The 1980s is often described as ‘the decade that fashion forgot’, yet it is loved and adored by those not even born in that decade. Love it or hate it, the 80s saw an innovation of design and style that has stayed with us since and remains popular at vintage fairs.

The start of the 80s was hit by a recession, which tightened the purse straps of the nation and stirred up anger at the Thatcher government.  As the north and the midlands were ravaged by job losses and miners strikes, streetwear and the logo t-shirt became ways to make your beliefs known.

Most famously championed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham, bearing the slogans ‘Frankie Says Relax’ and ‘Choose Life’, replicas became popular must-haves and are still manufactured today.

For the middle-classes the ‘Sloane’ look was much desired. Inspired by Princess Diana, these women wore smart two piece designer suits and pearls and enjoyed champagne lunches. The working woman uniform was the power suit, with its fitted tailored jacket and shoulder pads. In a range of colours, their job was to command a room as women began to break through the glass ceiling.

For the working-class there was a DIY fashion movement and the wealth of new popstars became their fashion idols. Most notably was Madonna, with her unique thrown together and customised style that inspired thousands. Her music, along with that of The Culture Club, Wham and Adam and the Ants defined a generation.

The New Romantics influenced fashion dramatically, and represented an evolution of the punk era, that had become old and overblown. The style of the new romantics was feminine and men often experimented with make-up and sexuality. Women looked to Madonna for inspiration with her messy hair, tutu skirts and over-accessorising.

The Brat Pack movies flourished at the box office, and puffball prom dresses and skirts became must-have items. The 80s remains a popular go to style today and in the 21st century, it is admired and loved for its bad taste.

Suits: Most shapes, boyish, hourglass, pear

Good for: Puffball skirts, shoulder pad detail, power suits, slogan t-shirts

Invest in: An 80s puffball prom dress

Who wears it well: Rihanna, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ke$ha, Agyness Deyn



Sid Viscious and Nancy Spungen, 70s punk icons

The 1970s was a diverse decade in terms of fashion and is very on trend for Spring/Summer 2011. Designers and high street stores are producing floaty fabrics and disco inspired glamour, which fashion magazines have championed.

The 70s was when vintage clothing became popular, and young people looked to earlier decades for inspiration and second hand clothes. There was an urge for originality and standing apart from the crowd. New York’s Studio 54 became the most famous discotheque in the world, and people across the world looked to its stylish clientele for inspiration.

This season we can see the 70s influence in maxi skirts and dresses, platforms and jumpsuits. Women were covered up for the first time in decades, but in a smooth feminine way that retained their sex appeal.

The early 70s saw the continuation of the 60s hippie as it transformed into more of a folk feel. Traditional crafts such as knitting, tapestry, weaving and dyeing found their way to the height of fashion. Clothes became more feminine and soft, working with the fluidity of movement.

With the rise of feminism, it became possible for a woman to be sexy, attractive and successful at the same time. Diane Von Furstenburg’s wrap dress became a staple item for these women, because it looked professional and feminine at the same time.

Disco and glam rock inspiration is clear in this summer’s collections. It invaded the music scene back in the 70s and influenced fashion hugely. Saturday Night Fever took disco out of the underground and into the mainstream and Travolta’s white flared tuxedo became iconic.

Bold patterns, sequins and glitter were worn by men and women influenced by the likes of David Bowie, Alice Cooper and T-Rex, with their flamboyant on stage outfits, huge hair and artistic make-up.

Then in 1977, the age of punk was born, invented by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Its mission was to shock. Their shop SEX, began selling extreme bondage gear before becoming synomonous with the punk movement and its association with The Sex Pistols.  The look combined the traditional components of bondage gear, including rubber, leather, studs, straps and buckles with muslin and cotton t-shirts, narrow trousers and ripped vests pinned back together with safety pins.

It was this desire for individuality and shock that inspired the fashions of the 80s…

Suits: Most shapes, boyish, hourglass, pear

Good for: Jumpsuits, maxi dresses, thick knits, original punk gear

Invest in: Jumpsuits and maxi dresses

Who wears it well: Sienna Miller, Nicole Ritchie, Rachel Zoe, Jennifer Lopez



60s icons, Edie Sedwick and Andy Warhol

A decade that stays with us even now, the 1960s conjures up images of Twiggy and British rock bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The sixties became a revolutionary decade,that saw young people with money to spend and looking for ways to express themselves through fashion, music and lifestyle.

London took the fashion crown from Paris, as new styles arrived in small London boutiques and captured the imagination and heart of rebelling teens. Young British design stars took over Carnaby Street and the King’s Road, as their designs filled the new and exciting boutiques. Perhaps the most famous of these, is Mary Quant, who went on to create some of the most defining fashion features of the decade championing the mini-skirt and dresses.

