Many crossdressers love the fashion trends of past eras: for instance, the 1950s, because the styles were feminine and romantic. But can you wear them today? How long can you keep going with a style before you look dated and frumpy? Likewise, some of us love the 60s, the 70, or the 80s, all which have periodically returned in the 21st century.
The answer to the question is “it depends” on how trendy they were when you bought them, plus what part of the trend cycle you bought them in.
The more creative your look, the longer you can get away with wearing clothes that are unrelated to the current trends as they are not part of the fashion cycle in the same way. The more popular a trend, the less you can get away with wearing it when it’s deemed ‘out of fashion’.
Personal style is really important. Following fashions like a slave is not going to guarantee you style. But when you have found a style you love. how long can you keep going with it before you look dated and frumpy?
- Fashion fads: last 3-12 months
- Fashion trends: last 1-5 years
- Fashion classics: last 5-10 years
- Fashion cycle: about 20 years until a trend will return (but always in a slightly different way)
Fashion fads are those that suit few people – if you love it and it suits you, buy early in the fashion cycle (the emerging stage when it’s in the ‘junior’ market who do the most ‘disposable fashion’). Examples of fads might be very strong or loud patterns, cuffed boyfriend jeans, fluorescent colors, ponchos, patterned trousers and jeans – they tend to be harder to wear, less flattering or more extreme (less mainstream) than trends.
Fashion trends will usually stay around for a number of years – think skinny jeans, pencil skirts, maxi dresses. They flatter more body shapes and come with some variety so you can find the version that suits you. You will see this in the mass market after it has been through the emerging (junior) market.
Fashion classics change much less over time, though they do change and don’t last forever. Examples of classics are knee-high riding boots, trench coats, white collared shirt, shift dress in a dark neutral color. straight leg black trousers, pencil skirts.
The more dramatic your look, the less you have to change, but you still have to change (think the Dynasty look and how that dated). But there are fabulous creative/dramatic’s like Iris Apfel (above) who are never really in fashion, or just make fashion their own so wear what they love.
Going back to our original question, the answer is a resounding yes. The “New Look” of the 50s is now the New Look of today. The same details and style codes are found every season on the runways as we see in this article from Vogue Italy. And the same holds true for other eras too.
Here are some examples of fashion trends over the years.
The blazer shape of the 1980s was not the blazer of the 1990s nor is it the blazer shape today. Subtle changes sometimes, but still enough that draw attention to the age of the garments.
When you look at these jackets from the 1980s through the 1990s what changes do you notice? 1980s jackets were often double breasted, had huge shoulder pads and where low hip level and boxy in shape.
In the 1990s the shoulders were no longer padded but the longer length remained common and patch pockets were a frequent feature.
By 2010 the classic jacket of the day was shorter to around the high hip. Definitely fitted through the waist (even if it didn’t have a peplum) and was most commonly single-breasted. So if you’re not sure, read this post on Signs it’s Time to Let it Go – which has a few more tips to help you decide.
Notice in this picture how the silhouette of the trousers changes from decade to decade. So in the 80s when trousers became narrow, if you were still wearing the flares of the 70s you’d look dated and frumpy. Same goes when the pleated tapered pants of the 90s was replaced by the bootleg of the noughties.
There are many women who find fashion trends they love, that they feel good in, and then keep on wearing them well past their use-by-date, a few years past is one thing, but a decade or more will age you. Just remember the fashion cycle – every 20 years the fashions repeat, just in a new, more updated way, with a more modern fabric, pattern and look. The trend you love right now, will be back in your life someday!
So should you keep your favorites?
- Are they a fad, trend or classic?
- When did you buy them? How many years have you had them?
- Could you go into a store and buy a similar garment today (if not, it’s gone out of fashion)?
- Are they still in good condition?
- Did you buy them at the start of the trend or towards the end?
- Does it give you a similar silhouette as the current trend?
- And most importantly, how do I update the look
On the left is the most pinned look from Sister House in September, a 1950s housewife outfit. On the right is a modern 50s look. What are the secrets?
Pairing vintage clothing with decidedly modern shoes, bags and sunglasses is an easy way to dramatically ground an otherwise whimsical garment. It is easy to keep the overall look streamlined by picking a color that is present in the garment and wearing contemporary accessories in the same color. Of course, pops of vibrant color paired with all black accessories (or vice versa) is also a quick way to modernize a classic vintage garment. Also be sure that your hairstyle and makeup are modern. It works.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy 10 Trends That Will Affect the Transgender Community in 2017 and Fashion Historians Talk About Today’s Fashion.