With every new decade comes a new signature style to add to the list of possible party themes. From the glamorous 1920s flapper to the hippy-dippy 1960s flower child to the shoulder padded 1980s dancing queen, there are certain iconic looks that have stuck to their designated decades like glue. However, when analyzing the most popular styles of the 2010s, it seems as though almost every trend has been a resurrection of a preexisting one. Fashion has always been cyclical, but never more so than now, resulting in a 2010s style that is nothing short of eclectic. Moreover, one can’t know what the iconic look of a decade is until at least a decade later. So, let’s relish in this uncertainty and reminisce on the trendiest looks — some borrowed, some new — that have shaped this most recent decade.
Probably the most iconic shoe of the 2010s, UGGs are the ultimate cozy winter boot. The brand has now become synonymous with shearling boots, promoting UGG to a status on par with brands like Doc Marten and Converse. Although the boot’s peak popularity has passed, it will be interesting to see if UGGs make a comeback in future decades.
Jeans, jeans and more jeans
While the popularization of skinny jeans in the late 2000s has carried over into much of the 2010s, this decade can also be characterized by the revival of various other styles of denim.
The skinny jean morphed into the jegging, a skin tight fit that combines the comfort of leggings with the classic look of denim jeans; the boyfriend jean, whose loose and baggy fit is often accented with rips in the knees; the 90s-inspired mom jean, characterized by a high waistline and vintage aesthetic; and most recently, the long awaited resurrection of the 1970s bell bottom.
The return of ‘prep’
Stemming from the early 1980s prep, which consisted of excessive amounts of plaid, sweater vests and Lacoste, 2010s prepsters have hung onto the staples — duck shoes, monograms and pastel colors — and added some pieces to make the style their own. Some of the most notable essentials include statement necklaces, riding boots, gingham and brands such as Jack Rogers, J.Crew, Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines.
Athletic wear has been decade defining before — take jazzercise in the 80s, for example. However, despite how iconic the leg warmers and leotard combo is, the look never made its way into the mainstream. This is what is special about athleisure.
With the help of brands such as Lululemon and Athleta, activewear is no longer confined to the gym. Yoga pants, leggings and a staple sneaker are now essentials in every woman’s wardrobe. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner have taken the trend to the next level by popularizing unexpected combinations like chunky dad sneakers and bodycon dresses, redefining street style to include sporty brands such as Adidas, Reebok and Nike.
Ever since the Coachella Music Festival expanded to include two weekends in 2012, Woodstock-inspired festival wear has dominated 2010s spring and summer style. 1960s flower crowns, fringed jackets, crochet tops and Stevie Nicks-esque kimonos are stand out styles that have dominated popular bohemian retailers such as Free People. In 2019, funky flared pants, hoop earrings and bell sleeved blouses are trending through fall and winter by adopting earthy 1970s tones like mustard yellow and rusty brown.
Fashion, as a mode of expression, has always reflected the cultural happenings of the time. In the 2010s, discussions of gender and sexuality have been at the forefront. As the world continues to question what it really means to be masculine or feminine, clothing has acted as an outlet for experimentation.
Female and male celebrities alike have spent the decade defying gender norms through fashion. Model Cara Delevingne has contributed to the pantsuit trend, proving it to be an empowering alternative to the traditional red carpet gown. Meanwhile, musician Harry Styles has defined his solo persona with painted nails, heeled boots and outrageous suits layered over frilly blouses.
Most of the other trends mentioned are a reflection of the biggest 2010s trend of all, fast fashion, which emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. Retailers such as Forever 21, H&M and Zara are among the most popular offenders, pumping out cheap clothing at an unprecedented rate in order to keep up with the numerous and, as evidenced, ever changing trends of today.
However, there is hope. As consumers become more and more aware of the devastating environmental implications of the fast fashion industry, sustainability has become an undeniable trend. Thrift and vintage shopping and the use of resale apps are on the rise, and are the most sustainable options. However, for those still wary of buying second hand, environmentally conscious brands such as Reformation, Everlane and Patagonia are among the most popular of 2019. Perhaps the next decade will see a greater extension of the trend towards sustainable fashion.