Eight Timeless Trends That Never Really Went Out of Style

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It seems some trends never really die..

Fashion is fickle…except when it’s not! Most trends come and go while others seems to cycle in and out every few decades. But then, you have a select few style crazes that never seem to disappear. Here are a few of the everlasting trends we picked up on, a brief history of each and why we think the world will never let them go.

Animal Prints

Where it began: When Europeans began colonizing Asia and Africa in the 18th century, they brought home the skins of the leopards, tigers, and zebras that they found there. Those exotic patterns were soon reproduced on fabrics (for the über-rich, of course), leaving their mark on clothing and decor. Two centuries later, sex symbols like Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe harnessed the prints’ come-hither magnetism.

Why it keeps coming back: Animal prints are like neutrals—they’re made up of brown, beige, and black, after all. Since they’re season-less, you can wear them with almost anything. Plus, they add a little edge to your wardrobe.

How to wear it now: Hit the spot in small doses if you fear the print will swallow you whole; animal print accessories, like those shown here, can be just as eye-catching. This season, you’ll see animal prints that are more graphic or magnified. Try a patterned piece with a solid jewel tone to keep it out of retro territory. An ocelot pattern like this coat’s is plenty wild, so stick with a silhouette that is simple, sleek, and tasteful.

Menswear for Women

Where it began: Thank designer Coco Chanel, who popularized pants for women in the 1920s. She also gets points for making sportswear separates, like jersey jackets and cardigans, that were designed to be stylish and comfortable on the go. Not far behind her: actress Katharine Hepburn, a trailblazer for the tomboy look in the ’30s; and ’70s musician Patti Smith, who added a little rock and roll to the mix.

Why it keeps coming back: You might expect menswear to be desexualizing, but it’s often the opposite. Wearing a tux or piece suit can empower a woman’s look tremendously, making you look like a total boss in an instant.

How to wear it now:
 Dapper touches, like a fedora or a chunky watch, easily swing the other way and mingle with frilly dresses. Choose fitted, not oversize, cuts. And contrast seriously sharp tailoring with fun, feminine accents. Daring jewelry and colorful high heels will do it. For a night out, a tuxedo jacket and tie-print pants are unexpectedly posh (and relaxed).

Ripped Jeans

Where it began: At first, ripped jeans were simply a result of over-wearing.  Prior to the 1970’s, ripped jeans were mainly associated with the less fortunate. The reality is that long before people were wearing torn jeans to express personal style, people wear wearing torn clothing out of necessity. Distressed jeans were popularized in the late 1980s during the hard rock/heavy metal era and in the 1990s and 2000s during the grunge era.

Why it keeps coming back: Because of how effortlessly trendy distressed denim can make an outfit appear, the trend is simply infectious. Nothing says “I care, but I don’t care,” like a quality pair of ripped jeans.

How to wear it now: With just about anything, at just about anytime of the year!

Minimalism

Where it began: French designers André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin made mod shift dresses in the 1960s (model Twiggy was a fan), and Halston kept the streamlined silhouette going in the ’70s with monochromatic jersey dresses and stretchy jumpsuits. But in the ’90s it was Miuccia Prada who had the most staying power. Her simple shapes and sparse ornamentation were a welcome palate cleanser after the huge shoulder pads (and hair) of the ’80s, and they’re still popular today.

Why it keeps coming back: “Clean lines and functionality have always been hallmarks of American style,” says Mears. Audrey Hepburn’s Capris are a classic example of this intersection of élan and ease.

How to wear it now: Pick one powerful piece (a geometric scarf, a sculptural cuff) and let it pop against something basic. Pieces are still pared down but have bold details (like the asymmetrical seam seen here). Look for a striking hem or neckline and sharp cutouts. And when black and white collide, you get major impact—meaning no need for a lot of accessories.

Clutch Handbags

Where it began: Clutches are definitely one of the items that cannot be missed in a girl’s wardrobe. They have been a hit on the runways for so many seasons. But what you might not know is that the ‘finger purse’ as they were called, actually originated in the 1930s and was associated with Hermés, who was the main leather bag designer in those days.

Why it keeps coming back: Essential to compose a party look as it is hand-fit and yet perfect for putting all that you need inside, the clutch bag is the perfect accessory for a night out on the town — no matter what the decade

How to wear it now: Pair your clutch with your evening look (double points if the bag matches your shoes!) for a polished appearance. When you grow tired toward the end of the night, you’ll be thankful you weren’t lugging a huge bag around!

Florals

Where it began: With Mother Nature, really. Flowers-as-adornment is as old as the hills. But in terms of being painted or printed on clothing, blossoms were seen on Japanese kimonos around the year 794 and on rich Genoese velvets in the 1400s.

Why it keeps coming back: In a word, pretty. “We always think of a flower as the symbol of a woman,” says Mears. And there are countless interpretations to appeal to any taste—from soft, watercolor petals to full-on flower power, as worn by ’60s model and “it girl” Jean Shrimpton.

How to wear it now: For a subtle approach, spruce up any old cardigan with a lively brooch or scarf. Florals are cropping up in deeper autumnal tones,” notes Graubard, which makes them appropriate no matter how ungirlie you may be. Mix patterns? By all means. Just make sure there’s one color, like black or navy, that links both prints together.

Military

Where it began: During World War II, civilians, even ladies, took to wearing government-issue trench coats as everyday outerwear. And in the Vietnam era, young people in the antiwar movement appropriated fatigues—camouflage, army jackets, cargo pants—as symbols of protest. They became trendsetters in the process. Before long, the fashion elite, like model Lauren Hutton, started sporting the look.

Why it keeps coming back: It’s functional, for one thing. And, like menswear, it has a tough, androgynous appeal. Who knew something called “olive drab” could be so versatile and rich?

How to wear it now: Adding an accessory or two is all you need to get a casual outfit into high gear. Remember—it’s an outfit, not a uniform. Look for details like cargo pockets, epaulets, and insignias (think high-style Boy Scout badges). But avoid too many at once. You want to look contemporary, not literal.

Converse (Chuck Taylors)

Where it began: After lots of research and development, the very first version of the All Star basketball shoe was produced in 1917. Charles H. Taylor was a basketball player for the Akron Firestones, and because he was so successful in promoting Converse All Stars (as well as making important changes in the design of the All Star shoe) his name “Chuck Taylor” was added to the ankle patch in 1932.

Why it keeps coming back: A staple of Americana, the chuck taylor is perhaps the only style of the above that never took a break from the premier fashion scene. It keeps coming back because no one ever stopped buying them!

How to wear it now: Wear your all-stars with a pair of jeans for a casual look, or pair them with straight-legged pants and a button-down if you’re feeling preppy.