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Fashion Inventions - Jeans, Leggings and Jeggings


Chatting after the family meal, I threw out the question “what would you all say are the main new fashion items invented in modern times?”

Quite a list tumbled out – jeans, t-shirts, bikinis, mini-skirts, shell-suits, tights, trainers, thongs, leggings and jeggings. We can all think of other short-term fashion trends, but these were the big breakthrough “probably here to stay” items. It turns out that only ONE of those emerged this century. Which one? Jeggings – circa 2008/09.

Although the rest took varying lengths of time to make their way around the majority of the western world, it turns out they were all invented very long ago - jeans 1873, t-shirts 1913, the bikini 1946, tights 1959, mini-skirts and leggings in the 1960s, trainers 1971 and thongs in 1974. All of these were initially adopted by the younger generation of the time. Rebellious teens, fashionistas, creative types and stylish twenty somethings.

They are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s and, to some extent, are still wearing them - in different styles from today’s young people, but jeans and trainers for example, are now worn by all ages and no-one bats an eyelid in surprise. It’s quite staggering to think that there hasn’t really been a major breakthrough fashion item (on the scale of jeans or the bikini) for over 70 years. Having said that, each era has brought new style influences.

According to research, Generation Z (up to 21yrs) are more into body positivity for all, like bold word statements and graphics on clothes and are heavily influenced by what their favourite online superstars wear day to day. For them and the Millennials (22-37yrs) wearing make-up and skincare is completely acceptable for all sexes. Male grooming and loyalty to global fashion brands is very big business.

Generation X (38-53yrs) lived through the rise and fall of power dressing, shoulder pads and big hair – sitting alongside the polar opposites of punk rock, grunge looks and metal adorned leather jackets.

Baby Boomers (54-72yrs) and the Silent Generation (73-88yrs) were the early adopters of all the breakthrough fashion items listed earlier and generally enjoyed much less traditional and formal ways of dressing than the young adults of the 1930s and 1940s. They also lived through the swinging sixties, Hippy counterculture, the glam rock seventies and the sexual revolution brought about by contraception. Bodies became much less covered up and fashion adapted accordingly.

Baby Boomers are now starting to retire and many of them are determined to redesign later life by staying active, enjoying spa and beauty treatments, travelling a lot and having lively social lives their parents and grandparents could never have imagined. The “pipe and slippers” generation is becoming a historical curiosity.

So, overall, is fashion and style now “blended” as some daughters, mums and grans share the same clothes and sons can easily nick Dad’s t-shirt or jeans without looking out of place? Go take a look at some family group photos on social media. Could you honestly always tell the age difference by their clothes if you couldn’t see faces and hair? Some yes, some no.

Thinking about it, unisex clothing has been around for a long time too. Though it’s hard to imagine now, Tom and I took turns wearing the same pair of our favorite bleached

Wranglers as far back as the eighties – though I did have to turn them up for my shorter legs! He can still get into them (just) but I’m saying nothing…

Fashion really is blending across the generations now and while your gran may not fancy wearing a bodycon mini dress this weekend, tanning her legs, donning a pair of high heels and heading to the local club for all night dancing – so what if she did? Wear what you like and what the heck. There’s never been a better time to express yourself through fashion whatever your age. Anything goes!


Our NEXT TOPIC will be COOKING & EATING - watch this space and add your thoughts below. Has anything changed in your lifetime?





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© 2019 by Sandra Burke