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August 2003

Fads and Pop Culture—Magazines

cover of Vogue

Magazines are a great place to trace fads and experience American pop culture through the decades.

Women wore hats of all sizes trimmed with feathers and netting, carried fur mufflers, and wore loose fitting dresses and suits. Spats were the footwear fad worn in the winter. Vogue magazine July–September 1920 illustrates the fads of 1920s women’s fashion. (Library has Vogue 1902 to present)

Jean Harlow’s ‘platinum blonde’ hair (a term Howard Hughes coined upon meeting her) sets fashion trends as she graced the cover of Time magazine August 19, 1935. Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, and Fred & Ginger all came out with movies that summer. (Library has Time 1923 to present)

Practical suits with generous shoulder pads, toeless sensible high heels, and gloves were the fashion for women. Many men wore military uniforms. Idealistic Norman Rockwell paintings often graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post as one did on September 15, 1945. (Library has The Saturday Evening Post 1821 to present)

Two-toned cars sporting bright colors like turquoise, red, and yellow were the rage. Women wore pillbox hats with trim, boxy suits, or feminine Capri pants. American culture of the 1950s is colorfully depicted in Life magazine August 1955. (Library has Life 1885–2000)

Mini-skirts and psychedelic colors were everywhere. Clothes, furniture, wallpaper, and shag carpets were bright orange, fluorescent green, and sunny yellow. Yes, the 1960s can be found in Glamour August 1968. (Library has Glamour 1965 to present)

The ‘Big Red Machine’ dominated baseball in the mid 1970s. Aspiring young baseball players across the country wanted to play like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey, and Joe Morgan. The 1976 World Series issue is in Sporting News October 23, 1976. (Library has Sporting News 1886 to present)

Star Wars, who shot J.R., and Glam rock bands were all part of the pop culture of the 1980s, written about and photographed in People magazine, July–September 1980. (Library has People 1974 to present)

Rap music, oversized clothes, and Hip Hop music and culture increased in popularity in the 1990s. Stars like Tupac Sakur, Puff Daddy, Wu-Tang Clan, and Mary J. Blige were featured in Vibe magazine February–July 1995. (Library has Vibe 1993 to present)

Current titles reflect the latest fads. Some interesting titles the Library has are: Elvis International Forum, MAD, PSM: Playstation 2 Magazine, Paperkuts: Scrapbook Magazine, Top of the Pop, Transworld Skateboarding Magazine, and Slam.