Bowler hats to Balenciagas: 100 years of classic British fashion trends
British fashion has evolved over the decades, with designer sneakers now replacing three-piece suits and bowler hats. Opening the doors to the historical workwear wardrobe, Woodhouse Clothing has picked out the most popular fashion trends from every decade in the last century, exploring how and why they’ve changed so much.
From war time clothes such as the trench coat to military jackets from the RAF, let’s take a close look at how society has shaped clothes over the last 100 years.
As WW1 began in 1914, military uniform dominated the decade as men went to war. Women worked in male roles, often wearing oversized overalls.
Key Colours: The war brought some dark colours to clothing. Navy, grey, black, brown, and khaki green were mostly worn by men.
Style icons: Henry Ford, George M Cohan, Thomas Edison
In the 1920’s, oxford bags were a staple trouser trend for middle-class men who often worked as doctors, lawyers and bankers.
Key colours – As the war ended, the mood lifted, and colours got noticeably lighter. Pastels were popular, especially blues, pinks and yellow tones.
Style icons: Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Coco Chanel
As trousers tapered and skirts softened, a change was definitely starting to emerge. The 1930’s began to consider comfort in workwear, rather than just convenience.
Key colours – Dark colours made a return as WW2 loomed. Grey, brown and navy were commonly worn throughout this decade.
Style icons – Clarke Gable, Henry Fonda, James Stewart
During the 1940’s fabric rationing and cutbacks in clothing production meant clothes were basic. Most men were at war wearing uniform, and colours were dark, getting notably brighter when the war came to an end.
Key colours – Colours stayed similar the 1930’s as the country went through a time of loss and mourning. The cheap fabric also effected the choice of colours that were worn during the decade.
Style icons – Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Coco Chanel
As the war ended, life slowly went back to normal. Workwear reflected the change, as the freedom of fabric inspired new styles such as the Teddy Boy jacket and slip-on loafers.
Key colours – Whilst still in recovery from WW2, colours didn’t change – however fabrics did. Flannel and leather began to make a reappearance as more money was thrown into fashion and design.
Style icons – Frank Sinatra, Paul Weller, Hugh Hefner
The 1960’s was a decade of drastic change, especially when it came to fashion. Unisex fashion made its first appearance, and The Beatles inpsired a number of timeless trends.
Key colours – Say hello to the fashion revolution. Colours were rich, bright and full of flavour in the 60’s. Rich purple, olive green and deep reds were key.
Style icons – Cher, Diana Ross, Nancy Sinatra
1970’s fashion focused on freedom and fun. Colours became brighter, collars became looser, and the restricting business suit seen in previous decades was long gone. Those who could wear denim, totally would.
Key colours – . Whilst colours stayed bright, they got deeper in the 70’s. Maroon, burnt orange and plum were popular.
Style icons – David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson
The 80’s saw a huge job shift, as the launch of the internet meant more men than ever were working in an office environment. It was the initial birth of Silicon Valley, and the decade of the power suit.
Key colours – Pop was the music of the 80’s and it was also the colour trend. The brighter the better. Pinks, blues and neon green were worn by men.
Style icons – Madonna, Princess Diana, Whitney Houston
As ‘Casual Friday’ made it’s way into the office, men ditched the suit for much cooler leather jackets. Women wore fitted skirts and stilettos, bringing a splash of feminity to the workplace.
Key colours – Reservoir dogs inspired the monochrome trend, and black leather jackets also kept things dark, simple and cool.
Style icons – Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Madsen
The Naughties saw some fearless fashion trends, including the blazer and tee combo, and double demin- which still have the nation divided, almost 20 years later.
Key colours – Pretty much any colour was accepted in the 1990’s – as long as it was teamed with denim. Even double denim was deemed as cool.
Style icons – Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell
Research shows office apparel has declined by 39% in the time that co-working spaces have increased 28%, suggesting that suits could soon see extinction. Gender fluidity floods through the modern workplace, redefining stereotypes and evolving limited attitudes.
Key colours – In today’s world there are no rules, with colour clashing seen as a cool, effortless look.
Style icons – Harry Styles, Kanye West, David Gandy