Ever taken a peek at the latest hot new trend and thought, “That looks familiar”? You’re not wrong. Many of the pieces playing starring roles on the runways and fashion blogs of today are repeats — or remixes — of tried-and-true styles from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. (Spoiler: if you rocked cycling shorts when Nirvana was putting out albums, you were both perfectly on trend and way ahead of your time.)
Read on to find out which old fashion trends you should dig out of storage — and how to wear them today.
Two words to describe sweater vest dressing in the ’70s? Tight and bright. Women popped snug-fitting sleeveless knits over button-downs in an array of rich primary colors and standout patterns.
While rainbow hues and eye-catching designs still have a place on some sweater vests of today, this old fashion trend is now more grampy than vampy — think looser fits and chunkier knits. They remain a cozy cover for long-sleeves, but fashionable gals often style them solo, too, making them a great choice for the fickle weather between summer and fall.
Originally designed for navy men, bell bottoms became a fad among civilians after ’60s hippies found them in army surplus shops and covered them in flowers and patches. By the 1970s, the counterculture staple had gone mainstream and was seen on everyone from schoolgirls to stars like Farrah Fawcett.
After a decade of super-skinny denim, we’re witnessing the return of wider hemlines. Right now, flares still remain a true statement pant — but that only makes them more fun! The modern bell bottom — a classic of old fashion trends — plays best with heels. Go for boots (and a blazer) to bring an edge of sophistication, or try platforms for a true ’70s throwback.
Remember shoulder pads? The ubiquitous ’80s trend created strong shoulders and square silhouettes on blazer-clad celebs like Molly Ringwald and Vanessa Williams. Whether worn loose or buttoned at the waist, the big blazers were often tossed over dresses, creating a striking balance of masculinity and femininity.
Rendered in drapier fabrics and designed with more relaxed shoulders, the 2021 blazer has all the strength of the ’80s version in a softer silhouette. It’s also wildly versatile. Toss it over jeans and a tee for an outfit that can take you from Saturday shopping to a lunch date, or try a big blazer with trousers to make a work look even sharper.
In the ’80s and ’90s, scrunchies corralled perms, created waterfall hairstyles, and added a splash of color to outfits à la those on Saved by the Bell. What this old fashion trend didn’t do? Keep hair out of your face. Like Sarah Jessica Parker, you likely battled some forehead-tickling tendrils from an ultra-high pony sometimes.
Soft scrunchies bring playfulness to sleek, model-off-duty inspired styles like the low bun. Half-up, half-down looks have stuck around, too, though scrunchie-wearers of today tend to tie ponytails nearer to the crown of the head, keeping ’em out of the way on hikes and around town.
Hello, early athleisure. Princess Di pioneered the bike short trend with sporty looks featuring sweatshirts and sneakers. The girls from Clueless (1995) wore them, too, as part of their delightfully impractical gym outfits.
Bike shorts remain a staple for comfy errand runs and sweaty workouts. But nowadays, the stretchy shorts also add balance to fancier ’fits — try wearing a button-up dress open over your favorite pair. Accessorize heavily.
Which style are you most excited to wear again? Which other looks should come back around? Sound off in the comments!
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