The Good and The Bad: Women’s Fashion Trends Throughout History
Marc Gordon - November 14, 2019

Happiest Days

By Edward H. Donnelly

I said to the little children,
"You are living your happiest days,"
And their bright eyes opened wider In innocent amaze.
For their happiness was so perfect,
They did not know it then;
"Oh, no," they said, "there'll be happier days
When we are women and men."

I said to the youth and maiden,
"You are living your happiest days,"
And into their sparkling eyes there crept
A dreamy, far-off gaze;
And their hands sought one another,
And their cheeks flushed rosy red;
" Oh, no," they said, " there'll be happier days
For us when we are wed."

I said to the man and woman,
"You are living your happiest days,"
As they laughingly watched together
Their baby's cunning ways.
"These days are days of labor.
They can hardly be our best;
There'll be happier days when the children are grown,
And we have earned our rest."

I said to the aged couple,
"You are living your happiest days,"
Your children do you honor,
You have won success and praise.
" With a peaceful look they answered,
"God is good to us, that's true: But we think there are happier days for us
In the life we're going to."

There’s a pretty simple reason why retail companies market primarily to females: Women love beautiful clothes, and men love to look at beautiful women. But throughout the history of the fashion industry, there have been more than a few choices that raised eyebrows and made people think, “who on earth is coming up with these ideas?” Here are a couple of the most shocking, impractical, and just downright bizarre fashion trends.

 

The Bullet Bra

 

Getty Images/NBCUniversal

 

Era: 1940s-1950s

 

Yikes. Those cone-like points don’t look anything like real female assets. But clearly the look appealed to many people, as these bras were all the rage in the 40s and 50s, especially amongst Hollywood actresses who would wear tight sweaters over these pointy bras. One thing is for sure: they’re definitely capable of turning even a tame outfit into quite an erotic one.

 

 

Transparent Trousers & Thigh Highs

 

Getty Images /GC Images /Alo Ceballos

 

Era: 2010s (present)

 

If you think this latest plastic trend seems a bit redundant, you’re absolutely right. But then again, the 2010s are all about being a little extra, so why not slide on a pair of totally see-through boots in 80-degree weather? To make your outfit even more nonfunctional, pair with a corset bra and oversized denim jacket that must stay on at all times.

 

Patchwork Everything

 

Getty Images/WireImage/KMazur 2001

 

Era: 1990s

 

So, 90s fashion was kind of a mess. It was basically a mash-up mix CD of previous generations hits, if you will.  Thus, the patchwork jean is truly the fashion manifestation of this era. Of course, this unique and kooky style wasn’t limited to jeans and could be found on flowy skirts and leather bags as well.

 

 

Bandannas

 

Getty Images/ FilmMagic, Inc/ Jeff Kravitz

 

Era 1990s

 

Back in the late 90s, J-Lo really had it going on. Okay, who are we kidding, Jenny is still the hottest girl on the block.  While the bandanna look is definitely not for everyone, this all-white ensemble mixing low rise jeans and a bedazzled belt definitely makes a good argument for it. Bottom line: these paisley printed handkerchiefs are clearly not just for cowboys.

 

Low-Rise Jeans

 

Getty Images/WireImage/RayMickshaw

 

Era: 2000s

 

Like it’s 80s and 90s counterparts, the acid wash jean and the mom jean, this early 2000s trend was a travesty for many reasons. Mostly the amount of dangerously low navel exposure that definitely should have been reserved for indoor activities only. But then again, it’s Paris Hilton. If anyone can pull this revealing look off, it’s her.

 

 

Long Gloves

 

Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone/Keystone-France

 

Era: 1950s

 

In the late 50s, women would wear long, white gloves in order to look especially glamorous. Not that Marilyn Monroe needed any help in that department.

 

Sequin Dresses

 

Getty Images/Entertainment/George Pimentel

 

Era: 1990s-present

 

They say Millenials are always chasing after the next shiny thing. Well if this trend is any indication, we would have to agree with that statement.  Believe it or not,  gold sequins have existed since as early as 2500BC. But fast forward to 2019, the age of fast fashion, and it’s unlikely you’ll find a single girl’s wardrobe that doesn’t include at least one of these glittering pieces.

 

 

Women’s Shoulder Pads

 

Getty Images/Entertainment/Claire Greenway

 

Era: 1980s

 

Perfect for those days when you’re in a hurry and wanna knock everyone out of your way, shoulder pads are one of those trends that have yet to make a real comeback. Despite that, they continue to pop up on the runway whenever fashion designers are feeling particularly nostalgic. This woman definitely pulls off the look though, by mixing the exaggerated look with a more sensual undergarment.

 

The Beehive Hair-do

 

Getty Images/NBCUniversal

 

Era: 1960s
Boy, they really liked their teasing back in the 60s. The beehive is somehow even more extreme than the similar hairstyles of the era. The idea was basically to achieve rounded cone, piled as high as gravity would allow.

 

 

Bathing Suit Dresses

 

Getty Images/NBCUniversal

 

Era: 1930s

 

Looking like a combination of modern-day swimsuit mixed with a baby doll nightie, these bathing suit dresses were all the rage in 1930, back when women were still being policed over the modesty of their beachwear. Once bikinis were introduced to the world in 1946, this style pretty much faded away into the fashion archives, but some would argue that this is actually one of the more flattering styles for women. But it’s unlikely we’ll see a comeback.

 

80s Workout Clothes

 

Getty Images/NBCUniversal

 

Era: 1980s

 

From the sweatbands to the leg warmers, nothing about this aerobics themed trend makes much sense. But then it was the 80s after all, back when afros, metallic blazers, and nylon tracksuits were also a thing. Truth is, it’s pretty easy to understand the appeal of this particular trend. Women doing stretches in tight leotards, and little else? Mystery solved.

 

 

Corsets

 

Getty Images/AFP/Stringer

 

Era: 1800s, Early 1900s

 

We’re actually pretty torn about this one. While corsets are incredibly uncomfortable, they’re also ridiculously flattering. Rising to popularity in the Victorian era, the constricting garment is meant to  “train” the waist, creating the perfect hourglass silhouette. Thankfully, tightlacing is no longer common practice (hello, pizza) but the corset shape is still seen in lingerie and thanks to Kim Kardashian, waist training is alive and well.