Summer Staples Throughout the Decades


Kendra Williams takes us through some of the hottest summer fashion trends from years gone by

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Image by IMDB, The Brady Brunch

By Kendra Williams

As we enter summer and start to ditch puffer jackets and jeans for shorts and summery dresses, I thought why not take a look back into the archive at some of the hottest summer fashion staples from decades past. Keep reading to see what summer looks were walking the runaways and parading the streets, and whether any of them could be worked into your summer wardrobe.

1950s - The Birth of the Bikini.
So let's start with the 1950s, what were the summer crazes and staples? With gender differences still highly enforced through fashion in the 1950s, women’s summer fashion leaned heavily towards femininity. The runways were defined by floral prints, and the 1953 Dior Spring/Summer collection features a floor length ball gown with green foliage all down the skirt.

However, if you (understandably) don’t see a floor length 1950s ballgown making its way into your summer wardrobe, maybe the street style will. The decade also saw a really exciting insurgence in summer beach fashion - the birth of the bikini. In 1952, Bridget Bardot starred in the French film Manina, The Girl in the Bikini and was one of the first women to wear a bikini in a film. She wore a bikini again in the 1956 film And God Created Women. These appearances brought the bikini into mainstream media.

1960s - Bold Blocking
In contrast, the fashion of the 1960s resisted the highly gendered clothing expectations of the 1950s. For summer in the sixties, think colour. Lots of colour. Pictures from summer of 1969 in London show teenagers in dresses and t-shirts with lots of block colour stripes. Along with the bold colour palette, how could we forget the staple of the sixties - the miniskirt. Mini skirts were an act of rebellion against the long, demure skirts defining womenswear of the decades before. Mini skirts never really went out of style but think about using block colours and bold patterns to bring the laid back effervescence of the sixties to summer this year.

1970s - Sequin Extravagance
As the sixties became the seventies bold prints and colours went nowhere, and in fact summer fashion took bold colours even further, but let's look to the nights. Picture it: you’re on holiday all tanned and tired from a day at the pool trying to decide what to wear out that night, this is where the seventies style has got your back. Seventies evening wear was defined by high glamour and disco. Think sequins and bell bottoms. However, if head-to-toe sequins seems a little too much to incorporate into your summer wardrobe, try opting for a little pop of sequins into your evening looks.

1980s - Preppy Princess
Of course, there were lots of summer staples circulating in the 1980s with the rise of power-dressing, punk style and hip-hop inspired streetwear. But in England one fashion icon stood out: Princess Diana. For her, summer looks like pastels and private school. Diana’s style incorporated a kind of preppy femininity with light colours and tailored clothing that are still seen to dominate a lot of 21st Century summer wear.

1990s - The Baywatch Summers
Airing from 1989 to 2001, the show Baywatch really defined an era of summer dressing. The characters sported bright red, high-cut swimming costumes and little else. Even if you opt out of the distinctly Baywatch costume, consider sporting some towel-dried beachy waves and casual beach cover ups for the illusion of having your entire life just to run around on the beach.

2000s and 2010s - Festival Fun
As we all know, the noughties are back in a big way but if low rise shorts and jeans under skirts don’t take your fancy, consider incorporating some noughties accessories like a trucker cap or my personal favourite: jelly sandals. Or even consider taking some inspiration from the music festival that has defined 21st century summer fashion: coachella. Even if boho chic and flower crowns aren’t quite the thing right now, bringing in fun festival makeup to your everyday summer looks can be really fun!!