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Fashion Flashback: A Look at Caribbean Style since the 1950s

by Maia Muttoo Dec 31, 2018

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From fedoras to pan-African prints and jheri curls, Yello takes you back in time with a look at Caribbean fashion since the 1950s.


Image via The Voice

Lightweight, modest styles were popular in the 1950s. Knee or calf length skirts and dresses in an A-line shape kept the look conservative, but airy. Square or structured handbags were worn for formal occasions, while traditional woven baskets were used for functional purposes. Men sported smart suits paired with fedora hats.


Image via the Jamaica Gleaner

While the conservative cuts of the 50s continued to be popular, international fashion trends also made their way to the Caribbean in the 1960s. Sheath dresses and boxier cuts were worn, as were hairstyles like beehives and straightened bobs.


Image via Large Up

1970s Caribbean fashion had a range of influences: the American civil rights movement and disco culture, the international fascination with Rastafarian culture, and popularity of reggae music. Men rocked bellbottom pants, polyester suits, and unbuttoned shirts, while women sported midriff tops and patterned scarves. Both wore their hair in natural afros, with thick sideburns for men.


Image via TnT Island

The 1980s were about bright makeup, heavy gold jewellery, jheri curls and shoulder pads. Pop and Hip Hop music culture had a big influence on fashion, introducing colourful spandex for women and baggy suits for men.


Image via Ozie B Entertainment

The baggy trend continued in the 1990s, and was sported by dancehall favourites like Shabba Ranks who often wore oversized suits. Round sunglasses, pan-African prints and relaxed hair also became popular throughout the decade.


Image via Buzzfeed

Caribbean culture became trendy worldwide in the 2000s, thanks to celebrities such as Sean Paul and Rihanna. Red, yellow and green made it to high-fashion runways and music videos. The early 2000s also brought back the 70s’ midriff tops for women; men wore smart vests over colourful button-downs and accessorized with embellished belts.

Sources: Gal Dem, Large Up, The Daily Mail, Jamaica Gleaner, and The Voice.