Best Styles Through the Decades

Fashion is always repeating itself.  A piece worn today could be inspired by fashion in the 1900s which was an update to a style years before.  To truly understand the fashion, style, and impact of each decade, my latest photo challenge was to immerse myself in the past.  100 years of fashion and beauty was a daunting task.  After I created each outfit, it was easy to see which decades influenced my current style the most, which decades need to be forgotten, and which decades inspired me to mirror them more.

The 1920’s

If I did this challenge in October 2019, I would have had close to nothing to wear.  Thankfully, the NYE look for 2020 was to mirror the fashion from the 1920s.  I have always admired the 20s.  It was an era filled with glamour and adventure.  Flappers were ornate and extremely “dolled up”.  In this decade, people wanted you to know they were wearing makeup.  

It would be hard to dress like flappers daily, but it is a strong inspiration for evening wear.  Adding bling to my headband made this style look extra elegant and was easy to execute.  This photo challenge has me questioning why we got rid of wearing gloves.  Aside from not being able to use a touch screen, I can’t figure it out. 

Gloves make every outfit look complete.  Gloves can hide an unmanicured hand and will keep your hands forever clean.  Also, wearing gloves makes your arms look longer and leaner.  I have a feeling they will be coming back soon.  Fashion is forever taking inspiration from the past and bringing it into the future.        

The 1930’s

The popular hair & makeup was very similar to the 1920s.  Taking these pictures, I felt classy and classic.  I struggled slightly trying to put this look together, but I am thrilled with the outcome.  A classic blouse popular in the 1930s had puffed sleeves at the shoulder.  This style is similar to what is becoming popular today.  The blouses had a lot of shirring and feminine details, too.

They looked put together, but comfortable.  In this decade, the skirts seemed to be a bit looser and the blouses, too.  This means the outfits were more comfortable than they had been in the past.  My hair was curly for the picture, but not 100% the right type of curls for the 1930s.  I am not pretending that I am an expert at hair or makeup. 

For this reason, my favorite part of this outfit was the hat because the second I put it on, my outfit transformed.  If a hat has that power for one photoshoot, imagine what magic it could work for your entire wardrobe.  Let’s bring back hats.  We should find a hat that works with every wearing occasion.       

The 1940’s

Finally, the first decade where the makeup was to look natural.  The 40s style included a lot of red, white, and blue because they endured the second world war.  This decade was incredibly difficult for me to outfit.  The dress I landed on was my sister’s and slightly inaccurate for the decade.  If it was really in the 1940s, it would have had sleeves.  

It is important to note that the 40s were the first decade women started wearing pants.  This change came about since women had to work in factories while the men were at war.  I could not resist the opportunity to dress up like Rosie the Riveter.  She has always been such an iconic, powerful woman.  It took me a long time to perfect the pin curl she had in front of her bandana, but I knew that “I could do it”.        

The 1950’s

To me, this decade screams Grease.  My final look reminded me of when Frenchy showed up with her hair dyed.  They used a lot of curlers in the 50s.  I liked the way they created eyeliner wings for this decade.  It made my eyes look bigger and happier.  I wish I could have found a poodle skirt, but I am thrilled I had my sister’s old saddle shoes in the house.  

One popular item from the 50s that is unpopular now is capris.  Since bike shorts are the new trendy length and cropped/ankle pants have been popular for a couple of years, there is no reason to own capris.  This is another trend I predict will come back soon.   

The 1960’s

This decade was my biggest surprise.  I do not own a single item that is 60s inspired.  After doing my research, I am not happy about it.  Their dresses were so cute.  I love the big, bold black and white prints.  I love the three-quarter sleeve blazer with gloves and it could be so fun to play with different types of tights. 

Two areas from the 1960s that I think have room for improvement are the hair and makeup.  Flipped up hair is exactly what I try to avoid in my daily life.  My hair is at a length where it naturally flips.  It felt super unnatural that I intentionally made myself look this way.  I am not sure why people thought it was flattering. 

Also, the only way to achieve this big, baby doll eye-look if you have small eyes is to wear fake lashes.  This required a lot of effort.  To get the classic “Twiggy” eye look was also super difficult to achieve on a small eye.  I think if you paired 60s fashion with our current hair & makeup, you’d have a serious winner. 

The 1970s

When people think of the 1970s, everyone thinks of hippies and bell-bottom jeans.  Lucky for me, bell-bottoms came back in style last year.  This colorful top, crochet vest, & belt were all found in my mom’s closet, but she does not wear them together as I did.  The 70s had a lot to offer.  This outfit was super comfortable and their hair and makeup were easy to duplicate.     

The best parts of style from the 70s I would bring to the future would be their prints & natural hairstyles.  The 70s had strong, vivid prints colored in warm, earthy tones with a pop of brightness.  1970’s color palette is one that looks great on all skin types.  Having a big pattern on your clothing helps make a statement without having to create an outfit with multiple pieces. 

As for natural hair, we often forget that our natural hair can be beautiful.  It is so easy to sleep in braids and wake up with perfect waves.  Having beautiful hair does not always mean choosing the path that takes the most time.  If you wake up and your hair is looking decent, why would you put heat on it? Sleeping in braids is a good solution to have beautiful waves while keeping your hair healthy.   

