Browse Exhibits (9 total)

1970's Fashion

Excerpt taken from Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion:

"The 1970s was an era of striking contrasts in women’s fashions. In the early 1970s, the thigh-high miniskirt dominated, but by the end of the decade, most hemlines were well below the knee, some sweeping the ankles. The polyester double-knit pantsuit and platform shoes were favored by career women of the early 1970s, but a few years later, natural fibers and designer logos of the layered look prevailed in corporate offices. Sexualized styles such as hot pants and snug, hiphugger bell-bottoms were replaced by conservative looks in the mid-1970s, but returned in the disco era as skintight designer jeans and skin-baring tops for nights on the dance floor. The street looks of students and antiwar protestors vanished with the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, yet, at the end of the decade, rebellious youth found a new nonconformist identity with the tribal dress of punks. These and other iconic styles of the 1970s have endured decade after decade, and have been a constant source of inspiration for subsequent generations of designers." To learn more about fashion in the 1970's, click here. (Off campus users will need a HCC username and password for access.)

Delis Hill, Daniel. "American Women’s Fashions 1970–1979." Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: Global Perspectives. Ed. Joanne B. Eicher and Phyllis G. Tortora. Oxford: Berg, 2010. Bloomsbury Fashion Central. Web. 29 Aug. 2019. <>.

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1960's Fashion

The decade of the 1960s saw advancements in space exploration, pop culture becoming more prevalent in high forms of art and haute couture fashion, youth culture driving the market as children of the Baby Boom became teenagers, and an era of social unrest for Civil Rights and student protests against the Vietnam War. This rebellion towards the traditional and simultaneous advancements in science and technology are reflected in the fashion and clothing of the era.  Demonstrated by silhouettes that reject the restrictive undergarments of the 40s and 50s, showing off more of the body in “body conscious” fashions such as the mini skirt, loud colors, bold prints, and the increased use of synthetic fabrics, futuristic and rebellious styles were pervasive during the era. Pant suits for women and trousers in haute couture fashion made the staple in women’s casual attire pushed for more androgynous styles on the runways in Paris as well as in the hair salons as women’s hair became shorter and men’s hair became longer. The mass consumption of the 1960s and increasing demand for quality clothing made high fashion available to larger audience with the advancement of mass culture and use of man-made materials.  

This exhibit also features a number of hats, handbags, and shoes from the decade.


Nii, Rie  (2015). The Age of Technological Innovation – Fashion of the Second Half of the 20th Century. In Kyoto Costume Institute (Ed), Fashion: a history from the 18th to 20th Century. Taschen.  

Jenss, H. (2015). Icons of Modernity: Sixties Fashion and Youth Culture. In Fashioning Memory: Vintage Style and Youth Culture (pp. 37–64). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved May 03 2020, from 

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1920's Fashion

Excerpt taken from The Berg Companion to Fashion:

"The 1920s focused on the display of the slim, youthful body through the use of short skirts and dropped waists. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Jean Patou were particularly known for this youthful, sporty style. The flapper took this fashionable ideal to the extreme and wore the shortest skirts possible, low cloches, and negligible underwear. Evening dresses were sleeveless, flashy, and frequently featured slit skirts meant to enable active dancing. She bobbed her hair, wore obvious makeup, and sunbathed in skimpy, one-piece bathing suits. The “fast living” ethos of the 1920s was widely perceived to be a direct consequence of World War I. During wartime, many young women experienced freedoms previously unheard of, such as taking jobs, shortening skirts, driving cars, and cutting their hair. Competition for male attention was paramount since the pool of eligible men had been depleted during the war, and this probably contributed to the flashier fashions and aggressive behavior of many young women. Outrageous behavior and dress were seen as an investment against spinsterhood or, at the very least, boredom." 

Sauro, Clare. "Flappers." The Berg Companion to Fashion. Ed. Valerie Steele. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, 2010. Bloomsbury Fashion Central. <>.

