Category Archives: Fashion Trends

The New Roaring Twenties

by Dale Peers

Here we come! The first 12 months of this new decade have certainly been tumultuous.  And, I wonder whether that means we are at just the beginning of another Roaring Twenties.

The pandemic has been an event of global proportions not unlike the first World War.  The “war to end all wars” involved multiple nations of the world, banding together in a fight that at times felt impossible but in which the human race ultimately prevailed.  The pandemic is mirroring that trajectory and we hope the brilliant medical minds of today will soon find a way for us to return to a more regular life.


The economy was seeing unprecedented positivity after the war.  And, as of this writing we are continuing to see stock market gains which exceed explanation in this time of political uncertainty in the United States.  Will there be a crash?  Hopefully the concerted efforts that many countries like ours made during the pandemic as well as lessons learned from the great Depression of the 1930s will prove to bolster economies to the point that we may avoid such dire financial circumstances. (

Restaurants and bars are certainly feeling the hardship of this time.  While their liquor sales are being restricted, we are at least not dealing with a Prohibition which was once the norm in our neighbours to the south.  The pandemic has curtailed celebrations in a way that might be deemed prohibition-like but imagine the scope of future celebrations when we can again gather in numbers greater than our “safe six” or “bubble of 10.”  (Image:

The 1920s was also a decade in which societal changes in terms of women made great strides.  What we are now looking for in this ‘20s decade is positive societal changes for people of colour, our Indigenous peoples, and all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Fashions for the “flappers” of the 1920s reflected their new won freedoms with shorter hem-lengths allowing for those great strides both physical and metaphorical.  Hair was “bobbed,” makeup was worn and the Clara Bow lip, in deepest red, transformed not only women but the Cosmetics industry.

The necessity of masks has seemingly overnight transformed this protective gear into a new fashion accessory and statement.  And, while the lipstick product category is taking a hit, the eyes (and ayes to wearing a mask!) have it.  Eyeshadow, liner, mascara, not to mention primers and eye creams are now the focus for many. (Image:

Masks are being produced in record number and are as simple or elaborate as the maker likes.  They haven’t escaped the fashion runway either.   Does this pearl encrusted mask by Christian Siriano remind anyone else of 1920’s fashion icon Coco Chanel? (


While the closing of borders might feel xenophobic the flip side of that coin is the focus on Canadian made.  We can foster greater success for our Canadian designers and manufacturers of fashion (and all consumer goods) by choosing to buy Canadian and to support our local makers and retailers. is an example of just one organization which virtually highlights Canadian designer fashion goods.

At Seneca you can support the Fashion Business and Fashion Business Management students by shopping on their new e-commerce site for The Boutique.  These fashion students are utilizing their skills in the new retail landscape they will soon be entering.  Go to: for the Pop-up store recently launched.

While current days are uncertain we must look forward to a new future.  May this be the beginning of a new Roaring ‘20s for Canadians and the Canadian Fashion industry.



Fashion Post Quarantine

By Dale Peers
Fashion is a reflection of zeitgeist and our current zeitgeist has undergone a paradigm shift. This pandemic has impacted lives globally and it continues to do so as we begin the process of emerging from quarantine.
We have seen after each major political, social, economic event in the past century a shift, an alteration, an influence on design and fashion. What will the impact of Covid 19 be on fashion?
Here are a few thoughts:

Comfort conformity

After weeks of “dressing” in our most comfortable of clothes will we be able to give up the softness of sweats, the cosiness of pjs, the luxury of shoelessness? “Athleisure” has been a fashion trend for the past few years and as we have found in video conferencing the need to dress up for work might have been reserved for the news/reporters we saw broadcasting from their home offices. But, were they secretly wearing the most comfortable “pants” they owned and which we would never see (unless they inadvertently forgot to close their video screen and got up from their desk!)?
Will comfort be acceptable in the new work world? 30 days is supposedly the length of time it takes for us to fully embrace a new habit. After nearly twice that time we are likely fully entrenched in a wardrobe that was previously reserved for Sunday mornings. Although we may want to get back to our place of work will we be able to remember how to dress according to a business code?

Full Frontal Formality
Or, have we had enough of schlepping around the house in those clothes. Are we so done with them that when firepit bands are lifted we will happily burn them?!
Will we want to look good and feel professional when this is over? Looking the part is advice that has long been given to the person who is being interviewed or the professional looking to climb a corporate ladder.
While “Casual Fridays” were a non-monetary perk for office workers when economic downturns occurred the practice of dressing down began to be questioned when people wondered whether true professionals, especially those working in financial institutions and legal arenas would be perceived as capable if they dressed so casually. And so, the upswing back to sartorial elegance began when those in upper management positions began again to dress more appropriately.
We have all watched the impact the pandemic has had on the economy. People may again consider whether there is a relationship between their financial advisor’s ability and her appearance. How casually dressed do you want your banking professional to be?
Our prime minister and premier show up for those daily reports in shirts, ties and suits. Their appearance says just how serious these days have been. They tell us not only in words that are to engender confidence but, in their appearance as well. They are serious about what we all need to do and look it.

