Clothing quality and style gone down over the years?

soulsurfer88

Member
Jan 25, 2011
174
39
Brooklyn,NY
I've been venturing on to a lot of fashion forums and message boards and this notion has remained consistent and been repeated among many mature and middle aged women. From a few forums

"Then again I think most stores have gone downhill a bit in terms of clothing quality and style in my lifetime, but that's another topic. Macy's has only followed the same downhill pattern of everything else, IMO." From a woman who said she was in her 50's.

"and I think alot of the clothes out today are ugly."by Stinghay on Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:44 am

So my question is what was it about the clothing quality and moreover styles that made them 'better' in previous years/generations? Just very curious as a young woman getting in to fashion.
 

AEGIS

lettin' them have it
Nov 29, 2010
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since the 80s was a horrible decade fashion wise, i cannot take anyone seriously who thinks the 80s were better fashion wise than now.
 

vhdos

Member
May 18, 2007
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US
As the population increases, so does demand. It's not reasonable to expect the same sort of quality when the demand is much higher than it used to be. As far as style is concerned, I think that they have all been unique in their own ways. I wouldn't necessarily say that any one style is more "ugly" than any other. There are certain styles that I don't particularly care for (like bell bottom pants for example), but that doesn't make them ugly - it just makes them different...
 

Hessefan

O.G.
Sep 14, 2009
2,417
514
If we are strictly talking about quality not the look of clothing, then I easily believe the quality has gone down.
A lot of my clothes are from the 1940s and 50s, and some of them are obviously used but in immaculate condition. I can't imagine my modern clothes will still be usable in 60-70 years from now.
I also sew a lot, as did many people back then, and from a tailoring perspective a lot of clothes were structured and sewn better, so they last. Most of us now don't expect to wear the same clothes for years and years, because mass-produced clothing has become so affordable and easy to get.
My grandparents or even parents when they were young would have only had one small wardrobe or dresser with a few items that had to last. So the materials and construction was of better quality. Also, how many people nowadays still mend their clothing when it rips or breaks, darns their socks, sews a new suit out of old clothes?
The modern retail industry wants us to buy a new coat every year and new clothes all the time - that's what they depend upon. Clothes are made cheaply for a larger profit and to ensure people keep spending on new clothes.
 

Cait

only once you live
Dec 11, 2005
4,973
3
If we are strictly talking about quality not the look of clothing, then I easily believe the quality has gone down.
A lot of my clothes are from the 1940s and 50s, and some of them are obviously used but in immaculate condition. I can't imagine my modern clothes will still be usable in 60-70 years from now.
I also sew a lot, as did many people back then, and from a tailoring perspective a lot of clothes were structured and sewn better, so they last. Most of us now don't expect to wear the same clothes for years and years, because mass-produced clothing has become so affordable and easy to get.
My grandparents or even parents when they were young would have only had one small wardrobe or dresser with a few items that had to last. So the materials and construction was of better quality. Also, how many people nowadays still mend their clothing when it rips or breaks, darns their socks, sews a new suit out of old clothes?
The modern retail industry wants us to buy a new coat every year and new clothes all the time - that's what they depend upon. Clothes are made cheaply for a larger profit and to ensure people keep spending on new clothes.
:goodpost:

I always think back to the scenes in Death of a Salesman - when Mrs. Loeman is re-sewing (or I guess darning) her hoisery. I get pantyhose were apparently more expensive back then, but I can't imagine ever doing that now to my el-cheapos after they run.
 

