The Historical Eras that are Influencing 2023 Fashion
It’s a well-known fact that fashion is cyclical in nature. Trends come and go and what was popular 20 or 30 years ago can soon find its way back onto the runway and into stores.
This is no truer than for current fashion trends, which often blend different influences from different eras into new interesting combinations of cuts and patterns. So, from mainstream trends to the more niche ‘-core’ aesthetics, let’s take a look at some of the eras in history that are continuing to influence today’s trends.
Thanks to the ongoing popularity of period TV shows such as Bridgerton, influences from the UK’s Regency era (which took place in the early 1800s) have been seen all over spring and summer styles. In fact, just 3 days after the premiere of Bridgerton’s second season last spring, searches for ‘regency dresses’ had jumped by 84%. More recently, voluminous frills have been hitting autumn/winter 2023 runways, so it looks like this trend will be here to stay for a while.
Known as ‘Regency core’, this trend is all about achieving a romantic, hyper-feminine look. This can be seen most clearly through fashion styles such as empire waists, flowing skirts, and delicate floral patterns. The corset is a particularly interesting example, as it’s a garment that has been reimagined throughout history. Some lean into Regency core, or the adjacent cottagecore and fairycore aesthetics, and pair corsets with flowing shirts and dresses. Others take much more inspiration from the corset tops that were popular in the ‘90s and early 2000s, contrasting feminine, structured corsets with looser denim or cargo pants.
The 1960s marked a huge shift in fashion in the UK, largely spurred on by societal change. It was a time when fashion became much more relaxed, throwing out the more formal styles that had come before. It was about youth, freedom, and rebellion which could be seen, for example, through the bold, abstract and floral-inspired prints that become so popular.
Recently, following the popularity of ‘dopamine dressing’, we’ve seen the revival of some of these psychedelic prints, which started to reappear on runways in 2021 and have since become a popular spring and summer style.
Some trends never disappear altogether and are considered more timeless, including the birdcage umbrella. This style was first created in the 1960s but has been associated with royal style for decades after the Queen Mother first decided to make the birdcage her umbrella of choice. So, although the shape is distinctly ‘60s, it’s also seen as rather regal and can play into the exaggerated, romantic styles that have become so popular through Regency core.
Countering the romantic, feminine regency-inspired fashion and the bright and bold 1960s prints is ‘90s minimalism. After the highly structured garments of the ‘80s, the ‘90s saw much more relaxed, slouchy styles becoming more mainstream, many of which have returned to runways and clothing stores in the past couple of years.
One of these is the ‘90s grunge aesthetic, which encompasses a baggy, slightly dishevelled look. Think oversized flannel shirts, wide-leg jeans, tie-dye, and combat boots. Sticking with more relaxed, informal styles, other ‘90s staples that have seen a return include casual cardigans and crop tops along with slinkier styles including slip dresses, spaghetti straps, and mesh. Beyond garments, the influence of the ‘90s has filtered through to accessories as well, with many choosing to wear chunky headbands, claw clips, and scrunchies and carry around their essentials in the once-derided fanny pack.
With autumn/winter 2023 runways still showcasing pieces like checked shirts and blazers and sheer dresses, it looks like the obsession with ‘90s fashion styles is set to continue.
We’ll end this article on the most recent era that has come back into fashion, and perhaps also the most popular. Between 2021 and 2022, searches for Y2K fashion doubled and it continues to dominate fashion trends. What is it? In a nutshell, Y2K fashion refers to fashion inspired by the early noughties – think Britney Spears or Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw.
It’s bright and it’s playful, taking some of the relaxed, ‘90s grunge looks and reinventing them for a new millennium – including crop tops, cargo pants, and bandanas. Along with this, for better or worse we’ve also seen the return of colourful butterfly clips, pleated miniskirts, bandanas, low-rise jeans, and even chunky gladiator-style belts.
Fashion is heavily tied to societal and economic issues and following the pandemic we’ve seen the rise of bright, over-the-top escapist fashion styles as well as more toned-down, simple outfits. We’re in an era that is constantly pulling influences from a lot of sources, whether for more mainstream styles or the more niche ‘-core’ aesthetics, and where second-hand and vintage dressing have never been more popular. So, it will be interesting to see what historical era will take centre stage next year and beyond.