Sure, you can probably name the obvious fashion trends from recent decades, from '80s-style shoulder pads to '90s JNCO jeans. But how well do you really know your fashion history? The book, Dressing the Decades: Twentieth Century Vintage Style, by Emmanuelle Dirix, provides the perfect chance to find out. The book traces the evolution of 20th-century style, decade by decade, putting runway developments—like shorter hemlines and evolving conceptions of femininity—in political, economic, and social context. We took what we learned from it and turned it into a quiz, just for you.
See if you can correctly identify the decade for the fashion trends below (screenshot each one and write the answer if you want!)—then share it with friend and see how they do!
(We've put the answers at the bottom.)
1. Which decade saw the beginning of the designer jeans craze?
2. Which decade ushered in an unprecedented shortening of skirt lengths?
3. Which decade saw the birth of the flapper dress—as well as Chanel's LBD (little black dress)?
4. When did it become commonplace for women to wear pants?
5. When did Yves Saint Laurent introduce his iconic Mondrian dress?
6. When did suits become a popular style for women?
7. When did Madonna famously gush, "Gucci, Gucci, Gucci," in response to being asked what she was wearing on the runway?
- 1980s. In 1981, 15-year-old Brooke Shields appeared in a controversial commercial for Calvin Klein jeans—and sales of the logo-emblazoned denim skyrocketed.
- 1960s. The decade marked the beginning of the sexual revolution—and miniskirts kept getting shorter and shorter.
- 1920s. Along with the flapper dress—characterized by its straight waist and shorter hemline—the little black dress became the uniform of the cigarette-smoking, car-driving woman.
- 1970s. The mainstream proliferation of pants for women—which included jeans, trousers, and pants suits—coincided with loosening gender roles.
- 1960s. YSL's early collections were heavily influenced by art. His signature A-line sleeveless dress was inspired by the patterns of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.
- 1960s. Yves Saint Laurent debuted the first tuxedo designed with women in mind, which he called "Le Smoking," in 1966.
- 1990s. Madonna showed up at the 1995 MTV Video Awards decked out in a silky blue button-down and hip-huggers—a bold outfit characteristic of Tom Ford's confident, sexy designs for the label.
Dressing the Decades: Twentieth Century Vintage Style (Yale University Press), $30, yalebooks.com.