Dec 23, 2011

Is Fashion In a Rut?

Readers, do you think fashion is in a rut?  I ask, having just read a very thought-provoking article by Kurt Anderson in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, entitled "You Say You Want a Devolution."

It's a longish article, but the basic thrust of Anderson's argument is that the evolution of (Western) style -- fashion, architecture, interior design, even music -- has been slowing, so much so that very little change has taken place in the last twenty years.  Examples: jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers reigned in the early 90's (and arguably before) and they're still king; Madonna then, Lady Gaga channeling Madonna now.

One point he makes is that if you were to compare the styles of the 1930's with those of the 1950's (a twenty year span), you'd see radical change.

Same goes with comparing the 50's to the 70's, or the 70's to the 90's.

Since the 90's however, according to Anderson, change has been less dramatic.  He cites a number of reasons for this: change-related fatigue, economic slowdown in Western economies, and nostalgia, among others.

His point about fashion rings true.  If you saw these early 90's teens (the original 90210 cast) at the mall today, would they look terribly out of place (as strange as, say, a 50's teen would have looked 70's)?  I don't think so.

Does Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, a film now more than twenty years old, look as dated to us today as early-60's teen Patty Duke would have in the late 80s?

I agree that clothing styles are evolving more slowly and I attribute a lot of it to economics -- it costs big bucks to radically alter silhouettes every few years -- and to a general weakening of authority in all areas of life.  I believe most Americans, at least, are unwilling to have styles dictated to them the way they were, say, in the 1950's, a time when Authority was more widely respected.  Once people felt freer to make their own choices (from a wider variety of options), dressing primarily for comfort for example, most women were unwilling to go back to girdles and stockings or, in the case of men, ties and hats.

The Mad Men look is cute but I'll keep my jeans.

There were also huge social changes in the first three-quarters of the Twentieth Century resulting from female emancipation, the Great Depression, two world wars, rapid suburbanization, the Pill, anti-war and civil rights protests, feminism, Watergate -- and fashion reflected this.  Once the pace of change started to slow down, along with Reagan-era nostalgia for the halcyon days of Leave it to Beaver, so did change in fashion.  

More recently, the emergence of global fashion corporations like LVMH means that the bottom line is THE top priority: a companies' first loyalty is to its stockholders.  Quality suffers but quarterly (quarterly being the term that matters most) profits go up.  So instead of coming out with radically new styles, we get "luxury" handbag fads and wacky shoes that require a lower level of investment and produce higher profit margins. 

Finally -- and this is a point Anderson makes in his article -- the Internet allows us to draw from the past much more easily than before.  We now have a library of past styles we can access 24/7.  For example, we vintage sewers can choose the decade we like best and recreate it, even using the original patterns (easily found on Etsy and eBay), original styling (just Google "New Look" or "20's flapper") and makeup (there are thousands of vintage makeup tutorials on YouTube).

What do you think, readers?  Do you agree that styles are changing more slowly?  How much of your wardrobe could you have worn twenty years ago without raising an eyebrow?

(Alternatively, how much of your wardrobe is more than twenty years old and still looks perfectly in style?)

Is this so-called style rut a problem -- or a blessing?

Jump in!


  1. I love that there is really no such thing as "fashion" any more. I like sewing (and very occasionally buying) garments that I like, rather than what "fashion" dictates I should be wearing. I do have clothes in my wardrobe that are over 20 years old, and still happily wear them. The last decade, to me, that had a real fashion of its own was the 80s and I don't think I still own anything from that decade that I still wear, but anything from the 90s to now is still wearable.

  2. Funny how this post makes me think of a philosophical school that says that, given an unlimited amount of freedom, it really doesn't matter what you choose any more.

    The decades you refer to have in common, as compared with the last 2, a (much?) lesser degree of freedom.

    The more freedom of choice you have, the more a lot of people will (apparently?) choose the same thing. Maybe it's just because some things make far more sense than others. What, for example, is the added value of a tie?

    Hands up, everyone wearing jeans in their free time?

    Does this analogy make any sense?

  3. I think you are right. Your photos illustrate this phenomenon very well. But there does seem, to me, to be an evolution of sorts going on in the "advanced style" crowd. That is the aesthetic I am relating to, and loving. I don't really wear jeans much anymore. But I love me some funky clothing and it's quite different than what I wore when younger. It feels like some sort of renaissance to me. :D

  4. Deep thinking this morning! I think the "fall" of authority has a lot to do with it. On one hand, I miss the certainty of what to wear in specific circumstances, but on the other hand I love that I don't feel "out of style" if I don't do a major wardrobe overall each year. For those of us who are very creative, however, it can lead to serious stagnation. I wonder where my passion for style has gone? In teens and twenties I was always looking and wanting. Now near 50 I just can't seem to get very excited about any of it. I don't know if that's the fashion industry rut or just my age!

