Go back in time with fashion

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Rooting through your mom’s closet to find the pair of leggings she took from you and claimed they fit her, you find pieces of clothing of decades gone past. A bright neon shirt and a pair of huge flare jeans hang side by side. You may scowl in disgust at them and continue to search, but the majority of fashion is now focusing on pieces like those, from the latter part of the 20th century.

The fashion events in the U.S. and Europe have had something in common: pieces that emulate nostalgia and the longing for the years gone by, specifically in women’s fashion. Designers have chosen the best the decades have to offer in regards to fashion and put it back into what’s trending, with a few new twists.

The styles of the 1970s have fashion designers creating flared jumpsuits and knee-high boots; the 1980s provide neon shades and powerful shoulder pads for the recreation of the iconic Power Suit of the decade; and the 2000s show layering inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw, a character from the TV show Sex and the City.

Wondering why these decades came back, the answer came in the book Dressing the Decades by Emmanuelle Dirix, and I found that the 1970s brought back years past in fashion due to events occurring during the decade.

“In the face of economic hardship, they [designers] found comfort and safety in a romanticized idea of the past”, and is something even those not in fashion do when they cannot comprehend the present.

In our current societal state of turmoil and polarization on a number of topics, designers may not feel comfortable thinking about the future, as it is uncertain. They look for inspiration from the past, bringing back all the good parts of it and looking at it through rose-tinted glasses.

Personally, bringing back these decades in regards to fashion brings me joy. Having been interested in 1980s culture since freshman year and slowly expanding the interest to the 1970s and 1960s, having an easy way to access the fashion in local shops is helpful. I don’t always have a way to access true vintage clothing, either due to price range and/or not being able to find pieces that fit my measurements.

Local stores have started introducing pieces laced with nostalgia, including Express, the store I work at. The front of the store is filled with flare jeans, graphic tees with a 1970s font and midi dresses of many colors. I’ve been surprised at how many customers have told me that they’re shocked that those jeans are in style, as they were wearing jeans like those back when they were in high school.

Stores may be implementing older fashion trends into their stock, but it’s hard to tell if high school students will buy them. Looking around the school population, it’s hard to answer that, as most people wear the same thing almost daily. It’s usually leggings and a VHHS sport team shirt, mesh shorts and a college shirt, both matched with athletic shoes, that wander these halls and hardly ever have any variation.

It’s common to go with the flow of fashion around you, as it is the most accessible, along with what you see in the media.

Kristen Schwartz, a consumer teacher, said that she “…paid attention to celebrities [for inspiration]…I was more just like ‘Someone wore this, and you think it’s cool, so I think it’s cool too,’”

In regards to current students, Cache Mickle (12) takes her inspiration from herself, saying that she buys what she likes, not basing it off trends or any certain decade. Abby Evans (11) gets inspiration from different color schemes, the 1970s, and the 1980s and ends up finding most of her pieces in the sales section of stores.

Olivia Sheldon (12) doesn’t always stay with the same style of dressing, switching from one to another as she follows many social influencers that differ greatly from each other, and gains inspiration from them and the 1990s in specific.

Not everyone has to love this nostalgia-filled trend, and not everyone will. Claims of flare jeans being unflattering, power suits being too much work to put on, and layering making living too hot will come up.

I will say, though, that it is sometimes nice to try something new and peel those leggings off. Without putting on a mini dress with psychedelic designs and colors and some bright white gogo boots, there are subtle ways of including nostalgia in a day-to-day outfit.

Using a small scarf as a headband can bring a subtle 1960s look while getting your hair out of the way. The next time you’re at the mall, try on a pair of flare jeans and see how they fit, as they can be worn on with a flat shoe or a chunky heel for some 1970s style. If you decide to wear jeans one day, throwing a bright colored blazer over a solid colored shirt can have a power suit-and-party look from the 1980s.

If you feel uncomfortable trying something new, Sheldon and Evans have tips for those who are worried they’ll be laughed out of their friend group.

“[Try] something new and [don’t be] afraid of wearing something you think is weird, because a lot of time, I feel stuff like that turns out to be cool,” Evans said.

Sheldon had a quote in our email interview that I hope others can remember if they feel scared of trying something new: “The exploration of styles is what allows us to find what suits us best and create confidence in our looks, which no one can take away”.

 

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