When Scott and I went to London a few years ago, we were fortunate enough to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. I remember it was our last day in Europe and we had walked around London all day long wanting to soak in every last bit of history. We happened upon the V&A by accident. We weren’t even sure what it was at first or if it was open. Come to find out, it was open until 5 PM. We looked at our watches – 4:15 PM!!! Well, it’s now or never, so we headed in. Because we only had 45 minutes to peruse, we decided to split up for 20 minutes. He headed into the paintings area and I into …what else? The fashion and jewelry area of course!
Because it was so late, I was the only one in the fashion history exhibit at the time – well, except for the guard. I spent my full 20 minutes in awe of the beautiful dresses from the 1800’s until present day. The detail in the clothes and how they were preserved and showcased were all amazing. As I ambled through, I couldn’t help but think how styles have changed over the years. From very conservative long wool dresses in the early 19th century, to flapper dresses in the early 20th century, and mini skirts and halter tops in the 70s. This made me wonder – how did fashion trends start way back then? How did people adopt them and why?
Ironically, the former curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum, James Laver (1899-1975), was also a fashion historian. Laver was curator there from the 1930s through the 50s, in charge of prints and drawings. However, his claim to fame has always been fashion. He could actually look at a very old photo and place it within a few years of the time period, just by the clothes the people where wearing. He was also a master at knowing how styles came in and out of fashion. In fact, major department stores bought and sold by Laver’s Law of Fashion, the idea that fashions all have a timeline or lifecycle trend, which could somewhat predict what styles would be hot in the coming year and which would be passé. Take a look…
Laver’s Law of Fashion
Indecent 10 years before its time
Shameless 5 years before its time
Daring 1 year before its time
Smart Current fashion
Dowdy 1 year after its time
Hideous 10 years after its time
Ridiculous 20 years after its time
Amusing 30 years after its time
Quaint 50 years after its time
Charming 70 years after its time
Romantic 100 years after its time
Beautiful 150 years after its time
This law applies only to women’s fashion. For, unlike women’s fashion that drastically changed year after year, Laver observed that men’s fashion stayed pretty consistent, with ever so subtle changes through the decades.
As you can see ladies, if you hold onto something long enough, it may take on heirloom status. As they say, whatever is old becomes new again – just give it time. But, in case you’re wondering whether to hold onto your Ugg boots and your jumpsuit – keep in mind, they were never that stylish the first time around.