Fashion Goes Back to the Future

Trends from the '70s, '80s and '90s, oh my!

Words by Emma Tiernan
October 9th, 2018

Fashion has gone back in time and taken a leaf out of eras gone by for inspiration on this year’s hottest trends. Designers are throwing it back to decades like the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, with cords, shoulder pads and slip dresses all making an appearance on the runway. Though designers have found inspiration in these decades before, it is very rare for all three decades to feature so predominantly in the one season as is the case for autunm/winter 2018.

The ‘70s

Elements of the Seventies strutted down the runway, re-introducing cord, flares, knee-high boots and fur coats (faux, of course) into our lives this year. One accessory, in particular, that was on the arms of everyone this summer and continues into autumn is a basket bag. Of course, this is a nod to the icon of the decade, Jane Birkin, who arguably started the basket bag trend way back when, almost always photographed toting her favourite accessory. This season, pair a basket bag with a dark floral dress or a billowy white blouse and flared denim and you have yourself the perfect Seventies boho autumn look.

This year also sees the resurgence of the power suit but while it was all about pastel hues for summer, coming into autumn more muted tones reign supreme. Originally hailing from the 1970s, it became popular thanks to icons like Liza Minnelli and Cher who rocked the pants suit with ease, and let’s not forget the iconic white suit that Bianca Jagger wore for her wedding to Mick Jagger in 1971.

Cord, something that reminds us all of the era, also returns with a bang this season. While you’ll find a corduroy variation of just about everything, if you are looking to go all out Seventies then a cord power suit is a must-buy.

photo: Bianca Jagger
photo: Rochas AW18
photo: Paul & Joe AW18
photo: KIM AW18

Shop the ’70s trend 

The 80s

Of all the eras making a comeback, the Eighties is the one with the biggest influence. Labels such as Tom Ford, Gucci, Moschino and many more have been heavily influenced by the decade that gave us shoulder pads, neon, leg warmers and, of course, Dynasty, a pinnacle of ’80s fashion which aired from 1981 all the way through until 1989. The show was known for its outrageous fashion, so much so it even inspired its own fashion line thanks to leading ladies Joan Collins and Linda Evans and their array of glamorous dresses with exaggerated shoulders, structured suits and fancy headwear.


These styles defined the decade and now they are back in a big way this season. But the question is, is it only acceptable in the ’80s? If your answer is no then lucky for you there are plenty of trends for you to test out. But if you don’t feel bold enough to rock some of the outfits that walked the catwalk this season you can still have fun with the trend in smaller, more modern ways.


One such way being bike shorts; another trend that hails directly from the Eighties and has made a huge impression on street style this year. Back in the ’80s, it was Princess Diana who owned this style, pairing them with chunky trainers which, again, love them or loathe them, ugly dad trainers are very much in style this season.

photo: Princess Diana 1980s
photo: CFW 2018

Shop the ’80s trend

The 90s

The Nineties made a lasting impression on us which we’ve never really been able to shake completely. This season sees it slowly creeping back, particularly on Instagram and the high street with brands such as Réalisation Par, Reformation and Topshop getting on board with the decade that gave us Friends.

Much like Dynasty was to the Eighties, Friends was one of the biggest hits on television in the Nineties and just about every woman wanted Monica and Rachel’s wardrobes. Flash forward to 2018 and every woman still wants their wardrobe; cute mini dresses, slip dresses styled over T-shirts, denim cut-offs, crop tops and micro sunglasses were what #OOTDs were all about this past summer.


While every ‘It’ girl on Instagram has welcomed the era back with open arms, so too have some designers such as Ganni, Paco Rabanne, Prada and Michael Kors who all paid homage to the ’90s in their recent collections. Thankfully, it is easier to incorporate this era into your everyday wardrobe as it is more casual and laidback compared to the in your face trends of the ’80s and the boho vibes of the ’70s; one can never go wrong with a simple slip dress or a pair of high-waisted straight leg jeans.

Shop the ’90s trend