Fashion trend of apparel industry 1950-2012


Fashion in the years following World War II is characterized by the resurgence of haute couture after the austerity of the war years. Square shoulders and short skirts were replaced by the soft femininity of Christian Dior‘s “New Look” silhouette, with its sweeping longer skirts, fitted waist, and rounded shoulders, which in turn gave way to an unfitted, structural look in the later 1950s.

Innovations in textile technology following the war resulted in new synthetic fabrics and easy-care fabric finishes that fitted the suburban lifestyle of the 1950s with its emphasis on casual sportswear for both men and women. For the first time, teenagers became a force in fashion.

General trends

The return of fashion

By 1947, the Paris fashion houses had reopened, and once again Paris resumed its position as the arbiter of high fashion. The “orderly, rhythmic evolution of fashion change” had been disrupted by the war, and a new direction was long overdue. A succession of style trends led by Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga defined the changing silhouette of women’s clothes through the 1950s. Television joined fashion magazines and movies in disseminating clothing styles.

Casual clothing and teenage style

One result of the Post-World War II economic expansion was a flood of synthetic fabrics and easy-care processes. “Drip-dry” nylon, orlon and dacron, which could retain heat-set pleats after washing, became immensely popular. Acrylic, polyester, triacetate and spandex were all introduced in the 1950s. Miss America contestant Yolande Betbeze wears the co-ed’s uniform of a short-sleeve sweater and pencil skirt, with high heels, 1950.Social changes went hand-in-hand with new economic realities, and one result was that many young people who would have become wage-earners early in their teens before the war now remained at home and dependent upon their parents through high school and beyond, establishing the notion of the teenage years as a separate stage of development. Teens and college co-eds adopted skirts and sweaters as a virtual uniform, and the American fashion industry began to target teenagers as a specialized market segment in the 1940s.

In the United Kingdom, the Teddy boys of the post-war period created the “first truly independent fashions for young people”, favouring an exaggerated version of the Edwardian-flavoured British fashion with skinny ties and narrow, tight trousers worn short enough to show off garish socks In North America, greasers had a similar social position. Previously, teenagers dressed similarly to their parents, but now a rebellious and different youth style was being developed.

Young adults returning to college under the G.I. Bill adopted an unpretentious, functional wardrobe, and continued to wear blue jeans with shirts and pullovers for general informal wear after leaving school. Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The term “beatnik” was coined by Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1958,[7] and the stereotypical “beat” look of sunglasses, berets, black turtlenecks, and unadorned dark clothing provided another fashion alternative for youths of both sexes, encouraged by the marketing specialists of Madison Avenue.

Women wear

The New Look

Tailored suit features a long pencil skirt and a fitted jacket with peplum. Photograph for Harper’s Bazaar, London, 1951



Evening gown by Dior, silk taffeta, 1954. Indianapolis Museum of Art.


Natalie Wood (center, with Tab Hunter) and Louella Parsons wear ballerina-length gowns at the Academy Awards, 1956.

On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior launched the first collection of the House of Dior. The new collection went down in fashion history as the “New Look”. The signature shape was characterized by a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, pointed bust, small waist, and rounded shoulder line Resisted at first, especially in America, where fashion magazines showed padded shoulders until 1950,[1] the radical new silhouette soon became immensely popular, influencing fashion and other designers for many years to come. The “softness” of the New Look was deceptive; the curved jacket peplum shaped over a high, rounded, curved shoulders, and full skirt of Dior’s clothes relied on an inner construction of new interlining materials to shape the silhouette. Throughout the post-war period, a tailored, feminine look was prized and accessories such as gloves and pearls were popular. Tailored suits had fitted jackets with peplums, usually worn with a long, narrow pencil skirt. Day dresses had fitted bodices and full skirts, with jewel or low-cut necklines or Peter Pan collars. Shirtdresses, with a shirt-like bodice, were popular, as were halter-top sundresses. Skirts were narrow or very full, held out with petticoats; poodle skirts were a brief fad. Evening gowns were often the same length as day dresses (called “ballerina length”), with full, frothy skirts. Cocktail dresses, “smarter than a day dress but not as formal as a dinner or evening dress”[11] were worn for early-evening parties. Short shrugs and bolero jackets, often made to match low-cut dresses, were worn.

Clothes for the space age

From the mid-1950s, a new unfitted style of clothing appeared as an alternative to the tight waist and full skirt associated with the New Look. Spanish designer Balenciaga had shown unfitted suits in Paris as early as 1951 and unfitted dresses from 1954, and Dior showed an A-line dress in 1955, but these styles only slowly gained acceptance by the wider public.[14][15] Coco Chanel made a comeback in 1954 and an important look of the latter 1950s was the Chanel suit, with a braid-trimmed cardigan-style jacket and A-line skirt. By 1957, most suits featured lightly fitted jackets reaching just below the waist and shorter, narrower skirts. Balenciaga’s clothes featured few seams and plain necklines, and following his lead chemise dresses without waist seams, either straight and unfitted or in a princess style with a slight A-line, became popular. The sleeveless, princess-line dress was called a skimmer.[14][16] A more fitted version was called a sheath dress.



New York had become an American design center during the war, and remained so, especially for sportswear, in the post-war period. Women who had worn trousers on war service refused to abandon these practical garments which suited the informal aspects of the post-war lifestyle. Casual sportswear was an increasingly large component of women’s wardrobes. Casual skirts were narrow or very full. In the 1950s, pants became very narrow, and were worn ankle-length. Pants cropped to mid-calf were houseboy pants; shorter pants, to below the knee, were called pedal-pushers. Shorts were very short in the early ’50s, and mid-thigh length Bermuda shorts appeared around 1954 and remained fashionable through the remainder of the decade. Loose printed or knit tops were fashionable with pants or shorts. They also wore bikinis to sport training.

Swimsuits were one- or two-piece; some had loose bottoms like shorts with short skirts. Bikinis appeared in Europe but were not worn in America in the 1950s.

Hats and hairstyles

Hair was worn short and curled with the New Look, and hats were essential for all but the most casual occasions. Wide-brimmed saucer hats were shown with the earliest New Look suits, but smaller hats soon predominated. Very short cropped hairstyles were fashionable in the early ’50s. By mid-decade hats were worn less frequently, especially as fuller hairstyles like the short, curly poodle cut and later bouffant and beehive became fashionable. “Beat” girls wore their hair long and straight, and teenagers adopted the ponytail, short or long.

