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From Baby Boomers to Gen Z: Understanding Generational Fashion Preferences

Posted on June 08 2023

From Baby Boomers to Gen Z: Understanding Generational Fashion Preferences

In the fashion arena, the quote "change is the only constant" plays a significant role in deciding the market, shopping preferences, and fashion statements. What is trendy today is passe tomorrow begets the article under discussion in this section. 

By now, all of us are cognizant of who is a Baby Boomer, Millennial, and Gen Z out of curiosity. Still, to break it, we lucidly highlight these terms so we understand the generational fashion preferences of these three distinct but thriving generations. 

Baby Boomer: 1946-1964

A baby boomer is typically born between 1946 and 1964 and is nearing retirement age. They were born after World War II, have massive purchasing power, believe more in the power of investing in FDs, and are a generation that lived most of their lives without the net.

Generation X: Born 1965-1980

Generation X was born during the reconstruction period of Europe and are workaholics and entrust finances to pension schemes and fixed deposits. They are driven by idealism and perfection by real-life influencers.

Millennials: Born 1981-1996

This generation saw the rise of technology and mostly had competition and career-driven. Millennials are critically acclaimed as narcissists, spoilt, pioneers of crypto, and inclined towards market-oriented financial planning rather than age-old saving schemes.

Generation Z: Born 1997-2012

Generation Z defines the current youth of the world and is distinctly different from their ancestors in how they dress, speak, and think. Classified as overtly sensitive, vocal, and broad-minded, Gen Z has earned criticism from millennials for their reliance on technology, quick gratification, and a super-casual approach to life. 

Knowing the distinction between each generation lets us highlight the shopping tendencies, fashion trends, or preferences across these generations.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are the most affluent and do not think before splurging on shopping. They rely on in-person purchases with that need for a human connection and being treated as a valuable customer. Their typical style was sporting mini and maxi skirts, shirts with large and noticeable collars, bell-bottom trousers, bikinis, and up-do hairstyles influenced by Twiggy Lawson, Brigitte Bardot, etc. 

Gen X

Generation X had a statement style characterized by shoulder pads underneath tops, leg warmers, leotards, designer sneakers, etc. Their fashion icons were Madonna, Cher, and Princess Diana. Women of this era sported popular hairstyles, namely Curtain Bangs, bobs and lobs, curls, The Rachel cut.


Millenials’ fashion style includes sportswear, dockers, cargo pants, slim-fit jeans, low-rise denim, long and short-sleeved t-shirts, graphic tees, long cardigans, body-fitting clothing, and a big no to loosely fitted apparel. Millennial haircuts were characterised by bangs, side partitions, beachy waves, and trimmed hair for men. Highly layered hair, chunky highlights, and hair poufs were a thing for millennials.

Gen Z

Gen Z dressing is distinctly different from all other generations. They prefer mid-rise trousers above the belly button, mama jeans, flared bottoms, graphic sweatshirts, oversized sweatshirts and t-shirts, hoodies, strong inclination towards athleisure, cropped tops and cardigans, co-ordinated sets, colourful prints across gender, inclusive dressing style and sustainable clothing. Their fashion icons are Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, etc. For hairstyle, Gen Z sports are strikingly different enough to be recognized as the cult that broke barriers. Girls and boys prefer the shaved side haircut, the bold pixie cut, the centre part, and the textured bob. 

We must notice that Gen Z is a generation highly influenced by social media marketing, and their idea of in-person shopping is to have a great time meeting friends, having a gala get-together, and not serious shopping. The prior generations were conditioned by colour, body size, and gender-strict dressing styles. Dark women applied fairness creams generously and wore uncomfortable tummy tuckers to show a slimmer waistline, people suffered in silence due to body shaming, and men were not allowed to wear pink. The current generation has more acceptance of body positivity and gender inclusivity and refuses to be confined inside fashion boxes and norms. 

Whether the side part looks ugly or the middle part looks funny is a debatable topic between millennials and Gen Z, but what is applaudable is the fact that fashion transforms beautifully across generations. Fashion drives the market, influences business revenue, and is boastfully flaunted by each generation. The debate of “ours was better than yours” will echo globally while the fashion industry capitalises on each transformation and trend curtly.