The evolution of fashion has been shaped by many influential style icons throughout the decades. This guide will explore the fashion choices and key looks of these iconic women, from Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s to Rihanna in the present day. We will uncover the impact they have had on each decade of fashion and discuss how to recreate their style today.
Each section will cover the key looks of one style icon, why they were so influential and provide tips on how to emulate their style. We will also provide various supplier sources for clothing and accessories to help you to recreate the iconic looks.
So, if you’re ready to explore the style icons of the decades and take a trip down memory lane, let’s get started!
1950s: Audrey Hepburn
The 1950s saw the emergence of a style icon in the form of Audrey Hepburn. This actress and fashion icon was known for her effortless style and grace, as well as her innovative approach to fashion. From her pixie cut to her sultry dresses, Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of 1950s fashion. She often wore timeless pieces such as the ‘little black dress’ with pearls, which has become an iconic look.
Audrey Hepburn was also known for beginning the trend of cropped trousers, pairing them with tailored jackets and often accessorizing with statement sunglasses. As a fan of ballet flats, Audrey Hepburn was often seen wearing comfortable clothing that was stylish and practical at the same time.
1960s: The Nifty 50s
The 1960s saw the emergence of two iconic style stars, Twiggy and Angelica Houston. Twiggy is remembered for her unique short pixie-style haircut, heavy eye makeup, and wearing top trends such as mini-dresses. She quickly became renowned as a photographic model, actress, and fashion icon, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Likewise, Angelica Houston made her mark in the 1960s with mini-dresses and go-go boots. She too was a trendsetter, appearing in a range of films including The Addams Family and Rosemary’s Baby.
These style icons of the 1960s paved the way for women to adopt new silhouettes, prints, and colours and to be more daring in their fashion choices. Their enduring influence can be seen today in fashion trends, such as the revival of 60s inspired looks.
The Disco Decade: The Impact of Debbie Harry on Fashion
The 1970s saw a shift in fashion trends towards a more vibrant, colourful look, largely influenced by the upsurge in the disco culture of the time. Amongst the new wave of style icons were musicians such as Debbie Harry, lead singer of the band Blondie. She was known for her daring, eye-catching wardrobe choices that excited and inspired the youth of the day.
Harry’s style was wild and carefree, often combining unlikely pieces to create her own unique looks. Her combination of bright, eclectic garments combined with a punk attitude was quickly adopted by the fashion-forward youth of the 70s. She often pushed boundaries with her wardrobe, including wearing brightly coloured leotards and sequinned bathing suits to her shows and performances.
Harry’s style became iconic and made her a style leader. Not only did she influence the wardrobe choices of many fans, but also those of the fashion industry as a whole. Her fearless approach to fashion and willingness to experiment with clothes led to the emergence of androgynous fashion, which allowed people to express themselves more freely.
To this day, Debbie Harry’s bold style and punk attitude continue to inspire modern fashion trends. From her daring styles to her eclectic wardrobe combinations, it is clear that Harry left an indelible mark on the 1970s fashion landscape.
In the 1980s, two powerful women took over the fashion scene—Joan Collins and Madonna. Known as the decade of power dressing, both women embraced bold silhouettes and bright colours. Joan Collins was known for her glamorous evening gowns, while Madonna became famous for her iconic cone bra and leotards.
Whether it was the strong-shoulders, big hair or oversized jewellery, the 80s often got a bad rap for being tacky. However, even though the decade is now often associated with over-the-top style, there were still plenty of sophisticated outfits that stood out. Both Joan Collins and Madonna fearlessly explored fashion to create looks that were unique and glamorous.
1990s: The ‘anti-fashion’ Subculture
The 1990s was a decade when people experimented with their clothing styles and embraced the concept of ‘anti-fashion’. Although trends from the 1950s to the 1980s were being recycled in mainstream fashion, the 1990s saw the emergence of alternative looks. Gwen Stefani was at the forefront of this trend, sporting her unique style that blended punk, glam rock and ska. Her influence on the fashion industry was notable, as she made wearing ripped jeans, combat boots, bright colours and patches acceptable amongst the masses.
Stefani’s influence went beyond clothing, her hairstyles were also iconic; her platinum blonde hair was often cut into short bobs or styled into a mohawk or quiff. This diversity of style allowed her to be a role model for those who wanted to express themselves through their fashion choices. She brought edge and attitude to any look she wore, and inspired others to be confident in their own skin.
The 2000s saw the emergence of celebrities as influential style icons. Evoking an often glamorous and aspirational lifestyle, Victoria Beckham and Nicole Richie embodied the trends of the decade. Victoria Beckham’s polished look was a sign of the new decade, risen from her time as a Spice Girl. In contrast, Nicole Richie was seen as the epitome of boho chic. With feminine stylish fashions she showed that you can be stylish and comfortable. Both these women achieved success through their own wardrobe, making them renowned style icons and relatable celebs to young women around the world.
