Party Like It’s… A Guide To Retro Party Gear

What’s your favourite party outfit at the moment? Leather shorts? An asymmetric dress? Perhaps you love wearing skinny jeans with heels and an amazing top? Whatever your choices, it’s funny to think that in a few decades down the line, people will probably look back at the clothes we wear now and be amazed by them. The items in your wardrobe will be vintage and your children will probably be asking if they can borrow some of your clothes for a fancy dress party.

But what are some of the other memorable party items of the past and what did your parents or grandparents wear when they went out dancing?

Early days
The 1920s were something of a turning point for fashion and this was when clothes really entered the modern era. Women didn’t want to be restricted by corsets and layer upon layers of skirts anymore, so their dresses became looser and less fitted. Flapper dresses are one of the most iconic looks of the 1920s and these straight-fitting, chemise-like dresses often featured tassels. They were accessorised with beads, scarves, fur coats and elaborate head dresses for a glamorous party look. These outfits meant women were free to move around easily and could enjoy plenty of dancing.

Drop waist, flapper style dresses frequently find their way into fashion collections even now and the 1920s continue to influence modern designs.

60’s
Moving forward a few decades, the 1960s were a time when women really went to town with fashion and trying new and unusual looks. This era was all about being free, living life to the full and experimentation. When it came to party wear, mini skirts reigned supreme for women and models like Twiggy were the fashion icons of the day.

Mini dresses were huge and hemlines got shorter and shorter as the 60s progressed. Cute A-line dresses were also popular and geometric patterns were very much in vogue.

70’s
Many of the trends from the 1960s continued into the 1970s and mini skirts continued to dominate. However, the 70s also became the era of the disco and this started to change the clothes people wore on nights out. Think John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and you’ll start to get the right idea. Jumpsuits were big news and the disco music brought about the introduction of loads of glitter and Spandex. Boob-tube tops were really popular when worn with flared trousers and plenty of glitter for a night out at the disco, while platforms started getting higher and higher on shoes.

80’s
It was a different story altogether in the 1980s and the clothes Madonna worn were a big influence on women’s fashion. OK, so maybe everyone wasn’t walking about wearing conical-shaped bras, but crop tops, tight skirts, ripped tights and big shoulder pads were definitely in – as were big hairdos. Like the 70s, glitter was also a big deal in the 1980s and lots of the outfits people wore on a night out included plenty of sparkle.

Looking back, these outfits all seem pretty outrageous, but when you consider some of the towering heels and sequinned dresses we wear these days, you can only imagine what people will think of our party clothes in the future.

Featured images:

Seline Greenway is a freelance writer, specialising in fashion such as clothing like maxi dresses and blouses.