Maternity wear

In the 1950s, Lucille Ball was the first woman to show her pregnancy on TV.The television show I Love Lucy brought new attention to maternity wear. Most of the maternity dresses were two pieces with loose tops and narrow skirts. Stretch panels accommodated for the woman’s growing figure. The baby boom of the 1940s to the 1950s also caused focus on maternity wear. Even international designers such as Givenchy and Norman Hartnell created maternity wear clothing lines. Despite the new emphasis on maternity wear in the 1950s maternity wear fashions were still being photographed on non-pregnant women for advertisements. On September 29, 1959, the maternity panty was patented which provided expansion in the vertical direction of the abdomen. The front panel of this maternity undergarment was composed of a high degree of elasticity so in extreme stretched conditions, the woman could still feel comfortable.[








The 1960s featured a number of diverse trends. It was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the period. In the middle of the decade, culottes, box-shaped PVC dresses and go-go boots were popular. The widely popular bikini came into fashion in 1963 after being featured in the musical Beach Party.

Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt, and Jackie Kennedy introduced the pillbox hat, both becoming extremely popular. False eyelashes were worn by women throughout the 1960s, and their hairstyles were a variety of lengths and stylesWhile focusing on colours and tones, accessories were less of an importance during the sixties. People were dressing in psychedelic prints, highlighter colours, and mismatched patterns. The hippie movement late in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies’ clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye, and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.In the early-to-mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both sexes changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade. Designers were producing clothing more suitable for young adults which lead to an increase in interests and sales.

Early 1960s

American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the icognic pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat on 22 November 1963

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Fashions in the early years of the decade reflected the elegance of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to the pillbox hat which is discussed in detail below, women wore suits with short boxy jackets, and over-sized buttons. Simple, geometric dresses, known as shifts, were also in style. For evening wear, full-skirted gowns were worn; these often had a low décolletage and had close-fitting waists. For casual wear, capri trousers were the fashion for women and girls.

Stiletto-heeled shoes were widely popular.

As the suits drifted away from pale, toned shades, menswear was now bright and colorful. It included frills and cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots and even collarless jackets. Ties were worn even five inches wide, with crazy prints, stripes and patterns. Casual dress consisted of plaid button down shirts with comfortable slacks or skirts.

The Mods were a British fashion phenomenon in the mid-1960s with their anoraks, tailored Italian suits, and scooters.


A cocktail dress decorated with metal discs by designer, Paco Rabanne, 1967


After designer Mary Quant introduced the mini-skirt in 1964, fashions of the 1960s were changed forever. The mini skirt was eventually to be worn by nearly every stylish young female in the western world.

The mini dress was usually A-line in shape or a sleeveless shift. In 1964, French designer Andre Courreges introduced the “space look”, with trouser suits, white boots, goggles, and box-shaped dresses whose skirts soared three inches above the knee. These were mainly designed in fluorescent colours and shiny fabrics such as PVC and sequins.

The leaders of mid-1960s style were the British. The Mods (short for Modernists) were characterized by their choice of style different from the 1950s and adopted new fads that would be imitated by many young people. As the Mods strongly influenced the fashion in London, 1960s fashion in general set the mode for the rest of the century as it became marketed mainly to young people. Mods formed their own way of life creating television shows and magazines that focused directly on the lifestyles of Mods British rock bands such as The Who, The Small Faces, and The Kinks emerged from the Mod subculture. The Mods were known for the Modern Jazz they listened to as they showed their new styles off at local cafes. They worked at the lower end of the work force, usually nine to five jobs leaving time for clothes, music, and clubbing. It was not until 1964 when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public that women really were accepted in the group. Girls had short, clean haircuts and often dressed in similar styles to the male Mods.[4] The Mods’ lifestyle and musical tastes were the exact opposite of their rival group known as the Rockers.The rockers liked 1950s rock-and roll, wore black leather jackets, greased, pompadour hairstyles, and rode motorbikes. The look of the Mods was classy; they mimicked the clothing and hairstyles of high fashion designers in France and Italy; opting for tailored suits, which were topped by anoraks that became their trademark. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. The Mods dress style was often called the City Gent look. Shirts were slim, with a necessary button down collar accompanied by slim fitted pants.[4] Levi‘s were the only type of jeans worn by Modernists. Flared trousers and bellbottoms led the way to the hippie stage introduced in the 1960s. Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.

Carnaby Street and Chelsea‘s Kings Road were virtual fashion parades. In 1966, the space age was gradually replaced by the Edwardian, with the men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars, and their hair worn below the collar bone. Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones epitomised this “dandified” look. Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included Twiggy,  Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby, Penelope Tree, and Veruschka. Velvet mini dresses with lace-collars and matching cuffs, wide tent dresses and culottes had pushed aside the geometric shift. False eyelashes were in vogue, as was pale lipstick. Hemlines kept rising, and by 1968 they had reached well above mid-thigh. These were known as “micro-minis”. This was when the “angel dress” made its appearance on the fashion scene. A micro-mini dress with a flared skirt and long, wide trumpet sleeves, it was usually worn with patterned tights, and was often made of crocheted lace, velvet, chiffon or sometimes cotton with a psychedelic print such as those designed by Emilio Pucci. The cowled-neck “monk dress” was another religion-inspired alternative; the cowl could be pulled up to be worn over the head. For evening wear, skimpy chiffon baby-doll dresses with spaghetti-straps were the mode as well as the “cocktail dress”, which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves. Feather boas were occasionally worn.

In 1964, Bell-bottomed trousers were a new alternative to the capris of the early 1960s. They were usually worn with chiffon blouses, polo-necked ribbed sweaters or tops that bared the midriff.

The look of corsets, seamed tights, and skirts covering the knees had been abolished. The idea of buying urbanized clothing, which could be worn with separate pieces, was intriguing to women of this era in comparison to previously only buying specific outfits for certain occasions.

For daytime outerwear, short plastic raincoats, colourful swing coats and dyed fake-furs were popular for young women. In 1966, the Nehru jacket arrived on the fashion scene, and was worn by both sexes. Suits were very diverse in color but were for the first time ever fitted and very slimming. Waistlines for women were left unmarked and hemlines were getting shorter and shorter.

French actress Brigitte Bardot wearing a transparent top and a feather boa, 1968

Footwear for women included low-heeled sandals and kitten-heeled pumps, as well as the trendy white go-go boots. Shoes, boots, and handbags were often made of patent leather or vinyl. The Beatles wore elastic-sided boots similar to Winkle-pickers with pointed toes and Cuban heels. These were known as “Beatle boots” and were widely copied by young men in Britain.

Late 1960s

Bell-bottoms, colorful headbands, and bare feet were part of the unisex hippie look that was popular in the late 1960s

By 1968, the androgynous hippie look was in style. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, work shirts, and headbands. Wearing sandals was also part of the hippie look for both men and women. Women would often go barefoot, and some went braless.

Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, the “lounging” or “hostess” pajamas. These consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, and were usually made of polyester or chiffon.Another popular look for women and girls which lasted well into the early 1970s was the suede mini-skirt worn with a French polo-neck top,[9] square-toed boots, and Newsboy cap or beret. Long maxi coats, often belted and lined in sheepskin, appeared at the close of the decade.[12] Animal prints were also popular for women in the autumn and winter of 1969. Women’s shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of “Woodstock” came about in this generation.


