The Politics of Retro Dressing
Retro dressing and in particular the unmistakable aesthetics of the 1970s have been a firm fixture on the fashion stage of late. In fact every couple of seasons designers give us their take on flared jeans , silk blouses and midi skirts, so much so that it now seems to have a permanent spot in the never ending merry-go-round that is FASHION. 70s trends in particular this season are BIG. I mean really big – almost dominating much of the editorial coming out of the fashion mags, online and on the streets. From the aforementioned midi skirts, big sunglasses glasses (thank god the tiny sunglasses trend has gone – absolutely hated it) to the corduroy pant suits and vintage tees. I’m so taken with it all that I couldn’t even envisage wearing skinny jeans now again for a while and have swapped these for a wonderful black flared jumpsuit I got in the Free People sale a few weeks ago. Luckily in 2018 we have the best of both worlds with some great high street stores such as Mango and Zara readily replicating these trends to the more high end honeys such as French brand Sezane doing a brilliant take on the 70s in their own inimitable Parisian way. NOT forgetting vintage and pre-used fashion. An even better option really than all of the above, especially in light of fast fashion’s devastating environmental impact on our planet.
Pink Dress | Free People
Scarf | Missoni – vintage via Ebay
Sunglasses | Victoria Beckham at The Outnet
That 70s Show
Me… I will always hold a candle for the 70s and 80s. Largely because these are the decades I was born and then grew up in and their images and experiences were indelibly inked on my young impressionable and teenage brain back then. More than this, I really do love the way it all looks. Some of it is just ELECTRIC. High octane styling in the form of flowing gold lame dresses redolent of Boogie Nights and Studio 54, clean-lined wrap dresses a la Diane Von Furstenburg, Charlie’s Angels’ style skirt suits, bold geometric prints and of course the free-spiritedness of a really good pair of blue flared jeans. And it’s right there that you have a visual symbol of this freewheeling decade. Whether it was disco diva or carefree and casual California girl – all these trends still feel so relevant and weirdly fresh today.
1970s style makes the 1960s feel ever so slightly stodgy in comparison. The seventies seem more dynamic, democratic even with a style accessible to all. In fact it’s no surprise that trend-driven women’s fashion became more readily available to the mass market back in the 1970s in Europe and the US.
Feminists Wear PINK
So why does it all feel so RIGHT now? This is like answering the question to the meaning of life. What makes a trend? What drives it and allows it to develop and evolve? It’s the inextricable mix of cultural happenings, events and current affairs, mixed with social media ‘mood’ hashtags and a little bit of MAGIC. 1970s style also happens to sit very well with the spirit of activism that is happening and growing right now across the globe and on social media. Without wishing to be reductive (LOOK I write about fashion – I’m not an academic with a PHD in First Wave Feminist writing) – Gloria Steinem the feminist (and style icon) looked the business. Tight slogan tees, big Gucci-esque sunglasses and a sleek middle hair parting – all perfect.
This comment on her style in no way takes away from her intellect, views and prolific output. The very fact that I have to write this in 2018 and almost justify it still truly annoys me. Some women like and LOVE style and clothes and are obviously STILL FEMINISTS. Some women like to look alluring, sexy even (for themselves, for whoever – does it matter?) and are STILL FEMINISTS. (Polly Vernon in Grazia writes very eloquently on these issues – if you don’t follow her, do. She’s super funny too). Women come in all guises and mindsets – we are human first and foremost, so we shouldn’t have to pigeonhole ourselves into the ‘right’ kind of feminism as deemed correct by another. Now that really is patronising and reductive. Social media is sadly awash with in-fighting and vitriol from varying feminist camps about what it is to be a true feminist. Also feeding the tired notion that women always end up falling out with one another.
Which brings me onto my final point. We live in a time of perpetual offence and overblown opinions, where facts sometimes seem irrelevant – as long as you adhere to the ’cause’ you’re trying to promote or align yourself too. The politics of virtue seem to have all but gone under the interminable and ridiculous Trump but myriad opposing sides seem too to have gone beyond the pail in their own way. Seeing complex situations merely in black and white and rapidly denouncing them regardless of the facts. We are entering (if not already in) an age of extremes and vast cultural chasms.
Here in the UK too. Far right government, far left opposition both with their political whipping boys (Europeans and immigrants for Theresa May and the Jewish community for Jeremy Corbyn – I still find it a disgrace that not more has been made of this recent anti-Semitism – shocking). Both are as seemingly horrible, useless and myopic as each other. But this is just *my* opinion. Getting political can be tricky and I’m just not eloquent nor well read up enough on the latest news to do this justice before it comes close to sounding like a rant… oops.
ANYWAY – retro fashion is so popular not just because of the way it looks but because it references a perceived simpler time. Isn’t this what nostalgia is after all? A look back at a world that was seemingly more innocent, carefree and straightforward. Whether it was or it wasn’t is neither here nor there. I guess that it’s about finding some solace in the simplicity in a complex and marginalised world.
When creating my mood boards for my latest shoot, I found some unlikely inspiration on Pinterest in Vintage 60s and 70s Playboy magazines and Pirelli calendar shots. Nearly all were beautiful, faded, stylish and quite thoughtful. Tasteful too (whatever that really means). They seem so INNOCENT now in comparison to the dead-eyed, waxy-faced modern pornography chic that has infiltrated popular culture. They also seemed to celebrate women rather than diminish them.
Who knows?! Post your thoughts below. Would love to hear them! Much love – Sash xx
Flared Jeans | MIH Jeans at The Outnet
Brown Swimsuit | Lucy Williams X Love Stories Intimates
Black T-shirt | Free People
Sunglasses | As Before