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Time Traveling Through Fashion: Styling Outfits From Each Decade

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

When people think of iconic fashion moments from each decade, specific looks come to mind, such as a poodle skirt in the ’50s or bell-bottom jeans in the ’70s. These closet staples define the decades and have become some of the most recognized moments in pop culture history, and we have fallen in love with what they represent. The impact go-go boots had on this world? Legendary. 

So this week I dove into my eclectic closet to find pieces I already had to style looks to represent each of the iconic decades we know and love, from the ’50s through the ’90s. The challenge? Find pieces purchased in the 2010s and create looks just as iconic as the ones we’ve seen throughout history. Jump in your preferred time machine (hot tub, Delorean or phone booth) and head back to the 1950s because we are starting in the age of doo-wop and rock-and-roll!


The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about style in the fifties is the color pink. From poodle skirts to strawberry milkshakes, there was no shortage of this dreamy color, and I was so excited to create this look. To my luck, I had the perfect piece that truly encapsulated the fifties: a cotton candy pink leather jacket. Pink leather is a match made in heaven and Grease really missed the opportunity by not styling Sandy in one after she ditched the Pink Ladies to hang out with the T Birds. To accent this look, I pulled out my favorite checkered cigarette pants, and I instantly created the perfect costume for if I ever wanted to go as a diner floor for Halloween. To keep it simple, I added a cut cropped blouse and accessorized with my favorite pink pom-pom earrings and cat eyeglasses. Honestly, I felt like I belonged in the fifties and I wish I could wear this look every day.


Ah-ha! The perfect excuse for me to pull out the go-go boots I ordered on Amazon two years ago. For this look, I wanted to envision myself in an Austin Powers movie and truly embody my inner go-go dancer. Fortunately for me, I actually purchased an outfit a few months ago to do just that, and I am so excited that I finally have an excuse to do so. Obviously my whole look is paired around the boots that changed my life, but for clothes, I am wearing a pumpkin-orange knit mock-neck dress I picked up from Forever 21 this fall. Paired together and it creates a look that represents the decade so well but is still casual enough to wear with confidence in 2019.


By far my favorite decade, let’s jump in the seventies and channel our inner Jackie Burkhart. The seventies were a time of disco fever, bright colors and platform shoes — three of my favorite things. For this look, I pulled out my favorite white bell-bottoms and paired them with a purple suede jacket that I’d been dying to wear. I added a simple black tank underneath and the finishing touch was my beloved neck scarf. Honestly, the hardest part for me was narrowing down which platform shoes to pull from my closet to complete the look. 


Unfortunately, pulling out my red puffer vest and dressing up as Marty McFly isn’t the best option here so I decided to create a look inspired by him that was still wearable today. For this look, I wanted to feature my denim patchwork jacket because it was on-trend to feature baggy clothes in the eighties. I paired this with my favorite high waisted mom jeans to really stand up for denim-on-denim rights. To make it more casual I tucked in my favorite oversized band tee (shhh… no one needs to judge me on the fact that the Jonas Brothers weren’t around in the ’80s), and cuffed my sleeve and jeans. The finishing touch? Tube socks and Converse, of course! We can’t forget my ode to McFly, a red scrunchie in my hair since I would have been too powerful with the vest.


Finally, time for my inner emo to shine. The nineties were a time of questionable fashion choices, and honestly, we should all be thankful we have moved on to bigger and better things. No matter how questionable, they still remain iconic and I was actually so excited to create this look. Besides ugly jeans, one thing that really stands out to me about nineties fashion is layered looks. For these outfits, I wanted to focus on the juxtaposition of pastels and dark colors and layer my favorite velvet dress over my black turtleneck. To turn up the grunge, I pulled on fishnets and my knock-off Docs and lined the bottom waterline of my eye with black liner. Let’s just be thankful I purged my beanie collection a while ago, or else this outfit could haunt your dreams. 

Now that we’ve flashed forward back to the present, I am so excited to be back in my iconic 2010s rompers. Recreating all of these looks was so much fun, and I was so surprised by how many pieces I had in my closet that my mom easily could have had dupes of while growing up in these different decades. The best part was all the fun little details, which you can check out by watching our latest video on Her Campus at UCF’s IGTV.

Experimenting with fashion is beyond creative, and now I know I’m safe to pack a suitcase, hop in my Delorean and be dressed appropriately to time travel to the decade of my dreams.

All images provided by the author.

Lena is currently a senior at the University of Central Florida and very emotional about it. She serves as HCUCF's President and Campus Correspondent and is studying hospitality in hopes of making her childhood dreams of getting paid to travel the world come true. She is head over heels in love with all things aesthetically pleasing, so what could be better than working a job that will result in cute photos? While she's not in school or checking out the tacky tourist attractions around Orlando, you can find her spending more money than she has on concerts, clothes, and crappy coffee. She is a low-key movie addict and a high-key Instagram addict. If you want to see what she's up to when she's not hiding behind her laptop screen, you can follow her on Instagram @lena.daniels 
UCF Contributor