Summer Fashion Throughout The Decades

Summer Fashion Throughout The Decades

Summer fashion ranges from multi-layered outfits with fun bright colors, to cool-toned baggy shirts with denim shorts. Trendy brands, clothing pieces, and accessories also change every few months to a year, while also recycling old fashion trends.

Starting in the 50’s, most clothing pieces worn by women were hoopskirt like, bright colored dresses with mostly striped or polka-dotted designs. ‘The House of’ states “Wide circular or pleated skirts were worn with layers of petticoats to give lift.” Men also wore brightly colored outfits, usually funky button ups that were tucked into denim pants or long denim shorts. They also paired their outfits with brightly colored belts, long socks, and loafers

Most women’s hair was cut shorter, as well as always being curled or in an updo. This is illustrated more by Taylah Brewer, from ‘The Trend Spotter,’ in an article called ‘50S FASHION FOR WOMEN (HOW TO GET THE 1950S STYLE)’ where she tells readers, “There were feminine updos, poodle looks, rockabilly styles, glamorous pin curls, barrel curls, bandana-wrapped styles, and plenty more.” They accessorized with bandanas, coolies, and sunhats. Men on the other hand, wore their hair slicked up or slicked back.

Swimsuits were almost always a one piece with plaid designs or polka-dots.  Another popular swim style was Wikies, which are swim bottoms that are similar to speedos. Always funky patterns and bright colors. Vivid colors and bold patterns were an extremely fashionable clothing statement in the 50’s.

During the 60’s, women’s dresses were still popular but this time they were smaller, mid-rise and the colors were more mellow. There was a lot of light green and orange. The patterns still included plaid but also changed to florals.

Swimsuits were getting more inclusive of two pieces but still focused more on a one-piece, tight-fitting, mini dress design. They often accessorized with bandanas, headbands, and strappy open toe heels.

The new popular hairstyle at this time was called “The Bouffant” according to H&MUA Team, on ‘Women’s 1960’s Hairstyles: An Overview.’ from Hair and Makeup Artist Handbook.

Men’s fashion stayed closer to the 1950’s, although flare pants were more popular, florals were also a big trend in button up shirts, and the outfits were much lighter in color. They still wore funky patterns, long shorts, slicked hair to the side, and tucked in button up shirts. There is clearly some change in style, however it is less obvious if not pointed out.

In the 70’s, a lot started to change in the fashion world. Jeans were starting to become more normal to wear than skirts or dresses for women, specifically bell-bottom jeans.

According to  ‘’  “When you think 1970s fashion, you’re probably thinking bell bottoms and fitted shirts. That was a classic look throughout the decade, but there was a lot more to ‘70s style than this one look.”

While skirts and dresses were still worn, it was usually shorter loose-fitting dresses or long denim skirts with bright embroidered patterns at the bottom. Clothes at this time were very baggy and going back to the bold color they were in the 1950’s. Shorts were
also becoming an immensely trendy clothing item, typically in bright colors or denim.

Swim wear was growing more inclusive of two-pieces. Most swim wear had frills on the top and bottom and were, again, brightly colored. Afros on men and women were a big statement at the time, including waving your hair. Caps, sunhats, thin headbands, etc. were also still a big part of styling outfits.

Men wore much shorter denim shorts, bell-bottom pants, and very brightly patterned long sleeve shirts while suspenders were starting to come to life. They also wore their hair shoulder-length. Men did not accessorize much, usually just adding a thick brown belt and some big sunglasses to the outfit. Swimsuits for them did not change much, it was still mostly tight-fitting bottoms but there were more swim shorts coming into the mix.

The 80’s was the well-known disco era. Many of the outfits were extremely bold in color, pairing bright pink with neon green.

Women and men wore a lot of the same thing, bright short shorts, and bright tops to match. Denim was also still in the mix but, again, bright colored denim. Ranging from yellow to teal, no one could get enough of the striking colors.

This was also around the time people became more rebellious by showing their skin. When wearing simple jeans, ‘The 80’s Blog’ explains that “Men and women of all ages would purposely tear their jeans so they can show off their bare skin.”

Women’s hair gave a messier look, using a comb to tease the curled layers. Sweatbands, scrunchies, and bows were in some way always tied to a look. They also added thick bracelets, bandanas now tied around the neck, long crossover bags, and giant sunglasses.

Men also teased their hair and a lot of them had mullets. It was not unlikely to see men wear a lot of the same clothes and accessories as women, including crops tops. ‘The 80’s Blog’ again states that “A great crop top that shows of your midsection is a great way to stay cool during the summer heat.” 

The 1990’s became surprisingly more frequent in the baggy jean style. There was a lot of cargo pants, mom jeans, and something called parachute pants; which are described as “slouchy, often ballooning bottoms” by Laura Lajiness Kaupke in her piece on ‘The 13 Best Parachute Pants, Because Y2K Is Here to Stay.’ A popular thing to do back then was also to roll on pant leg up and leave one down. Skater t-shirts or tiny tops were quite common and well-liked by many teenagers.

A courageous thing that a lot of teenagers and even some adults did with their hair during summer was to bleach it and sometimes even dye it all kinds of bright colors. Gathering this information from ‘Complex’ and their article, ‘The 90 Greatest 90’s Fashion Trends’, it is believed that “thanks to INXS, the term “Suicide Blonde” was introduced into everyday conversation.” The 90’s was one of the most daring decades when it came to clothes and new styles all together.

No matter what era of summer clothing you wear, knowing its history is beneficial. Mix and match decades to create your own new style.