Julide

Ahh Money Penny...
O.G.
Aug 23, 2007
18,141
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If we are strictly talking about quality not the look of clothing, then I easily believe the quality has gone down.
A lot of my clothes are from the 1940s and 50s, and some of them are obviously used but in immaculate condition. I can't imagine my modern clothes will still be usable in 60-70 years from now.
I also sew a lot, as did many people back then, and from a tailoring perspective a lot of clothes were structured and sewn better, so they last. Most of us now don't expect to wear the same clothes for years and years, because mass-produced clothing has become so affordable and easy to get.
My grandparents or even parents when they were young would have only had one small wardrobe or dresser with a few items that had to last. So the materials and construction was of better quality. Also, how many people nowadays still mend their clothing when it rips or breaks, darns their socks, sews a new suit out of old clothes?
The modern retail industry wants us to buy a new coat every year and new clothes all the time - that's what they depend upon. Clothes are made cheaply for a larger profit and to ensure people keep spending on new clothes.
I would love to see some of your clothing. It sounds beautiful!:flowers:

I was looking at a jacket earlier this year, I always have to have the shoulders let out or buy the next size up and have everything else taken in. They only had my size and not the next size up. When looking at the seam allowances, there was none!! I could have not even got an 1/8 of an inch from the seams! Totally crazy! This was a designer jacket too! I think the price was around 2000. For that price you would think there would be a generous seam allowance.
 

HauteMama

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O.G.
Sep 22, 2006
11,481
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I do believe that quality has gone down, but that has to do with profit margins, IMO - cheaper materials, outsourcing labour, mass production techniques, etc. As for style, older women will invariably dislike newer styles because one's fashion sense is generally set by a certain age. But there were just as many, if not more, fashion disasters in the past as there are today. Most of the 70's and 80's were atrocious. So style depends on the person and what they like, but while some of the styles of the past were fabulous, just as many were horrible - just like today.
 

Princess Pink

Member
Oct 3, 2007
2,192
7
I agree that absolutely quality of clothing, shoes has gone down. I think though the consumer has brought this upon themselves, wanting more and more, too many 'cheap' mass produced items selling in identical stores - the stock in one store doesn't change so much from the stock in the same store, different location. Boring!
When I was a child and teen, it was a 'treat' (Christmas or Birthday) to get new clothes. Now it seems to be a weekly purchase!
Yes, styles have gone down, but again I think its because of the consumer, most places you go nowdays I think people look scruffy in general. I guess it depends on where you live but very rarely I would see someone out looking 'polished' and smart, like they've made an effort. Many times I've been overdressed even for going out for dinner. Went to a show in NYC and was disappointed that no-one had dressed up for a no.1 Broadway show! I wore a LBD and was obviously out of place. Some people were wearing what I would consider 'round the house' clothes!
 

OlgaMUA

Style is Eternal
May 18, 2008
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Little Rhody
www.makeupandimage.com
Went to a show in NYC and was disappointed that no-one had dressed up for a no.1 Broadway show! I wore a LBD and was obviously out of place. Some people were wearing what I would consider 'round the house' clothes!
disgusting.. isn't it?

If you know anything about sewing, it's easy to see how poorly some things are made these days.

When I was a little girl, I had maybe 2 dresses for church/dress up occasions.. and that was it.. clothes were meant to last. But people want disposable clothing these days and the prices to match.. something's gonna give.
 

Eva1991

Member
Oct 12, 2011
5,022
566
Europe
The quality has def gone down, a lot...
Nowadays, almost every piece of clothing is machine-made (with the sole exception of some haute-couture pieces), while in the past most of the clothes were hand-made and sewn by professionals, who paid much more attention to detail than machines do. Plus, the clothes were made "sur mesure", which meant the fitting was excellent. There weren't any "too loose" or "too tight" areas.

The style has gone down as well... Though I'm only 21, I love the fashion of the 50s-60s, not only style-wise, but mainly elegant-wise. Women in the 60s were dressed immaculately. No jeans and masculine looks. Just cute skirts and dresses. I wish I could wear a different dress every day, but unfortunately I can't because my life-style (college student) isn't very dress-friendly and I don't wanna look odd in a college full of students dressed in jeans and sweaters - I've even seen students dressed in pijama-looking outfits!!!!:shocked::shocked::shocked:

I went to a party a couple of days before Christmas where I was the only one dressed appropriate (at least in the way I perceive "appropriate" party-dressing). I wore a pair of skinny black pants (not jeans), a black silk shirt, a black blazer and a pair of 120 mm heels. Oh! I wore a coat as well - a black one (was going for the classic total black look) with some fur details on the neck area. I also carried a black satin clucth. When I got inside the house the party was, I instantly felt really awkward. I was waaaaaay over - dressed! All the other female guests (20 up to 30-something) were in jeans, turtle-necks, UGGS, parkas and messenger bags or totes!:wtf::wtf::wtf: There was only ONE lady (25 years-old approximately) who wore a nice mini skirt and a pair of high-heels! Imagine how I'd feel if I had worn an LBD I initially planned to wear.

