What is the History Behind Various Fashion Trends?

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Indian Women’s Fashion Evolution Over the Years

Every woman has an innate desire to look good and be appreciated for what she wears and how gracefully she carries herself. Indian women have primarily groomed themselves throughout various fashion cultures. From bell bottoms to the classic salwar kameez, and from high-street shoes to bold chokers; Indian fashion for women has undergone a significant transformation over the last few decades. Leaves us asking what is the history behind fashion trends.

Fashion is a word that brings a flash of colour to one’s mind, along with a dash of glamour whenever mentioned. Women take over fashion in bold styles and cultures. Let’s take a look at this dynamic transformation of women’s fashion from the 1950s.

The beginning: 50’s

In the 1950s fashion was modest, understated and formal. Men mostly wore dhoti-kurta, while women wore simple ghagra-choli. Movies shot in rural areas also had the same clothing scheme. However, the elite classes were more inspired by European fashion- dapper suits for men and elegant sarees for women. Puff sleeves were trendy and hair was worn in graceful buns, with pearls becoming a staple piece of jewellery.

Fashion for both men and women varied based on class.

The colourful 60’s

In the era of flamboyance and magnificence, the ’60s was the time when Indian women finally started embracing fashion and developed an understanding of its nuances. Big poofy hair, the Sadhna Hairdo, along with the famed winged eyeliner marked its presence and went on to become a major fashion trend. The tight body-hugging and colourful kurtas also were in style, and every Indian woman had at least one in her wardrobe.

The tight bodysuit was paired with churidars and embellished with kalamkari satin fabric dupattas. This trend of bodycon suits started to creep into the sarees and women began investing their time into sensible fashion.

Bikini and polka dot tops also started to creep in the late ’60s and were quite prominent in the early ’70s too.


The Offbeat 70’s

The ’70s were all about offbeat fashion trends. It culminated in some of the best elements of the 60s and perfected or exaggerated them. Every woman had a cowl neck sweater and bell sleeves top in her closet.

One of the significant trends in the 70s was bell bottoms and bell sleeves. Women were seen donning mini bell-sleeve dresses. At times they even went retro with a cloth headband.

The highly fashionable and unique bell bottoms became a popular trend after an increasing number of Bollywood actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, and other female actresses started wearing the same. The late 70s also saw the advent of disco culture and style. The disco trend again paved the way for oversized and colourful sunglasses, worn to justify the hippy culture.

The creative sea of change ’ of the 80s-’90s

The early 80s were somewhat subdued in colour, where we see a lot of browns and tans and oranges. Blocky shapes were everywhere, and dressing like a tennis player was the cool thing to do. High-waist pants and trousers were a thing for both men and women. Bright accessories like sunglasses and hooped earrings were a necessity. Around this time chokers also made an entry and never looked back. It was also the time when shimmery disco skirts and dresses with glittering headbands were in full power.

Meanwhile, trends like corset blouses and crown hairstyles came in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Around this time, embezzling hairstyles with lots of metallic and pearled jewellery became a popular trend as well. Saree also became more glamorous and comfortable to carry and wear.

By the time the 2000s arrived, the salwar kameez again underwent a remarkable transformation. Its new variant came to be known as Kurtis. Hence, it is quite evident that the Indian fashion scenario has undergone a fantastic metamorphosis.

An amalgamation of New and Old

The past couple of years has been incredible for the Indian fashion industry. With world-famous brands such as Armani, Prada, Dior, Versace etc. finding their way into the country and more and more Indian designers like Manish Malhotra, Manish Arora, Sabyasachi, Ritu Kumar, and Ritu Beri – among others – introducing both a traditional and modern range of luxury, traditional and branded outfits, the women apparel and fashion industry has witnessed massive transformation as of late.


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Irrespective of how Indian women choose to dress up, they have always been extremely particular about what is trending and like to keep themselves updated. Indian women have always given life to the old fashion trends in the past and continue to do so now. Trends like chokers, ruffle sleeves, and bell bottoms have proven that old is never too old to be worn again.

Photo credit Getty Images

BY Rida Khan

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