What cool threads have stood the test of time? What absolute embarrassments should never have been worn in the first place?
Clothes. We have to wear them and that’s not such a bad thing. It’s pretty much universally agreed that most people look better with clothes on than off and those who disagree are the very ones who should be clothed. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to stumble across a nude beach will tell you that. It’s traumatic.
Many people don’t give much thought about what they wear as they have more important things on their mind and things to do. Which is fair enough.
Others agonize for an eternity over what to wear and eventually opt for what they hope is the right choice. It eats at them constantly. What a way to live.
Either way – whether you don’t give a rat’s arse or if you change outfits 5 times a day, it doesn’t matter. Future generations will either applaud or guffaw at the fashion of your era.
Some fashion is timeless and makes comeback after comeback. Others are best erased from our memories as we focus on the future.
The hits and misses.
Exhibit A: HIT – White sneakers
White sneakers have never really gone out of fashion thanks to their simplicity and good old fashioned street cred.
They’ve been around since people could walk but really came into prominence in the early 70’s.
Adidas released the first leather tennis shoe in honor of then world champion, Stan Smith. The shoe was called the…er, Stan Smith. Since stripes on shoes were frowned upon by stuffy tennis types, Adidas craftily included them anyway in a barely visible faded white.
The style was a hit and popularized the white sports / fashion shoe. White basketball shoes were then embraced by the hip hop community in the 80’s and white footwear hasn’t ever looked back.
Today you can pull aside some dope wearing boat shoes, hand him a pair of white sneakers whispering “Trust me” and all is forgiven.
Stan Smiths are still a huge seller for Adidas, mainly because they’re gender neutral and they just look good.
Exhibit B: MISS – Shoulder pads
Worn in the 80’s and then quickly and wisely discarded in the 80’s. Everyone from Lady Di to Whitney Houston and soap stars pretended to be comfortable in them, walking stiffly and grim-faced.
Shoulder pads were allegedly supposed to represent power for women. While the intentions may have been good they were a bad look. Simple as that.
Wearing shoulder pads meant you were demanding to be taken seriously, goddamnit.
Instead all they did was make a woman look as she was about to play American football, in heels and a dress.
Exhibit C: HIT – Mom jeans
Hugely popular in the 80’s and early 90’s and not just with mothers. All the gals were wearing them. Now they’re back!
The term “mom jeans” was coined by comedian Tiny Fey on Saturday Night Live. In her sketch a family decided to give their mother a pair of high waist, loose-fitting “mom jeans” to complete her transformation – “I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a mom.”
This was back in 2003 when tight fitting, spray on jeans were all the rage. Jeans that took 45 minutes to put on with the help of others and heaven help you if you had to go to the toilet.
Mom jeans are characterized by high waists that cover the navel and a loose fit that give the ole bum area a flatter, longer look.
Thankfully, women today couldn’t care less. Comfort? Yes please. Retro look? Why not!
Girls and young women in particular have latched onto them and mom jeans can be seen around the world from Texas to Tokyo.
Good enough for Hollywood royalty and good enough for the girl next door.
Exhibit D: MISS – Acid wash jeans. And jackets. Basically, anything acid wash.
If you think fashion faux pas in the late 80’s / early 90’s, think acid wash jeans, mullets and Bon Jovi.
Not surprisingly the three often went together. The mullet has made an ironic comeback of sorts, while Bon Jovi is still grudgingly tolerated, however acid wash jeans are forever banished.
Because of the irregular bleached-out pattern, looking at acid wash clothes for more than a minute brought on serious nausea. They hurt the eyes and looked good with absolutely nothing.
Let’s pretend it never happened.
Exhibit E: HIT – Mod suits
Who wouldn’t want to be a rock star? For the majority who can’t the next best thing is dressing like one. You could go for Elton John’s Donald Duck costume or perhaps the Lady Gaga steak dress, keeping in mind that only famous people can get away with it.
However to go out in public you’ll have to rein it in a bit. Enter the 1960’s and the ever-cool Mod look.
Mod fashion (short for modernist) was prevalent in the 60’s, especially the swinging UK.
The look was sharp and sleek. Well cut suits and polo shirts for the lads, cool mini skirts and tight dresses for the lasses. Think anything worn by The Beatles or Brigitte Bardot. The slickness of mod fashion transfers easily to today and is a saving grace for hapless men who wouldn’t have a clue how to sharpen up.
Slim fitting trousers – lower half done. Summer calls for a polo shirt, winter maybe a roll neck sweater with jacket. Torso done.
Elton John arguably had more fun dressed as Donald Duck although it is hard to sustain on a daily basis. To fit in as a well-dressed, functioning member of society go Mod. The style that keeps on giving.
Exhibit F: BIG MISS – Short shorts
This doesn’t really require explaining. Shorts are fine for all but shorter does not mean better.
If women don a pair of brief shorts they leave themselves open for a barrage of judgement, spotlight and criticism. Not worth the trouble, so most don’t bother.
As for men in short shorts – do not approach or make eye contact. Serious creep alert.
What sets humans apart from animals is the ability to use our imagination. It’s a beautiful gift. However seeing a man with shorts creeping up towards his genitals leaves little to the imagination and leaves onlookers feeling somehow soiled.
People got away with it in the 70’s and early 80’s but thankfully Cold War tensions escalated, helping to put an end to such crotch-baring frivolity.
You may as well just wear underpants, you’re that close.
Some fashion is timeless, usually due to its simplicity. Other fashion is dead and buried, usually due to its stupidity.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice. As long as you’re not offending anyone you can wear what you want.
If it comes down to debating whether or not to wear acid wash or short shorts – it’s probably better to go nude.
An amusing survey of fashion over the years & I have to agree with you about what were hits & what definitely were not. Have to say that those short shorts were the worst but sometimes I wonder why some sports now favour the down to the knees style surely impeding movement. Lots to chuckle at here & a few pointers too.