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1950's Fashion

The 1950’s brought a style revolution for women in the United States largely attributed to Christian Dior’s “New Look” campaign started in 1947. Once WWII was over, after undergoing a utilarian fashioned decade, women were eager to reinvent themselves by embracing a more feminine silhouette.  What Dior started continued throughout the decade creating  a movement that largely styled women in dresses with soft shoulders, prominent bust lines, narrow waists, and full skirts.  This new and glamourous style was epitomize on television and on large screens by such icons such as Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe. This exhibit reflects this style with Claire McCardell’s’ empire waist dress, Carrie Munn’s pink lace cocktail dress and two unknown designer party dresses, a Bergdorf Goodman original evening gown and two wedding dresses. Coordinating accessories such as cocktail hats, clutch handbags, short and long gloves and costume jewelry, were very important during this era and illustrated the complete look women were aspiring for.  This exhibit also features a number of handbags and hats from the decade. 

Tortora, Phyllis G, and Sara B. Marcketti. Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Books, 2015. Print.

Walford, Jonathan. 1950s American Fashion. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2012. Internet resource.

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1930's Fashion

The 1930s were referred to as the glamour years. Following the Wallstreet Crash of 1929, many women retreated into the fairytale world of the talkie (movies), where they idolized starlets, such as, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow. These women were iconic style mavens that wore designs by Hollywood designers Adrian, Walter Plunket, and Travis Banton and costume designer, Edith Head. These styles were the biggest influence of fashion in the 1930s. Every woman wanted to copy the “Hollywood Glamour” look. To carry off the thirties style, women needed a lithe figure, that was toned and streamlined, with thin hips and broad shoulders. The new bias-cut evening gowns, with their sinuous columns of silky fabrics, were quite revealing. The thirties woman, for daywear, might have chosen a tailored suit that reached below the knees. For evening wear, she might’ve chosen a classically draped, bias-cut dress by Madeline Vionnet, topped with a fur greatcoat. During the thirties, we also see the rise of maverick designers, like Elsa Schiaparelli, who’s fashions were inspired by surrealist artist like Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali. Unfortunately, the start of World War II, in 1939, brought an end to the lavish, excessive designs of the period.

Hennessy, K. (2019). Fashion: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Peguin Random House.

Worsley, H. (2011). Decades of Fashion: 1900 to the Present. London: GmbH.

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1980's Fashion


Defined by bold style, bright colors and exaggerated silhouettes, the 1980s embraced maximalist fashion over the minimalistic air of previous decades. From punk wear, power suits, shoulder pads, and ruffles, the statement styles of the 80’s infused cultural and societal nuances into statement pieces that heralded an eclectic sense of self-expression. 

Pop stars such as Madonna, and characters like Alexis Colby and Dominique Devereux from television drama Dynasty, helped to solidify this era of fashion as one that epitomized self-expression and decadence.  

This exhibit reflects the style of the decade through garments such as Fe Zandi Beverly Hills strong gray wool striped jacket and skirt, Bob Mackie’s opulent fuchsia silk velvet gown, and Oscar de la Renta’s glamorous silk floral dress. The 80’s also saw the use of a wide array of textiles including fur which is showcased in the Harold Russek Department Store lambskin coat, to the elegant and playful Donna Karen lace bustier and skirt, a gift from donor, Julia Frankel.  

The accessories featured from this decade also showcase a wide spectrum of styles including the playful pink jelly shoes made popular by teenagers of the era, the business focused Spiegel black and white spectator pumps, purple satin YSL pumps, and Bruno Magli leather high heel boots.  

Reed, Paula. 2013. Design Museum Fifty Fashion Looks That Changed the 1980s. London, UK: Conran Octopus.

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1940's Fashion


The tables turned in the 1940s. WWII began in 1939 and fashion took on a new role. Before World War II, Paris was the epicenter of fashion. All of the new styles originated there. Anonymous American designers simply copied the looks coming from France for their wealthy clientele or for stores. After Germany took over Paris in 1940, many of the designers closed their fashion houses, some fleeing the country. The rest of the world was left to come up with their own styles. New York took over, and designer Claire McCardell would become known as one of the greatest American fashion designers. Her trademark was simplicity of shape, the use of informal fabrics, and practicality.

