100 Years of Fashion:
History Repeats Itself, Does Fashion?
Societal unrest, political uncertainty, widening wealth inequality, a viral outbreak and a roaring stock market, sound like today? Actually I’m describing the 1920’s. Scholars often reiterate the classic motif that history repeats itself but, honestly I can’t find a more harrowing example than looking at 1920 and today. For starters, both decades were born from the wake of an economic downturn. This rebirth caused massive discrepancies in wealth resulting in a startling separation of socio-economic classes, much like what's happening today. The 1920’s also followed the women's suffrage movement and marked one of the first times women started to gain a more prominent role in society. African-Americans saw an explosion of culture through the Harlem Renaissance and lastly hospitals were overrun by the Spanish Flu epidemic. Today we have a continuing push for women’s rights, as well as an outpouring of civil activism due to the BLM movement, all while trying to keep up with our states most recent COVID-19 policy. But what about fashion? Although there might not be as stark of similarities behind the fashion designs of the 1920's and today, there are many themes which clearly stand out.
Women’s independence was just accelerating following the establishment of women's voting rights. This gave rise to elaborate clothing with flamboyant sparkles as well as more comfortable shorter pieces of apparel. Women, justly so, wanted to stand out and feel empowered and for the first time their clothing displayed this belief. Today it's not unrealistic to see the same empowerment themes spreading throughout pop-culture. Fashion of the 1920’s was also focused around a specific group of popular individuals, women like Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Lousie Brooks and Prince Edward of Wales. This group was the epitome of fashion as society sought to emulate the way they dressed and acted while in the limelight. Much of this can be resembled by the Kanye West, Kylie Jenner and other famous influencers we have on our social media networks today. Even more impressive is some fashion experts have reported the return of fancy 1920’s accessories like nylons and pearls. Maybe Macklemore did have some insight when he wrote the song Thrift Shop.
If history and fashion both repeat themselves, then thrifting and vintage apparel are here to stay. Next time you see your mom wearing that ridiculous abstract jacket from the 1960’s, don’t poke fun at her, instead try and get her to give it to you. Who knows, in a few short years it might be back in style. Until then don’t be afraid to explore local thrift stores and dig for vintage apparel which undoubtedly will become hip once again.