Soda Culture: Look(s) What You Made Me Do
By Sean Tran
Since her self-titled first album debuted in 2006, Taylor Swift has been at the forefront of American popular culture. As both Taylor’s music and image have evolved from country sweetheart to serpentine superstar, so has her fashion. In celebration of her sixth studio effort, reputation, and its style trends (so far), each of Swift’s albums and eras have shown that regardless of if the old Taylor is dead or alive, she never goes out of style.
Taylor Swift (2006-2008)
At just 16, Swift burst onto the scene as a country music starlet. Sporting her signature long blonde curls, she loved to wear fun, flowing dresses with a set of cowboy boots. Likewise, on the red carpet, Swift remained feminine and glamorous, choosing to accessorize floor length gowns with matching gloves. On occasion, she might have been seen with a darker eye, but almost always went with a light, natural makeup look. Young Taylor was poised for stardom from the very beginning, both as a musician and a style icon. Maybe the latter part isn’t so visible here, but hey, the 2000s were rough on everyone (and not just the guys Taylor wrote her songs about).
“To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death,” Swift said in conversation about her album. Living Fearlessly, the boots and curls remained, but pop music’s influence on Taylor started to truly appear. While the dresses were still darling, we began to see Taylor feature high heels in her go-to looks. The Fearless Era also meant sparkles both on stage and on the red carpet. Even if Beyoncé had the best video of all time (the “You Belong With Me” video is still legendary, regardless), Taylor was continuing to shine, so why not have her outfits (and guitar) do the same?
Speak Now (2010-2012)
“What a beautiful, beautiful way to start a new decade,” announced Swift as she accepted her 2010 People’s Choice Award for Best Female Artist. Trading in bright-eyed innocence for maturing experience, Speak Now presented a greater sense of reality in addition to pure fantasy in Taylor’s music, thus influencing her fashion sense. Her curls were stylishly reigned in different ways that were both everyday and elegant. Similarly, her dresses and makeup became chicly modern. Writing an entire album by herself to prove haters wrong had never looked so good.
Red marked the most significant transition for Taylor Swift. Her music began its transition to pure pop with slight EDM and rock influences, while her fashion signaled the end of her country phase. Ditching her curls for straight hair, Swift proudly repped her album’s titular color in every outfit as well as through her now classic red lipstick. Alongside these changes came a wardrobe shift to pantsuits, shorts, and hotpants that expressed a new, sharp silhouette. This is when Taylor truly began to embrace her power for herself. It was bold, it was different, it was Red.
With her full-blown transformation to pure pop music and 1989’s first-week sales of 1.287 million albums, Taylor Swift established her position as one of the most successful artists of the generation. Naturally, her style reflected this pop princessdom, as she cut off her long locks for a trendy bob. Swift’s new looks also shimmered in sparkling bright hues, accenting a mature shade of black. In this era, Taylor took full creative control, showcasing growing maturity while handling music, the media, and her haters while doing and looking better than ever before.
“There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.” With the release of her sixth studio album merely three weeks ago, Taylor’s style reputation is currently hard to define for an entire era. Besides the widespread snake imagery seen throughout her wardrobe, merchandise, and even microphones, so far, reputation’s fashion trends seem to highlight a darker color palette in both clothing and makeup, alongside overall simplicity in her outfits. While the “Old Taylor” has been pronounced dead, the mix of Taylor’s currently familiar banged-bob with previously worn long curls, as well as her ever-masterful lyricism, show that she is still here and “doing better than (she) ever was.”
Look what you made her do.