Holiday Style by the Decade: Style Then, Style Now

By Sharon Mosley

October 30, 2018 6 min read

This holiday season, it's time to party like it was 1929, or 1949, or 1969... Well, you get the idea. Fashion history does seem to repeat itself, and what's old is new again. So pick your decade and go back to the future to find the perfect party style.

—The '20s. Think flappers and fringe. Look to "The Great Gatsby" for inspiration: sleek and straight shift dresses, long strands of pearls, cropped hair, Mary Janes and feather headbands. This time around, add some sparkling sequins, top it off with a fuzzy faux fur cape and dance the Charleston. (Remember to swing those pearls!)

—The '30s. With the stock market crash came a return to classic clothes a la Coco Chanel, whose sporty designs appealed to women of all ages. Chanel's timeless style still resonates with fans almost 100 years later. Her simple black cocktail suit is still one of the most sophisticated ways to dress for any holiday soiree. Under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld, the 2018 fall-winter collection is filled with riffs on the Chanel jacket, trimmed with glittering silver cuffs and collars, teamed with midcalf-length skirts with thigh-high slits. They are head-turning party picks for sure.

—The '40s. Wartime called for more austerity in everyday fashion, but it also made women clamor for more glamour in their lives. Movie stars including Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall and Ava Gardner provided an escape to fantasy fashion with curled wavy hair, bright red lips, slinky bias-cut cocktail gowns and siren suits. This year, the metallic satins with ruching and draping details are making the party rounds in gold, silver and, of course, in glamorous black — both then and now.

—The '50s. After French designer Christian Dior introduced the "New Look" in his 1947 collection, it was all about a new refinement in fashion. The silhouette featured a small waist, rounded shoulders and a full midcalf-length skirt. Audrey Hepburn epitomized the look with her gamine elegance. This "princess" A-line look is still a party favorite, especially in strapless tea-length versions with colorful lace overskirts — perfect for twirling around the dance floor.

—The '60s. Fashion is constantly changing, but in this decade, there was a revolution — a youth revolution. The hip "hippies" expressed a rebellious mood, donning bell-bottom jeans, tie-dyed T-shirts, granny glasses, mod boots and lots of peace symbols. It was a time to rock and roll. Flowers had power and long maxi dresses were all the rage, worn with platform shoes. This holiday season, invoke the folkloric floral trend with long velvet coats and dresses accented with embroidery.

—The '70s. From punks to preps to disco, the '70s were spirited years filled with fun fashion that rock stars such as Debbie Harry influenced with their expressive clothes meant to be scene-stealers at concerts and clubs. It was also the decade of the pantsuit, when women finally suited up to go to the office in matching jackets and menswear trousers with the quintessential bow blouse. The pantsuit can definitely be a holiday showstopper this year in a brilliant red tartan plaid.

—The '80s. The era of yuppies, Madonna, "Dynasty" and Princess Diana, the '80s were a time of extremes, from conservative professionals to padded shoulders, poufy sleeves, lingerie-as-outerwear and big hair. Now, it's cool to mix up all the vintage elements and wear them together in a new way. This season's oversized leather moto jackets can be made party-ready with ruffled silk blouses, satin T-shirts and palazzo pants.

—The '90s. The grunge trend emerged, but so did minimalism, as fashion fads took a little bit of a breather to recuperate from the excesses of the '80s. Designers like Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Helmut Lang all toned it down with sleek classic styles. The fitness craze boomed, and "athleisure" was born, taking gym clothes to the streets. The minimalist this year will turn up at a festive event in all white, accessorized with gold jewelry and a touch of red — shoes or handbag.

—And on to the future. A new century and we have new style icons, including Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and, yes, Lady Gaga. Space-age fashion promises to give us even more shine in glowing metallics and clear plastics. And with the latest trend of mixing affordable "fast" fashion with classic investment clothes, it promises to be a party we won't want to miss.

Zara harkens back to the '60s with dark floral dresses — a great holiday party look this season.
Zara harkens back to the '60s with dark floral dresses — a great holiday party look this season.

To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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