By Natalie Daniels
The 21st century proves to be the century of comebacks: movie remakes, older artists releasing music, and of course fashion. Pop culture has a fascination with picking pieces from when they were popular and copying them or revitalizing them with a new spin. Why now do we have a fascination with recreating looks from the past? What looks are extremely popular now? And which big stars make it a part of their wardrobe?
One way to think about vintage is an escape to the past. Author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista series, Bianca Turetsky, illustrates in her novels that wearing clothing from another period can be almost like living through that period. It’s a way to time travel to the past without physically traveling. Because that’s impossible, right?
James Laver, an english author, critic, and art historian, created his own law describing the cycle of attitudes toward a certain style and clothing. This was called Laver’s Law. The Law explains how a fashion trend would be indecent 10 years before its time, smart during its popularity, ridiculous 20 years after its time, and beautiful as it progresses past 50 years. Fashion mimics society as it socially changes and grows over time. Sometimes, growth isn’t necessarily a new idea, but building off of the past one.
On the other hand, fashion designers have noticed that trends repeat every 20 years. When looking at Prada, Gucci, or other high fashion, models can be seen strutting in pieces that are heavily influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s. This is why clothing worn after 20 years is marked as “vintage” or “retro.” Fashion and clothing trends build on ideas from before. You can see this in movies, music, TV, and so much more.
Nostalgia also becomes a large part of repeating trends. We often romanticize times of the past that we’ve experienced or never lived in. For instance, the hit show Stranger Things is built on tying into people’s nostalgia with ‘80s music, ‘80s hair, and of course the ‘80s clothing. In my personal experience, a lot of my wardrobe is inspired by the ‘60s’ and ‘70s’ hippie style. I like wearing that clothing because, for me, it is a way to experience that period. I may not be able to live through Woodstock or the counterculture movement, but at least I can pretend that I did.
In 2020, there are several styles from the past that continue to make a comeback. When looking at styles from the ‘40s and ‘50s, collars have returned. Dresses, shirts, and cardigans including plain or detailed collars provide an elegant put-together timeless look for 2020. Mom jeans from the 80s were seen as a mockery only worn by mothers, but now the high-waisted look helps pair crop tops into a tailored, trendy look. Bell Bottoms and colorful headscarves from the ‘70s have made their way back into 2020’s radar to bring the groove back into clothing. ‘90s bucket hats with pleated skirts and extremely detailed shirts give spunk for 2020. Even the 2000s are making a comeback in 2020 with denim on denim and juicy tracksuits. While there are so many more comebacks I can include, it’s proven that consumers have a fascination with vintage pieces and styles.
This is seen in pop culture too, with big stars making vintage trends a part of their style. The first person that comes to mind when regarding revitalizing old fashion is Kendall Jenner. Vogue France compiled some of her best vintage looks. They include a 1991 jumpsuit by designer Salvatore Ferramago, a vintage Chanel suit, and a 1994 matching ensemble by designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Miley Cyrus is another star heavily influenced by the past- especially the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. According to Instagram, Miley shopped at a vintage thrift shop where she found none other than Tom Ford designer clothes. In the photo, Miley wore a black velvet hat with a fringed leather jacket. Meghan Markle during her time as part of the royal family wore dresses heavily inspired by Audrey Hepburn in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Even on the red carpet, dresses can be heavily inspired by designers that were popular in previous eras like Natalie Portman wearing a 1954 red and black polka dot gown by Christian Dior.
While vintage clothing worn by celebrities can often be pricey and out of reach for everyday consumers, there are still ways people find vintage clothing. Multiple stores online and in-person now focus on selling vintage pieces in addition to their other clothing. You can never go wrong with a thrift store that sells vintage pieces at great prices. There are also vintage stores that focus primarily on vintage clothing that’s in good condition. While they are pricier than thrift shops, the clothing is worth it.
Fashion is a continuous cycle. There are good trends and there are bad trends. One thing stays true, there will always be a fascination and yearning for a period before. As long as nostalgia stays strong, so will vintage.
Natalie Daniels is an editorial intern for Dreamlette. She is a journalism major at Emerson College with a love of storytelling. Her favorite topics include entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, social issues, and music.