If the deluge of denim flooding fashion weeks didn’t tip you off,
perhaps you noticed the fringe fandom gaining followers left and right
of the runway. All that plus a smattering of suede can
only mean one thing: The '70s are seeing a serious style revival, and
fashion lovers everywhere are getting down to its nostalgically nuanced
beat. But while style setters embrace this storied decade, can we please
acknowledge the decades left outside of this great group hug?
I’m not speaking of the stereotypical styles that come to mind when you think "blast from the past" fashion — not the '60s bell-bottoms, '90s slip dresses, or '80s shoulders pads. I’m digging a little deeper here.
The '30s, '40s, and '50s are chock-full of decade-defining looks just waiting to return to the limelight. Silver screen sirens like Ginger Rogers, Vivien Leigh, Jane Russell, and Audrey Hepburn owned these years and pretty much patented "classic" style — and with good reason. Our grandmas were glamorous, and if we’re taking a trip down Memory Lane to borrow from the legends, why stop in the '70s?
Let’s take a look at the styles that once sent many a fashion lover’s heart racing but haven’t circled back yet for a victory lap. Ahead, the century's best fashion hits clamoring for a comeback of their own.
1930s: Butterfly Sleeves
This '30s staple is sadly underrepresented in the modern-day array of
vintage-inspired frocks. The frilled fold in the sleeve takes a similar
shape to that of a butterfly's wing, as its name suggests, resulting in a commanding silhouette that's
still soft around the edges.
Drawing attention to one's upper half was all part of the '30s silhouette — broad shoulders, nipped waist, and slender legs. Work this vintage glam style into your wardrobe by way of breezy blouse or sundress.
Modern take on the trend: ASOS Iska Fluted Sleeve Dress in Butterfly Print, $40.35, asos.com.
1930s: T-Strap Heels
T-strap heels were to the '30s what platform Sketchers were to the '90s. Every respectable stylish woman owned them because, like you can see from the vintage advertisement above, frivolity and comfort are always "features of a campus queen." Although, I'll go ahead and assume one's interest in fashion continued long after said-queen graduated.
Whether you opt for a heel, wedge, or flat, a T-strap accent offers endless versatility and actual stability for a gal on the go: comfort and frivolity, indeed.
1930s: Chic Headwear
Carmen Miranda, the legendary Portuguese Brazilian singer and dancer you probably remember as the banana hat beauty from Chiquita Banana, rocketed to the top of the entertainment industry through the '30s, '40s, and '50s. She played a heavy hand in popularizing Brazilian music and culture, and obviously her headwear style game was on fleek.
Tie hats came to signify a well-traveled, worldly woman in the '30s. If you wanted your neighbors to know you were as cosmopolitan as they come, you had one on your head.
Modern take on the trend: ASOS Metallic Turban, $22.01, asos.com.
1940s: Pleated Knee-Length Skirts
There's something to be said for the unassuming charm of a slim-fitting, knee-length skirt. In 1940s wartime, the general style sentiment was to be subtly chic, and the challenge lay in looking smart without making a whole production out of it. Clean pleated lines created movement for the simple garment, effectively creating a classic in the process.
If you're one for stealing scenes without so much as lifting a finger, find yourself a knockout knee-length pleated skirt immediately.
Modern take on the trend: H&M Pleated Skirt, $39.95, hm.com.
1940s: Ruched Necklines
If Veronica Lake in the above still doesn't convince you with one frosty glance that you're doing everything wrong, then there's really no more I can do here. The ladylike ruched necklines of the '40s capitalized on the ultra-fem wave sweeping the nation. An effortless touch that elevates an entire garment, find a ruched neckline of your own to add some fluid femininity to your ensemble.
Modern take on the trend: VLabel London Ealing Bardot Neck Dress with Ruched Skirt, $53.19, asos.com.
1950s: Capri Pants
The arrival of the '50s meant war was officially over, and American families finally had disposable income to spend on what really mattered in life — fashion. Spirits were high and in full force, and the clothing color palettes were no different. New shapes and forms unrolled themselves from all the top fashion houses, which were freely designing once more without economic constraints holding them back.
I don't know what group of fashion fanatics got together and decided capri pants shouldn't be a thing anymore, but they certainly did the world a disservice. The slim silhouettes serve up casual sophistication and versatility that's hard to capture in other garments. And a famous fan of the look we all know and love? Audrey Hepburn, herself!
Modern take on the trend: Traffic People Cloud Watching Jaquard Capri Trousers, $69.70, asos.com.
1950s: Cat-Eye Sunglasses
This last trend, cat-eye sunglasses, is literally ready to relive its day in the sun again. Above, these '50s Polaroid sunglasses are an excellent example of the sharp lines and whimsical angles characteristic of fabulous '50s style. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were VIP members of the cat-eye club, and if you're shooting to be on par with such elegant elite, pick up a pair for yourself! Pairs well with a glamorous cascade of curls and swipe of red lipstick.
Modern take on the trend: Let's Be Clear Cat-Eye Shades, $20, nastygal.com.