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Fashion Fortune Telling - Predicting the Next American Beauty Ideal

Fashion Fortune Telling - Predicting the Next American Beauty Ideal


Beauty standards and fashion trends change like the seasons. As Project Runway hostess Heidi Klum says, “One minute you’re in; the next, you’re out.” After all, in as little as 40 years, fashion magazines have gone from featuring Twiggy to featuring buxom beauties like Gisele. Is it possible to predict future fashion and beauty standards based on those of the past?

A Backwards Glance – Fashion Trends in History

1960s: Variety Is the Spice of Life

Two 60s icons, Janis Joplin and Jackie O, represent the diverse nature of this decade’s fashion. Between 1960 and 1970, California surfer style, crewcuts and bouffants, and conservative knee-length dresses gave way to hot pants, mini-skirts, go-go boots, curve-revealing legwear, and bobbed hairstyles.

Style icons: Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy

1970s: “Free to Be”

In this era of Free Love, fashion, too, was “free to be”: anything went, as long as it made a statement. With dressing to shock being the ultimate goal, styles like hot pants, short skirts, mini skirts, and sportswear appeared in television shows like Saturday Night Fever and Charlie’s Angels.

Style Icons: Farrah Fawcett, Cher, Donna Summer, Elton John

1980s: The Bigger, the Better

I luv the 80s: a no-holds-barred decade where bigger was considered to be better – bigger hair, bigger shoulder pads, and bigger accessories. Mainstream fashion emphasized masculinity, wealth, and power, while subcultures’ fashion mirrored the New Wave video revolution. Hence, the shoulder pads, power suits, and over-the-top accessories like lace, beads, and fishnets characteristic of this decade.

Style Icons: Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Joan Collins, Princess Diana, Jane Fonda

1990s: Less is More

In this dressed-down decade, the expanding definition of “attractiveness” was apparent in the grunge and heroin chic of iconic stars like Kurt Cobain and Kate Moss. Even supermodels such as Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista, each strikingly beautiful in her own way, exemplified a more obtainable standard of beauty. Expressing individuality with minimalist, anti-fashion styles was the goal.

Style Icons: Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Jenny Shimizu, Alek Wek

Fashion Forward – the Next Frontier

In 2001, designers lined runways with mod styles: their understated elegance and attention to detail was a clear throwback to the styles of the early 60s. In 2008, we have seen trends grace the runways that are clearly like those of the 80s: sky-high heels, bows and ruffles, corset tops, jumpsuits, high-waisted pants, lace, belts, empire waistlines, hats, and bold accessories. If history repeats itself – which it does – I predict that upcoming trends, like those of the 90s, will be more demure than the glitz and glam currently in style. But only time will tell; we will just have to wait and see.

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