8 Incredible Vintage Fashions We Need To Bring Back
They say everything comes back into fashion eventually, if you wait long enough. But there are some stylish vintage looks which are still waiting for a return to the catwalk. Here are eight strange and striking vintage fashions which we think are long overdue a comeback...
Sherlock Holmes. James Brown. Superman. Dracula. What do all these men have in common? Confidence, and the ability to look good in a cape. Yet despite the enduring popularity of these four style icons, capes are rarely found on the high street and remain consigned to fashion history. This needs to change.
Capes are the epitome of poise and self-assurance. Whether you’re examining evidence at a crime scene or just ‘giving the drummer some’, a cape gives you the comfort and warmth to get the job done without feeling constricted by regular sleeves. And as a bonus, it makes all of your entrances and exits at least 40% more dramatic. So whether it’s in traditional tweed, stone-washed denim or purple velvet, we want capes back on the catwalk in 2015.
Trainers with unnecessary technology
During the late 1980s, one of the biggest problems facing society was that of ill-fitting trainers. Despite countless government think-tanks and a NATO taskforce being assigned to combat the problem, it came to Reebok to find a solution – the humble pump. With their sneakers freshly pumped up, 14-year-olds around the world were finally able to spectacularly dunk basketballs and dance freely to Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ with confidence.
Suddenly the floodgates opened, and consumers demanded that their sneakers come with an added slice of futuristic technology. Puma scorned mere laces and gave us discs to tighten our shoes; L.A Gear built sneakers with lights in the heels; and British Knights gave us StreetBeatz, featuring tiny synthesizers in the heels which played electro beats perfectly in time with your every step.
In recent years we’ve had some ‘useful’ innovations, but nothing truly unnecessary. Who cares if you can sync your sneakers with your iPhone to tell you how far you’ve run? We want shoes with screens in the heels that display text messages and shoot sparks when someone tweets you with the hash-tag #reeboklightningsneakz.
The single glove
In 1983 a factory worker in New Jersey fell asleep on the job and changed the history of fashion forever. The factory in question was Garrison’s Gloves and Mittens, the nation’s leading manufacturer of magician’s gloves and novelty mittens (and inventor of the short-lived ‘gloveten’). The act of negligence on a rapidly-moving production line left the company with a problem – three million right-handed gloves without matching pairs.
Realizing most magicians had two hands, company boss Lionel ‘Chaz’ Garrison thought fast and saved the business by signing a secret million-dollar sponsorship deal with pop star Michael Jackson. Just days later Jackson wore his single glove on national television, and the look became a world-wide fashion trend.
However, since Jackson’s tragic death in 2009 the single glove has fallen out of favour. Corey Feldman’s brave attempt to reintroduce the look in the Noughties fell sadly short, and nobody has yet stepped up to champion the style. Where’s a one-handed fashion hero when you need them?
The 1950s was the first decade in which fashion and technology truly combined. Today’s teenagers might have smart-phones glued to their heads, but 50s teenagers were similarly inclined to keep in touch with their pals at all times. Designers at Bell Laboratories saw the latest craze coming, and in the spring of 1952 they created the Telephone Hat.
Without modern wireless technology, wearers needed increasingly long cables to allow them to make important calls on-the-go (with some extending up to four miles long). Popular kids could also go for the combination Telephone Hat/Mask, with two separate lines and twice the fun. The fad even sparked a word used to this day – ‘phoney’ – for those wearing fake telephone hats that couldn’t actually place calls.
The Telephone Hat was, however, a sadly short-lived fashion statement. In 1954, at a ‘Phone Party’ in Sheboygan, Wisonsin, twenty-seven teenagers accidentally strangled themselves when their phone cables became entwined, and Bell Labs quickly shut down production fearing a law suit. But for a generation of teenagers in the 1950s, the Telephone Hat was the first taste of modern communications technology and it remains fondly remembered by many. So if you want an authentic accessory to complete your vintage 50s look, a Telephone hat could be the perfect addition – just don’t forget to give friends your new number!
Leg o’ Mutton sleeves
Over the centuries, changing body shapes have played a large role in shaping the fashionable styles of the day. Nowhere is this more true than in the mid 1890s, and the popularity of ‘Leg o’ Mutton’ sleeves for women. These sleeves, large and loose on the upper arm and tapering down to the wrists, grew in size year on year until disappearing in 1906. And the style just happened to coincide with another fad that became popular during the late 19th century – female bodybuilding.