Most people are dressed down these days, even on special occasions, like dining out in fancy restaurants, going to the opera or even attending a wedding. This actually makes people who dress occasion- appropriate to feel over-dressed, while the others are the ones falsly dressed (under-dressed)!!!
 

HauteMama

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Sep 22, 2006
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As far as style of the general populace goes, I think clothing has definitely become more casual. But that is different, IMO, from saying that styles in general are inferior to the past. There are plenty of beautiful dresses and dressy clothing in stores for those who want it; it is just that most people don't want it.

I live near a resort area, and while I understand that the restaurants and entertainment venues there need to cater to vacationing people, I am disgusted that people will go to nice restaurants in sweats or swimsuit cover-ups. While there are plenty of waterparks, it is NOT a beach area, nor do people on the street there commonly wear swimwear. It is a direct result of being lazy. It's a shame that I am the one who needs to feel out of place by wearing a nice dress and shoes to a nice restaurant, but I wear what I think is appropriate. In the past, I doubt that restaurants like these would have even allowed anyone in without a shirt and tie, but oh how times have changed. Or maybe I am just a neo-phobe because I lament the changing of the language and "text speak" being viewed as appropriate in many places, too. I am just getting old and curmudgeonly!
 

Hessefan

O.G.
Sep 14, 2009
2,417
514
I would love to see some of your clothing. It sounds beautiful!:flowers:

I was looking at a jacket earlier this year, I always have to have the shoulders let out or buy the next size up and have everything else taken in. They only had my size and not the next size up. When looking at the seam allowances, there was none!! I could have not even got an 1/8 of an inch from the seams! Totally crazy! This was a designer jacket too! I think the price was around 2000. For that price you would think there would be a generous seam allowance.
Thank you! :flowers:

To be honest, I now often see clothes I really like but which are either badly made, not my size, or expensive for what they are and think I could make that. I have in fact made myself copies of dresses I couldn't afford at the time.
For $2000 you could easily take a photo on your camera and have a tailor or seamstress make it for you.
 

Julide

Ahh Money Penny...
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Aug 23, 2007
18,141
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Thank you! :flowers:

To be honest, I now often see clothes I really like but which are either badly made, not my size, or expensive for what they are and think I could make that. I have in fact made myself copies of dresses I couldn't afford at the time.
For $2000 you could easily take a photo on your camera and have a tailor or seamstress make it for you.
HesseFan I agree with you, a talior would be a better investment. Sadly I have never had a piece made from the tailors in my area. I have no experience *but plenty of ideas!!:P* Any suggestions would be welcomed.:flowers:
 
Dec 18, 2007
1,950
1
California
Agreed quality has gone down. Clothing has been getting more and more unstructured over the years.

What happened to having darts and anything resembling shaping in general? It used to be there and was not always confined to couture clothing.

Soon wearing "pillowcase" dressing will be considered the norm - 2 seams and you're done! :P

The 70's and 80's were bad I agree, but at least they have held up enough that they are being sold today in vintage shops.
 

HauteMama

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Sep 22, 2006
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^ I think body shape has a lot to do with this. Americans as a whole have been getting heavier, and fitted clothing is often less comfortable for those who are heavier. Darting can easily fall in the wrong place if a person needs to size up for their waist and their bust isn't exactly proportional to how the manufacturer made the dress. This is partly why artificial fabrics are so popular as well; they use polyester, knits and spandex to create stretch, which reduces the need for seaming to create shape.