Women's Vintage Style: 5 Decades of The Summer Dress

1950s dresses

Our journey starts in the 1950s; back when ditsy patterns, light colours and conservative-lengths were all the rage. Dresses of the time had cinched waists and full skirts - designed to create the sought-after hourglass figure. Styles were often bright, feminine and in lightweight natural fabrics such as cotton and silk. All in all, the 50s took a conservative approach to staying cool in the sun- quite different to many of the styles that were to follow.

1950s dress pattern 1950s dress pattern. Pic credti: Betsy Vintage

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1960s dresses

Next up it's the swinging sixties and a change of pace when it comes to summer dressing. Musical icons such as Jimi Hendrix were busy shaping the cultural landscape, peace and love were the newest buzz words and a powerful youth culture was emerging. The 60s not only offered the opportunity for free love, but also a chance for women to be free in their fashion choices: enter micro mini hemlines and comfortable boxy shapes. Summer styles were brightly coloured with funky patterns, replacing the demure styles of the 1950s and transforming the wardrobes of a generation. With well-known faces such as Edie Sedgwick and Twiggy popularising bold fashion choices, people quickly became aware of their own freedom, pushed the boundaries and embraced their new-found identities.

Fashion advert from the 1960s. Fashion advert from the 1960s. Pic credit: Pinterest

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1970s dresses

The 1970s was the decade of disco but beyond the wide lapels and excessive diamante was another, more laid-back emerging style. The 70s embraced a relaxed, bohemian look with maxi-length dresses, flowing fabrics, natural colours and subtle paisley prints. Summer dresses were made from patterned cotton or lightweight cheesecloth fabrics - perfect for long hazy days in the great outdoors. Retro maxi dresses and flares have re-emerged as a massive trend in recent times so it's safe to say the 70s is back with a bang - to quote one of the greatest bands of the decade "The history book on the shelf, is always repeating itself".

Dress pattern from the 1970s Dress pattern from the 1970s. Pic credit: Pinterest

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1980s dresses

On to the 1980's: a decade of many excesses - from big hair to even bigger shoulders, the 80s turned everything we've ever known about style on its head. Women started to fully establish themselves in the workplace and power dressing was born. Despite this, summer dress styles were surprisingly demure, with midi-length skirts and plenty of floral prints, made popular by brands such as Laura Ashley. With some of the 70s biggest musical stars, such as Fleetwood Mac, still going strong, bohemian summer dressing moved with the times to incorporate practical crew necklines, short sleeves and midi lengths in muted patterns and colours - not a Coachella maxi dress in sight.

80s dress pattern 80s dress pattern. Pic credit: Pinterest

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1990s dresses

Last but not least we arrive at the 1990s: a decade of trash TV, all night raves and pop megastars. Celebrity culture intensified and the new generation of supermodels, such as Kate Moss, were recognized for their amazing good looks and personalities. The strong women in the public eye gained huge followings and made headlines whatever they were wearing. Bands like the Spice Girls took the lead and spaghetti strap mini dresses were the new summer uniform. The 90s embraced a huge spectrum of colours, patterns and fabrics, including velour which became a popular choice for any rave girl. It was a decade of fun, frivolity and most importantly, girl power.

Dress pattern from the 90s Dress pattern from the 90s. Pic credit: Pinterest

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After 50 years and so many styles to choose from we're spoilt for choice - indulge yourself this summer & shop our full collection to find your perfect vintage dress.

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