Throughout history, basics have ruled fashion. After all, what closet is complete without some everyday tees, comfy dresses, rockin’ shoes, and classic coats? With the basics on hand, you’re ready to go out and rock the world. That’s why Jane sells the best boutique clothing around—we get that.
And while it’s clear that basics have changed significantly over the last 100 years, it might surprise you how similar they are. I mean, the 80s have made a definite comeback. But did you know that the 20s have as well? It’s safe to say that throughout fashion history, styles have been repeated—and now, more than ever, we’re looking to the past for inspiration.
1910s: Blissfully Beautiful
First, let’s throw it all the way back to the 1910s. Fashion was absolutely beautiful, and in recent years had become a lot more comfortable. The reason? No more corsets. That was enough to make everyone breathe deep and sigh with relief. Literally. On most occasions, ladies could be found wearing figure-flattering tea gowns. Women also adored loose-fitting chemise dresses with belts that were made by Chanel (yes, the Chanel). But beyond dresses, big hats, harem trousers, and the hobble skirt—a bafflingly popular restricting skirt—were all the rage. Basically, the 1910s were the proper picture of natural beauty and femininity.
Style Icons: Gabrielle Dorziat, Mary Pickford, Camille Pastorfield
1920s: Glamour at Its Finest
Now on to the year made most famous by flappers and glamorous parties: The Roaring Twenties. With society breaking loose during the age of prohibition, flashier clothing came into fashion full force. Dresses were shorter, eye-catching, and the straight boyish figure was in. To achieve that look, women hid curves by wearing looser clothing and binding their chests. During chilly seasons, wide scarves were worn draped over the shoulders and arms (blanket scarf, anyone?). To sum up the 20s: the showier the outfit, the better. So let’s just say if I had a time machine, you’d know where to find me.
Style Icons: Clara Bow, Coco Chanel, Louise Brooks
1930s: Chic and Classy
Say goodbye to the 1920s, because we’re moving on up to the 1930s. Despite the devastating effects of 1929 stock market crash, women still continued to dress as if they weren’t poor. After all, appearance was everything! Fashion of the time involved classic shapes, styles, and designs. Women wore dresses everywhere and didn’t show quite as much skin as in the 1920s…unless, of course, they were wearing the newly introduced one-piece swimsuit. In another contrast from the 1920s, the new “perfect” body was the “v-shape.” Designers created dresses that gave women larger shoulders (hello, shoulder pads) and accentuated tiny waists. Sound like another decade you know?
Style Icons: Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich
1940s: Working Women
Now it’s time to whisk you off to the 1940s. The fashion of the early 1940s was much different than that of the later 1940s. The main reason? WWII. With a shortage of supplies, fashion designers had to be a little more inventive. And with men off to war, women started working in factories and offices. This new lifestyle led women to start wearing more casual wear such as skirts, blouses, work boots, coveralls, and overalls. When they weren’t wearing more casual outfits, women still enjoyed glamorous styles. Dresses were still in the ever-popular “v-shape,” but became more trim and natural as the decade progressed. And you were never fully dressed without a pair of gloves.
Style Icons: Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Veronica Lake
1950s: Swingin’ Style
Let’s jump and jive into the 1950s! In this era of swing, dresses and skirts had more flair than ever. Skirts were high waisted and full, with the poodle skirt being at the forefront of that style. Dresses were bright, patterned, and followed the same flare pattern as skirts. 50s designers also created the pencil skirt, which became crazy popular. And as fashion continued to become more casual, cigarette pants and capris took the nation by storm. The pants were high-rise, fitted at the waist, and loose at the hips. Additionally, jeans became common attire, though not quite as popular as cigarette pants.
Style Icons: Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Fiona Campbell-Walter
1960s: Mod Look
If you thought the 1950s were modern, just take a look at the 1960s! Commonly known as having “mod style,” this decade embraced shapeless clothing, much like the 1920s. Inspired by pop and modern art of the times, color played a major role in everyday looks. Mini skirts (anything shorter than the knee) were popular, yet still inappropriate for work. British fashion led the way, with model Twiggy at the forefront of fashion. But Jackie Kennedy definitely gave her some serious competition. Her look was classic elegance instead of pop art style, and almost every lady wanted to dress like her. These two ladies and their styles dominated the decade.
Style icons: Twiggy, Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn
1970s: Wild and Free
In the age of peace and love, fashion took a major turn. Clothes got loose and long and colors became more vibrant and well, psychedelic. With politics and a changing world at the center of this change, fashion found a new voice. Free spirits dressed in freer clothing, and individual style was more popular than ever. Accessories were key to any outfit, bell bottoms and butterfly collars were all the rage…and the more flower power, the better!
Style Icons: Pam Grier, Ali MacGraw, Farrah Fawcett, Mary Tyler Moore, Goldie Hawn
1980s: Funky Fresh
The eighties is one of my favorite eras. Funky, fun, carefree—it’s probably the most fun decade to dress up like. I mean, what could be better than the aerobic wear, leg warmers, off-the-shoulder sweaters, and Hammer pants? Due to globalization and the expansion of cable television, clothing worn by celebrities became a major part of 80s fashion. This spread of television also allowed fashions to be more accessible to the average person and for there to be several styles available at one time.
Style Icons: Madonna, Brooke Shields, Jane Fonda, Michelle Pfeiffer, Princess Diana
1990s: Grunge & Denim
Hop back on the time machine, because we’re headed to the 90s. For many of you, this probably feels like it was just yesterday (but really, wasn’t it?). Commonly referred to as the era of “anti-fashion,” the 1990s had several overlapping trends. Patterns were abstract and bright, denim on denim was a standard outfit, and biker shorts were always acceptable. And of course, the emergence of grunge style came in 1992. Can’t forget that. Influenced by grunge music, it was a hit with teenagers and became a fashion phenomenon.
Style Icons: Spice Girls, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Aniston
2000s: The Mash-Up Era
In some ways, the 2000s felt like an experimental decade. I’m not sure what to think of it, but let’s just say it definitely pushed the boundaries of style. The 2000s recycled fashion from past decades, while also focusing on brands (Uggs, Von Dutch, Toms, Juicy Couture, etc.) and labeling. Clothing became less unisex and more feminine, with classic basics like tunics, layered tanks and tees, capris, and low-rise jeans. But the 2000s wasn’t without its quirks… here’s a shout out to popped collars, scrunchy popcorn shirts, choker necklaces, dresses & jeans, and studded belts. May you R.I.P.
Style Icons: Sophia Coppola, Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker
2010s: Hang Loose
And we’ve arrived at the 2010s. The era of perfect style. Or, at least, we hope. Fashion has moved to more fitted pants, giving attention to the legs. But comfort is key, with stretchy skinny jeans and leggings owning the market (and I’ll be the first to say I’m not complaining). 2010s tops tend to be loose and hide curves. Dolmans, tunics, and pullovers are just a few of the popular basics you’ve probably seen floating around on Jane. Able to be worn a variety of ways and dressed up or down, these basics are a classic style of the decade. But hey, we’re only six years into the 2010s, and style could change at any time. What do you predict will be next?
Fashion Icons: Blake Lively, Kate Middleton, Taylor Swift
How Many Can You Spot?
As we’ve taken a little dive into the past, it’s clear that certain basics dominated each decade. The real question is: how many 1900s—2000s inspired boutique deals can you find on Jane?