How Past Decades Shape and Style Our Lives

18/08/2016 08:31 | Updated 18 August 2016
Rolf Brenner via Getty Images

I can still remember the first time I saw a photo of my Mum from back in the Sixties.

With her cropped elfin hair and smokey eyes and dressed in the tiniest shift dress you can imagine, I physically gasped with wonder when I saw it.

Relaxing in the middle of a field, basking in the sunshine, she looks youthful, cool and utterly carefree and it remains one of my favourite ever snapshots of her.

If I ever needed style inspiration growing up, I would remember this photo too, often going to it for reference and although I haven't as of yet been brave enough to follow her lead and go for the classic elfin crop, my loyalty to the classic smokey eye and the mini skirt has remained.

But what is it about past style that has such an influence on our style today?

And I'm not just talking the Sixties. But the fifties too.

When I needed a dress to wear to a glamorous wedding a few years ago, I didn't opt for a fitted bodycon number like so many other female guests, but a fifties inspired dress with a huge circle skirt and waist belt. For me somehow, it felt more chic and appropriate.

Both decades have their own distinctive looks of course.

Fifties fashion was flirtatious, fun and unashamedly feminine. It highlighted and celebrated the female body with nipped in waists, huge skirts and tight fitting knits. Designs were bold, colourful and occasionally flamboyant.

Whilst the Sixties was the decade that broke many fashion trends.

At a time when women in particular were beginning to have a greater sense of freedom than previous generations, it's no surprise that this era mirrored the social trends at the time and gave us many of the classic items that we still love today such as the bikini, the mini skirt and knee high boots.

Independence and youth were the name of the game in the swinging Sixties, with designers finally giving young people affordable, fabulous fashion that they loved to wear.

And whilst the women were spoilt for choice with prints and shapes and new beauty trends, so too were the men with the 'mods' helping to influence the fashion for young men everywhere.

Socially, every decade has it's own stand out look but there is something about these two eras which make them stand out from the style crowd.

Something which makes us all go back to their influence time and time again whether it comes to our homes, clothes or motors.

Many of us, myself included, have a particular affinity to one of these decades, wishing we could have lived and experienced the decade for ourselves.

But that's not the only reason they continue to inspire and 'speak to us'. No.

Both decades continue to have huge appeal, because they provided us with chic, timeless examples of style which look amazing and effortlessly so.

There are no bells and whistles when it comes to Fifties or Sixties design, but a simplicity and elegance that is as modern and relevant today, as it is also retro.

The relevance of this era still holds true today and not just in terms of fashion. This styling era has held an evocative place in the western cultural psyche and continues to be referenced in our day-to-day lives.

You only have to look at contemporary cultural references with series like Mad Men harking back to the suave, stylish, yet gritty 50s/60s lifestyle which struck a chord with our affiliation to this era.

Upmarket home furnishings are now looking more vintage than ever. Classically-styled cars have rocketed in popularity and prevalence and the more traditional pursuits of baking, dancing and sewing all holding primetime spots on our T.V. screens.

So as I gaze at the Sixties inspired wallpaper in my kitchen with my Smeg fridge set against my contemporary white cupboards or rummage through my wardrobe to pick out a vintage shift dress for the day, I'm reminded that stunning design truly never goes out of style.

If it looks good and if it feels right, it will always have a place in our lives.

Katie Portman writes Pouting In Heels, an award winning parenting and lifestyle blog. You can sign up to her weekly newsletter here, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.