'Retro' is one word that has come to describe a diverse list of items from the variant fields of fashion, music and culture. Retro fashion and clothing styles are making a big comeback, with bags, hairstyles, and clothes from different eras, being used creatively by a number of designers nowadays.
From classy cocktail dresses to bell bottoms to psychedelic batik to gritty punk, a whole range of retro clothing ideas and styles are discussed here.
Styles Over the Ages
Nowadays, the term 'retro' connotes anything that is from the past and is a shift from the banal and expected. The styles vary from short hairstyles and dresses of the twenties, to the glitter and flare of the 70s. Below is a simple classification of common styles in the past to help you get more ideas.
The 20s was a time of great social upheaval in the U.S., and it saw a number of styles emerging as a result of the economic boom. The most important factor was the empowerment of women in society and a change in their tastes as they became independent and preferred comfortable trends in clothing than before. Though this change took a little time to become popular, by the late 20s, a lot of women preferred skirts with receding hemlines and short hairstyles. A lot of them also started wearing sportswear and sweaters that were more comfortable and loose as supposed to the earlier Victorian fashion and trends with constricting corsets and detailed crinolines and bustles. The men too started wearing more comfortable ensemble. For instance, the tuxedo and waistcoats were preferred over archaic formals, such as the tailcoat. Sweaters and shorts also became popular. Cloche hats for women and top hats, flat caps, and fedoras for men were an integral part.
1930s - late 1940s
The 1930s saw a return of a more conservative fashion for women with longer dresses that highlighted their feminine curves. Gloves were also an essential accessory of this period. Shoulder pads became quite common. Men usually wore "drape cut" suits and bold, wide neckties. Casuals were preferred to sportswear.
The 1950s saw clothes being mass manufactured allowing even common folk a greater access to fashion. The women preferred to look smart and chic, and had tailored dresses that included pencil skirts, shirt dresses, and halter dresses. Children's clothing and maternity wear also became a part of fashion clothing due to the baby boom in the 50s. Men in the 50s wore lighter suits. Hats lost their popularity. Rock and roll icons, such as Elvis, made a huge impact on the fashion and inspired use of tight trousers, leather jackets, and gelled hair.
Hippie culture and fashion dominated major parts of the 60s. It was in this era that major revolutions in fashion trends including bikinis, mini skirts, bell bottomed jeans, and fabric with psychedelic prints including tie dye and batik saw the light of day. Stilettos too were introduced in this decade. Present day fashion, as is obvious, is hugely influenced by this era. Sleeveless dresses were also popular as hippie clothes during the '60s. Men preferred donning the casual attire, and wore bell bottoms along with bright colorful shirts and t-shirts. The trends were generally unisex where both men and women wore similar clothes.
The early 1970s' fashion trends consisted of disco fashion including the use of three piece suits by men and flared trousers and tube tops in women. Platform heeled shoes had become quite the rage at that time. Common casual wear included baseball jerseys and tees. Tight jeans with flares were popular too. The later part of the 1970s saw the rise of the punk culture which included the use of spike hairstyles, studs, leather jackets, and skirts, and a sense of customization with minimum resources in an effort to defy the accepted norms of popular culture to shock or offend people.
In the 1980s emerged the miniskirts and shoulder pads for women and colorful t-shirts and Hawaiian motif shirts with trendy suits for men. The impact of television in the 1980s cannot be denied and a lot of the 80s' clothing trends were inspired from popular television sitcoms and music videos on MTV featuring artists, such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.
How to Be Retro
There are a number of ideas available for women who would like to create and wear retro clothing and look stylish in them too. You could first choose what type of look you are going for. Some of the ideas you could try are:
The 20s' Look
For a 20s' look you could try low waist dresses, preferably of knee length with a short hairstyle such as a bob cut. Complete the look with a cloche hat.
The Late 60s' San Francisco Look
This is a common and easy look to create. All you need is a colorful long sleeves shirt with psychedelic prints, bell bottomed jeans, sandals or bare feet work fine, a colorful headband and don't forget to wear some flowers in your hair.
The 70s' Glam Rock Look
To get the best 70s glam rock look include a glittery crop top with high-waist jeans or trousers and platform heeled shoes. Glitter is in and the more shiny the make up, the better.
Given here are some ideas for retro costumes for men's fashion:
Suave Gentleman of the 30s' Look
This look is all about the aristocratic suits with the London 'drape cut', that uses a lot of padding for the chest and shoulders making them look bigger. Also there are wider lapels. Couple this suit with a large necktie and if you want to, a fedora hat, which would complete the look.
The 70s' Sleek Look
This is a pretty simple look to create and is just like John Travolta's look in the cult classic Grease. It includes wearing a leather jacket with a tight fitting tee shirt and tight jeans. An important part of this look is the well 'greased' hair, that is associated with 'greasers'. Inspired from icons such as Elvis and James Dean.
The 80s' Metal Head Look
The late 1980s saw a growth in popularity of metal bands, giving rise to heavy metal fashion, including ripped jeans and t-shirts, which were inspired from earlier punk acts of the 70s. Acid washed denim jackets with sunglasses can be added to help create this look. Keep hair as puffed up and messy as possible for this look.
You could use these retro looks for any occasion, or even create your own designs using a bit from different fashion eras. Remember to wear only what you feel like wearing and what keeps you comfortable.