Rolling Stone and trendsetter Brian Jones in 1965 with his trademark bowl-style haircut.

Head coverings changed dramatically towards the end of the decade as men’s hats went out of style, replaced by the bandanna, if anything at all. As men let their hair grow long, the Afro became the hairstyle of choice for African Americans. Mop-top hairstyles were most popular for white and Hispanic men, beginning as a short version around 1963 through 1964, developing into a longer style worn during 1965-66, eventually evolving into an unkempt hippie version worn during the 1967-69 period which continued in the early 1970s. Facial hair, evolving in its extremity from simply having longer sideburns, to mustaches and goatees, to full-grown beards became popular with young men from 1966 onwards. Women’s hair styles ranged from beehive hairdos in the early part of the decade to the very short styles popularized by Twiggy and Mia Farrow just five years later to a very long straight style as popularized by the hippies in the late 1960s. Between these extremes, the chin-length contour cut and the pageboy were also popular. The pillbox hat was fashionable, due almost entirely to the influence of Jacqueline Kennedy, who was a style-setter throughout the decade.

Additional fads and trends

John Lennon with long, unkempt hair and a beard, 1969. Photo courtesy of Roy Kerwood. The 1960s also gave birth to the drainpipe jeans, worn by Audrey Hepburn, which again became popular with young men and women in the 2000s (decade).

The late 1960s produced a style categorized of people who promoted sexual liberation and favored a type of politics reflecting “peace, love and freedom”.Ponchos, mocassins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed “bubble” sleeves were additional trends in the late 1960s.New materials other than cloth (such as polyester and PVC) started to become more popular as well. Starting in 1967, the Mod culture began to embrace reggae music and its working class roots. The new urban fashion known as Skinhead was born.



In the 1970s, the silhouette of fashion tended to be characterized by close fitting clothes on top with wider, looser clothes on the bottom. This trend completely reversed itself in the early 1980s as both men and women began to wear looser shirts and tight, close-fitting trousers.

Men also grew mustaches due to the influence of television shows like Magnum, P.I.. Medium-length hair was common for men, while the longer haircuts of the 1970s went out of fashion. However, very long hair for men became fashionable in the late 1980s due to the influence of Heavy Metal music.

Brand names became increasingly important in this decade, making Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein household names, among others.

After the release of her single “Like a Virgin” in late 1984, Madonna became a fashion icon for many young women around the world and copied her “street urchin” look with short skirts worn over leggings, brassieres worn as outer clothing, untidy hair, crucifix jewellery, and fishnet gloves.

The 1983 movie Flashdance made ripped sweatshirts popular. The television shows Dallas and, in particular, Dynasty also had a similar impact, especially in the area of the increasingly oversized shoulder pads.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the New Romantic music and fashion movement exerted a strong influence over the clothing worn by both males and females in the early years of the decade.

Other influences on fashion came from films starring Brat Pack members like Judd Nelson and Rob Lowe. By the late 1980s, the influence of an emerging, materialistic, Yuppie-influenced subculture was chronicled by writers like Bret Easton Ellis. Hip-Hop culture and Rap music also began influencing wider fashion trends, such as track suits (worn when not exercising), Kangol hats, including oversized gold jewelry on men and women.

New Romantic

New Romantic was a New Wave and fashion movement that occurred primarily in British and Irish nightclubs. New Wave, New Romantic, and gothic (Goth) fashion at this time was heavily influenced by punk fashion: the streaky eyeliner, the spiked hair, the outrageous clothing, some of which derived from bondage wear (goth) and some of which (New Romantic) was a nod to long-gone eras. New Romantics emerged in the UK music scene in the early ’80s as a direct backlash against the austerity of the punk movement. Where some punk bands railed against life in Britain’s council estates, the New Romantics celebrated glamour and partied regularly at local nightclubs. The make-up was streaky and bold. The notoriously outlandish designer/club host Leigh Bowery, known for his exuberant designs, became a muse for artists such as Boy George and Duran Duran and had grown a huge status in the early 1980s underground club scene. The early designer of the punk look was Vivienne Westwood. Her early career was closely linked to the Sex Pistols. She also designed clothing specifically for bands, such as Adam and the Ants, and later developed the “pirate look.” The pirate look featured full-sleeved, frilled “buccaneer” shirts often made of expensive fabrics. Hussar-style jackets with gold-braiding were worn with the shirts as well as high-waisted, baggy trousers which tapered at the ankle.[1] Colin Swift, Stevie Stewart and David Holah were also influential NewRo designers.One element of this trend that went mainstream and remained popular for most of the decade were short shirt collars worn unfolded against the neck (popped collars) with the top one or two buttons unfastened. Some people believed that, with the exception of business suits, to wear one’s collar folded appeared awkward or stuffy.


Valley girl

Headbands became fashionable in the early 1980s. The trend started in California and spread across the United States. Other associated trends were leg warmers and miniskirts, especially “ra-ra” skirts, modeled after the short, flared skirts worn by American cheerleaders. Leg warmers, which had long been staple gear for professional dancers during rehearsals, became a teen trend at about the same time; their popularity, and that of sweatshirts with their collars cut off, exploded following the 1983 release of Flashdance. Miniskirts returned for the first time since the early 1970s. These styles became associated with the Valley Girl trend that was popular at the time, based on the movie Valley Girl (1983) and popular song by Frank Zappa and Moon Unit Zappa. The mid-80s continued the craze for designer jeans and saw leather become popular. Girls and women also fueled the lace trend. As the decade closed the various other fads soon spent themselves, but miniskirts remained in style and became an option for women’s business suits throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with dolly shoes. Frequently, these mini skirts were worn with leggings. These styles are shown in today’s fashion with stores such as American Apparel, whose main look is solid colors and simple patterns and the same shapes and silhouettes of the 1980s. In Britain and Ireland, leg warmers were often worn with tight jeans, long jumpers or sweaters, and high heeled [court shoes].

Power dressing

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are seen with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Both Onassis and Nancy Reagan were known for their style and elegance. Here Onassis is wearing a silk suit with the shoulder pads which were a fashion mainstay of the 1980s.



A jelly shoe.

Shoulder pads, popularized by Joan Collins and Linda Evans from the soap opera Dynasty, remained popular throughout the 1980s and even the first three years of the 1990s. The reason behind the sudden popularity of shoulder pads for women in the 1980s may be that women in the workplace were no longer unusual, and wanted to “power dress” to show that they were the equals of men at the office. Many women’s outfits had Velcro on the inside of the shoulder where various sized shoulder pads could be attached.