These new revealing designs, called for a waif-like silhouette introduced with the explosion of supermodel Twiggy. Straight boxy shift dresses with scandalous hemlines meant more of women were on show than ever before. ‘Space Age’ style became the biggest influence of the 60s and material used for dresses was more daring than ever before with plastic detailing, metal chainmail, PVC and cut-out designs.

Black and white designs became the uniform of the Mod girl, while the male Mods dressed in tailored suits and parkers, with The Who providing the soundtrack. Films such as Quadrophenia and Brighton Rock define the Mod style of the sixties, featuring their iconic clashes on the coasts of England with the rockers.

By the late sixties, focus switched from London to America, specifically the flower children of San Francisco, with their anti-war chants, long hair, loose fitting second hand clothes and use of psychedelic drugs, an anti-fashion movement was born.

Inspired by this hippie generation, Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and Thea Porter used it to launch their own brand of escapism. Collaborating with his textile designer wife Celia Bertwell, Ossie Clark produced inspirational fashion that made them an instant success.

It was these new floaty designs and patterns, that carried onto the 70s…

Suits: Slim boyish figures

Good for: Shift dresses, mini-skirts, monotone, PVC boots,

Invest in: A shift dress,

Who wears it well: Amy Winehouse, Diana Vickers, Pixie Lott, Nicola Roberts



Get the Mad Men look.

One of the most iconic decades of the 20th century, the fifties is an era we are familiar with and adore. From Grease to Back to the Future, there is one thing we remember and love. The iconic full circle skirt, perfect for flattering curves and spinning on the dance floor.

The classic fifties prom dress has never gone out of style and exploded back onto the high street recently when designers were all influenced by popular American drama Mad Men. Although set in the early sixties, the iconic fifties style lingers on to play an integral part to the show.

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, there was a feeling of hope and optimism around the world as countries began to rebuild themselves. The British government promised to ‘Make Britain Great Again’ and rationing finally ceased in 1954.

In ‘Vintage Fashion: collecting and wearing designer classics’, Emma Baxter-Wright describes the need for women to feel glamorous again. “After years of hardship and drudgery, when women had worn sexless, utilitarian work garments (and when there were fewer men around to impress), there was an understandable desire to dress up in luxurious feminine clothes.”

The hourglass figure, was the silhouette of the decade. With dresses that nipped in the waist, and pushed up breasts, with a flowing calf length full circle skirt. It would become the look associated with the decade forever more.

In 1957, Givenchy started the trend for shift dresses that had no waist at all, by inventing the Sack dress. Women were freed from the restrictive clothing they had become used to, and it was a shape that went onto mass popularity in the sixties.

Suits: Hourglass figures

Good for: Full circle skirts, prom dresses, scarves, blouses

Invest in: A full circle skirt prom dress

Who wears it well: Christina Hendricks, Kelly Brook, Kelly Osbourne, Scarlett Johannson



40s Women

With the outbreak of war, came shortages of everything and major changes to civilian life. Materials like silk and wool were needed for the war effort, and many clothes in the 1940s were made from manmade fabrics such as rayon and synthetic jersey. By 1941, clothing rationing came in and the government utility scheme forbade the use of trimmings and certain materials as fashion become subject to government decree.

With men fighting in the war, the female role changed and women were directed into war work. Fashion took on a conservative and military style as women wore utilitarian clothes with stiff tailoring and uniformity. Female curves were hidden once again, as the nipped in waist and narrow skirts produced a slim shape. Ladies utility suits were often refashioned from the existing male suit.

As women got used to wearing trousers at work, slacks and pioneer pants became popular as well as the military inspired trench coat. To dress up eveningwear, women made use of sequins and beads, which were not rationed by the war and covered up with the Bolero jacket. The British public were encouraged to Make, Mend and Do to restore and update clothes.

Tea dresses were also a popular clothing choice, which we regularly associate with the 40s. The tea dress is a style that is most reproduced in vintage inspired high street lines. They made use of prints and patterns and gave women colour and originality during a period of drab wartime clothing.

Wearing patriotic colours of red, white and blue became popular in both Britain and America, with names such as air-force blue, army tan, flag red and cadet blue making the wearer feel they were helping the war effort. Red was often used to dress up the drab blues, browns, greens and black that became the uniform of the decade.

With the end of the war in 1945, rationing carried on, but a feeling of hope across the world encouraged the public, as they rebuilt their towns and cities…

Suits: Most shapes, boyish and hourglass.

Good for: Tea dresses, pioneer pants, bolero jackets, utilitarian suits

Invest in: A patterned tea dress

Who wears it well: Dita Von Teese, Christina Aguilera, Paloma Faith, Katy Perry

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