My mom in her day was always on top of fashion trends despite barely having two nickels to rub together. This was because she rarely got rid of clothes. Instead, she tucked them in the back of her closet, a firm believer that yesterday’s fashions would come around again.
She was usually right. I have it on good authority (i.e., the internet) that the fashion trends of 2020 will look a lot like the 1970s. So if you held on to those bell bottoms for Halloween or a disco-themed karaoke night, you may be wearing them more often in the months to come.
I was a child in the 70’s, but I emulated the look of Laurie Partridge as best I could. Hip hugger jeans (for what little hip an eight-year-old has), ponchos, and long, straight hair was my go-to look well into high school. And now they are coming back. Many who were glad to see flower prints, patchwork, layers of fabric and poofy sleeves go by the way will regret that in 1980 they donated those styles to the clothing drive.
The fashion merry-go-round
But why do these styles keep coming back? One fashion theorist (now here is a job I would like!) says fashion trends repeat approximately every 50 years. That puts our 70’s reboot right on target. Other theories have the cycles revolving a little faster, say, every 20 years.
Some style gurus (another job I should pursue) believe popular culture may have something to do with it. Retro TV shows and movies set in the recent past inspire audiences and designers to reimagine old looks as “classic chic.”
Finally, it is possible that changes in fashion simply follow the economic climate of the day. One economist (not at all a job I would want) notes that hemlines, for example, started going up when the stock market was doing well and women could afford silk stockings. When the economy took a dive, the hems began to fall, theoretically to cover the legs of women who could no longer afford the luxury of stockings.
What’s in the future?
In fact, trends in other creative fields also seem to follow cycles. Perhaps we will see a resurgence of environmental and feminist art. Maybe we will see more psychedelic and outrageous musicals on stage like the 1970s Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show. We may hear more groove hits on the charts and discover more bands that, reminiscent of the 1970s, actually play their own instruments. It is certain that arts of all kinds will continue to take a political point of view, however subtly.
While I may have only youthful memories of the days when bell bottoms and crochet tops were all the rage, I understand now that fashion trends, art and music are often a reaction to the times. The 70s certainly had its upheaval and unrest, and the bold fashions of the time were a statement of revolution and the fight for freedom. Let’s hope that one day our clothing will represent an era of peace and tranquility.