The Dynasty television show, watched by over 250 million viewers around the world in the 1980s, influenced fashion in mainstream America and perhaps most of the Western world. The show influenced women to wear glitzy jewelry as a way of flaunting wealth. Synthetic fabrics went out of style in the 1980s. Wool, cotton, and silk returned to popularity for their perceived quality.

Men’s business attire saw a return of pinstripes for the first time since the 1970s. The new pinstripes were much wider than in 1930s and 1940s suits but were similar to the 1970s styles. Three-piece suits gradually went out of fashion in the early ’80s and lapels on suits became very narrow (similar to 1950s styles). While vests in the 1970s had commonly been worn high with six or five buttons, those made in the early 1980s often had only four buttons and were made to be worn low. Neckties also became narrower in the 1980s and skinny versions, some made of leather, briefly were stylish among men interested in New Wave music. Button-down collars made a return, for both business and casual wear.

Meanwhile women’s fashion and business shoes revisited the pointed toes and spiked heels that were popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. Some stores stocked canvas or satin covered fashion shoes in white and dyed them to the customer’s preferred color. While the most popular shoes amongst young women were bright colored high heels, a trend started to emerge which saw ‘Jellies‘—colorful, transparent plastic heels—become popular. The top fashion models of the 1980s were Brooke Shields, Heather Locklear, Christie Brinkley, Joan Severance, Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, Renée Simonsen, Kelly Emberg, Tatjana Patitz, Elle Macpherson, and Paulina Porizkova.

Leotards and dancewear

Leotards had been a fashion trend since the early 1970s, when were first used to add color and texture under the “layered look” popular in the middle of that decade. By the end of the decade leotards made from shiny spandex had become the standard feminine fashion of the “disco era”, partly for their form-fitting quality and the fact that they allowed flexibility and ease of movement. With the arrival of the aerobics craze of the early 1980s the classic leotard moved from the dance floor to the gym, accompanied by matching tights, legwarmers, and elastic headbands. Leotards of the early 1980s boasted bright stripes, polka dots, and even elastic belts. The popularity of aerobics and of dance-themed television shows and movies, such as Fame, and Staying Alive created a dancewear fashion craze, and leotards, legwarmers, and headbands were soon being worn as street wear. The 1983 film Flashdance popularized ripped sweatshirts that exposed one bare shoulder. Celebrity dancewear inspirations of the era included Olivia Newton John‘s Physical video and Jane Fonda‘s line of aerobic videos.

Miami Vice look

The 1980s brought an explosion of colorful styles in men’s clothing. The look of several popular TV stars helped to set fashion trends among young and middle-aged men.

Miami Vice was one such series, whose leading men donned casual t-shirts underneath expensive suit jackets—often in bright or pastel colors. The t-shirt-with-designer-jacket look was often accompanied by jackets with broad, padded shoulders, and a few days’ growth of facial hair, dubbed “designer stubble”, a look popularized by the series’ leading man Don Johnson.

Similarly, another popular look for men beginning in the early 1980s was the Hawaiian shirt, as worn by Tom Selleck, star of television’s enormously popular detective series Magnum, P.I.

Thanks to Magnum, P.I., Hawaiian shirts sales soared (as did the numbers of men, of all walks of life, sporting mustaches), complemented with sport coats, often with top-stitched lapels for a “custom-tailored” look). In counterpoint to the bright shirt, jackets were often gray, tan, rust or white, donned casually and in sunny locales doubled even as business attire, in which case they could be seen worn with a tie.Easy-care micro-suede and corduroy jackets became popular choices, especially those with a Western style. Cowboy boots, in the early 1980s, became popular even among non-cowboys. Some boots were remarkably expensive, such as those made by Lucchese, which could cost $500 a pair. Also in vogue—and also expensive—were Gucci loafers, as worn by Tom Selleck in a famous cologne advertisement.

Another off-the-charts look for young men that emerged in the early 1980s was the “Members Only” jacket, its brand name conspicuously displayed on the front left breast pocket. It was a golf style windbreaker, with a slim mandarin-style collar.

Contemporaneously, there was a resurgence of another look, a throwback to the earlier 1950s collegiate look or Ivy League look. Its wearers and advocates rallied against the more trendy styles cited above. This revival style held great snob appeal, and came to be definitively summarized in an enormously popular paperback: The Official Preppy Handbook. This “preppy” cultural backlash spread like wildfire, inspiring a deep-seated social sensibility that extended to and included all manner of consumables and socialization. Preppies eschewed micro-suede jackets, instead favoring a classic single or double-breasted blazer in navy blue or midnight blue seasonal weight wool or linen. The truly privileged favored an English bespoke shouldered pattern, double vented. All styles boosted gold-tone or actual gold buttons; ideally, for total snob appeal, the buttons were engraved with the owner’s initials or an alma mater’s insignia. Beneath the blue jacket, Preppies donned a variety of shirts; prized were candy-stripes and solid colors; flashy Hawaiian patterns or designs were to be avoided, at all costs, to protect one’s perceived upper-class status.

Significantly, then, it can be said that the 1980s men’s fashion scene was transfigured by a social class consciousness, whereto, expressing this tacit and exclusionary “code” for a man’s dress were parameters that determined his social status, as codified aptly in the Lisa Birnbach’s et al., The Official Preppy Handbook. Purportedly, such “in the know” standards came to be indicative of one’s background, education and upper class. Some sociologists would avoid or attempt discounting that pivotal, authoritative and tacit but insidious and fully dichotomous aspect of that American period in men’s fashion, which quickly came to far exceed in importance mere fashion statement.

However, that all said, by the mid-1980s European and US designers’ popularity and re-focus on classical mens styles had captured yet another segment of the mens fashion market, which in a manner of speaking attracted a following from both the preppy and non-preppy haberdashery mindsets.

Thriller look

The Thriller look was inspired by Michael Jackson‘s record breaking album Thriller. Teenagers would attempt to replicate the look of Jackson, which included matching red/black leather pants and jackets, one glove, sunglasses, and jheri curl. Leather jackets popularized by Michael Jackson and films like The Lost Boys were often studded and left undone to create a messier look. Oversized, slouch shouldered faded leather jackets with puffy sleeves from Europe caught on. Gloves, sometimes fingerless, would also accompany the jacket. Late in the decade plain brown aviator jackets made a comeback, styled after World War II fighter pilot jackets. Already popular aviators were joined by other forms of sunglasses. It was not unusual for sunglasses or shades as they were known, to be worn at night.


Madonna was a major fashion influence on young girls and women around the world



Actress Justine Bateman in 1987 wearing a cropped bolero-style jacket over a tight, gold-colored Lycra dress.

