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Fashion: Then and Now

Just like history, fashion repeats itself. Have you noticed your granddaughter sporting high-waisted flares similar to a pair you owned in the 1970s? Or have you seen dresses on the racks with sleeves just like the ones your mother wore in the 1940s? You’re not imagining things. For decades, we’ve seen styles repeat themselves. Take a look at some of the current-day trends that you might recognize from days gone by as we explore fashion: then and now.

Fashion: Then and Now

High-Waisted Everything

Scan nearly any current fashion blog or online shop, and you’re sure to find many high-waisted options. The high-waisted trend for women was born out of practicality. In the 1930s, Levi’s produced their first pair of jeans specifically for women – gone were the days when women had to borrow their husband’s or brother’s jeans! Thanks to the high rise of the jeans, women could bend down comfortably while still maintaining their modesty. While “hip huggers” (low-rise jeans) started to gain popularity in the 1960s, the high-waisted trend carried on strong until the 1990s (when the term mom jeans was coined). Although the trend took a brief hiatus, it’s back with a fury, as many modern women find these jeans flattering on their hips and thighs. Women are also sporting high-waisted shorts and skirts these days.

The Return of the Wrap Dress

In 1974, 26-year-old Diane von Furstenberg designed the iconic wrap dress (source). Little did she know, her contribution to the fashion industry would live on for years to come. Wrap dresses have a front closure and v-neck that is formed by wrapping either side of the garment around your body and knotting the attached ties buttons on either side. It flatters many different body types, which is likely why it’s stood the test of time. This season, the popular brand Everlane introduced a wrap dress that got the attention of several media outlets in the fashion industry. For example, an article by The Cut shows what the dress looks like on six different women with varying body types.

A Twist on Puffed Sleeves

Anne of Green Gables isn’t the only one who has a thing for puffed sleeves. If you’ve read the book or watched the 1985 movie, you probably remember the scene where she is pleading her case to Marilla for why she needs a dress with puffed sleeves. “Puffed sleeves are so fashionable now,” Anne explains. “It would give me such a thrill, Marilla, just to wear a dress with puffed sleeves.” Although puffed sleeves have been around since the Victorian era, this trend has popped up in one way or another in nearly every decade. However, fashion designers have put their own spin on puffed sleeves over the years. It’s a perfect example to illustrate fashion: then and now:

  • 1940s and 1950s: Puffed sleeves in the 1940s and 1950s appeared on dresses, sweaters, and blouses alike. These puffed sleeves were more round in nature to give off a feminine look, and they were moderate in size.
  • 1970s: Puffed sleeves were commonly sheer and long during this timeframe, and cinched at the wrist. Some women could also be seen wearing Victorian-inspired blouses with lace details.
  • 1980s: Designers in the 80s liked their sleeves just how they liked their hair: extra big and poofy.
  • Today: The trend is still going strong. However, current puffed sleeves are modest, often with subtle, tasteful pleats.


We hope you enjoyed looking back on fashion: then and now. If you want to explore more of the current trends, gather a group of friends and peruse online stores. See if you and your friends can name more ways that fashion is repeating itself!

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