The way we wore: The 2010s in fashion

Closeup of blue vintage high-waisted mom jeans with black belt and black top isolated on white background. Flat lay.Top view.

If the 60s were all about the mini skirt and the 80s awash with shoulder pads, what will come to define the decade of fashion that’s just passed? Here are a few of the contenders… 

Athleisure

If any one trend influenced what we wore in the 2010s, it was this one. Suddenly, women were taking their Lululemons out of the gym and wearing them everywhere, even to the office. In 2017, US imports of stretchy knit pants surpassed imports of blue jeans for the first time — which explains why everyone you passed in the street that year was dressed in yoga pants.

Sustainability

Was this the decade when the fashion world finally woke up and got a conscience about the environment? New brands like Amour Vert, Everlane and Allbirds are all about their green credentials, and even fast-fashion labels are stepping up, with the likes of Zara promising to make all of its clothes from sustainable fabrics by 2025.

Gucci mania

Midway through the decade, an unknown designer shook up fashion as we knew it. Alessandro Michele’s first collection for Gucci, for Fall 2015, was a riot of joyful prints, vivid colors and geek-chic glasses. The fur-lined mules were a standout. Four years later, there’s a high chance that someone you know owns a Gucci camera bag or Double G belt.

Valentino Rockstud shoes

Whatever the occasion, the evening always ends with a pile of high heeled shoes in a corner of the dancefloor as everyone gives up and resorts to flip flops. There’s one exception: the Valentino Rockstuds. These iconic heeled sandals are famously comfortable — which is why wedding guests are still wearing them eight years after they were first introduced.

The Batsheva dress

Unlikeliest trend of the decade? Batsheva Hay’s Orthodox Jewish take on the prairie dress. When the New York lawyer-turned-designer asked a dressmaker to remake a vintage Laura Ashley dress in 2016, it chimed perfectly with the modest mood sweeping through fashion. Hollywood stars loved it, and the designer now shows at New York Fashion Week.

Mom jeans

After the 90s and 2000s, waistbands dropped so low that you risked exposing your thong every time you pulled on a pair of jeans; in the 2010s, they slowly crept back up again, with Levi’s even introducing an ultra high rise “ribcage” jean. The denim that defined the decade was the mom jean: an 80s-style tapered cut with a waistband that sat snugly around the belly button.

Inclusivity

The good news story of the decade has to be fashion’s push towards diversity. While there’s still a long way to go, black designers like Virgil Abloh and Olivier Rousteing are now at the helm of French fashion houses, while Ashley Graham, who became the first plus-size model to star on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue in 2016, is just one of the women busy smashing our preconceptions about what a model is “supposed” to look like.

Susannah Cohen
Susannah Cohen is a fashion journalist, e-commerce editor (specialist subjects: lingerie and diamonds) and Jewish mom. Recently relocated from London to the West Coast, she’s feeling a lot more spiritual these days.