Teenage Fashion History

The word “teenager” was first coined in the 1950s, a time when teenage fashion had found its place and a niche market was created. Teenagers were now a closed group with their own feelings, style, beliefs, and ways of perceiving life; that is, their own personality.

Malcolm Barnard says in his book Fashion as Communication, “Fashion and clothing have always been explained as forms of communication”. Teenagers have now their own voice to speak their mind and they manage to do it through fashion.

Being teenager is being rebellious. If you check out the decades of teen fashion you might see that they have proven to be a way of rebelling out.

Back in the fifties, when teen fashion firs appeared, it would follow the famous look of James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause”. Although, their clothes did not differ too much from the general trend in fashion, girls could be seen wearing dresses fluffed out with petticoats and crinolines under the skirt. Boys wore tight Levis, Chinos, white or black tight shirts, as well as loafers or Converse shoes with leather jackets.

Fashion is totally influenced and “manipulated” by history. The historical events put a hallmark on fashion decades, as the clothes reveal people’s lifestyle, conceptions, and even prejudices.

In the 1960s, fashion and music started to go hand in hand. Pop and rock music began to influence fashion in a way like never before. Fashion icons, like The Beatles, or rebellious rock stars, like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, were speaking on behalf of the younger generation and they represented the main force.

In the 1970s, the disco era was loud and colorful. The fabrics of the decade were polyester, acrylic and lycra. Woman’s dresses were getting to their knees and men wore bell bottoms, jackets and gold chains. Platform shoes were big on the dance floor and shirt patterns were dizzying.

The 1980s came with the aerobic craze. The ultimate combination was tight, shiny stretch leggings paired with an over-sized, off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. The pop singer, Madonna was at her peak at that time and she influenced teenagers sense of style very much.

The 1990s, in terms of teen fashion, represented a mixture of a whole lot of different styles. Boy bands and girl bands of pop music were pretty eclectic in terms of clothes and they were admired by the young generation. It was the time of the platform shoe again which shows up in many shoes from sandals to tennis shoes. The colors are dramatic or pastel, while the classic color black was still used for dramatic effects in fashion.

Nowadays, teen clothing is very comfortable in all ways. The basic trends are vintage blue jeans with a trendy. Teenagers clothes need to be accessible in terms of prices, as young people’s expenditure is pretty limited within the amounts of money collected in their piggy banks.

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Why Fashion Is Always Changing

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Everyone is affected by fashion to some extent. In the era of early supermodel age, fashion could be categorized by glamour or commons. Today, fashion is fast, trendless, comfortable, and personal. Street fashion, as one of the most popular form, is more of a reflection of personality and lifestyle than of trends in general. Because social media have offered abundant avenues for people to get to know trends happening now, fashion has becoming really shapeless. Hollywood stars have their Facebook and Twitter accounts updating almost every second of their day including what they are wearing. Thus, Stars set fashion trends. However, Stars are not the only people only can openly express their fashion styles. Bloggers of fashion, not just professionals, but ordinary peoples, can send out their fashion style to the world. In an instant, fashion has truly become everyday, everywhere, and everyone.

In the information age and a much globalized world community, fashion has transformed in its outlook, and concept as it starts embodying many varieties of elements of different cultures. For example, in the 1980s, jeans had monopolized youth culture not only in the U.S. but also other countries, particularly East Asian countries like Japan and Korea. Now, American styles are no longer the standard as designers of different ethnic background incorporate their own outlook into their design. In addition, in this much globalized world, ethnicity is no longer the only factor that affect the trend in fashion as it was decades ago. Now, people are guided by taste, lifestyle, and experiences. For instance, Alexander Wang’s simple power women’s look has won many fans of minimalism. Thus, it is possible the fashion’s trajectory will more closely appeal to people’s lifestyle and social trends.

Furthermore, today fashion has much evolved to embody personal brand. Everyone’s unique style can be called his or her fashion. For example, punk style was originally styles of socially discontented youth’s, now it has been taken up even by couture designers. Decades ago, fashion had it standard rules such as how women and men should wear. Today, fashion is not strictly dictated by gender. There have emerged a new class of fashion called unisex in which clothing lines can be worn by both sexes.

This type of fashion has been tremendously popular given greater equalities between men and women. Women have more choices than before.

Not only adults, children have their own fashion. Although they mimicked what the adults wear, children’s fashion also been commercialized extensively. Children’s fashion is greatly affected by adult fashion. Many adult designer brands also have children’s line that follow closely of the adult trends.

Fashion styles have been changed that allowed more freedom of choices. The price of fashion has also been changed. Before, fashionable clothing meant high prices. Now, a fashionable piece of clothing doesn’t need to be expensive. Brands such as Forever 21, J. Crew, Target clothing and etc. offer couture style clothing with very affordable prices. Simply put, price doesn’t equate good style or good fashion any more.

Fashion has fundamentally evolved-not only the concept of fashion, but also the price and accessibility.

Fashion and Style

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Early Western travelers, traveling whether to Persia, Turkey, India, or China, would frequently remark on the absence of change in fashion in the respective places. The Japanese Shogun’s secretary bragged (not completely accurately) to a Spanish visitor in 1609 that Japanese clothing had not changed in over a thousand years.However, there is considerable evidence in Ming China of rapidly changing fashions in Chinese clothing. Changes in costume often took place at times of economic or social change, as occurred in ancient Rome and the medieval Caliphate, followed by a long period without major changes. In 8th-century Moorish Spain, the musician Ziryab introduced to Córdoba sophisticated clothing-styles based on seasonal and daily fashions from his native Baghdad, modified by his own inspiration.

Similar changes in fashion occurred in the 11th century in the Middle East following the arrival of the Turks, who introduced clothing styles from Central Asia and the Far East. The beginning in Europe of continual and increasingly rapid change in clothing styles can be fairly reliably dated. Historians, including James Laver and Fernand Braudel, date the start of Western fashion in clothing to the middle of the 14th century, though it should be noted that they tend to rely heavily on contemporary imagery and illuminated manuscripts were not common before the fourteenth century. The most dramatic early change in fashion was a sudden drastic shortening and tightening of the male over-garment from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, sometimes accompanied with stuffing in the chest to make it look bigger. This created the distinctive Western outline of a tailored top worn over leggings or trousers. The pace of change accelerated considerably in the following century, and women and men’s fashion, especially in the dressing and adorning of the hair, became equally complex.

Art historians are therefore able to use fashion with confidence and precision to date images, often to within five years, particularly in the case of images from the 15th century. Initially, changes in fashion led to a fragmentation across the upper classes of Europe of what had previously been a very similar style of dressing and the subsequent development of distinctive national styles. These national styles remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, mostly originating from Ancien Régime France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance, but still uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor that Fernand Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.