In the 1980s, rising pop star Madonna proved to be very influential to female fashions. She first emerged on the dance music scene with her “street urchin” look consisting of short skirts worn over leggings, necklaces, rubber bracelets, fishnet gloves, hairbows, long layered strings of beads, bleached, untidy hair with dark roots, head bands, and lace ribbons. In her Like a Virgin phase, millions of young girls around the world emulated her fashion example that included brassieres worn as outerwear, huge crucifix jewelry, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boytoy belts.

Gloves, sometimes lace and/or fingerless, were popularized by Madonna, as well as fishnet stockings and layers of beaded necklaces. Short, tight Lycra or leather miniskirts and tubular dresses were also worn, as were cropped, bolero-style jackets. Black was the preferred colour. Another club fashion for women was lingerie as outerwear. Prior to the mid-1980s it had been taboo to show a slip or a bra strap in public. A visible undergarment had been a sign of social ineptness. In the new fad’s most extreme forms, young women would forego conventional outer-garments for vintage-style bustiers with lacy slips and several large crucifixes. This was both an assertion of sexual freedom and a conscious rejection of prevailing androgynous fashions.



English singer Siouxsie Sioux in 1986 wearing black clothing, back-combed hair, and heavy black eyeliner. She was an inspiration for the gothic fashion trend that started in the early 1980s

Track suits

In the 1980s, tracksuits became popular as leisure clothing and Jogpants would become a general trend in the decades to come.

Doc Martens

Doc Martens shoes were worn by both sexes in the 1980s. They were an essential fashion accessory for the skinhead and punk subcultures in the United Kingdom. Sometimes Doc. Martens were paired with mini skirts or full, Laura Ashley– style dresses.[1] They were an important feature of the post-punk 1980s gothic look which featured long, back-combed hair, pale skin, dark eyeshadow, eyeliner, and lipstick, black nail varnish, spiked bracelets and dog-collars, black clothing, often made of gabardine, leather or velvet trimmed in lace or fishnet material. Corsets were often worn by girls. British bands which inspired the gothic trend include The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cult. This trend would resurge in the 1990s and 2000s.

Hair metal

By the late eighties, acid-washed jeans and denim jackets had become popular with both sexes. Acid washing is the process of chemically bleaching the denim, breaking down the fiber of material and forcing the dye to fade, thus leaving undertones of the original dye evidenced by pale white streaks or spots on the material. This became associated with the heavy metal trend (called “hair metal” in later decades for the large frizzy coiffures worn by both male and female enthusiasts).

Severely bleached and ripped jeans, either manufactured purposely or done by hand, become a popular fashion trend, being a main component of glam metal music acts such as Poison. Tattooing and piercing began to enter the mainstream.

Metalhead style

In the first half of the 1980s, long hair, leather rocker jackets or cut-off denim jackets, tight worn-out jeans, and white, high trainers and badges with logos of favourite metal bands were popular among metalheads, and musicians of heavy metal and speed metal bands. In second half of the 1980s, this clothing style was popular among musicians and fans of more extreme and niche (often underground) metal bands – thrash metal, crossover thrash, early black metal, and early death metal bands. It was popular particularly in European nations, but it was also popular in the USA, Canada, and Brazil.

Punk style



Wendy Wu, lead singer of the British new-wave band, The Photos in 1980 wearing black Spandex trousers. Throughout the decade, straight-legged trousers and jeans would be worn by both sexes

Throughout the 1980s, although especially apparent in the first half, the punk style was popular. Characterized by multi-colored mohawks, ripped skinny jeans, worn band tee-shirts, and jean or leather jackets, it was practiced by people who listened to punk music such as The Sex Pistols and later, (despite the band’s self-pro-claimed rock’n’roll image) Guns N’ Roses. Usually the jean jackets (which became an identity of the group) were adorned by safety pins, buttons, patches, and several other pieces of music or cultural memorabilia. Often people of the punk style would take random bits of fabric and attach them with safety pins. This soon became a popular way of attaching clothing, and now in young women it is known as “pin shirts”. The shirts are essentially rectangular pieces of fabric that are pinned on one side with safety pins.

Rap Music and designer sneakers

Athletic shoes had been worn as casual wear before, but for the first time they became a high-priced fashion item. Converse shoes were popular in the first half of the 1980s. Air Jordan basketball shoes (named for basketball player Michael Jordan) made their debut in 1984. The NBA banned these shoes from games when they first debuted, which increased their cachet. Soon other manufacturers introduced premium athletic shoes. Kaepa tennis shoes, sporting double laces and white leather, became a popular fad.[3] Adidas sneakers took the decade by storm, popular amongst teenagers and young men; the Adidas sneaker was popularized by the Run-D.M.C. song My Adidas. Nike had a similar share of the market with Air Max and similar shoes. High-tops, especially of white or black leather, became popular. In the early 80s, long white athletic socks, often calf-high or knee-high, were worn with sneakers. As the decade progressed, socks trended shorter, eventually topping out just above the height of the shoe.

Ensembles featuring the colors of Africa (green, yellow and red) became wildly popular among African Americans, as did kente cloth. In the urban hip-hop communities, sneakers were usually worn unlaced and with a large amount of gold jewelry as well as headwraps.


Conservative teenagers, especially in the United States wore a style that came to be known as “preppy.” Preppy fashions are associated with classic and conservative style of dressing and clothing brands such as Izod Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren and clothing from The Gap. An example of preppy attire would be a button-down Oxford cloth shirt, cuffed khakis, and loafers. Also popular were argyle sweaters and vests. It was also considered “preppy” to wear a sweater tied loosely around the shoulders.In the 1980s, preppy fashions featured a lot of pastels and polo shirts with designer logos.

Casual wear

In the 1980s and continuing through the mid 1990s, casual wear became a fashion trend. Leggings were a big part of this trend. They were usually worn with oversized sweaters and sweatshirts in the cooler months and with oversized tee shirts in the warmers months. It was also popular to wear slouch socks and sneakers with leggings. Plaid skirts with leggings were also worn with sneakers and slouch socks or with flats or Boat shoes as part of the preppy look. Also bike shorts were popular under baby doll dresses and short dresses with sneakers and no socks or sneakers with slouch socks. Many girls in every Grade K through 12 for gym class would wear black leggings with white slouch socks, athletic sneakers or sneakers and oversized tee shirts. Many women also wore this style as exercise wear. Many college girls wore the leggings and slouch socks with sneakers and the dresses with shorts to classes and around campus. It was also not uncommon to see mothers dressed along with their daughters in the slouch socks worn over leggings or sweatpants, an oversized shirt or sweater, and sports shoes.

Soccer shorts were popular with children and teenagers in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.

From the late 1980s to the late 1990s, shortalls, a version of overalls in which the legs of the garment resemble those of shorts, were popular.

Champion sweatshirts became popular for guys and girls to wear in the late 1980s through 1997. In colder weather the sweatshirts were worn over a colourful turtle-neck.

