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In my research I came across this theory developed by James Laver and thought I would share it.  It is very interesting to think about, both in a modern context and historically.  Theorists also developed the principles of fashion and dressing: the Hierarchical Principle (dressing to indicate one’s position in society), the Utility Principle (dressing for warmth and comfort), and the Seduction Principle (dressing to attract the opposite gender).  Of course, these are more applicable to history because nowadays there would be a few more to add, perhaps including the Expression Principle (dressing to express one’s personality) and the Cultural Principle (dressing according to one’s culture, traditions, or lifestyle).  Anyway, here is Laver’s theory:


James Laver’s Law of Fashion

  • 10 years before its time:  indecent
  • 5 years before its time:  shameless
  • 1 year before its time:  daring
  • current fashion:  smart
  • 1 year after its time:  dowdy
  • 10 years after its time:  hideous
  • 20 years after its time:  ridiculous
  • 30 years after its time:  amusing
  • 50 years after its time:  quaint
  • 70 years after its time:  charming
  • 100 years after its time:  romantic
  • 150 years after its time:  beautiful

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I will be starting up this blog soon for a project for english.  It will document my exploration of this subject and my findings and research.  Hopefully it will cover all the major time periods in all the main cultures of Western Europe, including the Medieval Era, the Renaissance, the Colonial Era, and the Victorian Era.  I can’t wait to learn more about European fashions!

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