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The Vintage Trend: A Return to Conservative Fashion

September 15, 2011 | Danelle

Have you noticed the latest fashion trend? It is what is known as “vintage,” which are clothes from or made to look from the early 20th century, 50s, or 70s.

Actresses like Kiera Knightly and Jessica Chastain wear high-collared beaded gowns that are a modern take on fashion from the early 1900s, Kelly Brooks wears high-waisted capris tucked-in flowy top – an outfit almost identical to something my mother wore in the 70s.

I have always been interested in fashion and what it says about society. For example, in the 90s, fashion was extremely avant-garde and grunge. It was essentially all about rejecting the past’s fashion. Runway models sported baggy, crazy colors, and overalls. My clothing was along those lines, too (I have a pair of bright orange pants as my proof!).

However, now fashion has taken history’s fashion and embraced it. Suddenly it is cool to dress like a 50s housewife in poofy dresses (I own a few myself) or shop for long-chain chunky jewelry that I am positive my mom has packed away somewhere.

The question is not how many antique- looking owl necklaces one can find at a store, rather it is why is fashion embracing past decades like the Edwardian era, the 50s, and the  70s, and what does it say about society today?

First, I think it is clear fashion is back-lashing and so are people. Dressing like you are from the Edwardian era – modestly – is a cry for more modesty in society. The high collars, the long sleeve tunics, and the same goes for the 50s. Wearing poofy dresses and buying “vintage” aprons represents a desire to go back to a time that we today see as full of family values.  This wish to have a “Pleasantville life,” even if it is not attainable, is understandable given the divorce rate climbing in America.

Dressing in high-waist shorts from the 70s is an illustration of wanting to dress like our mothers did when they were young. It is a connection we can make to their youth and the “simpler, carefree” times they describe to us while we face crisis in our time.

Fashion, in sum, has taken a conservative turn amidst the economic and social crisis in America, and that style would not prevail unless society let it prevail. Perhaps fashion then is a crystal ball for the hearts and minds of people.

I suppose we will have to wait and see on that idea. For now, I am off to surf the internet for a fashionable plaid skirt (actually, maybe I will check my mom’s closet first).

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