Popular fashion trends the year you were born
If you were born in 1918, congratulations. According to the Pew Research Center, you're one of about only 72,000 centenarians in the United States and fewer than 500,000 worldwide. If you've lived that long, you've seen some big changes in fashion along the way. Some have come, gone, and come back again. Others were regrettable fads that thankfully stayed dead once they went out of vogue. Others caught on quickly and never went out of style.
Some fashion trends are the result of war, others are the brainchildren of bold, innovative designers. Some are born out of necessity, some are triggered by a single celebrity's taste, and others arrive by accident. No matter the reason, fashion both steers and reflects the climate and culture of the time. Here are 100 of the most memorable trends over the past century.
In the 1920s, tanned skin came into vogue and by 1930, small, delicate, and decorative sun umbrellas were all but a memory. In 1918, however, parasols were still a common sight as women sported the accessory both for its function and its form. Parasols, after all, had long been a symbol of high society.
1919: Trench coats
Long outerwear made from rubberized cotton had been around since the 1820s, but what is now called a trench coat exploded in popularity after returning soldiers brought them back from World War I. Long, heavy, warm, and durable, they protected soldiers in the trenches not just from drenching rains, but also from the poison gas that has come to epitomize the conflict—the trademark wide collar was designed to tuck a gas mask into to make it airtight. Upon returning to civilian life, many soldiers just kept the rain jackets they were issued on the front.
1920: Bandeau tops
By the 1920s, women had mostly abandoned the bust-enhancing corsets and girdles of generations past. The era of the flappers was underway, and boyish bob cuts with boyish bodies were the hot new look. Women in vogue were now sporting tight bandeau tops that intentionally flattened their breasts.
1921: Cloche hats
Hats were a part—if not the most important part—of the standard uniform for men and women during the Roaring '20s, and few hats were more popular in 1921 than the all-encompassing cloche hat. Snug and worn low over the eyebrows, cloche hats perfectly complemented the short bob cuts that flapper women made famous.
1922: Trousers for women
Few people impacted 20th-century fashion more thoroughly than Coco Chanel, and although women briefly sported trousers while working in industry while the men were away during World War I, it was Chanel who made pants a female fashion statement. Chanel reportedly loved the look and feel of trousers, wore them often and publicly, and by the early 1920s, she started designing them for women.
1923: Art deco dress
The art deco movement that swept Europe and the United States in the 1910s was in full effect by 1923, and the style impacted clothing as much as architecture. That year, women's clothing was trending toward geometric shapes and patterns, often with seaming intentionally left visible to add detail, along with surface designs and graphic embellishment.
1924: High-heeled shoes
High heels had been around for centuries before the '20s roared—in fact, they were originally designed for men and were often preferred by royalty. In the 1920s, however, the modern designer high heel was born. A typical ad from 1924 might offer heels with intricate detailing and an elongated toe with bows or crisscrossing straps, not unlike the kind you'd likely see in a catalog today.
1925: Wingtip shoes
Brogue-style shoes had been around long before the 1920s, but during the then-unprecedented affluence of that decade, accessories like shoes and hats became more stylish to keep up with the dapper men's suits of the era. By the mid-'20s, a brogue spinoff called wingtips emerged, and their pointing toe caps, circular perforations and, of course, swooping "wings" came to define panache in footwear.
1926: Little black dress
Few pieces of women's clothing are more ubiquitous or enduring than the versatile and reliable LBD—the little black dress. Contrary to popular belief, however, it didn't start with Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in 1961. In 1926, Vogue published a drawing of a basic, narrow-sleeved dress designed by Coco Chanel that the publication dubbed "Chanel's Ford" because it was affordable, accessible to the masses and, of course, black.
1927: Saddle shoes
A.G. Spalding introduced the genderless saddle shoe in 1906, and by the late 1920s, they had become nearly ubiquitous—a trend that would hold for decades to come. Preferred by young people but also frequently seen on older Americans, saddle shoes contain a separate piece of leather sewn over the waist of the shoe, often in a contrasting color.2018 All rights reserved.