Leotards, body suits, and body shirts also became popular in the late 1980s to late 1990s. They were worn as tops with jeans and skirts.

Opaque tights were very popular in the late 1980s to mid-1990s and could be worn as part of casual wear or formal wear. A common outfit was a skirt, baby doll dress, or short dress with black opaque tights, white slouch socks, and white sneakers. Others colors of opaque tights, such as all shades of blue from sky blue to navy and purple, were popular with all females from children and teenagers to adults. Opaque were also popular worn under dress shorts.




Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins in 1986 with the trendy Big hair style achieved with liberal applications of mousse and hairspray.

Sideburns of the 1960s and 1970s saw a massive decline in fashion in 1980, while big and eccentric hair styles were popularized by film and music stars, in particular amongst teenagers. There was generally an excessive amount of mousse used in styling an individual’s hair which resulted in a desired shiny look and greater volume, some mousse even contained glitter. Hairsprays such as AquaNet were also used in excess such as hard rock band Poison. In 1984, sideburns made a comeback but were slightly thinner and shorter, and better groomed than those of the 1970s, lasting until the end of 1986. These sideburns were usually (but not always) used as an add-on to the Mullet haircut. The Mullet existed in several different styles, all characterized by hair short on the sides and long in the back. Mullets were popular in suburban and rural areas among working class men. This contrasted with a conservative look favored by business professionals, with neatly groomed short hair for men and sleekly straight hair for women. White collar men’s haircuts were often shaved at the nape of the neck to create an artificially even hairline. Women’s hairstyles became increasingly long in the latter part of the decade and blunt cuts dominated. Unlike 1970s blunt cuts, which were often longest at the spine, late 1980s long hair reached an equal length across the back. During the middle and late 1980s it was unfashionable to part either men’s or women’s hair.

Scrunchies and headbands in all different colours, styles and patterns were popular. Scrunchies were very popular in the side pony tail hair style. Bangs were another popular hair style during this time.

Frizzy hair was cemented as a common fashion style and was complemented by the attire of the times. “Banana” clips were another favorite. Young women wore wild earrings, often long or of peculiar design, and not always matching. A single earring was often worn. Shoulder length earrings often contrasted with hair that was chin length or shorter. Crimped hair, and contrasting colour streaks were the trends in the 1980s popularised by teenagers. Many young women in Europe and North America dyed their hair a rich burgundy or plum-red in the last half of the decade.


Princess Diana wearing a pearl choker, 1985

Earrings became a mainstream fashion for male teenagers. Jelly or thin metal bracelets (also known as bangles) were very popular in the 1980s, and would be worn in mass quantities on one’s wrist. Designer jewelry, such as diamonds and pearls were popular among many women, not only for beauty, but as symbols of wealth and power.

Designer underwear

Underwear became a more important fashion accessory for both men and women. Women’s looks tended to be in a wide array of pastel colors, with lacy trimmings. Camisoles with built in bras became popular for women, especially visible in the neckline of jackets worn for work. Men became more fashion conscious as well. Underwear was also colorful for men, and boxer shorts were “tapered”, or styled after the side-vent running shorts, with a trimmer cut.

Both sexes were wearing stylish undies such as those modeled by celebrities and on television. Women began to favor polyester satin fabrics for lingerie, and the Jocks company, long known for its men’s line, began manufacturing lace-trimmed, French-cut styles of g-bangers aimed at more conservative men. The teddy, or all-in-one camisole and tap pants, was often worn on television, by stars such as Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting, and was very popular as a more modest garment that nearly eliminated the need for a slip. Bright jewel tones to match the silk charmeuse and satin blouses shown on Dallas and Dynasty were the rage. With baseball star Jim Palmer the new Jockey pitchman, focus on skimpy bikinis and bold prints worn by the athlete in print ads became popular. Fashion underwear was influenced by Michael J. Fox‘s lilac Calvin Klein briefs in Back to the Future, and Oakland Raiders star Howie Long in colorful Hanes bikini and colored brief ads. Colored, patterned, and figured men’s bikinis or low-rise briefs, for the trim pant silhouettes, were available and widely popular with men of all ages.


At the beginning of the decade, digital watches with metal bands were the dominant fashion. They remained popular but lost some of their status in later years. Newer digital watches with built-in calculators and primitive data organizers were strictly for gadget geeks. Adult professionals returned to dial watches by mid-decade. Leather straps returned as an option. By late in the decade some watch faces had returned to Roman numerals. In contrast, one ultramodern status symbol was the Movado museum watch. It featured a sleek design with a single large dot at twelve o’clock. The Tank watch by Cartier was a fashion icon that was revived and frequently seen on Cartier advertisements in print. Rolex watches were prominently seen on Miami Vice TV show. Teen culture preferred vibrant plastic Swatch watches. These first appeared in Europe and reached North America by the middle of the decade. Young people would often wear two or three of these watches on the same arm.



Sylvester Stallone in 1983, sporting Aviator-style sunglasses

In the early-to-mid 1980s, glasses with large, plastic frames were in fashion for both men and women. Small metal framed eyeglasses made a return to fashion in 1984 and 1985, and in the late 1980s, glasses with tortoise-shell coloring became popular. These were smaller and rounder than the type that was popular earlier in the decade. Throughout the 1980s, Ray-Ban Wayfarer were extremely popular, as worn by Tom Cruise in the 1983 movie Risky Business. Sales of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses jumped 40%, following the release of the 1986 film Top Gun,[citation needed] in which they were worn prominently by Maverick and Iceman, played by Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer respectively.

Miami Vice, in particular Sonny Crockett played by Don Johnson, boosted Ray-Ban‘s popularity by wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise),[4] which increased sales of Ray Ban’s to 720,000 units in 1984.[5]


Happy Pants

Happy pants were worn mostly by teenagers, especially teenage girls, in the 1980s. Fun kids fabrics were used to make the happy pants. This meant those who wore them had their own unique pair of happy pants. In Australia, happy pants were a basic, elasticized pair of shorts, made from children’s range of bright and bold designs in cotton fabric. The shorts were not too tight, not too baggy, and finished in length just above the knee. In 1986, Dolly Magazine released an 80s happy pants pattern for the basic elastic shorts. As most teenage girls had done Home Economics, they made their own shorts for happy pants.

