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Top 3 Fashion Trends Popularized from Black Culture

This blog is the tenth installment of UIC Radio’s Black History Month series profiling and celebrating the work of Black artists throughout the month of February. To read the previous entry in this series, click here! For more information regarding Black History Month at UIC and the many upcoming events planned over the next several weeks, visit the Black History Month Student Planning Committee’s webpage here.

Oversized Clothing

Oversized clothing in the United States became popularized as hip-hop artists started to wear baggy clothes in their street performances to strengthen the connection to the audience during the ’90s. This was because people in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, had many communities who wore hand-me-downs. Furthermore, it did not necessarily end at street performance, whereas hip-hop fashion mainly contained oversized shirts and pants. These interactions and efforts towards the general audience slowly paid off as the baggy style fashion as well as hip-hop slowly made its way towards Hollywood through the support of the media. Although this oversized clothing style was not created by black culture, it was definitely the one to popularize and make it mainstream. This recognition is especially important during today’s time as the 90s “street style” clothing was back in trend within the recent years of summer.

Here is the comparison of the hip-hop fashion of the past compared to now:





In the past:

TLC wearing their iconic baggy clothing, usually with a tight shirt/bralette in the 90s.






Aaliyah, a famous hip-hop artist during the 90s, wearing her usual baggy/oversized bottoms in 90s.



Now:

Oversized shirts matching with loose mom jeans or street style sweatpants.



Hailey Bieber, a famous American model, wearing the same style of overalls as Aaliyah from back in the 90s, proving the oversized look is still in trend in recent years.


Bella Hadid and other models wearing the “oversized” looks during recent years.

Long Nails

The association of long nails with beauty and wealth had already existed long before the creation of the United States. However, acrylic nails were created during the ’50s with the technology of dentistry in the United States. It became even further known when Donyale Luna, an African American supermodel, first wore them in Tween magazine in 1966. Then, acrylic nails were associated with disco during the ’70s as iconic disco queens, such as Diana Ross and Donna Summers, wore them themselves. However, it made its true impact when Florence Griffith Joyner, the fastest woman of all time, wore her long nails during her competitions as an African American athlete in the United States. Finally, it became more mainstream as many other famous and distinctive music artists in black culture wore long lavish nails during the ’90s, such as SWV singer Coko Clemons and Millie Jackson.

In the past:

Left: Coko Clemons. Right: All members of R&B group SWV

Florence Griffith Joyner

Millie Jackson

Now:

Many female celebrities (Ariana Grande on top left; Cardi B on top right; Billie Eilish on the bottom) wearing long acrylic nails.

Hoop Earrings

Hoop earrings became an essential item during the time of the Black Panther movement in 1960s America. Many African American women wore it as an accessory, especially because it went well with Afrocentric dresses for celebrations and such other events. Then, during the 1970s, hoop earrings became more popular through America’s disco era via Diana Ross and Cher. To go forth, 1980s hoop earrings were still in demand as they were commonly used for hip-hop in black culture. Finally, during the ’80s, hoop earrings started to take different forms in sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. Even now, hoop earrings are commonly used and liked in many fashion circles. 

In the past:

60s style hoop

70s Hoops (Pam Grier, a popular African American actress)

80s Hoops (Diana Ross, a famous African American Singer)

Now:

Different famous and high fashion models wearing hoop earrings.


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