Every fashionista has fantasized about bringing back a popular style trend from a previous decade and modernizing it. In honor of the coming Spring season, let’s take a journey into the depths of our closet and pull out those skeletons wearing the dead trends of previous decades. Perhaps we can find a use for them in 2015!
There’s a good chance that the majority of those reading this article don’t own any clothes made out of Plastic Vinyl Chloride, and there are many reasons why this is a sad reality. One, vinyl clothing is most often associated with fetish communities and subsequently labeled as inappropriate and sexually promiscuous. And two, it’s difficult to find at most fashion retailers today because it simply has not been trendy since the late 1990s nor appealing to the general public. Indeed, unless it is in the form of a raincoat, most people view the vinyl material as tacky and impractical. Knowing this, why would I choose PVC to go back into style?
Well, the answer is really simple and kind of selfish: I’m a fan of cyberpunk. I love Akira, Neuromancer, the Matrix, and Ghost in the Shell. I often envision what it would be like to make a living as a hacker working as an underground political activist against an oppressive, totalitarian government. I have a deep running interest in bioengineering, artificial intelligence, and the possibility that we could one day transcend the limitations of our physical bodies and link together within a shared consciousness wired in cyberspace. No, I’m not crazy.
PVC, to me, is just as futuristic and fashion forward as it was deemed decades ago. It’s waterproof, comes in a variety of colors, and can be easily hand washed with just a little warm water and soap. It’s shiny, light-refracting, eye-catching, and just really rad, okay? And I’m not just limiting this praise to raincoats and boots, either. PVC mini skirts, crop-tops, clutch bags, and even latex stockings can be a great statement piece to wear to the club, an evening out with the girls, or just if you want to spice up an outfit with an interesting and fun texture. Even better if it’s holographic!
Don’t worry about showing some skin through the transparency of the material either. You don’t have to be a size 2 or have a flat chest to participate in this trend. Curvy and bigger ladies should get their shine on, too, and look super fly doing it!
Middle Parts & Minibuns
I never said that I’d just be talking about clothes, y’know! Hairstyles are an fascinating, uniquely-human phenomenon that have existed for thousands of years. Looking at prehistoric art like the famous Venus of Willendorf proves that stylized hair is not a modern invention.
While it remains a mystery what the first consciously invented hairstyle was in our human history, the Ancient Egyptians are the oldest civilization with detailed records of beauty and hair styling. Dreadlock wigs and depictions of dreads and braids on wall art and on scrolls suggest that the East African country took pride in their cultivation of beauty rituals, and that hairstyles like dreads and braids were not only reserved for the upper classes but available to everyone regardless of status. In fact, for the most part, the idea that certain hairstyles are status symbols for the wealthy is a Western one. Women’s hairstyles in particular have usually been transition markers for specific life intervals, such as marriage, coming-of-age, and mourning.
But let’s fast-forward to 20 years ago. Imagine Gwen Stefani when she was in No Doubt and Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks, or basically any 90s TV hunk. Get the picture yet? I’m talking about Middle Parts and Mini-buns, the two trendiest 90s hairstyles and also the fastest to fall back into a faux-paus once we entered the new millenium.
While the former men’s style doesn’t seem to be making strong waves today, mini buns (or raver buns) have become popular yet again among select teen and young adult subcultures, like the rad grrrrl feminists and pastel-haired girls of Tumblr. Really, mini buns have been a consistent style within the Black community for years, before Gwen and Björk popularized the look. Today, celebrities like Rihanna and FKA Twigs are bringing them back, along with gelled baby hairs and cybergoth-inspired makeup. These buns are cute, practical, easy to render, and allow you to invest into some hair accessories, like handmade barrettes and beads. Most of all, mini buns are the ultimate “give no fucks” style, telling the world that you don’t have to have long, flowing hair to be attractive. Really, what more could you want in a hairstyle?
And then we come to middle parts. They’re a tricky trend because they look good on some men and absolutely horrific on others. There must be some formula in existence to figure out what makes a good middle part vs. a bad one … Strong bone structure + fierce eyebrows – Widow’s peak = Hottie McHot?
