Here's how 'sexy' changed over the decades, in 16 sizzling photographs
This is how what's considered sexy changed through the decades.
What's sexy and what's not? Who's sexy and who's not? The question has kept the entire fashion industry on its toes since the beginning of time and the trends themselves have changed through the years as people changed the way they think and act. Sexy is not only defined by purely physical attributes but reflects the psyche of the times the people live in. What people find sexy in one era, therefore, is something that they may hate in the next and the story continues. Here, we have a timeline of what was considered sexy through the decades.
#1 The Roaring 20s
The 1920s were a time when curves were not appreciated and women actually went out of their way to hide them. The boyish look was all the rage and women even tied strips of cloth to bind their chests in order to compress it. Unlike the preceding era of Victorian style, corsets were replaced by elastic webbed girdles and loose swingy flapper dresses.
The hair bob and finger wave was the trend which complemented the boyish looks and bold makeup became quite popular. Women applied kohl to line the eyes and achieve a dramatic look while they powdered their skin to look as pale as was physically possible. What was considered trashy in the previous era, became sexy in this one.
#2 Hollywood's golden age of 1930s and 1940s
This era set the stage for designers like Chanel, Dior, and Elsa Schiaparelli to make their mark. They started designing close fitting and glamorous clothes for toned female bodies and women themselves became conscious of health and lifestyle. They started lifting light weights, getting sleeker looks while not compromising with their natural curves. The padded cotton bras made their appearance in this very era of fashion.
A more feminine form of hairstyle took center-stage with Jean Harlow's platinum blond, Rita Hayworth's redhead and Marlene Dietrich' brunette look, setting trends in the fashion industry. Women started wearing makeup closer to their natural complexions and the girl-next-door image was the most sought after in this period.
#3 The conservative age of 1950s
The hourglass figure made its appearance as 'sexy' in this era and was popularized by stars like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. These were not the times when one preferred showing a lot of skin and the aim of being sexy was to charm rather than seduce.
Peachy complexion was the preferred choice for ladies and they started curling their hair. Hairstyle meant keeping your hair wavy or curly and the length was supposed to be just below the shoulder. The one thing they swore by, was their prim and proper form as looking sloppy in public became unacceptable.
#4 The 1960s, era of the hippies and Twiggy
Twiggy became the style icon of this era and her pencil-thin look became an obsession for women around the world. On the other hand, the hippie culture also took center-stage with the casual look of bell-bottoms, tunics and platform shoes forming the opposite end of the fashion spectrum.
While the hippies preferred the low-maintenance and casual look, women at the other end were looking into short pixie cuts. Fake eyelashes, tarantula lashes and the use of mascara became popular and this era saw both the cultures evolve simultaneously.
#5 The disco era of the 1970s
The oversize sunglasses, high-waist jeans, and the 'Studio 54' look of Bianca Jagger became sexy as far as the fashion industry was concerned and women were adamant at looking thin. Disco made its appearance and the dresses became wrapped.
This era, further, made popular the bronzed beach look and brought into limelight the tanning booth trend. Bronzers, self-tanners and long feathery haircuts became sexy and women of this age swore by the Farrah Fawcett look.
#6 The material girl era of the 1980s
The emphasis on fitness was full blown in this era and aerobics became the craze. Women were expected to appear toned without looking muscular. Overdoing things became sexy with neon colors and large shoulder pads becoming the thing. Spandex was introduced in this era and it has still retained its use.
The bigger and louder one could appear, the sexier it was. Bright colors, large puffy hairdos, and the blue eyeshadows, courtesy Brooke Shields, was sexy and in the age of going over the top cans and cans of hairspray became the quintessential product on every shelf. Bushy eyebrows were yet another thing that was felt to be irresistible.
#7 The grunge and minimalism era of the 1990s
Flannel shirts and unkempt looks of the 90s saw the emergence of the grunge look which captured the attention of the fashion conscious people. Extremely slim figures and the chic trend became the look of the era and being super slim was super sexy.
The Rachel cut was the most sought-after hairstyle with Jennifer Aniston's character in Friends popularising it. The use of Lycra became commonplace and pierced belly buttons added to what was seen as truly sexy in this period.
#8 Post-2000 and the era of free choice
Sexy is what sexy does. Sexy, today has become more of a personal style statement than following a particular trend. Slim and toned figures are still considered sexy but that has not stopped the large-sized women from claiming their own place in the fashion world and with good reason.
Though the style is still being set by the top models of the age, people are growing more comfortable with their bodies and are accepting sexy as something which makes them feel sexy from within. And with rapid intermixing of cultures, trends today are changing more rapidly and what will be sexy tomorrow is anyone's guess.
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