As much as I talk about fashion, I don’t usually speak about it in a historical sense. Here we’ll take a look at exactly how far women’s clothes have come in the last few decades.
Today’s subject: jackets. We’ll start with the 1940s, when jackets were basically just trench coats with belts. Women often wore their jackets buttoned up with the belt clasped tightly around the waist in order to accentuate the body’s shape. This was before corsets were particularly popular (those would come to stay in the 1950s), so the belt was the only thing there making a woman’s waist appear smaller. This was what was considered to be the desired body shape for a woman during this time, as you’ll notice in a lot of fashion sketches and photographs from the 1940s up until the late 1960s.
Moving on, the 1950s brought quite a change to women’s jackets. World War II had ended and everyone had just a bit more time on their hands to focus on considerably less important things like what they were wearing. Dior was popular in the 1950s, mostly among the upper class, but the styles of their clothes were carried on through other, more affordable brands. Their jackets tended to puff out a bit at the bottom, as did their dresses, in order to further emphasize the waist. This is around the time the use of corsets began to become more widespread and common while wearing jackets. These jackets were commonly worn with skirts that added on even more to the bottom of the jackets. While jackets kept on making women’s waists look smaller and smaller, a turn came when brands suddenly started making their jackets loose and quite the opposite of what Dior was going for. Jackets with small waists became increasingly less popular as more and more women chose their comfort over a small waist. Women stepped back into the trend of trench coats, but would often wear them unbuttoned and beltless, undeniably more breathable and comfortable than previous fashion innovations.
The 1960s brought very similar styles to that of the 1950s, but, for the most part, much shorter. While trench coats flowing past the knee had been previously very popular, at this point women began wearing coats that cut off at the hips. Jackets were then loose and short at the same time, and usually were paired with tight skirts, adding up to a look that was very interesting, to say the least. Another turning point from this time period is the beginning of color in jackets. Looking at old pictures, you’ll notice that, a lot of the time, jackets were a simple grey, black, or brown color with little to no shade diversity. During the 60s, clothing designers began creating coats of more vibrant varieties than previously. Red and blue were commonly worn colors of jackets at the time and usually were worn with a skirt of the same color. Pockets were sometimes excluded from coats during this time because they had previously been located below the hips of a trench coat. Without the extra fabric on the end, the space for pockets decreased, and they hadn’t *quite* figured out modern day pockets yet.
The 1970s brought dramatic change to women’s jackets and the fashion industry overall. For the most part, basic jackets stayed the same aside from a tailored waist, reflecting back on the 1940s and early 50s. A lot more variety was added to coats and jackets during the 1950s as well, as far as not only color, but design. Coats could be long or short, bold or plain. Some even began incorporating animal products into their coats, while things like leather had really only been worn by men for the previous decade or so. The real turning point of the 1970s was the genre we all know and love: disco. Disco brought around so many different fabric choices and color patterns in not only jackets, but clothing overall. Metallic fabrics and colorful designs became increasingly popular during the later portion of this era, leading up to the 80s. Some jackets were cropped, and worn with things that were high waisted. Sweaters and cardigans came around this time, as well, a lot of the time with longer, flowing sleeves. Bold patterns were introduces, and you’ll notice a lot of plaid popping up in 70s fashion. The variety of coats and jackets in the 1970s is absolutely unmatched, with things ranging from conservative coats to short and bold jackets.
As far as the 1980s, glitter and metallic fabrics were extremely present as well as denim jackets. By this point, trench coats had, for the most part, phased out, and had been replaced with the jacket lengths that we usually see today. Pockets were normally included in coats in convenient places on the jackets. Leather continued in its popularity as well as latex materials. Along the lines of bold colors, colorblock jackets began appearing throughout this time period, pairing colors together in chunky and daring ways. Clothes overall began to include more big accessories and things like shoulder pads. Plaids continued to be a staple in the fashion community and often was made to be bright colors including yellow and green. Musicians like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna paved the way for more audacious fashions to begin to appear during this time period, introducing denim vests, print blazers, and fishnet sleeved jackets. With all of these turns in fashion around this time, we can’t forget the basic business casual style– usually blazers of neutral colors, very similar to today. As previously mentioned, though, plaid was just as common as solid colors and could be spotted in just about any office space.
Moving through the decades, you’ve probably noticed that no two stages are alike. The 90s were no exception, with girls often sporting their baggy flannel jackets. This entire decade was a huge tomboy phase for about half the young women in the united states of America. Of course, not everyone chose to go for the grunge style. Some decided to stick with the basics, clothes that were not too different from what most of us wear now. A lot of jackets were loose and made of denim, with a lot of Kurt Cobain inspired themes throughout the entire era. Of course, celebrities outside of the punk and grunge genre inspired their own millions of people with their outfits and style choices. Artists like Gwen Stefani had their own style very separate from the grunge craze. This style was hip-hop inspired, and involved a lot loose jackets made of softer fabrics. These jackets were usually paired with cropped shirts and baggy, low-rise pants that created the overall look along with some larger accessories like big hoop earrings and hair accessories.
Moving on to the 2000s, an era most of us remember but would rather forget. Looking back at some of the celebrities during this time period, you’ll notice a lot of layers, including skirts worn over jeans and such things as that. As far as jackets, cropped and brightly colored was the way to go. I won’t go too far into this stage because I’m sure you all would like to move on to more interesting things.
Welcome to 2018! We’ve honestly reached a point where you can wear whatever jackets you want. Whether you’d like to wear a baggy denim jacket like the 90s, a tight trench coat like the early 50s, or a neutral plaid jacket like the 1970s, go for it. While researching and knowing about fashion can become a fun pastime, its most important for you to develop your own style based on what you like and what makes you feel comfortable. So go forth, shop on, and most importantly: have fun.