Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dressing to Impress- the A-Z of fab frocks and gorgeous gowns...R is for Retro!

The word 'Retro' can mean many things, but according to the font of all knowledge that is my friend Wiki, 'Retro comes from the Latin prefix "retro" meaning Backwards, or in past times'. So there you go!

It's a very useful term covering all things fashion, home, entertainment and art which are reminiscent of a previous period of history. Although Wiki cites 'retro' as being a cynical look at the past, in a fashion or housewares sense, retro has come to mean chic and kitsch.
Cath Kidston DAB digital radio styled like a retro wireless
In the world of fashion, retro can encompass any item of clothing which has the style of an item of yesteryear. Whether that's authentic vintage, reproduction vintage or clothing as recent as the 1980s and 90s! In my buying for Redressing and my own love of Vintage, more often than not 'Retro' most commonly refers to the 1960s, 1970, 1980s and 90s as opposed to the earlier decades of the 30s, 40s and 50s.

'Retro' dresses includes minis from the swinging 60s, boho hippy maxis from the seventies, batwing neons from the 1980s and plenty more besides! Here are some McCalls pattern classics from these decades...
1960s mini dress patterns
1970s dress & trouser patterns
1980s dress patterns (spot those shoulder pads!)
I've posted previously about the history of the mini skirt in the 1960s, (check it out here) as this was a really iconic shift in dress style, both in hem length and in fabric choices.

It's really interesting to see how certain styles come and go around the fashion wheel; the hippy chick bell bottom trousers we associate with the 1970s are a re-interpretation of the wide leg high waist styles of the 1940s. The skinny jeans we see almost everywhere today are a modern take on the cigarette pants Audrey made so famous. Rather than seeing Retro as a cynical take on yesteryear, I prefer to think of it as an acknowledgement of classic styles.
1940s trousers
1970s trousers (On Raquel Welch)
Audrey Hepburn in her famous Cigarette Pants
Skinny jeans from Saks, fifth Avenue NY
The 'retro' dresses of the 1980s are a re-take on the high neck styles of the 1940s when the shoulder pad originally arrived (not in the 80s as many think!). The 1970s maxi is a return to the floor length dresses of the Edwardian era and has made another fashion cycle in this decade.
1970s maxi dress pattern
Edwardian dress c.1910
Everything seems to come and go with a few changes and alterations made here and there. Originality is hard to find yet individuality is key to refreshing the way you dress. Know your shape and take the best from every decade; make the 'retro' look work for you and most importantly, be yourself!

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