2010s: Exploring The Power of Social Media
The decade of the 2010s saw fashion take a giant leap forwards. The arrival of apps like Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter created an enviroment where anyone could become a fashion designer overnight. Street style was being spread by personal influencers worldwide, photos posted from concerts, hangouts, and everyday enviroments were all happily shared to millions of followers.
Celebrities like Rihanna and Beyonce were at the heart of this movement, with more than just their music challenging traditional notions of what was acceptable. Their trendsetting outfits were quickly recreated by thousands of fans, and the popularity of these styles solidified when they hit designer catwalks.
Social media made it easier for individuals to express themselves and gave them a platform to share their creativity with the world. This revolution in fashion is still going strong and shows no signs of stopping.
Tips on recreating the iconic looks
If you’ve been inspired by the style icons of the decades and want to try and recreate their iconic looks, here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
- Look at photographs and research online to get some inspiration on what the style icons wore
- Consider how each style icon made their own unique statement – for example, choose classic pieces of clothing that Audrey Hepburn wore to embody her effortless elegance
- Explore different timeless accessories such as sunglasses, scarves, and hats to complete the look
- Use modern components such as fabric, pattern, and color to refresh classic styles
- Avoid looking dated by combining modern items with vintage pieces
Suppliers Sources for Clothing and Accessories
Finding clothing and accessories to recreate your favorite style icons looks needn’t be a daunting task. We have compiled a list of suppliers which can help you find the perfect items so that you can get the same iconic style.
- For 1950s glamour, try shopping at Rock My Vintage or Collectif.
- For retro 1960s fashion, check out Beyond Retro or Motel Rocks.
- To get 1970s disco inspired look, try Pretty Vacant Clothing.
- For the classic 1980s power dressing style, try ASOS, Pretty Little Thing, or Fashion Bunker.
- If you’re looking for 1990s punk inspired looks, Urban Outfitters, Dolls Kill and Nasty Gal are great places to start.
- To find 2000s celeb style try Topshop, Missguided, Princess Polly or Pretty Little Thing.
- For the modern street styles, Zara, BooHoo or ASOS are great places to look.
This guide has provided an overview of various decades in style, and the icons who have shaped them. From the glamorous Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s to Victoria Beckham and Rihanna more recently, we have explored how each decade has contributed to fashion history.
The 1960s saw the emergence of Twiggy and Angelica Houston, who helped define a new wave of fashion. The 1970s was defined by the rise of the disco era and Debbie Harry’s iconic style. Then in the 1980s we saw the introduction of power dressing and Joan Collins and Madonna leading the way.
The 1990s brought ‘anti-fashion’ to the mainstream courtesy of Gwen Stefani, while in the 2000s Victoria Beckham and Nicole Richie made an impact on the industry. Lastly, the 2010s have been greatly influenced by street style and social media.
We have also provided some useful tips on recreating iconic looks from the past, as well as suppliers sources for clothing and accessories. We hope this guide has been useful and informative in understanding the influence of style icons through the decades.
Numerous Links relating to Each Decade and the Style Icons
This guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the numerous online resources you can refer to when attempting to recreate the iconic looks of each decade. To save time, we’ve collected some of the most helpful and reliable links that will help you find all the information you need.
For 1950s fashion, resourceful websites such as The Fashion History Timeline (www.fashionhistorytimeline.com/1950-1959.html) are especially useful for finding detailed information on trends of the decade.
Moving on to the 1960s, the website Vintage Ad Browser (www.vintageadbrowser.com/1960s-ads) collects many vintage ads from this era, which can provide insight into the fashion of the times.
The 1970s saw the explosion of disco culture with a strong focus on glamour and flamboyant fashion, and you can explore the power dressing of that period at the Vintage Everyday website (vintag.es/1970s).
For the ‘power dressing’ look of the 1980s, Glamourdaze (glamourdaze.com/timeless-1980s-fashion/) is a great website to use as it has lots of images and detailed articles about the decade’s fashion.
The ‘anti-fashion’ subculture of the 1990s has been perfectly captured by Vogue Magazine (www.vogue.com/article/90s-style-icon-grunge), which discusses the fashion phenomenon that was spearheaded by Gwen Stefani.
When we reach the 2000s, celebrity style became an important factor in men’s and women’s fashion. You can find more information about the trends that celebrities were wearing at Harpers Bazaar (www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/a12325/2000s-style-icons/).
Finally, with the rise of social media in the 2010s, street style became a major influence on fashion trends. To get a better understanding of this period, you can look at websites like Hype Beast (hypebeast.com/2010s/style) which explores the global street styles of the decade.
We hope these sources of information will prove helpful for creating your own unique version of the iconic looks!