Facial Masks and Makeup
We have already seen the necessity of wearing masks. These face coverings will become a new and necessary accessory and I have to wonder what that will mean to the beauty industry. The “lipstick” theory was one that explained the importance of this product on moral. It was deemed to have such an incredible impact that metal lipstick tubes were one of the few metal items that were exempt from rationing in the second world war.
Lips are now hidden behind masks and while these will become a new niche in the fashion accessory market they are not conducive to the wearing of lipstick. But, will eyes now become more than just windows to the soul? Will the beauty market place even more attention on eye shadow, liner, lashes and brows?

Proudly Patriotic
If there is one element of this pandemic that I hope will be fostered and strengthened by governments and consumers alike it is Made in Canada. Many politicians have praised our home grown entrepreneurs, designers, and manufacturers for stepping up, changing their production lines and creating the PPEs and hand sanitizer so desperately needed by our front line workers.
Clearly it is possible to design and manufacture in Canada. While we don’t need to become completely xenophobic the time has come when we need to respect the ingenuity of our people and the quality of the products that we can produce. There will be many people needing employment. There will be many opportunities to produce what we need and as patriots and consumers we can support these companies and our country.

Stay well and stay safe!

Fashion Rules

When these two words are used together, I hear two different meanings. On the one, Fashion Rules seems to need the punctuation of exclamation points and to perhaps be preceded by “Dude!” It is a call to those obsessed with the newest, the latest, the trendiest to confirm just how important fashion is in their lives. And, I do have to agree with them.

Fashion Rules! – because it is so important to the communication of our beliefs, our opinions, our social status, our definition of self that it can be the visual representation of “us”. As William Blake wrote: “….the human person is composed of three parts: body, soul and clothes.”
And so for some (many?) the choice of our fashion is rarely random. We take the time to consider how we are representing ourselves, even if all we are concerned with is being appropriately clothed for the weather.

But “Fashion Rules” can also be taken to mean defining what exactly “appropriately” clothed means.

I had a discussion about this topic with a recent donor and visitor to the Fashion Resource Centre. She and I were talking about the change in expectations regarding appearance. She told me about a recent event that two of her adult children had attended. The event was held outside at a very well-to-do couple’s home and before attending they were wondering what the other guests would be wearing and what they should wear. If it was a garden party should she wear a dress? And if so, what kind of dress? How “dressed” up should they be? How “casual” was too casual? As it happened when they arrived most guests had opted for jeans!


Not that long ago (ok maybe not that long ago if you are my age) there were Fashion Rules about what to wear to what occasion. We both decried the loss of those opportunities where “dressing up” was a requirement, not just from the perspective of acceptance by others but as a sign of respect to those you were with. The chance to wear a more formal dress or suit seems to be acceptable at very few occasions – prom, as parents of the bride/groom and if you happen to be a celebrity. (Maybe that is why there are so many of those dresses and gowns on racks in many department stores?)

I thought it might be interesting to look back at some of these no longer observed Fashion Rules.

When Prince Albert passed away his heartbroken wife Queen Victoria sunk into mourning in a way that we certainly no longer do. This became another way to show respect for family members who had passed but it was also a way to demonstrate to others your social status and wealth. The etiquette books dictated not only what you could wear but how long you should do so in order to show the proper respect.

The stages of mourning included: deep mourning which was to last a minimum of one year plus one day. All colour in your wardrobe was replaced with black and not just any black. It was necessary that all things with shine be put away too. Your lovely gold jewelry would be replaced with jet beads and mourning jewelry made of bog oak as well as hair (from the deceased of course). Your clothing had a matte rather than shiny finish to the fabric and you were draped in unrelenting black.

The next stage was Second Mourning and this lasted for an additional year. Black was still your colour but it could now be made of a fabric like silk which has a bit of shine to it.
After this came Ordinary mourning in which a bit of white might be added to your collars and the cuffs of your long sleeved dresses. This stage lasted a further six months.

And finally your last six months of mourning called Half Mourning would allow you to slowly (ever so slowly) to add colour to your wardrobe. But, this was also restricted to specific colours: white, grey (black mixed with white) and finally a mauve colour (grey mixed with purple).
This applied to women’s fashions and men were only required to wear a black arm band, and for considerably less time than the three years plus one day that women adhered to. This type of mourning ritual was thankfully reserved for those relations closest to you: your mother, father, siblings, and husbands.

However, if in the midst of this process, another close relation passed away you were expected to begin the process once again.

Hats were an essential part of a fashionable woman’s wardrobe until the Catholic Church decreed in the 1970s that women no longer needed to wear head coverings to church. Prior to this, women wouldn’t think about going to the grocery store, never mind church without a proper hat.
As well, beehive hair styles popular in the preceding decade had also made wearing hats something of a challenge and the young women of the 1960s also wanted to be less, rather than more like their mothers who had grown up with a wardrobe of headgear.


During World War II hats were one of the few items not subject to rationing and became a creative outlet for women to achieve a smart new look. There were different types and styles of hats appropriate seasonally as well as by occasion.


