Return to Retro

Evoke vintage styles of eras past as you look back at 50 years of nation building

Issue: Aug 2015

Steal from the fashion books of the past and go retro this National Day as you look back at 50 years of nation building
Steal from the fashion books of the past and go retro this National Day as you look back at 50 years of nation building

There is something about celebrating a milestone that makes people a little nostalgic. With Singapore marking its Jubilee this month, there is no better time to honour the past than now.

One great way to do this is by injecting a little retro into your fashion. You won’t be the first to channel the styles of eras past. Think Meghan Trainor and Taylor Swift. But getting the vintage look right without mixing the eras or looking like you raided grandma's closet requires a little finesse. Here is a journey down the fashion runways of yesteryears to help you get the right look for each decade.

Swinging with the 60s

The early 60s retained the conservatism of the 50s
The early 60s retained the conservatism of the 50s: (top left and right) dresses with swingy skirts; (bottom left and right) and (bottom left and right) simple, A-line dresses (S$49.90) and boxy jackets like the Abrig Aldara Blazer (S$269) a la Jackie Kennedy ruled the runway
Photo credit: Outpost (pictures on top left and right), My Grandchild (bottom left picture), Desigual (bottom right picture)

The 60s was when Singapore came into its own. Just as Independence split local history into pre- and post-1965, fashion of that era was also divided into the early and later part of 60s. In the first half of the 60s, styles of the 50s prevailed. Boxy shapes typified by suits with short jackets that American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy favoured were the rage then as did dresses that nipped the waist and had a little swing to them as popularised by the US television series, Mad Men.

Get groovin' baby, with this Austin Power-inspired ensemble featuring a body-skimming dress and Block Heel Knee Boots
Get groovin’ baby, with this Austin Power-inspired ensemble featuring (left) a body-skimming dress (S$129) and (right) Block Heel Knee Boots (S$95.90)
Photo credit: My Grandchild (picture on left) & Charles & Keith (picture on right)

From the mid-60s onwards, the conservatism of the earlier years was shaken off. The skirts got shorter and the hair-dos got higher. Dresses skimmed the body, colours burst onto the scene alongside a resurgence of edgier monochromatic outfits; and geometric patterns dominated.

Printed Kimono blouse with Fringing and Zip; bell bottoms like the Tall Scarf Print Flares; paisleys like the Paisley Peasant Blouse
(Left) By the end of the decade, the hippie movement took over and relaxed silhouettes like the Printed Kimono blouse with Fringing and Zip (S$109.00); (centre) bell bottoms like the Tall Scarf Print Flares (S$66.90); (left) and paisleys like the Paisley Peasant Blouse (S$76.90) completed the flower power look
Photo credit: ZARA (picture on left) & Topshop (pictures in centre & right)

By the later part of the decade, fashion had swung to the extreme. Colours exploded in psychedelic hues, and bell bottoms and paisley or tie-die tops of the hippie movement took centrestage. The boxy shape and narrow waist that the decade started out with loosened into more relaxed silhouettes, reflecting a loosening of social mores of the time.

Step into the 70s

Dress up in the Siera D-Ring Jumpsuit (S$159.99) and bring back that 70s feel which saw the rise in popularity of the jumpsuit as scores of women entered the workforce
Dress up in the Siera D-Ring Jumpsuit (S$159.99) and bring back that 70s feel which saw the rise in popularity of the jumpsuit as scores of women entered the workforce
Photo credit: Forever New

As Singapore focused on nation building, fashion in the 70s focused on the self. Variously called the Me Decade, the Decade of Decadence, and the Disco Decade, the 70s was the time when women joined the workforce in greater numbers. That sense of liberation was reflected in the increasing popularity of the easy-to-wear jumpsuit.

Bring back the 70s with (left) the Patterned Jazz Pants (S$19.90) and (right) the Wide Trousers (S$24.90)
Bring back the 70s with (left) the Patterned Jazz Pants (S$19.90) and (right) the Wide Trousers (S$24.90)
Photo credit: H&M

Pants were the fashion favourite with the new woman. As the decade wore on, pants legs got wider and wider. It was not uncommon for women (and even some men) to be sashaying in 32-inch wide bell bottoms.

Nothing gives support like these Platform Sandals (S$59.90) loved by women of the 70s
Nothing gives support like these Platform Sandals (S$59.90) loved by women of the 70s
Photo credit: H&M

Of course, these have to be supported by clunky platforms, the higher the better.

Tiny tops like the Ribbed Halter Neck Cropped Top and the Tall Exclusive Crochet Square Neck Crop Top were worn with wide-legged pants
Tiny tops like (left) the Ribbed Halter Neck Cropped Top (S$26.90) and the Tall Exclusive Crochet Square Neck Crop Top (S$33.90) were worn with wide-legged pants
Photo credit: Topshop

Wide pants were paired with tight tiny tops – cropped tops, halter tops, tank tops for maximum contrast in silhouettes

The 70s woman was free to go feminine with the jersey wrap dress, a look created and made popular by Diane Von Fursternberg in 1974
The 70s woman was free to go feminine with the jersey wrap dress, a look created and made popular by Diane Von Fursternberg in 1974
Photo credit: Diane Von Fursternberg

Pants aside, increased economic mobility empowered women to wear whatever they wanted. Skirt length ranged from micro minis to maxis. The wrap dress created by Diane Von Fursternberg became a wardrobe must-have.

