There are some fashion trends that never go out of style, no matter how much time has passed. That's definitely the case with retro fashion trends from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. These decades were known for their iconic styles, and many of those looks are still popular today. For example, the 60s were all about mod fashion, with bold colors and geometric shapes.
The 70s were all about disco fever, with flashy sequins and platform shoes. And the 80s were all about big hair and shoulder pads. While some retro trends come and go, these three decades have definitely stood the test of time. So if you're looking for a timeless fashion statement, be sure to check out these retro trends.
“Instead of being about itself, the 2000s has been about every other previous decade happening again all at once,” the British music journalist Simon Reynolds wrote in “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past.”
Couldn’t have said it better. For example, check out Jennifer Lopez’s new video “Ain’t Your Mama,” which is a real eye candy for us fashion enthusiasts. In her feminist video, J.Lo perfectly captures the fashion of each decade – from the 1950s swing-style dress, to 1960s tight secretary dress, to 1970s all-denim outfit, to 1980s skirt suit.
Now, of course, you’re not about to strut out on the street looking like J.Lo in the video. But if you do want to channel a certain period (and not look like you’re going to a Halloween party in the process) – the general rule is to keep it classic.
Like fashion expert, Joan Rivers used to say: “I like classic... Always classic. Then add the fun and accessories.” Which means you can take a classic all-black outfit, or jeans and a Tee, and add one or more key pieces from the particular era for a modern retro look that doesn't scream costume.
Fashion definitely keeps repeating itself, but it is also evolving. Which means some of the horrific trends may be back, but worry not, we are here to show you that with the right accessories and attitude you can add a modern twist and make ANY outfit look cool.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
The '60s and '70s were a time of great change in America. The Vietnam War was coming to an end, and the Civil Rights and Feminist movements were gaining momentum.
Young people were craving freedom, self-expression, and rebellion. This was the time when music festivals were born, and also when most of the current retro fashion trends became popular.
Some notable '60s trends include:
BIG hair (afros, bouffants, and beehives)
Bold prints (geometric, polka dot, animal - the list goes on!)
Bright colors (neons and tie-dye in particular)
The '60s style was a decade of major fashion changes. For the first half of the decade, styles were moving in a more conservative direction, influenced by the classic look of the '50s.
However, things took a sharp turn in the other direction during the second half of the decade, with bright colors, miniskirts, and psychedelic prints becoming all the rage. It was truly a unique time in fashion history.
Arguably, the two most important fashion trends were:
1. The glammed-up polished look
We probably have the period drama Mad Men to thank for the return of the ‘60s elegant fashions, mostly the seductive secretary Joan Holloway and her ‘60s pin-up girl style.
Other examples are, of course, Adele with her cat eyeliner, false eyelashes, and beehive. Lana Del Ray with her flower crowns, elegant gowns, and glamorous bouffant do.
How to wear it:
Take Marina and the Diamonds’, (the primadonna girl herself), for example, with her different pastel hair colors and make-up.
In her “How to be a Heartbreaker” video, Marina wears a simple black crop-top with a pastel bandana and make-up with accentuated eyes and retro hair-do. The vinyl skirt is what gives this look a modern and alternative twist.
For extra points, take a pastel top and a bow, add some suede wedges, vintage earrings, and the ‘60s round sunglasses, and you’re sure to be a heartbreaker.
For this pinup look, follow Dita’s example – a wiggle dress with a Peter Pan collar, oversized retro sunglasses, a clutch, a modern pair of stiletto heels, a belt and of course red lipstick.
For a totally sweet, girly ‘60s look, check out Zooey Deschanel, the modern indie girl who always wears cute vintage style dresses and coats.
This ”New Girl” style consists of the fit-and-flare Peter Pan collar red dress, polka dot tights, cardigan, wavy hair with bangs and burgundy lips. You’re sure to look lady-like but modern.
2. Boho-chic and Hippie
Probably the most popular current trends, boho, and hippie fashion, were born in the ‘60s but continued throughout the ‘70s.
The hippie look is more understated than Boho; with bare feet, beads, patchwork, vests, peace signs, and of course, bell-bottoms.
Too many to name, but check out Elle King’s video “Ex’s & Oh’s” for some major boho influences with a modern flair: peasant ruffled tops, long gypsy skirts, maxi dresses, fringed leather jackets, wide-brim hats, cowboy boots, embroidered shirts, fringed skirts, and suede boots.
How to wear it:
If you don’t wanna go all out boho, take a hint from Elle and don't wear all of the trends at once. Try adding one key piece to your wardrobe. You can add a fringed item to an ordinary outfit to make it boho-chic, such as leather or a suede handbag, fringe booties, crop top, or a cool leather jacket.
If you don’t want to go 'all-out,' you can add a boho vibe to any outfit by adding the right jewelry.
The statement necklaces, the rings, bracelets and even the head-pieces should be exaggerated with vintage-looking “old silver” costume jewelry, with colorful rocks for a 'fortune teller' gypsy vibe.
For an everyday look, try wearing a leather jacket with a maxi floral dress and stacking as many rings as you can!
You can keep the hair and makeup as neutral as possible.
That ‘70s Show
Some might argue that the '70s were one of the most versatile and influential eras in the history of fashion. You could say that its lack of any rules makes it look like an era with no style whatsoever. After the ‘60s bright colors and psychedelic patterns, the ‘70s brought calmer, earthy tones.