A lot of the materials normally used for clothing became scarce during the war. Wool was used to make uniforms and coats for the soldiers. Leather was needed for their boots. Silk, normally used to make dresses, undergarments, and stockings, was turned into parachutes and waterproof maps. Civilian clothing had to resort to using new materials. Nylon, created by DuPont and introduced in 1938, replaced silk for women’s items until it began to be used for the same purposes as silk for the war.

Men’s fashion stopped progressing until after the war – a reflection that most men were serving in uniforms instead of enjoying life at home. Women’s fashion echoed men’s traditional clothing with man-tailored dresses, coats and hats. These new serious looks were not about an idealized life, but about supporting the war effort through fashion. A woman’s duty was to take care of the home front, both at her household and in jobs previously held by men. The clothing reflected this practical and conservative time where materials were limited, even after the war ended in 1945. It took until the end of the decade for women to adopt Dior’s New Look that returned women to an ultra-feminine silhouette, and for men to adopt a relaxed fit in their clothing.

1940s Fashion History for Women and Men. (2017, February 28). Retrieved from Vintage Dancer:,'playsuits'%20became%20everyday%20attire.

Tortora, P., & Marcketti, S. (2021). Survey of Historic Costume, 7th Ed. New York: Fairchild Books.

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1990's Fashion

The decade that gave rise to the supermodel, also gave way to a mishmash of trends. Coming off of the bold styles of the eighties, the nineties saw more paired down styles, but still incorporated an air of sophistication. From grunge to glam, leather to silk, this moment in fashion history continued to solidify self-expressionism at its finest. To examine this decade in detail would be to look at the designers, celebrities, and the onset of “street style” that helped to shape the style of the times.

Model Kate Moss helped to popularize the slip dress, which infused elegance with relatability. The collection includes two silk, shibori-dyed Myrna Vallejo slip-dress gowns, which bring simplicity and edginess together in one garment. The Geoffrey Beene houndstooth dress and Thierry Mugler pink snap dress lend credence to the carefree aura of the decade, while the Gianfranco Ferre crystal beaded dress and Reza Khan silk dress show the other end of the decade’s fashion spectrum through the elegant textiles used in each garment. The collection further reflects the style of the decade through Karl Lagerfeld’s viscose skirt set, Zandra Rhodes’ silk dress, and the Alexander McQueen for Target mini dress. The latter was one of the first high-end designer collaborations with a mid-range retail operation.

The collection also features accessories that were popular including a Judith Leiber lizard handbag and David Aaron chunky heels.

Maureen Callahan. 2014. Champagne Supernovas : Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion. New York: Touchstone.

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1900's Fashion

Modest dresses, bodies moulded by corsets, and ostentatious ornamentation dominated women’sfashion throughout the first ten years of the century. Two silhouettes dominated the first ten years ofthe 20th century. The Gibson Girl silhouette with its signature hourglass shape, wasp waist and skirtswith generous yardage was the fashion of the day. The look was structured, yet modest. Midway in thedecade, the S-shaped silhouette dominated the Edwardian Era. The silhouette was achieved by wearingnew corsetry. This corsetry forced the bust forward and hips back creating an unusual yet beautifulsilhouette.

The color palette of the decade consisted of soft pastels. Delicate shades of lilac, rose, ivoryand white were a must in every woman’s closet. Fabric choices included crisp cottons, linens, damask,wool, tweed and gaberdine. Fashion frocks were heavily adorned with bows, lavish embroideries,imported laces and floral embellishments. The accessory of choice was the parasol.The designers who made fashion headlines were Jeanne Paquin, House of Worth and Lucille. As thedecade progressed, fashions began to soften.

Reddy, K. (2018, May 31). 1910-1919. Retrieved  from