Parachute pants

Main article: Parachute pants

Parachute pants are a style of trousers characterised by the use of ripstop nylon and/or extremely baggy cuts. In the original tight-fitting, extraneously zippered style of the late 70s/early 80s, “parachute” referred to the pants’ synthetic nylon material. In the later 80s, “parachute” may have referred to the extreme bagginess of the pant. These are also referred to as “Hammer” pants, due to rapper MC Hammer‘s signature style. Hammer pants differ from the parachute pants of the 70s and early 80s. They are typically worn as menswear and are often brightly colored. Parachute pants became a fad in US culture in the 1980s as part of an increased cultural appropriation of breakdancing.[6]

United Kingdom and Europe


In the late 1980s, in Italy and most of Europe, it was the fashion for teenage girls and young women to dress completely in black. Note the wide belt worn low at the hips

London night clubs started to change their format from Friday and Saturday nights as being the only important music nights. The club ‘Gossips’ in Soho began to do David Bowie nights on Tuesdays and then more one night specials for niche tastes. That set the scene for special one night club evenings throughout London. Narrow tastes could be catered for. Dresses in slinky satins and foulard silks or polyesters were often batwing or with set in sleeves. Both styles had shoulder pads and frequently swathes of fabric were gathered and ruched onto hip bands, with falling silk, crepe de chine or chiffon asymmetric draped swirling skirts. Lace was popular for evening, especially cream lace bound with cream satin collars. Lace collars made an appearance after being worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. Mohair sweaters were over-sized, but covered with lavish beading and satin appliqué they could be worn for evening too. Highly styled intarsia knit jumpers became fashionable. Glamorous occasion wear was a reaction and an alternative to the dressing down that was emerging from the wearing of sport and fitness wear as casual wear, due to the fitness craze inspired by Flashdance and Olivia Newton-John‘s popular single “Physical“.

Fleece tracksuits were at first mostly worn by athletes, in the 1980s tracksuits became increasingly fashionable as leisurewear, though jackets and trousers tended to be worn separately rather than as a suit. Nylon Shell suits became particularly popular in the United Kingdom by the early 1990s.

The shell suit became a commonly-worn item, especially in the United Kingdom. In Britain and Ireland as well as most of Europe, Italy in particular, black was the preferred colour for teenage girls and young women. In Continental Europe, expensive, designer jeans were the preferred choice of casual attire for both boys and girls.


The 1990s was the genesis of two sweeping shifts in Western fashion: the beginning of the rejection of fashion which continued into the 2000s among a large section of the population, and the beginning of the adoption of tattoos,[1] body piercings aside from ear piercing [2] and to a lesser extent, other forms of body modification such as branding. This started the indifferent, anti-conformist approach to fashion which was popular throughout the 1990s, leading to the popularisation of the casual chic look, including T-shirts, jeans and trainers.

The popularity of grunge and alternative rock music also helped bring the simple, unkempt grunge look mainstream. In general, the 1990s saw a general minimalist aesthetic in fashion,[3] contrasted to the more elaborate and flashy trends of the 1970s and 80s. Additionally, fashion trends throughout the decade started recycling styles from previous decades,[4] notably the 1960s and 1970s, a trend which would continue into the 2000s.


Women’s fashion

Early 1990s

The early 1990s saw a continuation of 1980s fashion: women wore tight-fitting trousers with elastic boot-straps (stirrup pants/leggings), denim button down shirts, neon colors, drainpipe jeans, oversized sweaters, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and black leather jackets. Women also wore court shoes, cowboy boots, colored tights, bike shorts, tartan skirts, baby doll dresses, matching jeans and denim jackets (in dark shades rather than the bleached acid wash of the 1980s), headscarves, leggings, trenchcoats lined with fake fur, and penny loafers (associated with the preppy look). Many women wore black leggings with white slouch socks, athletic sneakers and oversized T-shirts as exercise wear. It was not uncommon to see mothers dressed right along with their daughters in slouch socks worn over leggings or sweatpants, oversized shirt or sweater, and sneakers like Keds or Converse.

Mid 1990s

The mid 1990s saw a revival of 1960s fashion, including hippie-style floral dresses, turtleneck shirts, lace blouses, conch shell necklaces, straw hats, Gypsy tops, long floral skirts, chunky wedge heeled shoes, and dolly shoes. Around this time in Europe and America it was also fashionable to dress entirely in black or wear designer clothing displaying Italian or French labels (such as Lacoste, Yves Saint-Laurent, Armani, Gucci, or Chanel) as a way of demonstrating one’s apparent social status and wealth. A common outfit was to wear a skirt, dress shorts, baby doll dress or short dress with black opaque tights, white slouch socks and white sneakers. In America olive green dresses and yellow or blue denim shortalls, a version of overalls in which the legs of the garment resemble those of shorts, were very popular.

Late 1990s

In the late 1990s, women wore flared trousers, pastel colors like pink or baby blue, fleeces, miniskirts, grey sweatpants or yoga pants, tank tops revealing the midriff (crop top), capri pants, low-waisted jeans inspired by the designs of Alexander McQueen thong underwear popularised by contemporary R&B and jungle music, and Union jack motifs inspired by the Cool Britannia movement. This continued into the 2000s



Men’s fashion

Early 1990s

In the early 1990s flannel became very popular and lasted through most of the decade. Unlike the fitted Western shirts of the 70s which fastened with pearl snaps, the flannel shirts of the 1990s were padded and loose-fitting for optimum warmth. Preppy clothing was popular in the US,[9] where wealthy young men wore khaki slacks, navy blue blazers and canvas[10] boat shoes.[10] Men also wore Converse All Stars, Acid wash denim jackets, straight-leg jeans like Levi 501s, wool sweaters, black leather jackets, sheepskin coats, Members Only jackets, corduroy, anoraks, polo shirts, white Adidas trainers and Aviator sunglasses popularized by rock star Freddie Mercury.[11]

Mid 1990s

In the mid 1990s, 1960s mod clothing and longer hair were popular in Britain due to the success of Britpop. Men also wore Aloha shirts, brown leather jackets, loafers, paisley shirts, throwback pullover baseball jerseys, graphic-print t-shirts (often featuring dragons, athletic logos or numbers), and neon-colored trainers (sometimes incorporating flashing lights and elastic self-tying laces). In America hip-hop fashion went mainstream, with oversized baseball jackets, bomber jackets, Baja Jackets, gold jewellery, baggy carpenter jeans, tracksuits and overalls popular among young men as casual wear.[12]

Late 1990s

In the late 1990s men wore khaki cargo pants, leather jackets based on the same cut as blazers, duster coats, bowling shirts, black bomber jackets with orange linings, preppy brands like Old Navy, tracksuits, and various types of sportswear manufactured by Adidas, Reebok, Hitec and Nike. At this time it became fashionable to leave shirts untucked. In Europe single-breasted three and four button suits began to replace the 1980s power suits. In America suits went out of fashion as men began to dress smart-casual and business casual, a trend kickstarted by Bill Gates of Microsoft.[13]

Youth fashion

Early 1990s

The new wave and heavy metal fashion of the 1980s lasted until early 1992, when Grunge and hip hop fashion took over in popularity.[14] The sagging trend began in the early-1990s and continued until the mid 2000s but faded into the 2010s. Hardcore Punk fashion, which began in the 1970s, was very popular in the 1990s, and Goth fashion reached its peak.[16] The dominant youth clothing fad at the beginning of the 1990s was fluorescent clothing in blue, green, orange, pink, and yellow. Hoop earrings were also a popular accessory for teenaged girls and women in the first years of the 1990s. Popular colors for girls included coral, hot pink, and turquoise. In Britain and the USA, girls wore oversized tee shirts, sweat shirts, sweaters, slouch socks worn over sweatpants or leggings, black or white lace trimmed bike shorts with babydoll dresses, belts worn with dresses, sweaters, and t-shirts, flats, Keds, Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, shortalls, flared trousers, and athletic shorts. Boys wore soccer shorts, jean jackets, tartan shirts, tapered acid wash jeans, and sweatpants.

