Denim Through the Decades, From the 1950s to Today

Pile of jeans

 

For most of us, denim pieces are staples in our wardrobes! And now with casual Fridays, denim is no longer saved for weekend-wear or worn for dirty work activities. Thanks to the originators of denim, brands like Levi, LEE, and Wrangler, denim jeans are one of the most popular styles worn in the world. Let’s take a look at denim throughout a few decades!

 

Where it all began

Demin first came into the fashion industry during the 19th century during the civil war. Laborers, farmers, cowboys, and miners originally wore denim jeans due to the tough fabric made for wear and tear. Jacob Davis, a Russian-Jewish tailor, and American immigrant is credited with inventing jeans in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1871. The company created their first ever pair of Levi 501 jeans in the 1890’s and became the world’s best-selling item of clothing worldwide.

The Gold Rush & Levi's
The Gold Rush & Levi’s

 

Now, let’s head over to the 1950’s

Jeans became the trend of the “bad boy” culture that was very popular. In 1953 Marlon Brando wore a pair of Levi 501 Jeans in “The Wild One” starting a linkage between rebels and denim which led to denim jeans being banned in some public schools in America. Whoa!  Also, various types of jeans came into fashion during this time, black denim, cuffed jeans, and light washes were very popular styles for men. One of the most popular looks in the 50’s was wearing straight leg denim jeans with a leather jacket and a pair of converse shoes.

Marlon Brando Marlon Brando

leather and denim

1960’s & 70’s

Denim increased in popularity through the hippy era in the 60’s. Hello, flare jeans and bell-bottoms! This free-spirit look created a relaxed, cool look that swept through the country. Middle-class students began wearing denim as a form of non-conformist attitude. Flares carried on into the 70’s becoming more radical and extreme in combination with platforms shoes. By 1979, skin-tight trousers were much more in vogue, led by the punk rock era.

Sonny and Cher in Bell Bottoms
Sonny and Cher 1970’s

Bell Bottoms

The Ramones
The Ramones album cover, Rocket to Russia, 1977

1980’s

The normal blue denim jeans were altered and transformed into pastel color jeans and became very popular during this time. Ripped jeans were seen move on the street as everyday wear. High-waisted loose pants were very fashionable as well as embroidered jeans. It was during this decade that designers started taking denim more seriously and it began appearing in catwalks.

My Favorite Decade, the 90’s

Head to toe denim became the trend with overalls and dungarees. With the growth of hip-hop came the baggy jeans and sagging denim fashion phase. Low-rise style denim jeans became popular also. Denim continued through the 90’s with the grunge trend. This trend consisted of torn up jeans that showed more skin! In 1996, women’s bell-bottoms were reintroduced to the mainstream public, as “boot-cut” trousers, a slimmer flare pant. The boot-cut style remained popular, dominating the fashion world for the next 10 years.

TLC in Baggy Denim
TLC in Baggy Denim
Wayne's World in Denim
Wayne’s World Movie, 1992

Denim Today

Our current style consists of every imaginable style of denim. Nowadays, we see embellished, ripped high rise jeans, bleached jeans, saggy jeans, flare jeans, skinny jeans, jean skirts, overalls, jean miniskirts and much more. Denim is the staple in most wardrobes and it is here to stay.

Flared and Frayed
Pull&Bear Fray And Flare Jean $48
Patches and Embroidery
MOM High Waist Slim Mom Jeans with 3D Embroidery $60
High Waist Jean with Extended Hem
Replay High Waist Jean with Extended Hem Detail $229
Cropped Wide leg denim jeans
Sammi Cropped Raw Hem Wide Leg Jean $55

What’s your current favorite denim trend/style? 

43 COMMENTS

  1. I love that the same styles keep circling back every once in a while. This was a fun look back at all of the styles.

  2. The ripped jeans are definitely back from the 90s! I think through the years, jeans has always been one of my fave pieces of clothing, it’s always comfy and it’s perfect for the different seasons that we go through.

  3. I actually had no idea about the history of denim so this was a really interesting read! I practically live in my jeans, especially since it is winter here right now in Australia

  4. We weren’t allowed to wear denim in my high school! Though I went to a private school so that might explain it. We had a long list of things we couldn’t wear. It is funny to think that jeans started with farmers and nobody from “society” would ever have been caught in them. And now they’re one of the most fashionable clothing items.

  5. I have always loved denim and it was pretty cool seeing how it was styled through the years! It’s just the perfect casual clothing item especially during the Spring and Summer!

  6. I have always loved denim, but the one thing I think of is the Justin Timberlake and Brittany Spears full denim suits they wore in like the early 2000’s. Good denim can be classic, as long ad it isn’t overdone lol

  7. Wow! Jeans have certainly transformed over the decades, but it’s interesting to note that they remain the most popular material!! This was a lot of information- thanks!

  8. I was a 70s teenager and I loved my 501 button front Levis. I wore them consistently through high school. We used to embroider them up with daisies and vines. So many memories! My mom was a 50s teenager and I have the cutest picture of her in rolled up jeans.

  9. This is so cool. It brought back my Fonzie days where I tried to dress like the cast. And then my Cher days where I tried to dress like that era lol. Yep, I’m telling my age here.

  10. I mostly wear skinny jeans – I don’t like the other styles on me and often find it difficult to get them long enough. The best thing with skinny jeans is that if they are too short you can roll them up at the bottom to make cropped jeans instead!

  11. Wow!! This is a great post on denims. I truly didn’t know so much. Thanks so much for sharing this information.

  12. This is such a cool post! Makes me think of how my grandmother always calls jeans “dungarees” The first time she said the word I had no clue what she was talking about lol! So wild to see how denim has changed over the years

  13. That’s awesome to see how much denim has evolved. I definitely love a nice pair of denim shorts for the summer with a little rip in them.

  14. What a fun post! I have the toddler jeans my dad wore when he was a child and both my daughters wore them too. Good quality denim definitely lasts and it’s awesome when it can get passed down through the family.

  15. I really enjoyed reading this post! My sister-in-law is a fashion editor, so I am going to share this with her because I know she will love it too!

  16. I really love the distressed denim trend. Although I have yet to find the perfect pair for my short legs. Mostly, though I love seeing how all of the trends of the past seem to be popular again today.

  17. This was a really cool post! I shared it with my kids and they were like “WHOA” then they asked if I wore jeans all over… “It’s a no from me”… Hahahaha! No but really, I love jeans, it took me a while to get on the skinny jean bandwagon, but now that I’m on I don’t think I’ll come off, I agree that they just work with almost everything and I like wearing converse so being able to roll them up makes life easy. LOL Plus, they are comfy in the kitchen. 😉

  18. This is such an interesting post! Although I like the ripped denim look on some it’s not for me! I’ve been really into the denim mini skirt trend coming back though!

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