The 1980s

I can confidently say my outfits for the 80s were the most accurate for an era I was not alive in.  It is amazing that these gem pieces were not donated years ago.  I found the dress in our basement dress-up closet which my mom confirmed she wore to weddings in the 80s.  Also, my grandma’s tracksuit was a gift from my mom in the 80s.  All I can say about the 80s is that more is better.  Their puffed sleeves were huge.  Everyone’s make-up was prominent and bright.  Their hair was big.  While there are a lot of wins from the 80s, I think they are better suited to be toned down.

A lot of current styles are taking nods from the 80s in a more subtle approach.  2020 is bringing back the puffed sleeve, but the puff is a little smaller and has a straight sleeve instead of a ruched one.  Scrunchies are back in style but they are shown with straighter hair so the overall feel isn’t as voluminous.  Bright colors, in the form of neon, are being brought back into the popular color palette, thankfully, they are still not being shown in makeup. 

The biggest difference is that each of these trends stands alone.  There is one “WOW” moment and the rest of your look is calmer.  I am a big fan of the 80s re-inspired outfits.  The switch from the 70s to 80s brought on a lot of style innovation but could’ve been better suited to be worn separately.              

The 1990s

Finally a decade I was alive in.  The overalls I wore for this decade are special because there is a picture of my mom wearing them while pregnant with me.  I am a huge fan of space buns because they make any look feel more fun.  While I am not a huge fan of glitter, I think body glitter added another element of fun to their style.  Lastly, it was incredible that we still had a pair of Chinese laundry slippers, I had to wear them.  I have so many memories growing up with these shoes.     

There are not many trends from the 90s that remained in the 90s.  So many 90s trends are popular now.   I wanted to be sure to capture one that has not yet found a new home in 2020.  I love the feel of 90’s jeans and sneakers, but they are currently in fashion.  Chinese laundry slippers are a shoe of the past.  While overalls are back in style, I have yet to see ones as comfy or patterned as these.  The biggest part of the 90s that has not yet made a return, and I hope it never will, is the makeup.  Wearing a darker lip liner filled with lighter lipstick or having frosted lips are not cute on anyone.          

The 2000s

What a complete embarrassment.  I am truly sorry if you enjoyed this decade because I am so upset.  Who thought any of these trends were cute? A dress does not belong over jeans.  Hair should not cover your face.  Powder blue eyeshadow is not a great color for most people.  Other bad trends for this decade include Snooky poofs, orange tans, tank tops over t-shirts, and ugg boots.

The silver lining is that halter and tube tops were popular in the 2000s as well.  The way they were styled was not to be desired, but they are both seeing an uptick in popularity in 2020.    

The 2010s

There was a big transformation in the 2010 decade.  In the early years, cold shoulder tops, ripped jeans, and Alex & Ani bracelets were huge.  The make-up trends included dark eyes and natural lips.  Straight hair & half-ponytails were popular.  By the end of the 2010 decade, cold shoulder tops were replaced with off-the-shoulder or tube tops.  Ripped denim was replaced with wide-leg or mom jeans with minimal rips.  If any rips, there would probably only be a slit at the knee or a huge chunk missing.  Hair and make-up these days became more natural.  The trend was moving towards skincare instead of makeup. 

I am a big fan of the trend changing toward fixing underlying imperfections of your skin instead of covering them up with pounds of makeup. Taking care of your skin is so important. There is also an added benefit of more “me” time while doing your skincare routine. If your routine takes 30 minutes, use it to clear your mind so you can be better prepared for the day.


Fashion trends to start the decade were going to be awesome.  Puffed sleeves were back.  Slouchy jeans were in.  Longer skirts and dresses were being shown everywhere.  Chocolate browns and purples were going to dominate the fall season.  Classic blue was going to have a big year.  Instead of having an inspiring fashion year to start off the decade, we are having a return to athleisure due to COVID.

I will save most of my opinions about actually getting dressed during COVID for another blog post.  In case you decide to stop reading my posts after this one, I will offer one point of view.  As we were entering 2020, some big trends included self-care, natural looks, confidence, and being true to who you are.  If anything, these trends should prove that we were moving away from getting dressed for other people.  Get dressed to show up for yourself.  Your mood, your outlook, your productivity will all see an uptick if you change into real clothes.  There have been studies to prove it. 


CHALLENGE: Try to put together outfits with nods to past decades and see which decades inspire you the most.  From this challenge, I have learned that I need to find more 60s inspiration to bring into my current style.

DOUBLE CHALLENGE: Get dressed for a week straight.  In COVID, sometimes it feels like there is nothing to look forward to.  No reason to get dressed.  You can be the reason.  You can create something exciting.  The only person holding you back is you.      

Elaina Pearl
Elaina Pearl
I started Elaina Pearls as an outlet to share my voice. The topics I write about cover fashion, lifestyle, & travel. On every post, you will find a challenge to spark self-growth. I believe that each day there is a lesson to be learned and something to be grateful for.