The '70s were a decade of transition, both in terms of fashion and society as a whole. For the first time, young people were able to express themselves through their clothing, and fashion became more diverse than ever before.
Notable trends from the ‘70s included:
Tassels and laces ('peasant' influenced fashion)
Bell bottoms or 'flairs.'
Some of the trends that emerged in the ‘60s were still around, and even more popular in the ‘70s (the afro, the bell bottoms, the lace-up peasant tops). The era also brought some new trends such as punk, disco, and glam rock, so we will focus on them, as we have already talked about the previous ones.
A good illustration of the ‘70s more dark and glam trends would be the Saint Laurent Spring 2015 Paris Fashion Week collection.
The Saint Laurent collection represents the ‘70s glam rock girl perfectly: turbans, all over sequined mini dresses, studded platforms, hats, thin scarves, fur, flared pants, studded belts, patchwork dresses, animal print and glitter scarves, tailored suits, biker leather jackets, leather minis, floral dresses with military jackets.
How to wear it:
Wear a band Tee with jeans or a miniskirt, but add glam detail such as a leopard print coat, velvet blazer, fur or a thin glittery scarf. Pair with platforms or Chucks for a casual look. Finish with rock star shades.
For a punk look, wear ripped tights with miniskirts, or a military jacket with a floral dress and studded belt to make it totally daring, and tons of accessories, such as chains and bold makeup.
Acceptable in the ‘80s?
Considered the era of some of the worst trends and greatest fashion mistakes, but also some of the most experimental eras! Some of the trends managed to survive!
The 80s was an interesting time for fashion. It was a decade of big hair, bright colors, and bold patterns. Some of the fashion choices were questionable, to say the least. But it was also a time when people were willing to experiment with their style. And, as we all know, experimentation is the key to fashion.
So, while the 80s may have been a decade of bad fashion choices, it was also a time when people weren't afraid to take risks with their style. And that's something we can all appreciate.
Big '80s trends included:
Permed or teased hair - with a lot of volume
Fur and faux fur
Take a look at J.Lo for inspiration - don't be afraid to wear a one piece jumpsuit with red sequins all over, looking very stylish and modern with a nude clutch and a pair of stilettos.
Reese Witherspoon is looking really feminine with a denim jacket, sweet skater skirt and cool shades and ankle booties.
How to Wear it:
You’d think it’s not so easy rocking shoulder pads in 2016, but thanks to brands such as Balmain, they can look very glamorous. The modern shoulder pads are covered in metallics; spikes and studs. Wear skinny jeans and a black Tee with a modern structured blazer with shoulder pads to add an elegant silhouette to the figure, and also to make your waist look slimmer.
Alternatively, wear a structured sequin blouse in bold colors, but keep the rest of the outfit simple, yet rocking, with black leather chained biker boots and purse, and a miniskirt.
Think denim on denim can’t look cool anymore? Think again. Look really sweet with slightly cuffed jeans and a denim jacket, with edgy details such as a bandana, a statement necklace, chain-strap leather bag, black crop-top and some creepers or Adidas superstars.
“We Are the Weirdos, Mister” – the ‘90s
After the glitz and the glam of the previous decades, the recession took over, so ‘90s fashion is all about grunge and minimalism. Again, two opposite trends can be found – Cher’s style from the Clueless (preppy school girl) or Nancy from the Craft (dark and grungy). Even the rock stars wanted to look like struggling musicians; everything was understated.
Trends from the '90s included:
Dark 'berry' tone lips
Buns, braids, and slick partings
Chokers (velvet or tattoo)
Plaid (preppy or punk)
Beyonce looked effortless but hot in her “mom” jeans with a trendy graphic black top, classic Ray-Bans, and a funky clutch and heels.
Then and now: The Spice Girls’ platforms may be a bit too much for the modern times (thank God for that), but Charli XCX looks super nu-goth with her black platforms, ripped tights, plaid skirt, and mesh crop top.
We have celebrities Kylie and Kendall Jenner to thank for the return of unnatural punky hair colors, dark lips and chokers. In this image, Kylie looks fabulous with her long mermaid mint hair and matching white skirt and crop-top
The modern choker differs from the classic '90s style – it’s longer and generally has more intricate detailing, so it doesn’t make your neck look shorter.
Rihanna is the queen of accessorizing and shows off the classic choker look with a modern twist. Check out her stacked-up metallic chokers, plus an Eastern style septum ring and dark lips! With statement accessories like these, you don’t need to worry about the rest of your outfit!
How to Wear:
For a more daring beauty look, take Gwen Stefani’s sea-punk style for inspiration: gems glued to your face, bindis, temporary henna tattoos, red lips, blue or pink hair and buns. Add a blue crop top and a leather skirt to complete the look.
For a more nu-goth/grunge look, look no further than the bad-ass witches from The Craft and the classic black and white gothic look: black lips, white shirts, black cardigans, prayer beads, skater skirts with suspenders, knee-high socks, chokers, cross earrings and goth platforms – a polished, yet rebellious look.
It goes without saying that each era has its trends, and it doesn't mean that you need to pick one and roll with it.
More likely you can find at least one detail from each decade that you like and can incorporate into your own style. The bottom line? Just have fun with it!
Cover image: surfanon.net