The Most Unflattering Fashion Trends Of The Past Century By Decade

Fashion sure is fleeting. One week everyone will be wearing a certain style of jeans or shirt, and the next week it might be embarrassing to be seen in it. There have been so many questionable fashion trends throughout history that should stay in the past. Here are a few of the worst.

1900s: Why Women Wore Corsets

Corset-like garments appeared as early as the 1600s, and corsets were very popular up to the early 1900s.

man tightening a woman's corset black and white photo
The Print Collector/Getty Images
The Print Collector/Getty Images

Women would wear them under their dresses in order to give the illusion of a smaller waist and larger bottom. Corsets have actually come back in style, but for more of an aesthetic look.

1910s: Hobble Skirts Were Very Impractical

By the 1910s, hobble skirts had become one of the top fashion styles for women.

Two women, visiting a dress salon, donning styles of the late 1900s, including broad-brimmed, ribboned hats, fur trimmed cloaks over ankle-length, slim-lined, hobble-skirt dresses, clutching purses with gloved hands, and wearing high-heeled shoes
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

These had a small opening at the bottom that would expand just a little bit so the woman was able to walk. The term “hobble” refers to how the skirts made it look like the woman was hobbling around while wearing them.

1920s: Cloche Hats Didn’t Flatter Anyone

About 100 years ago, it was pretty common to see women wearing cloche hats. These are fitted, bell-shaped hats, and the term “cloche” is French for bell.

two women in the 20s wearing cloche hats
Brooke/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Brooke/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

They started to reach their peak after about 10 years and came back into mainstream fashion in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. While similar to beanies, they ended up looking more like baby bonnets.

1920s: Bathing Suit Dresses Were The Opposite Of Stylish

The rules pertaining to bathing suits were considerably stricter during the 1920s, so women had to wear a lot more clothing than necessary in the water.

woman wearing a bathing suit dress in the 20s
Vintage-Stars/Flickr
Vintage-Stars/Flickr

This led to the appearance of the bathing suit dress. While the material was designed not to deteriorate when it got wet, they really didn’t flatter anyone who wore them.

1930s: T-Straps & Heeled Oxfords Weren’t Flattering

When it came to footwear in the 1930s, women didn’t have too many choices. Most women were always seen wearing high heels.

A man watching two women mock-boxing
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Some of the most unflattering shoes of the 1930s included the T-strap heels and heeled Oxfords. These styles caused women’s ankles to look a lot bigger than they actually were.

1940s: Try Not To Laugh At Mini Bowler Hats

The whole purpose of a hat is to cover someone’s head, so a miniature version just doesn’t make sense.

woman in 1940s wearing a mini bowler hat
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

One of the biggest fashion trends for women in the 1940s was the mini bowler hat. These were based on the semi-formal bowler hats. Bowler hats were first worn by working-class men and later became a formal style for the middle and upper classes.

1950s: You Weren’t Fooling Anyone With White Gloves

During the 1950s, women’s fashion was all about elegance. White is considered the color of purity, so white gloves soon became a norm among women.

Audrey Hepburn wearing white gloves in the early 1950s
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, or Marilyn Monroe could often be seen donning a pair, they were actually pretty impractical and distracting.

1950s: What Was The Point Of Poodle Skirts?

The poodle skirt originated in 1947, but really took off in the 1950s. These were wide, felt skirts that often featured a coiffed poodle on the front.

woman wearing a red poodle skirt standing text to a vintage car
P. Wallick/ClassicStock/Getty Images
P. Wallick/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Teenage girls would wear these to school or to dances because they gave them enough room to move. While they’re fun to look at, they’re pretty silly.

1960s: Throw Away Those Patterned Tights

As the world shifted into the 1960s, fashion was nothing like it had been before. One fashion trend that should be forgotten (but keeps coming back) is patterned tights.

models wearing patterned tights in the 60s
Philip Townsend/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Philip Townsend/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many of the clothing in the ’60s came with some wild patterns and/or neon colors. While the patterns may look okay on a small part of clothing, patterned tights could be overkill.

