The ‘Long and Short’ of it: Fashion Trends Over the Years

One of the big advantages of living in a European city is that the world becomes your proverbial ‘Oyster’ as far as travel is concerned. And if you are as fortunate as I am to be living in Munich which is situated at such close quarters with some of Europe’s most exotic and coveted countries, you will always have a packed bag ready for those long weekends!

My passion for travel extends beyond the thrill of discovering a new place. Absorbing the historical facts , architectural, cultural and traditional nuances of every different country and city, I also find myself obliviously absorbed in the people, their mannerisms, the clothes they wear and how differently they wear them. With a keen eye on fashion trends and perpetual people-watching, I got to thinking about the ever changing and evolving fashion today and the different ways a garment is being worn today in different countries. Vintage fashion has made a huge comeback and increasingly, conventional and modern elements are being worn in combination today. Here is my attempt to narrow some of it down:

Skirts & Dresses : Since the Mini Skirt became a sensation in the mid 80s, at the time being worn even with leg warmers, tights and oversized tops, the skirt fashion has been flirting with varying long and short hemlines that constantly go in and out of fashion before one has even started to break into the new purchase. Over the years longer skirts and dresses have made their presence known starting first with the knee length denims and tight stretch fabrics to the formal and more elegant pencil skirts and wraps; today I see ankle length A- lines, straight cuts, pleated skirts and the ‘Midi’ or mid-length in varying styles seems to be the popular choice – both for a casual stroll in the park, beach or even a formal occasion teamed with bright wedges or pencil heels. The choice of length in dresses today remains eclectic and varied ranging from the short, tight hot favorites to the more elegant knee length variants and now also the ankle length Maxi dresses. And Florals. Lots of Florals! Be it spring weddings, concerts or beach lounging, floral prints have also made a huge comeback.

dress          floral 2         pleated(

Denims: Undoubtedly the one fabric that has only gained popularity over the years and isn’t going anywhere! Denim jeans were originally designed in the 1950s for cowboys and mine workers, but very quickly gained popularity among teenagers and eventually have become the comfort-wear fabric worldwide.   Denim can ‘do no wrong’ and this has led to even ‘distressed’ or ‘stone-washed’ jeans – jeans with a faded or worn out look to become a global fashion today. After the dapper James Dean kicked it off by wearing them in the unforgettable Rebel Without a Cause, the seed had been planted, particularly among the rebellious youth and  ‘Denim Fever’ had spread like fire in the USA.

jeans            jeans 2       bellbotts

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Today they are a worldwide casual wear phenomenon and come in many other colors and styles. From the conventional regular fit, boot cut, Bell Bottoms, and hipsters to the increasingly popular skinny and ‘ripped’ or torn jeans that are a raging trend that originated in the west but spreading quickly across the globe, the sturdy and long lasting denim material has become a kind of comfort garment that every wardrobe has made room for. Long and short denim skirts and shorts are also hugely popular, some also adorned with lace edges – a personal favorite of mine!

Lace-Denim-Short-B   (  )

Another form of denim wear – the ‘Dungaree’ which interestingly, originated in the 17th century from a dockside village called ‘Dongri’ in what was then the Bombay region in India. This Dungri cloth was exported to England and used as sturdy work cloth and got it’s English name – Dungaree. Today the Dungaree too has made a come back with stores offering this one-piece denim outfit with both shorts and long pants options in keeping with the colorful, torn and eclectic styles being donned today.

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Tops & Kurtis :  The Asian Kameez or Kurta has undergone fluctuating hem alterations over the years. The kurta is worn by men, for women the term is Kurti. Traditionally the Kurta is worn in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and also Nepal and Sri Lanka. From straight, short cuts, A-Lined cuts to below the knee and now even ankle length and Anarkali cuts as they are called, the styles of kurtis in vogue have varied in lengths. Today, both below the knee and ankle lengths seem to be the choice of fashion worn with loose pants called ‘Shararas’ or ‘Palazzos’ or even tights or Churidaars in varying fabrics.Or even just with a pair of jeans.  From Khadi, Lucknowi, Phulkari, the range of choice is wide and varied attributed to the region it is known for.

riveting-navy-blue-and-purple-salwar-kameez-800x1100           palazzo

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The western fashion for tops and tees is quite another story. From crop tops (midriff lengths), tank tops and tube tops to long and loose tops over a pair of tights, the customer’s shopping behavior and choices for this category are endless and quite eclectic. The Jumpsuit seems to be another popular summer outfit among the ladies in these parts. The jumpsuit, which, for the less acquainted, is a one-piece garment that has a top or shirt attached to trousers or shorts below. From sleeveless straps to full sleeved and even floral printed numbers, these jumpsuits are available in linen, cotton, khaki, denim and other various fabrics and colors.

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Younger generations are moving away from the conventional to quirkier, bolder, brighter style statements. The difference seems to be geographical too. Across Europe, UK and USA, a sort of ‘casual-chic’ statements seems to be doing the rounds – a casual visit to the market or a coffee with friends calls for a casual pair of denim shorts or an ankle length skirt teamed with a tank or tee top and the emphasis is on accessorizing. Lace tops with bubble skirts, chunky junk jewellery – bangles, bright neck pieces and earrings make for the new age chic party ensemble! Even for a night out in the town or a club – the ‘little black dress‘ still finds favor in most countries teamed with heels or as I have observed in Europe, casual dressing with flat sandals and a pair of shorts, and boots in the winter, whereas in South Asia for example, there is a stark difference in day and night time dressing. More make up, higher heels and more formal outfits, a night out is taken more seriously in these parts and warrants a proper dress up session.

bubble skirt         pink neon       jumpsuit (

Neon is back with a bang! The neons and bright pastels have made a comeback since the 80s too, having gone through the subtler and darker phases that fit some taste palettes in some parts of the world. On my travels I see denims and bright colors still top favorites though in some countries like Ireland, blacks, whites and greys are still preferred choices.From Birkenstock sandals, to chic clutch bags and larger-than-life totes, from wedges and loafers to earrings, sneakers and skirts – go Neon or go home!

Sunglasses  : Quite possibly one of the most indispensable accessories and now also a universal fashion statement – sunglasses or Sunnies as they are called in slang, have also gone through quite an evolution over the years. In the 1930s, Ray Ban gave birth to the  Aviator and Wayfarer styles that gained recognition in the 1950s through celebrity endorsements of the likes of  Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Bob Dylan. Today the wayfarer and aviator styles have evolved into sleeker designs and varying colors, shapes and sizes and many other newer styles have arrived on the scene today. The Rounded Square, Retro, Cat-eye, Rounded, Clubmaster, Shield are a few of the many more  and of course the Neon frenzy extends to sunnies too making them a  cult fashion today.

ray ban blue            cateye      rounded glasses


There is a growing debate on whether fashion truly is evolutionary or are we merely ‘following the pack’ and witnessing a loss in original bold statements. My view is that fashion is both evolutionary and revolutionary today. It has moved towards bridging gaps between styles and adopting, subtle, nuanced combinations of various styles, evolving into hybrid statements that seem to find favor and yet makes room for  us to  maintain elements of our own personal style and individuality. Technology has made this possible for us today by providing various platforms to be able to mix, match, blend and reproduce the new age fashion experience.

It is quite interesting to observe the fashion industry coming almost full circle with so many vintage styles coming back with a raging furore from decades ago.I look forward to discovering the next ‘biggie’ to take fashion by storm. In the mean time, have you hit those summer sales yet? Pick up your BFF , your big shopping tote and head for some retail therapy.  Don’t forget your sunscreen!

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