What is the Most Nostalgic Era?
Would you travel to the past or the future if you had a time machine? A study showed 55% of Brits would prefer to travel to the past if given a chance, versus the 28% who would opt to travel to the future.
Great Britain is known for its iconic contributions to fashion, music, and trends over the last century. It’s no wonder that we’re a nostalgic nation, with 90% of all Brits sharing they think fondly about the way things used to be.
Middletons has researched and analysed the most iconic trends from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s and tracked the search rates over the last five years to uncover the re-emerging trends. With our search data analysis and interviews, we’ve uncovered the most nostalgic era, and some of the results may just surprise you.
The style that stood the test of time
The denim tuxedo, crop tops, and a full crochet outfit are throwback outfits that you’ll not only see in archived issues of Vogue, but also in your local coffeeshop re-styled by Gen Z. Middletons has found the top searched for fashion trends of each decade and compared them side by side to see which is the most nostalgic era for fashion.
The 2000s takes the lead with flared jeans. Interestingly, many of the 1990s trends were pieces that originally came onto the scene in the 1970s. Nostalgia for the flared jeans soared by a whopping 669% in May 2021. The flare-mania has calmed down since but is still up 462% in the last five years.
Mary Quant’s 1960s mini skirt changed the world when it hit the high streets. Fifty years later, the mini skirt is still a much-loved wardrobe staple. Search data revealed that since 2017, searches for mini skirts have gone up by 46%.
In recent years people have been feeling particularly nostalgic for crochet, with search volumes peaking by 133% during the time of the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Research would indicate that while we were spending more time at home, people were picking up new hobbies to help pass the time.
Millennials may remember the popularity of the baguette bag; no outfit was complete without it. Just throw in your keys and your flip phone, and you’re good to go. Search demand has increased by 1217% in the last 5 years, with interest spiking in July 2020.
With fashion treasures like neon spandex, leg warmers, and high-waisted jeans, it’s difficult to pin down the 1980s to one key fashion trend. One trend left quite an impact on our hair health if nothing else - the perm! Like the crochet lockdown boom, the perm had search increases by 127%. After all, what better time to try a perm than when you’ve been asked to avoid going outside and risk seeing someone you know.
What’s on the menu?
Great Britain may not be globally recognised for its culinary contributions, but Brits can’t get enough of some of these retro treats.
Do you remember the cupcake fad of the 2000s? Cupcakes receive about 90,500 searches per month! However, as a general trend, it seems they may be going out of style with search data having declined by 10% over the last 5 years.
Angel Delight is the guilty pleasure that hit supermarkets in the late 1960s. Regular searches for this desert have been fairly steady, with a 108% spike in April 2020, it’s been interesting to see how much Covid-19 altered our nostalgia.
Going out for fondue on a Saturday night, what could be more romantic? The 1970s fondue trend over the last 5 years has been relatively steady with a 31% increase in interest.
Bright, garish and sweet - the Battenburg Cakes of the 1980s appear to be a relative staple to the kitchen cupboards. Searches are steady aside from the 317% peak of interest in September 2020.
There is one food from the 90s that particularly stands out to nostalgic minds, the Dairylea Lunchables! This pocket-sized lunch made its way back into the fridges of the British public, with searches increasing by 252% in the last five years.
Was it just a fad?
Love them or hate them, fads have the power to define an era. We researched some of the most iconic fads throughout the decades and compared some of the top ones to see just how nostalgic people are about them now.
Rollerskating seems to be the trend that rolls (sorry) back around every 10 years or so. There are 90,500 searches for rollerskating per month on average. Rollerskating became popular again most recently during the first Covid-19 lockdown with a 285% surge in searches.
60,500 people search for this 1980s fad per month. The Rubiks Cube is the second-highest-ranking fad on our chart on average, but in comparison with 5 years ago are being searched for 25% less.
Much of the late 90s interests were around what was to come in the new millennium, including the Y2K programming panic. Y2K is now used as a generic term to define the era’s aesthetic and pre-online immersion of the 2000s. Search data shows that by the end of 2021 people were catching the millennium bug again because searches rocketed by an astounding 733%.
Despite serious technological advances over the last decade, data shows that people may be feeling nostalgic for simpler technology. Flip phones that were all the rage in the 2000s have seen a 147% increase in searches in the last 5 years and have averaged 18,100 searches per month since search data began.
The legacy of the 60s iconic smiley face has gone on to inspire a whole new universal language we know and use today: emojis! Whilst they’re at the bottom of our nostalgia fad league table, they’ve recently attracted more interest with a 158% increase in searches.
The rock that’s still rolling
Music has the power to transport back in time to when we first heard a particular song on the radio. When it comes to the top decade for music, you may be surprised to know that the 1980s ranks the highest on searches.
To understand the British public’s musical nostalgia, we looked into the top music groups of each decade and compared the data side by side to see who really is the Top of the Pops.
As reflected by the general decade data for music, the 1980s took the lead once again.
The most nostalgic era is…
Middletons compiled all the search data together, averaging searches across each decade and found that the most nostalgic era is the 1980s!
With fashion treasures like neon spandex, leg warmers, and high-waisted jeans and bands like Abba and Wham! it’s no wonder the 80s came out on top.
What era are you most nostalgic for?