In the 1940s post war America entered into a period of prosperity, as with the wartime rationing of materials including fabric now lifted, the high style of Hollywood could be worn by the masses. Fashion (what would become today’s Retro Style) developed quickly. Through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s people had more leisure time, more money which was used to make some of the most creative music, art and fashion. The fashion styles developed with popular culture and changed quickly with the influence of rock and roll and Hollywood movies. These styles of the 40s 50s and 60s gave way to others in the 70s and 80s, but the classic quality of these styles have been coming back in revivals and each time they do, they are updated just a little bit, infusing the original spirit with a modern day twist.
Retro is a pretty general term but refers to clothing commonly worn in the past. When we talk about retro style, we are referring to the fashions of the 1940s 1950s and 1960s. Certain items have become iconic and representative of these times, like the 50s poodle skirt or the 60s Mod style, which can be combined in new and interesting ways with current clothing and fabrics. It was a simpler time than today, mass consumption, culture and people cared a lot about quality as well as style. The fashion came from wartime styles, out of Hollywood, from the development of new materials, and later from the pop culture around the rock and roll music of the time. Makeup and hairstyles are a part of the retro fashion styling of their eras, adding to the signature fashion elements that help define a decade.
There is a subtle difference between vintage and retro clothing styles. Vintage clothing is the actual clothing produced in the time period. These garments are very collectible and desirable by vintage clothing enthusiasts which may include specific designer labels and material, however since it is often previously worn, and clothing wears out, vintage clothing is often times hard to find in good wearable condition. Vintage clothing sizing may be a problem as it was somewhat different in the 40s 50s and 60s than it is today.
Retro Clothing is new clothing in classic styles, sometimes called vintage style. These modern designers are inspired by vintage styles and cuts from by-gone eras, but are using modern materials and methods to create these retro-inspired garments. A big advantage of retro style clothing is that since it is produced today, it is generally easier to find in desired modern sizing and produced in modern fabrics.