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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Battle of the vintage fashion eras

Anna Roberts, Madi Hopper, and Yuri Hwang each lay out the case for their favourite vintage fashion era.

Anna: Y2K

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that Y2K fashion is absolutely iconic. From chic slip dresses to not-at-all-chic but absolutely stylish cargo pants, this era has got it all. Beyond the personal significance of this era to our age group, who grew up with diamanté tees and Ugg boots, Y2K fashion feels incredibly vital and endlessly creative. What other era could pair the absolute weirdness of a nonsensical slogan tee with the ageless glamour of an elegant kitten heel in one outfit?

But the feature of the Y2K era which tops it all off, even if it seems a bit like cheating, is its recourse to vintage style inspiration itself. If you are a fan of flares, you don’t need to go back to the 70s for them – you can find flares from the noughties. If you want an eighties workwear-chic look without the disturbing shoulder-pad silhouette, you only have to reach for a Y2K tailored waistcoat. And if you have just finished your Bridgerton binge, look no further back than the noughties to find a beautiful cropped corset top. Y2K fashion may be in right now, but it is infinitely timeless. 

Yuri: 2010s 

Maybe it’s too soon to call the 2010s a ‘vintage fashion era’, but our hyper-exposed generation has hurried fashion’s 20-year-rule to deem Bella Swan and Elena Gilbert-core stylish once more. As someone who was a teenager in the 2010s, I look at that decade of fashion as loud and confusing – how on Earth did grunge and athleisure co-exist on the runway? My own styling choices of pairing Abercrombie zip-ups with red jeans and combat boots were questionable (horrific) and I still refuse to look back at pictures from my early teenage years to this day. 

But wedge sneakers and drop-crotch harem pants aside, the 2010s was still a revolutionary decade for fashion in that it changed the culture of the industry forever. Thanks to Instagram, the world was now your runway: streetwear dominated fashion week and music festivals (Coachella!!) became a boho paradise. Internet subcultures proliferated, and your personal style became a reflection of who or what you followed online. All in all, it was the chaos of the 2010s that made it such a messy but vibrant and memorable decade for fashion, and I am very curious to see which trends become timeless or remain discarded. 

Madi: 1970s

Despite being the recent victim of a rather lukewarm revival (anyone remember the micro-season of afghan coats, patterned flares, and crochet?), the 1970s is – let’s be real – criminally underrated, sandwiched as it was between the 60s counterculture revolution involving the revelation of the knees and the bright, bouffant exuberance of the 80s, and far too often reduced to disco and drip-dry. Now, I myself am partial to non-iron fabrics, glitter, and flares; my very favourite piece of clothing is a pair of orange ‘Sta-Prest’ Levis – about as typical of the decade as you can get.

But as a decade, the 70s was an utterly unique melting pot of influences, if you only stray a little from the beaten track. The same ten years which witnessed the birth of British punk also saw in (and out) the debutante-chic Sloane Ranger, in her pearls and piecrust collars (think pre-princess Di), as well as the gender-bending innovations of glam and glitter rock – and that’s only scratching the subculture surface. The past, too, echoed loudly throughout the decade, from the Edwardian revival, spearheaded by Laura Ashley’s delicate floral-print prairie dresses (similar to what we might now call cottagecore) to Barbara Hulanecki’s Biba brand, the entire aesthetic of which was heavily influenced by the crisp elegance of the starlets of 1930s Hollywood. It was an era which encompassed an incredibly wide and divergent variety of trends and anti-trends – and which deserves love for so much more than flares and flowers! 

Image Credit: PINKE / CC BY-NC 2.0 via flickr

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