Vintage Style #19: When Fashion Had Style
I remember, back in 1993, I asked a friend if it was just me, or did it seem like the nineties didn’t have a distinctive fashion. She agreed, but added that it is always hard to peg a decade with a certain “look” while still in that decade. She said, “In the 2000’s, the ‘nineties look’ will be as distinctive as the ‘eighties look’ or the ‘seventies look’”.
Wrong. It’s 2011 and I still don’t see it…. and the 2000’s are no better. For instance, a picture of girl in the 1970s is instantly recognizable as being from that decade. You can even pinpoint which part of the decade – early, mid or late seventies. The same holds true for the eighties, sixties, fifties, forties, etc. What the hell happened?
The way I see it, there are only two possibilities.
1. I am just an old fart and cannot pick up on fashion nuances any more.
My grandparents, like many of yours I’m sure, stopped adjusting to fashion waves around the early sixties. Their furnishings and clothes would have fit perfectly in 1963…. not so much in 1994. Somewhere along the way, they just stopped being able to roll with the styles. It’s not like it was a conscious decision to not give a shit; I honestly think they didn’t think they were out of synch at all. “How could they not see it?” I thought. “It’s so obvious.” Obvious to all those young whipper snappers, but not to a geezer like myself.
In other words, the styles from the past two decades are every bit as distinctive as any other decade, but I am blind to it.
(And just for the record, I would not say “grunge fashion” elevates the 1990’s into the same level of distinctiveness as prior decades. The grunge look was brief and not that many people followed the grunge uniform.)
2. The other possibility is that I am right. Previous decades are instantly recognizable because they were bold and interesting. Whereas, the 1990s and 2000s are distinctive only in their blandness and unoriginality.
Take the 1980s for example. Think of the bright colors, the pastels, skinny ties, parachute pants, Vans, Ray Ban sunglasses, big ass earrings, Swatch watches, big moussed hair, leg warmers, acid washed jeans, shoulder pads, etc., etc. Any Polaroid of me and my family from 1985 does not need a date written on it – one look at our hair and clothes is all you need to ascertain when it was taken.
Not so 1995 or even 2005. I yawn just thinking about the fashions of the last twenty years. Lots of t-shirts and jeans, I guess…. not much to say really. Just blah.
So, which is it? And before you say anything, I am fully aware that the trademarks of a decade do not begin and end precisely according to the calendar. Nothing magical happened December 31st at 11:59 1979. As if, when the clock struck twelve POW! it’s the eighties! Bring on the Members Only jackets and The United Colors of Benetton!
I look forward to hearing your opinion on the matter.
And it just wouldn't be a Bad Fashion post without a healthy dose of some vintage 70's chicks. Voilà!