The sheer work involved in domestic chores such as washing clothes and cleaning the home in the 1890s meant many wives had already begun to develop far greater upper-body strength than their husbands. Many women started to actively pursue larger muscles, using programs of frantic carpet-beating and sweeping with weighted brooms and eventually moving on to lifting what were known as ‘parlour weights’. As their forearms grew in girth, dress sleeves naturally grew to accommodate them until they resembled legs of mutton in both shape and size.
But by 1906 Parliament had become terrified of a violent uprising of brutally strong women, and outlawed parlour weights along with any form of female exercise apart from light needlework. Sleeves gradually shrank back to their regular size, and the rest is history. But in today’s body-conscious, workout-obsessed culture, we think it’s about time we brought back Leg o’ Mutton sleeves and bought a ticket for the new ladies’ gun-show.
During the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts of the early 1950s, thousands of people were deemed ‘Un-American’ due to their political beliefs. They were arrested, jailed, blacklisted or forced to testify against their friends and family. As the wave of paranoia swept the U.S, many began to show their support for the unfairly persecuted by wearing red lobster costumes.
The costumes were by nature bright red, signifying the ‘Red Scare’ that stigmatized Communists as the enemy of America, and featured pincers – representing the ‘evil’ claws of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Wearing a lobster costume was a sign of solidarity that was also unpunishable, thanks to a little-known law regarding the right to wear marine animal costumes in public. The trend died out in the late 1950s, as McCarthyism faded away, and years later in the midst of a 50s nostalgia revival the band The B52s even recorded a tribute to the fashion trend with the song ‘Rock Lobster’ which belied its radical political roots.
Today original 50s lobster costumes can sell for thousands of dollars to collectors of political memorabilia, but modern reproduction suits can be found for around $200 and are far less flammable than their vintage equivalents. They remain a powerful statement that combines style with left-wing political awareness, and have recently been spotted making a comeback at Liberal costume parties from coast to coast.
Science fiction and the dawn of the Space Age had a massive influence on 1950s fashions. To cash in on the brand new style, U.S sunglasses manufacturer Ray-Ban commissioned NASA scientists to help them design some ultra-modern eyewear. The result was ‘Moon Goggles’, an eye-catching accessory for kids and adults alike which swept the nation in 1955.
However, the use of space-age materials such as Uranium-enriched lenses and the unusual goggle design soon led to some unwanted side-effects. Many children complained that the goggles caused headaches, nausea, and in some extreme cases enabled them to see four seconds into the future. Adult wearers reported being able to see certain sounds such as the hum of a refrigerator or the voice of Desi Arnaz, and that they reduced peripheral vision to almost zero making driving impractical.
Like most fads of the 50s, Moon Goggles were soon deemed highly dangerous and removed from public sale. A single original pair remains in the collection of the Smithsonian, housed in a solid concrete cube, but if you want to recreate the look for your 50’s-themed party all you need is some silver paint, two shuttlecocks and a broken View-Master.
Few men have ever looked better in a tuxedo than Sean Connery, but the James Bond star was well-known for his more outrageous fashion statements as well. In the mid 1970s Connery looked to free himself from the shackles of 007, and began appearing in public wearing increasingly bizarre outfits which caught the imagination of fashionistas around the world.
The above picture was taken in April 1977, at the grand opening of the New York nightclub Studio 54, where Connery mingled alongside celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Truman Capote and Henry Kissenger. This combination of red pants, matching bullet belts, thigh-high boots, pistol and a ponytail became known as the ‘Sean-Suit’, and was soon seen on dance-floors from London to L.A. But a series of bitterly cold winters, combined with a new law making it illegal to wear ammunition as an accessory, spelt the end of the Sean-Suit in 1981.
We think it’s about time to bring the Sean-Suit back. Today a combination of milder winters due to global warming, and aggressive NRA posturing on gun control, means the conditions are perfect for its return. Although Sir Sean may not be about to strap on the suit once again, we’re sure a generation of younger stars such as Daniel Craig or Haley Joel Osment could certainly pull it off!
The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.
Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.
Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.