The Never-Ending Parade

We’ve always dressed for an audience. Rarely hidden behind steering wheels, anxious to escape our tiny homes, we’ve strutted and pranced and collided—the mainstream bumping into the subversive, the Birkin bag next to the B-boy—since before there were sidewalks. In the past 40 years, we’ve gone from long hair to big hair to flat hair, from giant shoulder pads to visible thongs, from blue jeans to … blue jeans, perpetually, as always, on parade.

The era of the really, really mini. Photo: Vernon Merritt III/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Afro, celebrated. 1970
The midriff, a focal point of the seventies. (right) Photos: Yale Joel/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images; Neal Preston/Corbis

Once the province of go-go dancers, white boots indicated modness. The Love Story effect. (right) Photos: Paul McDonough; Ernst Haas/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A widely imitated Jackie O. look: giant glasses, scarf-wrapped head. Photo: Joel Meyerowitz

A military-hippy mashup. 1974
Before it was a PETA target, fur was a status symbol. (right) Photos: Tim Boxer/Getty Images; Paul McDonough

Good-bye, business suit; hello, leisure suit. 1978
Everyone did the Annie Hall look, including Brooke Shields. (right) Photo: JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis; Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis

Late Seventies
In discoland, glam and girlish elements blended. Photos: Ebet Roberts; Cosmos Sarchiapone

Late Seventies
Club kids and punks. One wore Lycra, the other, leather. Photos: Arlene Gottfried; Ebet Roberts

The hourglass”puffy shoulders and a hip ruffle. Early Eighties
Post”Official Preppy Handbook, David Letterman’s rumpled chinos and rep ties were boyishly sexy, not dorky. Photos: Back In The Days, by Jamel Shabazz/Powerhouse Books; Everett Collection

Bare skin, bleached hair; nighttime’s hard edges became round-the-clock wear. 1981
Big shoulders! (center) 1983
And then there was that infatuation with the Southwest. (right) Photos: Patrick D. Pagnano (bleached hair, southwest); Jean Louis Atlan/Sygma/Corbis(shoulders)

Heavily accessorized and worn with jeans, the familiar tweed jacket became young again. Photo: Amy Arbus

Equally prevalent: uptight and tailored, or bulky Japanese-influenced layers. Photos: Amy Arbus

Adults wore cartoons, in all seriousness. 1988
Socialites were reliably glossy and exuberant in their silhouettes. (right) Photos: Patrick D. Pagnano; Ron Galella/Wire Image

Late Eighties
The Dress for Success era; no-nonsense suit, matching bag and briefcase. 1989
Big hair! (right) Photos: Ted Russell/Getty Images; George Rose/Getty Images

Tight, short, red, and worn with heels; this was evening glam. Early Nineties
And on the street, clothing barely touched the body. (right) Photos: Ron Galella/Wire Image; David Corio

Grunge. Nineties
Men’s underwear becomes outerwear. (right) Photos: Times Newspapers/Rex Features; Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times/Redux

The Never-Ending Parade