Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Womens Fashion: The History behind Three Iconic Style Staples


Womens fashion has a rich and fascinating history, interwoven with the political, social and economic changes of the times; the best designers have always managed to create clothing for women and men that perfectly express the mood of a certain era, and some of these have made a lasting impact, moving seamlessly from high fashion to the high street. Let’s take a look at three famous womens fashion pieces that have stood the test of time; the miniskirt, the bikini and the oh-so-glamorous Little Black Dress…

The Miniskirt
The 1960s was a time of social and cultural revolution, where everything from global politics to womens fashion underwent dramatic changes. Up until then, the shortest hemlines had been those of the 1920’s “flappers”, with womens fashion becoming more conservative again in the 30s – and then embracing the post-war “New Look” womens fashion trend with floor-length hemlines in the 40s and 50s. As the “Swinging sixties” approached, more and more fashionable young women were becoming discontent with the long-held tradition of following the fashion sense of their mothers; they were ready to make a daringly different fashion statement. Womens clothing designer Mary Quant, largely recognised as the pioneer of the miniskirt, owned a fashion boutique on Kings Road during the 60s, and it was here that she started selling skirts with the hemlines raised well above the knee.

Since then, we’ve seen this womens fashion item undergo numerous revivals – from the 1970s punk movement, where black leather miniskirts were paired with ripped fishnet stockings, to the corporate world, where women made fashion statements by power-dressing in elegant minis, heels and tailored jackets.

The Bikini The two-piece bathing suit for women came into fashion in the 1940s, when two clothing designers separately had the same idea for a new and daring swimsuit design. Parisian Jacques Heim advertised his two-piece creation as “the world’s smallest bathing suit”, also dubbed the Atome. At the same time, French fashion designer Louis Reard created a fashionable womens two-piece designed to give a better tan and a greater sense of liberation. Reard named the bikini after the picturesque Bikini Atoll, and marketed this latest womens fashion statement as “smaller than the smallest bathing suit”. He also had a rather cheeky advertising slogan claiming he had “split the Atome”!

The two-piece bathing suit was soon adopted by Hollywood beauties – a notable example being Bond girl Ursula Andress, who famously wore a gorgeous white bikini on-screen in Dr No. The bikini, once considered outrageously daring, has made its way into womens mainstream fashion over the years, and no swimwear catalogue is complete without one.

The Little Black Dress
The LBD, also known as the cocktail dress or evening dress, is one fashion staple you can find in any womens wardrobe. In years gone by, black clothing was associated with mourning and certainly not considered suitable for womens everyday fashion. Black dresses only became acceptable as womens fashion at social occasions following the popularity of the sensationally scandalous painting Madame X, in which John Singer Sargent depicted a Parisian society beauty clad in a revealing black dress.

Today’s stylish women have Coco Chanel to thank for the invention of the modern LBD; the iconic womens fashion designer debuted the creation in 1926. It was a simple, calf-length silk dress with a slash neck and minimal decoration. Needless to say this fashion creation for women was an instant hit and has only grown in popularity since. The LBD can be dressed up or down, and is perfect for all occasions from business meetings to first dates! 

As womens fashion continues to change and evolve, we can expect these three style staples to remain firm favourites for decades to come.
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Nicky Warner is an experienced fashion blogger with a keen interest in today’s top fashion trends. For the latest on mens casual shirts, to the interesting history behind ladies trousers, Nicky’s got all the fascinating facts!

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