Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
Today, June 20, marks the debut of Tophatter’s first Vintage Dress auction. I’ve forever been convinced that I was born in the wrong era, having a love for old movies and an interest in vintage fashion. Inspired by these thoughts & the timeliness of the auction, we’ve dedicated this post to provide an overview of styles from the 1950s to the end of the 80s. Are you ready?
It’s best to introduce the styles by each decade…
1950s: This decade brings to mind girls in poodle skirts and bobby socks. Many outfits were shirts/blouses and skirts. This site notes that “Women dressed ‘smartly’ in the Fifties. Good grooming and a tailored look were prized. Acting and looking ‘every inch the lady’” was incredibly important. Another style that was in vogue was the pencil skirt, but that was a style more suited for a woman of maturity and didn’t quite appeal to the teens of the day. The 50s was also the last “heyday” of the girdle, which was used to “support” a woman’s body & allow the garment to seamlessly fit the body. Some of the top designers from this decade, which hopefully may ring a bell, include: Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Jacques Fach, Pierre Balmain, and Coco Chanel.
1960s: While the 1960s started in similar fashion - pun intended - to that of the 50s, it was the rise of Jackie Kennedy’s iconic & influential style. The defining elegance of the Camelot era could be seen everywhere: elegant gowns, suits with short boxy jackets, oversized buttons and pencil skirts. However, towards the end of the decade, fashion made a drastic transition into bright colors and geometric shapes. Women wore miniskirts or A-line mini dresses. The muted elegance of the past was replaced with the bright colors and sequins from the end of the decade. Designers from the 60s included: Pierre Cardin, Givenchy, Yves St Laurent, and Pucci.
1970s: This decade’s fashion pieces include platform shoes, hot pants, and lots of polyester. It was an era of personal expression. Skirts came in three lengths: mini, midi (somewhere between knee length and ankle length) and maxi, which reaches all the way to the floor. Mini-skirts and dresses were a carryover from the mod styles of the 60s and could be found throughout the decade. Changes in the mini-dresses throughout the decade mainly had to do with the cut - in the earlier years of the decade, one would see A-line dresses, whereas the end of the decade contained more of a flared look. Midi and maxi dresses came about towards the end of the 70s. Of the two, the maxi dresses were more popular & were worn to “dressier” occasions. Other styles of dress that were popular in the 70s included “granny” dresses, halter dresses, and wrap dresses. Popular designers of the 70s included: Diane von Furstenberg (credited with making the wrap dress a wardrobe essential), Halston, Missoni and Bob Gibbs.
1980s: Ahhh, the 80s. The decade that many of us look back on to wonder what we were thinking & laugh hysterically at our choices. Things you could find on an 80s dress included ruffles, polka dots, shoulder pads (the bigger, the better…in my opinion), drape-y fabric, shoulder ruching, big buttons or bows, bright colors, and lots of floral prints. If you were lucky, maybe you could land a dress with all of the aforementioned trends in one! Everything just seemed to get bigger in the 80s, especially the hair! To me, any discussion of 80s fashion at its best (or worst?) is incomplete without a viewing of Working Girl - it had the hair, the shoulder pads, and the ultimate expression of 80s women…the sneakers with the business suit! Perfect for that long walk from the subway to the office. Popular designers of the 80s include: Laura Ashley (mentioned if only because those floral dresses of hers were so popular), Donna Karan, Gianni Versace, Christian Lacroix, and Bruce Oldfield.
Some of these styles are now seen as timeless classics. Others, however, may be better off tucked away in the back of our closets…but these new fangled hipsters just might prove us wrong! If anything, you should hop into today’s, June 20th, Vintage Dress Auction at 4pm PST to see what styles from decades past.