in determining what society deems fashionable and stylish.
Big hair was the deal for many in the 1980s. With rock and roll soaring in popularity, there were many examples of wild hairstyles that spanned the decade. Long curly hair styles for men were influenced by popular rock bands and musicians such as Def Leppard, Guns ‘n Roses and Motley Crue.
Women also followed musical trends popularized by such icons as Madonna and Janet Jackson. Leggings covered by skirts or high waist shorts, accompanied by oversized bangles and necklaces, were popular looks during the decade of excess. Hairstyles tended to have tresses pulled to the side, instead of the back.
The 1990s were known for oversized looks, such as bigger shirts and tracksuits. For example, many men adopted the styles worn by actor Will Smith in the classic television show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Fashion statements included large shorts, worn with baggy shirts such as cropped tee shirts or athletic jerseys.
The late Princess of Wales, Diana, proved to be a dominant influence for the female set. Always stylish, her fashion sense ranged from glamorous gowns adorned with eye-popping jewelry, to simple, yet elegant, casual sweatshirts worn over fitted shorts accompanied by high top shoes.
During the first decade of the new century, designer-logoed merchandise was all the rage. Major outfitters offered a wide range of goods sporting signature logos and styles from well-known couturiers.
Women fell in love with several new looks, including low-waist jeans, specialty handbags and custom belts. The decade also saw the birth of ripped clothing – jeans and shirts with holes deliberately placed in them.
Men were drawn more toward casual styles, wearing tracksuits, cargo shorts and ball caps bearing logos from major athletic companies and sports teams. One popular trend was baggy jeans that sagged below the waistline. This look was influenced by popular skateboarders such as legendary X Games champion Tony Hawk.
During the 2nd decade of the new millennium, a reversal of sorts took place in men’s fashion. In contrast to previous styles that featured loose, baggy clothing, skinny jeans and slim fits suits became all the rage. Strongly influenced by the urban hipster phenomenon, this trend also featured shorter shorts and thick framed designer glasses.
Women’s styles became more provocative during the decade, featuring more revealing designs that featured bright colors reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s. Both casual and formal wear became more attention getting, due in large part to the influence of runway fashions created by upscale designers such as Versace.
Although we aren’t yet midway through this decade, there are already clear signs of fashion trends that will likely last until the 2030s. As in recent years, men’s styles have continued to be driven by athletic influences. For example, shorter shorts are continuing to grow in popularity, following trends set by college and professional basketball teams. While traditional long pants are still the norm in the workplace, they are increasingly being replaced by golf shorts in more casual settings.
Women have begun to return to a look that was popular in the 1940s, thicker, fuller eyebrows accompanied by stronger lipstick and eyeshadow colors. This trend has been strongly influenced by entertainment icons such as Billie Eilish and Demi Lovato, who have made it their signature style in recent years.
While the future is unknown, one thing is always certain, at least with regard to style. History almost always repeats itself. One quick glance at fashion trends over the past several decades proves that style tends to follow a cyclical pattern. What was once popular, will be once more, and what is popular today, will eventually fade away.