The Fabric of Society: Fashion and Style Throughout the Twentieth Century

Fashion evolves. The work of every generation is broken apart by newcomers, who discard what they dislike and use the remaining rubble to build the next generation’s styles and trends. One thing I’ve always loved about fashion is that it is an expression of everything that's going on around us. Social, political, and religious movements are reflected in what each generation wears.

When I think about MLK Day, my first reaction is to consider the developments in fashion that stem from the remarkable, unprecedented change that occurred in that decade. Then I feel guilty. How shallow can I be, considering fashion in the context of the greatest social movement in history? But putting my self-consciousness aside, truth be told, it is astounding. How quickly the conservative, traditionalism of the 1950’s shifted into the forward-thinking 1960s, only to be radically transformed into the free-loving 1970s.

Fashion of course can never fully honor the work, or the pain and suffering, of those who fought during the civil rights movement. But it is fascinating to study the broad-reaching impact generational change has. To honor that, I’ve pulled together a few looks that pay homage to each generation and the change they saw.

1950's

1960'S

1970's

1980's

1990's