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Maybe the thing I love most about vintage fashion is the rich history behind every item. Maybe someone in the ‘50s had her first kiss in that sweater, or that handbag was passed down from grandmother to granddaughter in mint condition. Even if an item has never been worn, the design present in vintage items is still different than anything you would see today. Now, before I get all misty-eyed and nostalgic, let me tell you what that has to do with today’s post. I think one of the biggest parts of the “American Dream” is education, the learning of history and facts, and even if fashion only touches that tangentially, it is still pretty cool. I always find myself looking at vintage photos, and these amazing collegiate ones are so fun (I’m a recent Northwestern grad). Let’s dissect the fashion, shall we?

Please open your textbooks to 1929…

Lesson Plan: The de rigeur college look in the Twenties was long pleated skirts, neat cardigans, and draped blouses. Though this image is all sepia, I can imagine the color palette was fairly neutral, with hints of deep red and light pink.

Extra Credit: Two-Tone Sports College Sweater

Works Cited: Image

Now, turn to page 1935…

Lesson Plan: The time-tested skirt-and-sweater combo is still at work here, but the silhouettes are more fitted and there is a bit more detailing (check out the neck scarves).

Extra Credit: Button-Down Top & Skirt Set

Works Cited: Image

Hurry up, time to move onto the 1940’s…

Lesson Plan: We’re starting to see women take on more roles than sitting and looking pretty. This Forties collegiate women’s golfing team is perfectly synchronized in their stokes and their plaid, bobby sock, and saddle shoe combos.

Extra Credit: Oxford Lace-Up Women’s WWII Shoes

Works Cited: Image

Take a quick 1950’s break…

Lesson Plan: Wow, what a difference a war makes. On the other side of WWII, we see cinched waists, turned up colors, bold colors, and puffed sleeves. These girls are ready to learn and ready to flaunt.

Extra Credit: Majisitic Striped Silk Taffeta Puff Sleeve Dress

Works Cited: Image

Excellent, class, 1960 points for all…

Lesson Plan: Now, we can see where fashion is really starting to change. The plaid is now only present in a Peacoat lining, and a velvet dress, opaque tights, and chunky boots finally replace the skirt-sweater combo.

Extra Credit: Velvet Empire Mod Mini Dress

Works Cited: Image

Please read up to 1970 for homework tonight…

Lesson Plan: Are those…pants? On a woman? You bet! By the Seventies, women’s lib was in full force, and women wore pants, maxi dresses, espadrilles, neck scarves, and basically anything they wanted!

Extra Credit: Bill Blass Print Pants

Works Cited: Image