Vintage to Retro – Fashion Trends That Surmount Time


Vintage to Retro – Fashion Trends That Surmount Time

Vintage to Retro – Fashion Trends That Surmount Time


Trends never die. They are merely reincarnated in different forms. This simple truth is what makes the retro fashion scene as happening as it is. Be they the hippie bell bottoms or the baggy pants from the 90s, fashion is one of those rare arts that looks forward but has no qualms about looking backwards either. From the psychedelic to the straight up Mafioso, no look every truly dies out. This week, we take a journey through the evolution of fashion over the years, highlighting our favourites from days gone by and dusting off the mothballs from some old school styles. It’s throwback Tuesday time!


She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes.

Our obstinate affinity towards the past is portrayed by how we pursue fashion from the yesteryears as if it were all still the latest craze. Each different era revealed a new kind of style that had some uniqueness to it.

Latest fashion from the 21st century emphasises mostly on minimalism and normalcy. The more comfortable you are, the better you will be able to blend into the crowd and that’s being fashionable. However, in the last 100 years, fashion trends went through an interesting and vivid transformation and these trends were definitely not from the unpretentious and minimalist category!

The Graceful 40s

One of our favourites is the 40s look which was all about elegance and aristocracy. During this era WWII took place and the overall condition of countries, considering wealth and affluence, was not at its peak. The Indian subcontinent was still tied together and artists from Bollywood made a huge impact on united Bengal.

Back in the 40s, long and wavy hair was the in-trend. The movie industry in the subcontinent was reigned by the world famous Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Nargis and Vaijantimala.

Heads would turn for years to come at the mere sight of these divas onscreen. Many young men, even from today’s generation, praise the beauty of these magical ladies because their magnetism and fashion sense will always reign supreme.

The hairdos of this era, both in the East and West were dominated by victory rolls, finger waves and pin curls. Hair accessories included embellishments ranging from colourful ribbons to headbands, and these fun accessories were flaunted by the ladies themselves and not their daughters. Women of this era also had an affinity towards handbags and pocketbooks.

How to adopt the 40s Look

A well-accepted version would include net saris with brocade or sequinned blouses. The look can be uplifted with a ‘teep’ on the forehead and neckerchiefs, made popular by Ava Gardener, an actress from the same era.

The actress Nargis also portrayed the same look in many of her films, only wearing the sari instead of a Western gown. The silk saris in one single hue with silk blouses and silk petticoats have made a tremendous return to the fashion industry. The trend of wearing full length gorgeous Anarkali suits also began in this era.

The Trendy 60s 

Conservative style of dressing, which was developed into a norm previously, took a 360 degree turn with a burst of colours and scandalous designs in the 60s. Women were wearing skirts that were shorter than ever and men began to wear tie n’ dyed shirts, bell bottom pants and sported longer hair and beards.

How to adopt the 60s Look 
Poofy hair and winged eyeliner were the common trends of the 60s within the Indian subcontinent and beyond its borders. If you plan on copying the style with perfection then the makeup and hairdo needs to be made absolute by wearing a sleeveless blouse topped with a chiffon sari or by wearing figure-hugging shalwar kameez suits that will make any lady the centre of attention.

Another immense fashion trend that made the top charts during this era was the Mumtaz style of wearing saris. The trick of this style is to get a bright coloured sari, preferably neon orange or green, and drape it around the body like a swirl.

The Frivolous 80s
Loud makeup, leg-warmers, neon colours and wild unruly hairstyles were the fashion mainstays of the 1980s.  This era was also highly influenced by gangster movies, cabaret singers and disco culture. The men from this period sported the alpha male look with sleeveless t-shirts, tight pants and a macho build.

Disco parties became popular and it was not surprising to see men wear shiny sequinned jackets or blazers. The ladies also wore glittering gowns, royal anarkalis and twirling feather boas.

How to adopt the 80s Look 

This was the era that gave a relief to the hair as the styles became more human and less alien. Wearing wigs were not required and women and men both could finally show their jet-black, long, lush and shiny manes. Sleek straight hair and soft curls were the in-trend and many actresses were known particularly for this. Ladies can show-off the 80s look easily by wearing mid-length flowing gowns and loud makeup, especially neon colours over the eyelids.

Looks come and go but there are some that stick to the mind forever. The long Anarkali suits for example are a traditional heritage that will never cease to be out of fashion. This style emerged from the time of the Mughals and made a repeated come-back in almost every era breaking through the barriers of fashion. Similarly silk saris, katan saris and net saris will always make a repeated comeback as the love for these materials will never die.

Time and again we use the same styles in different manners, making a perfect blend of the past and the present. Polka dots and small flower prints have been all the rage in fashion since the 40s. We have used these designs repeatedly in many different ways applying the same prints in diverse ways every new decade; inspiring us to term fashion as a continuous form, which has no end.