Dior’s New Look of 1947 influenced the silhouette through the 1950s and suggesting women who were fashionably attired did so by wearing accessories which matched and complemented their entire look and this became a very successful marketing strategy for the fashion house.

Looking at the silhouette created by the incredibly full, often pleated skirts of the 1950s, the large picture hat that is often shown with the New Look was the perfect complement from a design perspective. The female form is “bracketed” with a large circle created with the long and full skirt at her hem and with an almost equally large circle on the top of her head.


Speaking of sparkle, rhinestone jewelry that was so popular in the 1950s was also something that was generally worn “after 5.” While Marilyn Monroe sang “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” women wore rhinestones as an acceptable alternative. They could be found adorning not only bracelets, brooches and earrings but handbags, shoes and, of course, dresses. But, any of these worn before 5:00 looked decidedly out of place.



These are just a few examples of Fashion Rules that have disappeared, whether for good or bad is up to the individual to decide. And, while there are those who still live a life with the opportunity to dress for the red carpet I think it is sad that these folks are in the minority. Wouldn’t you love to have more occasions to wear a beautiful gown, with a wonderful hat, spectacular shoes and amazing bling?

Fashion does rule the day and in a very different way now than in the past.

Dale's signature

Slow Down Fast Fashion

Browsing through a magazine today,  I came across what is not really news, nor a really a new movement but one that has become more a part of the way we are choosing to eat.  The article discussed the concepts of dining close to where the chef has a farm, or “farm-to-table” and savvy shoppers who fill their grocery carts with food that is not only wholesome, organic and good for them but is produced in a way that is good for animals and the environment alike.  You too may know the concept of sustainability as one that has become trendy in the food world.

What has this to do with fashion?  The concept of fashion and sustainability is also one that is not really news but has begun to become a movement that will hopefully become as important to us as the attention we are paying to feeding our bodies.

It is important to remind ourselves that there are 7 billion people currently on earth,  and the vast majority made up of societies who deem wearing clothing a necessity,therefore  the fashion industry is as important to humans as the food industry.  One of the inherent characteristics of fashion is that it involves change.  And, as so many people tell us – “Change is Good!”  This adage might help someone who is balking at the idea of accepting a new technology into their business lives, but is a motto that few fashionistas need to be given?

The speed of change is something else that we should examine.  If change is good does it necessarily mean that it must occur immediately?  Our initial answer may likely be a resounding yes!  We seem to have little patience anymore for the light to turn green, for the song to upload, for the app to open.  We want everything to happen quickly and no better example of that in the fashion world is what has been deemed “Fast Fashion”.

Fast fashion has certainly contributed to a fashion addiction for many.  The need to have the newest and trendiest is not necessarily a new concept but the possibility of that being available to anyone with $14.99 is what has enabled us to become the ultimate consumers.

Gobbling up a new product every two to three weeks was not possible, even five years ago.  Slow fashion meant that there were new fashions but it took much longer for those trends to diffuse through society.  The production of merchandise was slower and I would suggest it was better for this lack of speed.  The quality of the product was definitely superior to some of the merchandise available to us today.  This superiority also meant that the longevity of the product was assured.

In the not so far off past, there were items in everyone’s closet that they kept for years because the style was deemed to be classic.  The LBD as proposed by Coco Chanel is a perfect example.  Our Fashion Resource Centre has many wonderful examples of these Little Black Dresses for exactly that reason – they were classic, could be worn for a number of different occasions and by more than one person in the family!


Dresses from Seneca Fashion Resource Centre

In examining some of today’s fast fashions, there are few that I could say “need” to be added to our Fashion Resource Centre. In fact, I’m not sure that they would ever make it to the collection as the quality of the product is so poor that it is likely to be discarded by a wearer rather then them thinking it would make a good donation.


Dress from Seneca Fashion Resource Centre

Earlier periods in the history of fashion production attempted to create patterns that would be as economical in the use of the fabric as possible. During WWII “Utility Dressing” was a movement of British fashion designers to create fashionable and utilitarian garments for women during a period when rationing was required. Today the wastefulness to be found not only in the cutting of fabric but in the use and pollution of natural resources is appalling.

Customers paid dearly for the garments they purchased in times past and this might have been one of the reasons for the slower diffusion of fashion trends. They paid for the artistry of the designers as well as the producers of the actual garment. Today, men, women and children are paid wages that are as close to slave labour as it is possible to be. And, these business practices are fueled in part by the consumers who demand low prices and fast fashion.

It is not simply the Little Black Dresses that prove interesting in the study of fashion. The attention to detail that designers and manufacturers considered important to their reputation as well as to the comfort of their clients is important to examine. When we look at the care to ensure that each tiny pleat has been added with mathematic precision to add the desired fullness to a skirt or the exacting placement of each bead, rhinestone and thread in the embroidery of a gown we admire not only the symmetry, the decoration and the artistry but the passion that fueled the need to create such a thing of beauty.

Although we have the ability to create fast fashion there is a need, and hopefully a desire among designers and consumers to pause and consider the value of slow fashion. The fashion industry needs to feed the soul with the beauty of a unique garment, lovingly created and done so with the least impact on human beings and the endangered environment.

Dale's signature