Anyway, my good friend Matt inspired me to bring this hair trend back from the dead after telling me he got called “that guy from The Breakfast Club (John Bender) for his own middle part. There’s something appealingly nostalgic and boyish about the style; the vibe is in an ambiguous place between goofy friend, dark & handsome artist/actor (Johnny Depp circa ‘00), and high school bad boy (Jared Leto on My So-Called Life). You can wear one with short hair, or leave those locks flowing. More often than not, women are able to get away with a middle part because of the legendary influence of the Rachel from Friends haircut. It’s also a more “feminine” choice than, say, the growing undercut trend. I’m personally hoping to see the middle part making a comeback as longer hairstyles and gender binary-breaking looks on men grow more and more acceptable.
So, I was listening to both Ariel Pink and Azealia Bank’s Nude Beach a Go-Go (which is catchy as hell, might I add) and a thought popped into my mind – why aren’t Go-Go boots a thing anymore? Is it because people no longer go to discotheques and do the monkey … or at least that’s what I envision the ladies of the 60s doing? Maybe I should check with my mom. I’m pretty sure all baby-boomer, former flower child mothers can attest to owning at least one pair of stark white, mid-calf, zipper-back vinyl Go-Go boots.
Okay, so we can’t go to hip discotheques in Paris and we aren’t drinking martinis while twisting our mini-skirt clad hips. Booooo. Where can we strut our vintage go-gos? Why, just about anywhere! They’re certainly a spring boot, so I can see it working well with a geometrical, A-line mod dress, skinny jeans and a sleeveless cowl neck top, or a silky floral romper with a short bottom. You can find plenty of retro illustrations and photos of young 60s mod girls for inspiration!
Go-gos don’t have to be super chunky or high-heeled either, so not to worry heel-phobics. They originally came with just a kitten-heel or a flat bottom, so you can probably find something like that at your local vintage consignment or order them online. I own a pair of cream-colored ankle go-gos and, although they aren’t in the best shape, they have held up well. You might want to consider buying shoe inserts though, because vintage shoes tend to run on the smaller and narrower side. They also tend to have square-toes because that was the thing, but the shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable. Maintenance is also very simple: cleaning your go-gos with silicone spray and a shoe shiner is the best way to keep them scuff free.
Now fix up that beehive, girl, and shake it to American Bandstand!
Admittedly, I’ve already expressed my undying love for wonderpants that is the Mom Jean on my personal blog, but I simply must reiterate how necessary these pants are for every woman alive today – and not just Moms, mind you. For one thing, they are considerably more comfortable than the modern jean on the market, especially if they have an elastic waist. They are also amazingly good at disguising any possible unflattering aspects of your figure by covering any potential food babies or college weight gain. Basically, you look like a badass in them. They aren’t unflattering or frumpy at all, but in fact casual, chic and relaxed.
The best part about mom jeans is their ability to be rolled, in my opinion. Being a connoisseur of rare socks, I like to take every chance I can get to show them off while out in public. Wearing stylish belts is also a thing I enjoy doing, and when you have the high-waistline of a Mom Jean it’s almost a sin not to belt it. Some people say that the jean’s drop crotch is too “manly” and that your rear end looks terrible, but those people obviously haven’t found the right mom jean. In the words of Shakesphere, “the course of true love never did run smooth”. Sometimes it takes a whole lifetime to find that special pair of jeans, so be more patient, gosh!
I feel as if women should reclaim the term “mom jean” and transform its meaning to a more positive ones. Mothers and female household heads deserve to feel like they’re beautiful, and having children shouldn’t make you subject to criticism on you appearance. If anything, it’s Dads who wear the worst jeans ever! To prove my point, here’s a fun game: take a trip to your local Home Depot and just pick a spot to stand or sit, then count how many Dads are wearing extremely wide-legged, faded beyond recognition jeans from 30 years ago with a thick black belt, white tube socks and Reeboks. I guarantee you that you will lose count.
At any rate, mom jeans are extremely affordable now that they’re back in trend. You can usually spot them in local thrift stores like Goodwill, but many higher end retailers are starting to sell them, like Zara and Topshop. Distressing and patching your mom jeans is also pretty popular and a great way to refurbish old pants, so consider finding some fun tutorials on how to customize jeans if you want yours to be one-of-a-kind.
What you can take away from these four controversial fashion fade-outs is this: style is relative. To some, it’s a commitment to an unspoken set of rules and compliance with the established trends set forth by designers and fashion figureheads. To others, it’s transient and always changing, borrowing elements from the past and recycling them into something newer and greater than before.
Regardless of what side of the fence you stand, it’s worth appreciating the styles of the past that still continue to define who we are as members of a creative, self-expressive human race.