Denim invaded the 70s wardrobe. Deck yourself in this Violeta Denim Shirt Dress or Chaq Ethnic Deluxe Denim Jacket to recreate the look of the era
Denim invaded the 70s wardrobe. Deck yourself in this Violeta Denim Shirt Dress (S$99) or Chaq Ethnic Deluxe Denim Jacket (S$189) to recreate the look of the era
Photo credit: Mango (left picture) & Desigual (right picture)

Denim appeared in everyday wear from pants to just about every other article of clothing, a bastion of the Anything Goes trend of the era.

Enter the 80s

To create the layered 80s look (extreme left): Sunray Pleated Skirt by Unique, Moto Vintage Western Jacket, Circle Drop Earrings,Knotted Bandeau Headband
To create the layered 80s look (extreme left): (from left to right, top to bottom) Sunray Pleated Skirt by Unique, Moto Vintage Western Jacket (S$89.90), Circle Drop Earrings (S$23.90),and Knotted Bandeau Headband S$19.90)
Photo credit: Topshop
Bright happy colours defined the 80s look ruled by the mantra: if less is more, more is better
Bright happy colours defined the 80s look ruled by the mantra: if less is more, more is better
Photo credit: My Grandchild

The 80s was a time of fashion excess. It was a decade that lived by the mantra: if less is more, then more is better. Cyndi Lauper and Madonna led the wild parade with big hair and loud make-up; bangles, hooped earrings, layers of jewellery; burgeoning shoulder pads; and neon colours. The look was all about piling on the layers – flouncy skirt with leggings, cropped tops with jackets, lots of bubble gum-coloured plastic accessories, and lacy finger-less gloves.

Bring back the Jennifer Beals look from Flashdance and flash a little shoulder with this Jersey Top and Patterned Leggings
Bring back the Jennifer Beals look from Flashdance and flash a little shoulder with this Jersey Top (S$19.90) and Patterned Leggings (S$24.90)
Photo credit: H&M

It was also the decade that saw the rise of the aerobics and dance craze. Exercise wear - over-sized tops revealing a single shoulder, bodysuits, and leg-warmers – took the world by storm thanks to Jennifer Beals and her turn as a welder by day and dancer by night. As result, tops became looser and pants tighter in a reversal of 70s’ fashion.

Fashion comes in cycles and designers have been stealing from the look books of the past. This month, as you look back on how far Singapore has come, why not take a leaf from the designers and create your own retro look?

Shop with us:

Charles & Keith
311 New Upper Changi Road
Bedok Mall
#01-31
Singapore 467360
Tel: (65) 6844 9252
www.charleskeith.com
Charles & Keith
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#01-06-08
Singapore 188021
Tel: (650 6338 0537
www.charleskeith.com
Charles & Keith
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#B3-58
Singapore 239901
Tel: (65) 6238 1840
www.charleskeith.com
Charles & Keith
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#02-28/28A
Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6334 9331
www.charleskeith.com
Charles & Keith
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City
#03-31/32
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6334 9066
www.charleskeith.com
Charles & Keith
4 Tampines Central
Tampine Mall
#01-13/14
Singapore 529510
Tel: (65) 6260 9711
www.charleskeith.com
Desigual
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City
#02-09/10
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6337 0445
www.desigual.com/en_SG
Diane Von Fursternberg
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#03-01
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 65099062
www.dvf.com
Forever New
252 North Bridge Rd
Raffles City
#01-13
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6337 8327
www.forevernew.com.au
H&M
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#B2-28
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65)-65098702
www.hm.com/sg
Mango
252 North Bridge Road
|Raffles City Shopping Centre
#02-25
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6336 9250
shop.mango.com/SG
Mango
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#01-73/76
Singapore 188021
Tel: (65) 6339 9223
shop.mango.com/SG
Mango
4 Tampines Central
Tampines Mall
#01-21/02-16
Singapore 529510
Tel: (65) 6788 7777
shop.mango.com/SG
Mango
2 Orchard Turn
|ION Orchard
#B2-16/17
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6376 9478
shop.mango.com/SG
My Grandchild Store
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#02-38C
Singapore 18824
Tel: (65) 6336 1096
www.facebook.com/grandchildstore
Outpost
1 Vista Exchange Green
The Star Vista
#01-38
Singapore, 138617
Tel: (65) 6235 2305/ 6397 7374/6659 6456
www.facebook.com/OutpostSg
Topshop
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#B2 - 01
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6509 8602
sg.topshop.com
Topshop
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Singapore
#02 - 39
Singapore179101
Tel: (65) 6334 2808
sg.topshop.com
Topshop
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#01-20/29
Singapore 188024
Tel: (65) 6238 7927
sg.topshop.com
Topshop
10 Tampines Central 1
Tampines Mall
#02 - 16
Singapore 529536
Tel: (65) 6587 0071
sg.topshop.com
ZARA
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#B2-03 #B3-05
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6509 8840
www.zara.com/sg
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