1960s: Fascinated With The Future

The 1960s were all about being experimental and one of the biggest trends to come out of that movement was futuristic clothing.

man and woman wearing space age outfits in silver vinyl in the 60s
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While it wasn’t as mainstream as tie-dye or bell-bottom jeans, it was certainly a style that hadn’t been worn in previous decades. The metallic colors soon faded away from ’60s clothing, but reappeared toward the turn of the century.

1970s: Those Ugly Sweater Vests

Even though sweater vests were one of the cringiest fashion trends of the 1970s, they have managed to return multiple times to mainstream fashion.

Donny Osmond wearing a sweater vest in 1972
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Sweater vests are simply sweaters without the sleeves and were typically worn over dress shirts or blouses. This photo shows a teenage Donny Osmond wearing one in 1972.

1970s: Men Actually Wore Jumpsuits

During the 1970s it was fairly common to not only see women wearing jumpsuits, but men doing the same.

A male model wearing a safari suit with a drawstring waist
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

They came in a wide array of colors and usually featured a bell-bottom fit in the legs. While this style certainly hadn’t been seen much before the 1970s, men should be glad it’s now outdated.

1980s: This Decade Should Apologize For Leg Warmers

There were some pretty wacky fashion trends during the 1980s. One of the wildest things women wore were leg warmers.

Christie Brinkley works out in a pink spandex unitard and leg warmers
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The 1980s brought on the fitness craze, so many people were going to exercises classes such as aerobics or Jazzercise. While some may have thought leg warmers tied the look together, they were sadly mistaken.

1980s: Bright Colors Were Everywhere At Once

Those who were around during the 1980s probably remember just how bright the clothes were. Someone might wear a green and purple jacket with red and yellow pants and no one would bat an eyelash.

model wearing an outfit with bright colors of yellow, blue, red, and white in the 80s
Daniel Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Daniel Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

While bringing color into your wardrobe can be fun, people should stay away from outfits that feature every color of the rainbow.

1980s: Everyone Remembers MC Hammer Pants

If MC Hammer’s song “U Can’t Touch This” brings back any memories, then you were probably around during the late ’80s and early ’90s.

mc hammer performing on stage
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

MC Hammer popularized a special kind of pants based on harem pants from the Middle East. These were high-rise baggy pants tapered at the ankle. He even came out with his own clothing line.

1980s: People Had The Audacity To Tie Sweaters Around Their Necks

Anyone who has watched a classic 1980s film or television show may notice a certain fashion trend, especially among men.

man with sweater wrapped around his neck
LMPC/Getty Images
LMPC/Getty Images

The men who considered themselves to be preppy, posh, or yuppy would often tie sweaters around their necks. This is certainly an outdated fashion trend that would make most people look foolish.

1990s: Butterfly Clips Were All The Rage

People were doing all kinds of crazy things to their hair in the 1990s and one of the weirdest was the butterfly clip trend.

butterfly clips in a man's hair
Stephen Zenner/Getty Images
Stephen Zenner/Getty Images

Girls would section their hair off with colorful and glittery butterfly clips, but it didn’t stop there. Butterflies started appearing on dresses, jeans, tank tops, and much more.

1990s: Popcorn Shirts Need To Be Removed From Shelves

At first glance, popcorn bubble shirts may look like they can only fit a toddler, but these shirts can really stretch.

girl wearing a popcorn shirt in the 1990s
Jenna Welch/Pinterest
Jenna Welch/Pinterest

These came in all sorts of colors and were popular among girls during the late ’90s and early 2000s. People should be glad these unflattering shirts haven’t come back in style.

2000s: Velour Tracksuits Were A Sign Of Status

As the world entered the 21st century, fashion kept changing with the times. One of the most memorable trends was the velour tracksuit.

paris hilton wearing a pink velour tracksuit
Jun Sato/ WireImage/Getty Images
Jun Sato/ WireImage/Getty Images

These were mostly worn by women and teens who came from upper-class households. Celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears would wear them often and they were a trademark look in the 2004 rom-com Mean Girls.

2000s: Ugg Boots Are So Basic

During the mid-2000s, it was pretty common to see women wearing Ugg boots or similar knock-off brands. While these were meant to keep people warm and toasty during colder months, they looked very clunky.

close up of brown ugg boots
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Also, women would wear them with shorts or mini-skirts, a look which became a symbol of the “basic” female.