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Vintage Roots

By Jaclyn Lupo

Let’s face it, nothing is cooler than modern vintage. Fortunately, Fall 2020 is graciously welcoming back styles from the past. It’s been quite a year, but at least the latest trends will have us diving into our vintage roots! It’s clear the trends this season are rooted in history and are more fashionable than ever. Mixing vintage with contemporary styles is the new thing to do, especially since sites like Depop and TheRealReal are increasing in popularity. If there’s anything true about fashion trends, it’s that they come and go as they please. Here’s a guide to what’s currently happening in fashion, and a glimpse into the history behind the designs.

Flared Jeans

Big, voluminous silhouettes. They’re daring and iconic. These pants may be symbolic of the 70s, however, the flared leg pant dates back to trousers worn by the US Navy in the 19th century. Even though the US Navy did not have an official uniform, most men wore pants that widened into a bell shape at the bottom. The widened bottom allowed for the pants the be removed over boots. The pants could also be rolled up easily to avoid getting wet, and in worst-case scenarios, they could be filled with air and used as a makeshift floatation device. Who knew flares were so practical? The pants were strictly worn in the military until youth countercultures of the 1960s began to seek out unconventional clothing. Going against cultural norms, these people began shopping at surplus stores where old bell-bottoms from the US Navy could be found. Buying, and restyling military clothing became a form of protest against war as people embroidered flowers and peace signs into the fabric. By the 1970s, flares seemed to define the decade. What started as “anti-fashion” turned mainstream once designers caught on to the trend. However, by the 1980s, flares seemed to be replaced by the infamous skinny jean and most people predicted they were gone for good. They thought wrong. It’s 2020 and flared jeans are here to stay. They’re flattering and easily elevate an outfit. The pants demand attention, giving the wearer an overwhelming sense of confidence. Style with a simple t-shirt for an everyday, casual take, or add a dressy blouse for a going-out look.


2020 is all about staying home and being comfortable, which is why sweatsuits are everybody’s outfit of choice. They are the poster child of “anti-fashion”, and designers are constantly reinventing them for leisurewear. Émile Camuset, the founder of Le Coq Sportif, created the first pair of sweatpants, with the incentive to create pants that allowed athletes to move with ease. The sweatshirt came in the 1930s by Benjamin Russel Jr., a football player who desired an all-cotton garment to practice in. However, sweats never really gained popularity until the 1980s when health and fitness became more popular. With the athleisure trend gaining momentum, sweatsuits emerged to be a necessity in everyone’s wardrobe. By the 1990s, Juicy Couture tracksuits seemed to take over the streets. Today, every fashion label has created some kind of sweatsuit, with tie-dye matching sets seeming to be the most popular.

Button-Up Cardigans

Even though cardigans began as a men’s garment, this 21st-century take on the classic silhouette is dainty and feminine. Cardigans have a long history. Sailors first started wearing them in the 1800s, and by 1880 they caught on to mainstream fashion. By 1890, cardigans were being knitted for women. Originally, cardigans were exclusive for athletics, like golf, tennis, and bicycling. However, as women began to live more active lifestyles they were worn for the everyday. Chanel is credited with making this comfortable garment fashionable in the 1920s. She elegantly wore cardigans, her sweater of choice since she hated how traditional pull-over sweaters messed up her hair. Cardigans have been considered a classic wardrobe essential since then, but Taylor Swift has brought our attention back to them. She surprisingly dropped Folklore this summer, with “Cardigan” being the lead single. She gave a new life to this traditional piece of clothing, as she uses the cardigan as a motif throughout her entire album. Better yet, you can purchase a trend-forward button-up cardigan directly from Taylor as apart of the Folklore merch collection. It’s 2020, and if you don’t have a button-up cardigan in your wardrobe, you need to go buy one. They’re nostalgic and cozy. A cropped button-up cardigan with a pair of straight-leg jeans and sneakers is a casual take. Try pairing a cardigan with a plaid skirt for a preppy look.

Voluminous sleeves

From blouses to dresses, sleeves are here to stay for yet another season. The sleeves popular today are incredibly similar to those worn in the Victorian eras. During this time, designers were experimental with sleeves and used them as a form of expressionism since women were expected to wear longer dresses no matter what. In a sense, they were the first way women began to take risks with fashion. They’re rich in detail and demand attention. They make it clear that femininity is something that should be cherished. Today, elaborate sleeves complement simple silhouettes. Try pairing a beautiful sleeved blouse with a simple trouser for an elevated look, or opt for a sleeved mini dress for a (socially-distant) dinner party.

Whether you choose to wear authentic vintage clothes, or not, it’s important to acknowledge where these current trends stem from. Fashion has been an integrated part of society for centuries and has played a major role in history. The fact is, what we choose to wear contributes to the story of humanity. Take a moment to consider how your style influences the narrative.

Jaclyn Lupo is an editorial writer passionate about fashion, sustainability and culture.

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