A vital historical inaccuracy which we continue to perpetrate is the premise of flappers wearing fringe. I didn’t actually know this was the case until I read an article on Racked detailing the history of the infamous flapper dress. Think about every flapper costume you’ve ever seen on Halloween, any photoshoot in a magazine, any movie set in the jazz age – the dresses all look the same. Short and flirty with lots of fringing. Only when Hollywood tried to portray the 1920s party girls on the big screen did the extra fringing, filled with embellishments, become part of the look – and it was done for that reason, the look. Hollywood costume designers embellished the dresses so they were striking on screen, catching the light and sparking for the cameras. Real flappers didn’t wear heavy fringe. Nor did they wear super short dresses. The hemlines of their dresses were much longer than the above-the-knee styles that we wear today, and although that length seems “long” for modern standards it would’ve been too risque, too scandalous for the 1920s.
On the back of this inaccuracy, I began to think about other periods in fashion. When we think of each decade, we tend to be able to give a vague description of the styles. For example, the 1950s conjure up the full-skirted prom style dresses and Americana – blue jeans and white t-shirts like what James Dean wore. The 1960s are mini skirts and go-go boots. The 1970s are hippy-chic with flares. The 1980s are all about big, big, big with shoulder pads and power suits. The 1990s are minimalist. The 2000s were tacky-chic. But what is the present day? And what will they get wrong about us in the future?
The 2010s have been strange. Nothing new has come out of this time period in terms of fashion. Everything is instead a look back to the past. That can even be seen in the styles of denim we wear. Something as small as jeans can show a lot about culture. We started the 2010s off in skinny jeans, a run over from the 2000s when bootcut jeans disappeared to be replaced by skinny jeans, originally called drainpipes. Even these were a hark back to the past, popularized by the likes of the Rolling Stones in the 60s or even Elvis Presley in the 50s. Acid wash was a popular style in 2011 – 2012, and this was a reach back to the 80s. High waisted styles of skinnies were popular too, always with lots of elastane inside.
The silhouette got a little bit more relaxed for some people starting in (I think) 2013 when Topshop introduced the Mom jeans. Originally intended as a little bit of a joke, Mom jeans are meant to be like the jeans worn by mothers in the 1980s and 90s. High-waisted, rigid denim in an often unflattering shape, they tend to flatten and elongate your butt. I never got into these. Early adopters started wearing these towards the beginning of the decade but by 2015 onwards they were as commonplace as skinny jeans. It has now gotten to the stage where people have proclaimed skinny jeans to be dead (but we all know they will never be gone fully).
In 2017, the most coveted jean style is a pair of vintage light blue Levi’s that make your butt look amazing. Some people DIY the hems to be raw edge too. If buying vintage isn’t looking back to the past, I don’t know what is. We are in a phase where anything goes now. Denim is embellished, ripped, slashed, frayed, patched. Anything you can do to jeans, we now do. I think the increasingly casual way of dress and the impact of denim is what the 2010s will be remembered for.
What about denim will they be able to get wrong in the future? In 2050, when they are making a movie set in the 2010s how can they really go wrong when we have everything all at once? I just hope people keep their old Topshop jeans because, genuinely, I use the new Topshop styles as an indicator of where things are going with denim -100%.