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From the time of ancient Greece to the palaces of the French court to the modern fashion catwalks of today, fashion has changed and evolved throughout the centuries. From sumptuous royal court wear to the efforts of haute couture houses, fashion has always been a showstopper, thrusting trends and defining eras. In this article, we take a brief journey through history, exploring some of the major contributions to the evolution of fashion from ancient times to the present day.

1. The Ancient Roots of Modern Fashion

Fashion is more than just what the modern era has presented—it has a history of cultural expression that is hundreds of years old. Ancient civilizations expressed themselves through their clothing, and some of these things are still seen in modern fashion. Let’s explore some ancient roots of modern fashion today.

  • Egyptian Clothing – Clothing in Ancient Egypt often depicted the ranking and wealth of the person wearing it. Families would often possess many pieces of clothing, with the most common fabrics being linen and leather. To this day, modern fashion still reflects the love of fabrics and fine detailing of Ancient Egyptian clothing.
  • Greek Clothing – Ancient Greek clothing could both be loose-fitting or form-fitting. The common Colors of Greece were mainly white, gold, red, and purple. Today, you can see this reflected in many classic outfits with imported fabrics.
  • Roman Clothing – Ancient Roman clothing was tailored to an individual’s status in society. Wealthy men wore tunics, while women often used stolas, which were large and draped garments. Both individuals would also often wear jewelry to indicate their power and wealth. This influence can be seen in modern fashion today, with incorporation of power jewelry, colors, and fabrics.

The roots of modern fashion are reaching far–many of them are hundreds of years old. Ancient civilizations have had a massive influence on what we wear today. From Egyptian linen to Roman stolas, these cultures have cemented their fashion impact on us. Each of the civilizations above have had a role in shaping the fashion that we see today and it’s interesting to reflect on its power and longevity.

2. A Timeline of Fashion Evolution

1920s: For the first time in history, hemlines of women’s dresses rose up above the ankle. Flapper style, characterised by a close-cut frame, knee-length hemlines, and vibrant colours, quickly became the craze. Women also adopted special mobility garments, such as jodphurs and tubular skirts. Men’s fashion continued to be relatively conservative in comparison, dominated by sharp and tailored suits.

1960s: Social aspects of fashion were driven by civil rights movements, propelling gender neutrality and encouraging the experimentation of different aesthetics. Men’s fashion saw a shift to denim jeans, turtle necks, and bright colours, while women’s fashion was undergoing the ever-popular mini skirt revolution. Additionally, new fabrics and patterns emerged, offering customers more options to express themselves.

1980s: The 1980’s saw the emergence of techno-colour palettes, loud prints and unstructured silhouettes. Power suiting for women became a staple, marked by the resurgence of shoulder pads. Playful and exaggerated trends, such as leg warmers for men and women, became popular and athletic wear exploded into the fashion world.

2000s and Onwards: The turn of the millennium saw the emergence of new trends, such as Crocs and Juicy Couture tracksuits, as well as a focus on sustainability. Increasingly, customers are investing in trend-proof clothes that will last them many years, demonstrating the importance of long-lasting timeless fashion. Additionally, with the emergence of social media, more individuals are taking ownership of their style and acting as their own creative director.

3. Highlighting Iconic Fashion Movements

Fashion is constantly evolving and is often heavily influenced by social, political, and cultural movements. While some fashion trends come and go, iconic movements have pushed fashion forward and remain timelessly influential. Here are three of the most iconic fashion movements that have made a lasting impact:

  • The New Look: The New Look, designed by French-born couturier Christian Dior in 1947, was revolutionary. Unlike other wartime fashion that was utilitarian in its design, the New Look was feminine and romantic, featuring ankle-length full skirts, tiny waists, and cinched shoulders. This look changed the course of fashion and established Dior as one of the biggest names in fashion.
  • The Hippie Movement: The 1960s hippie movement was a youth-driven protest against conventions of the time. Hippie fashion, with its signature peasant blouses, bell bottoms, flowy dresses, and bold accessories challenged the status quo and ushered in a new era of freedom in personal expression through fashion. Although its influence is still felt to this day, hippie style is now seen as a symbol of peace and freedom.
  • Minimalism: Arising in the 1990s, the minimalist movement aimed to strip away all of the excess adornment found in other styles. Simple, streamlined shapes, muted colors, and clean lines were the defining features of minimalist fashion. This trend encouraged the appreciation of quality and craftsmanship and has been a driving force of influential brands and luxury pieces ever since.

Each of these iconic fashion movements has forever changed the course of fashion. They have established new ideas about beauty and pushed the boundaries of how fashion can be used as a form of personal expression. These movements have been integral to crafting the fashion landscape that we know today.

4. Exploring the Enduring Power of Fashion

We often hear the phrase “fashion is eternal.” It’s hard to disagree when we look around to see clothes, shoes, jewelry, and other fashion items from eras long gone still in use and still looking good. But what is it about fashion that has given it the endurance to remain popular and stylish for so long?

It’s likely due to the sheer variety and versatility of fashion. Different cultures have embraced unique apparel, allowing a range of looks to be shared and appreciated. We are graced by pieces from all periods of time that capture the aesthetics of the era they are referencing. Animal hides, sequins, florals, leather, feathers, and more all have their place in the world of fashion.

The magic of fashion lies in reinterpretation. Every decade brings something different, adding to the collective identity of fashion as a whole. Rather than slowly fading away, older styles are viewed through a new lens and become trendier than ever. Many fashion trends are variations of pieces first seen centuries ago; but this time they are adopted by a larger audience and used to express personal style.

The evolution of fashion has also been very influential in the production process. Advancements such as synthetic fabrics, improved production methods, and eco-friendly materials have opened doors to possibilities. Globalized trade has allowed designers and manufacturers to access raw materials while still keeping a link to traditional craftsmanship.

  • Fashion is an ever-evolving form of self-expression
  • It has transcended time and culture
  • Older styles are constantly reinterpreted to fit the current zeitgeist
  • Technology has had a huge impact on fashion production

It’s not hard to conclude that fashion is here to stay. Despite its immense growth and transformation over the years, its core values remain the same: to represent, to inspire, to empower. The beauty of fashion lies not in what may come, but in the ever-enduring impact it has on all who observe.

As fashion styles have been in a constant state of change throughout history, it’s easy to see why we’ll never run out of new ideas to try. From the ancient garments of the distant past to the most intricate designs of modern couture, one thing will always remain certain: our clothes can transform us with just one spin. So let’s keep turning that wheel of fashion, and keep exploring to find more looks to love!


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