Historical Fashion v. Contemporary Fashion

I've always attempted to be a person who enjoys studying history in an academic context. My best friends love it, my sister loves it, but for some reason that is beyond me, I just cannot seem to hack it. From writing history essays to analysing sources, there is no part of it that enthuses me at all. 

There, I said it.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely understand that history is one of the most significant things we can inform ourselves about as it helps us understand why things are the way they are today. As someone who loves fashion, it's essential to be interested in what has shaped the way we dress today and how designers create nowadays. I just think sitting in a classroom copying out notes from a textbook didn't enthral me back in year 9. Nevertheless, the history of fashion and the history of art are in a completely different kettle of fish.. I love learning about these.

I've always been one of those people to say "oh I was so born into the wrong generation, I would have loved to be able to wear long ballgowns every day and get away with it". Looking back at past fashion, whether we're talking hundreds of years ago, or merely a few decades ago, is so interesting to do because making the comparisons between our style today and the style back then allows us to really visualise and comprehend the evolution of fashion and the factors that have influences these changes (political, societal, environmental etc).

I find it intriguing to ask people whether they prefer contemporary fashion or historical fashion. It's always a bit of a head-scratcher because there are so many past decades of style to look back on, yet contemporary fashion is new, modern and because we're directly involved in it, it's difficult to really analyse. If I had to choose a particular decade, I personally adore the style of the 1920's because the dropped waist, beaded embellishments and art deco patterns are all just so elegantly beautiful and classy. 

Some people would claim to prefer historical fashion, whether it be a specific decade, or just the stylistic approach in general. This may be the case due to preferences over a certain silhouette or hairstyle, neckline or pattern. Every-day outfits tended to be more formal and "put-together" than today, because it was one of the most powerful ways to show class, wealth and personal taste. Today, you could walk down Oxford Street and see a multitude of different styles, approaches and outfit combinations that you wouldn't be able to tell which decade you're in.

And that is what I find so bamboozlingly brilliant about fashion in contemporary society. It doesn't really have a specific feature that every single person wears. In a way, its identity-less. That sounds as though it's a negative thing, but in the world of fashion today, it's us as individuals that make our outfits more beautiful and more special, not just the clothes themselves that give us our identity. We use fashion today as an outlet of our personalities, our souls and our inner creativity and I just think that makes it so much more spectacular.

You could walk into a shop and there will be so much choice surrounding you, where each garment has taken inspiration from a different idea to create a new, fresh design. We see glimpses of the 60s with bright colours and patterns, and also little shreds of the 20s with the little party dresses that are embellished with tassels and sequins galore. It's like shops are just windows into the past but they've got a new perspective, a new view and it's just so exciting for us to be able to pick from. Designers continue to draw inspiration from history in their collections, yet they add a new, modern twist to keep it fresh and up-to-date.

So, here is where I now pose you a little question to part with. With this little shred of insight I've given you (even if you knew all this before, pretend like this is brand new information to you)

Do you personally prefer historical fashion or do you like contemporary fashion? Or do you, like me, think that fashion nowadays is just history repeating itself but with a fresher, more modern take?


Popular Posts