Mid 1990s

In the mid-1990s the grunge style resulted in a decline in bright colors from 1995 until the late 2000s, and was dominated by tartan flannel shirts, stonewashed blue jeans, and dark colors like maroon, forest green, indigo, brown, white and black. For younger children, the mid-1990s was the Golden Age of Disney films with T-shirts and sweaters featuring characters like Simba, Mickey Mouse, Aladdin, and Winnie the Pooh. Tartan trousers, striped shirts, long sleeved polo shirts, and sweaters (often knitted by the child’s grandmother) were worn by young boys in the UK. Blue denim and railroad stripe overalls were also popular for females as seen on television and commercials throughout the decade, and for teenagers who would leave either strap hanging loose. Wide leg jeans, bomber jackets, tracksuits and baseball caps worn backwards became popular among hip hop fans together with gold chains, sovereign rings, and FUBU T-shirts.

Late 1990s

The late-1990s saw the rise of the British chav subculture, an offshoot of the casuals, a football fan subculture of the 1980s.[17] Psychobilly bands popularised brothel creepers, gas station shirts and dark-colored bowling shirts, and pop punk and nu metal fans opted for spiky hair, black hoodies and baggy pants in black or red Royal Stewart tartan. Popular American fashions included capri pants, ponchos, bootcut jeans, hoodies, and cut off denim shorts.

Hair and Makeup of the 1990s

Women’s hairstyles

In the early 90s, women’s hair changed from the teased curls popular in the late 1970s to late 1980s to straight, smooth hair, inspired by late 1960s hairstyles. The pixie cut and Rachel haircut, based on the hairstyles of Jennifer Aniston in Friends and Marlo Thomas in That Girl, were popular in America from 1995 onwards.[18] Straight hair was also styled with a short fringe cut just above the eyebrows, known as a hime cut, and those with Afro-styled or naturally curly hair would rely on a Relaxer to keep the sleek straight hair. In the mid 1990s this style went out fashion until its revival in the late-2000s. Dark-haired women tended to dye their hair a lighter color with blonde highlights (popularized by Jennifer Anniston) until the late 2000s.

Men’s hairstyles

Men’s hair became increasingly shorter from the early 1990s onwards. In the early 90s curtained hair (sometimes dyed blond) and small ponytails were popular among yuppies. Side-partings were briefly popular in the mid-1990s before head-shaving had become an acceptable way of dealing with male pattern baldness. From the late 1990s onwards, spiky hair, crew cuts and variants of the quiff became popular among young professional men. Dark haired men dyed their spikes blonde or added wavy blonde streaks well into the mid-2000s.

Youth hairstyles

For teenagers longer hair was popular in the early to mid-1990s, including collar-length curtained hair, shaggy surfer hair popular among some Britpop fans, and dreadlocks. This changed in the mid-1990s when the much-ridiculed bowl cut became a fad among skaters, while hip-hop fans wore a variant of the flattop known as the Hi-top fade. In the late 1990s hair was usually buzzed very short for an athletic look although a few grunge fans grew their hair long in reaction to this. Headbands and scrunchies of various styles and colors were popular with girls throughout most of the 1990s who frequently wore them with side ponytails and bangs.






The 2000s are often described as a “mash-up” decade, where trends saw the fusion of previous styles, global and ethnic clothing, as well as the fashions of numerous music-based subcultures, especially indie pop. Many in the industry have noted the lack of divide between the late 1990s and early 2000s due to the continued popularity of minimalist fashion among young people of both sexes.[2] For the most part, the mid-late 2000s did not have one particular style but recycled vintage clothing styles from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1980s.

Despite the numerous and mixed fashion trends of the 2000s, items of clothing which were predominant or popular throughout the decade include Ugg boots,[3] High-tops, hoodies, and skinny jeans.[4] Globalization also influenced the decade’s clothing trends, with the fusion of fashions from around the world being popular.[5] Furthermore, eco-friendly and ethical clothing, such as recycled fashions and fake fur, were prominent in the decade.[6]

Women’s fashion

Early 2000-12

Mid 2000s

Late 2000-2012

Men’s fashion

Early 2000-12

Mid 2000-12

Late 2000s





Youth fashion

Youth fashion was strongly influenced by many music-based subcultures such as Emo, Indie kids, scene kids, Psychobilly, Preppy, Skater, Goth, Nu-Metal (known as Moshers in the UK), ravers and Hip-Hop, including the British chav, US gangsta rapper and Mexican Cholo styles of the early 2000s.

Early 2000-12

Mid 2000s

Late 2000-12

Hair and makeup of the 2000-12

Women’s hairstyles

  • In the early 2000s, women’s hair was long and straight. From 1996 until 2005 it was fashionable for women to have dyed highlights and lowlights (Rachel haircut) with red, blonde or light brown streaks.
  • In mid-late 2000s, dark haired women (and even light-haired ones) favored the jet black hair, as worn by Katy Perry or Amy Winehouse with her trademark beehive hairstyle. Textured hair with volume, natural wavy hair, the bob cut, and side-swept bangs become popular from 2007 onwards in both Britain and the USA. For black women cornrows, dreadlocks and curly weaves were popular until the late 2000s, when tamed-down versions of the Afro, Jheri curl and short pixie cuts were popularized by artists like Janet Jackson and Rihanna.

Mens hairstyles


Teenage hairstyles

  • For teenagers, short haircuts like spiky hair, dyed hair, the buzzcut and Caesar cut were popular in the early 2000s. Girls favored straight hair extensions, large hoop earrings and fake tan makeup. In the mid-2000s, longer hair became popular, including the wings haircut inspired by surfers, the 1960s Mod subculture, and British indie pop stars.
  • In the late 2000s the androgynous Harajuku inspired scene hairstyles (often dyed bright colors) and eyeliner were popular among girls and boys alike.
  • As an alternative to the scene hairstyles, teenage girls opted for a preppy hairstyle that involved long, straight hair, side-swept bangs and a side part, while boys wore side-swept surfer hair.


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