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Fashion: History of fashion/ fashion by decade

Information about Library and Internet resources for fashion students.

Australian Dress Register

The Australian Dress Register is a collaborative, online project about dress in New South Wales pre 1945. This includes men's, women's and children's clothing ranging from the special occasion to the everyday. Users can browse the collection using the timeline, or by other means including garment type, gender, place of origin.

Vogue - history of fashion 1920's

Vogue - history of fashion 1930's

Vogue - history of fashion 1940's

Vogue - history of fashion 1950's

Vogue - history of fashion 1960's

Music and fashion

The Library has a wide range of books that cover musical and social history, the story of bands, and biographies of singers and musicians.  These provide background material that might not be found in books on fashion history.  Listening to the music from the decade will also help build up a picture of its culture.

Researching fashion by decade

Search the library catalogue and databases

Use keywords: Fashion AND history,

Add keywords such as 70s OR 1970s, 18th, 19th, .or country or region such as Europe, Australia

F​ashion AND Australia       fashion AND (1970s OR 70s OR seventies)

Search by fashion styles:  Fashion AND flares   

Fashion by decade

Don't just look for books about 20th century fashion history.  You'll find information about each decade in all sorts of books.  

When you are looking for influences on fashion in a particular decade it can be helpful to use the following headings to group your findings:

  • Political events
    • major events such as wars
    • legislation which had an impact on social conditions (e.g. Women's suffrage)
  • Economic conditions
    • major events, e.g. The Depression
    • the amount of disposable income available to spend on fashion items
    • trade restrictions
    • conditions of workers
  • Technological changes and advances
    • the development of fabrics
    • improvements in apparel production techniques
    • new inventions, e.g. the zipper
  • Social conditions and changes
    • attitudes to morality
    • development of youth culture/'generation gap'
    • growth of any subcultures 
    • the status of women
    • attitudes to the body (concealment vs exposure)
  • Art/Design/Music developments
    • any contemporary cultural trends that influenced fashion design, both main stream and counter culture 

These headings are convenient but they are not the end of the story.  The boundaries between these areas are fluid and changes in one area are often tied to changes in another.  For example a political event such as World War I had repercussions in almost every part of life: fewer resources (economic); women working in factories (social and economic); new weapons etc developed (technological changes - which sometimes had an impact on fashion production); new attitudes (social) etc.