One of the things that makes Nancy Drew such a kick-ass teen is that she always sports the current trends. No matter the decade, she’s always in vogue. So let's travel back in time through book covers of the past, to see how her fashion choices reflect the styles of the time.
Fashion in the '30s was very much inspired by glamorous Hollywood movies. The looks were long, sleek, and sophisticated. The short hemlines of the '20s flapper fad were lowered to mid-calf for the '30s ladies, but the necklines were also lowered for a more daring look. Ooh la la! Puffed sleeves were a big thing, as were brimmed hats, often worn at an angle. In this cover for “The Sign of the Twisted Candles” from 1933, Nancy looks like she’s stepped straight off the silver screen.
World War II had a huge influence on '40s fashions. Because material was rationed, skirts and dresses became shorter again, ending at the knee. There was also a patriotic trend, with the most popular color being Air Force blue and silhouettes having a sharp, almost military look to them – the dresses buttoned down the front, hugged the waist, and had square shoulders. Nancy looks ready to battle the bad guys in the 1946 cover for “The Mystery of the Tolling Bell.”
Once the war and rationing ended, it was time to celebrate hope and excess. Oodles of material was used to make full skirts and dresses that would poof out due to the petticoats underneath. Bold colors and fabulous collars were also trendy. To get away from sharp, military lines, the feminine form was emphasized, and sweaters became a popular item to show off a woman’s curves. In a decade where some of the most famous fashion items were below the waist – poodle skirts, bobby socks, and saddle shoes – it turns out most of the Nancy Drew covers only show her top half. In the 1951 cover for “The Clue of the Black Keys,” Nancy is rockin’ a bright sweater and collar, and you just know when she stands up her skirt poofs out perfectly.
The conservative looks of the '50s exploded into the psychedelic chaos of the '60s. Social movements were changing traditional outlooks, and the fashion choices mirrored that. Bright, swirling colors were everywhere. The mini-skirt stormed onto the scene often paired with tall, brightly colored boots. Although we again can’t see what type of skirt she’s sporting, Nancy definitely looks groovy on the 1967 cover of “The Clue in the Crossword Cipher.”
In the '70s, fashion became more casual and comfortable. Although some women had already been wearing pants, now women from all walks of life wore them. This sparked a trend in various kinds of suits: leisure suits, pant suits, jump suits and even track suits. In the 1978 cover of “Mystery of Crocodile Island,” Nancy looks far out as she comfortably tromps around a swamp.
Fashion of the '80s seemed to be about creating photos that would embarrass people later in life. Big hair. Leather. Neon colors paired in ways that hurt the eyes. Large, chunky accessories. And jeans of every flavor from acid-washed to ripped to high-waisted mom jeans. Nancy looks totally bitchin’ in this 1986 cover of “Secrets Can Kill.”
Grunge is probably the first thing that leaps to mind when people think about fashion of the '90s. The extremely casual look was inspired by grunge and alt rock bands and was very droopy, with baggy jeans, over-sized knit sweaters, Doc Martens, hiking boots, denim, and plaid flannel shirts as far as the eye could see. While this 1996 cover for “Skipping a Beat” is a bit dark, Nancy and her friends still look dope.
Have we had enough distance to identify the defining trends of the last fifteen years? Probably not. Plus, they have been a mishmash of styles from around the globe and a revival of styles from past decades. So for our cover representing the Nancy of the new millennium, here she is looking fabulous in the 2011 “California Schemin'.”