  5. That article was really interesting. The whole "rut" thing does not bother me. I prefer to have time to make the same sort of clothes over and over so I can make incremental improvements.

    I completely disagree about the kids in the 90210 photo being able to go to the mall and fit in. Jeans and t-shirts are much closer-fitting these days in both mens and womenswear.

  6. SeamsterEast@aol.comDecember 23, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Women's fashion changes dramatically during bad economic times (the Depression) towards very sedate and conservative. During war (The Great War, Double Yew Double Yew Duece, and Vietnam) to extremely liberal and unmistakebly provocative. During good economic times, let's say quite inviting with high quality cloth and stitching, though not as blunt as a too small, torn, $1.67 t-short from Target during (Vietnam) war.

    The Pill didn't change actual sexual behavior in any particular way. 1890's women (no Pill, no latex propholactics) had about as many sexual encounters with as many different partners as did their great-great-granddaughters in the 1990's. Adjust for war and economic conditions, things work about as they have always worked.

    As Noel Coward noted in a slightly different context, "The urge to merge" is quite strong.

    Fashion reflects current social values to a very large extent.

    BTW, I've noticed that when (young and maybe not so young) women are not allowed free expression in clothing of their desires (I'm thinking a certain southern borough of a large North American city, and other places), the (young and not so young) men in turn clothe themselves in a very leading way, as in "dress to impress". There seems to be a social need for hightened levels of interpersonal tensions and interactions. The hightening comes from one side of the coin or the other, but seldom it seems both at the same time.

  7. Hmph. I'm torn. Change for change's sake annoys me. As someone who was a teen in the nineties, I can tell you the 80s looked VERY dated. We were recycling the 70s, but then weren't the 80s recycling the 40s and 20s? And I have a crapload of 70s dress patterns with features straight out of the 30s. We've always looked to the past for inspiration. Maybe the information age just makes us better at it?

    But even if style is in a rut, I'm not convinced it's a problem. Millions of people unable to find work or afford their homes? Problem. My ten-year-old jacket and car still looking current? Not a problem. I'd actually call that awesome.

  8. Do you think money or availability / what will sell to the most people drives what the largest group of people wears? I think there are a lot of variables in this equation.

    This is a whole lot of deep thought before coffee. I'm going to look back in on this once I have a second cup.

  9. I also think the Internet allows everyone (who has access to it) to find inspiration in different things and historic periods. We're no longer limited to what we see on the street or at the movies. The Internet also allows us to connect with other people with similar interests, so we don't feel as isolated in our, perhaps eccentric, style.

  10. I think people don't follow designers slavishly because what appears on the runways now is mostly unwearable. Most of it never makes it to a suburban mall near you in any form. And, given the emphasis on very, very thin and young models, the women with cash to spend don't relate to fashion as they once did. Now the quest is for personal style and things that flatter the body you're in. I miss runway shows with beautiful clothes that I could find knockoffs of in the pattern catalogues, clothes I could make and wear.

  11. I can remember being in 6th grade in the early 80s and being mocked for my straight-leg 501s - they were called "bellbottoms" because all the girls were wearing pegged jeans. Can you imagine that happening now?

    My mom keeps asking me if her clothes look dated. I just blink at her. She's wearing plain black wool slacks. How can those be dated? No, no one is paying attention to the cut of your pants, Mom.

    So yes, I do think the rate of fashion change has slowed, and yes, it probably does have to do with the amount of choice we have. It also has to do with the fact that the main choices (think department store fashion, Target/Walmart styles) are pretty ugly or ridiculously shoddy in material. So anyone pretending to fashionista status is going to have to work outside of the box.

    Once we all start working outside of the box, does the box exist?

  12. i don't know... those 90210 kids look pretty out dated to me. the hairstyles, the shoes, and the fit of the clothes are much different than today's styles. i think we've moved forward quite a bit. I think fashion is still changing, change just looks different now. I wonder if girls in the 40's enjoyed dressing like women from the early 1900's and 1920s? Or is dressing in vintage styles a more recent development?

  13. This article you read tunes in nicely with general theories on art and design, which usually claim that since the 1990's the post-modernism has been king. As it has in many parts of society. Indeed, this is also a time when we all became aware of the limits to economic success, and the time in which the western world stopped believing in national and more-than-national ideologies (after all, the big enemy, the communist block headed by the USSR disappeared then).
    Is fashion in a rut? Maybe. But I don't think it's alone in that. It should be no surprise that over the period you are talking about, one of the few new things has been recycling (as a fashionable, not as a necessary thing, that is) because who, living in a western country, still believes to be part of a brave new world?

  14. I suppose if we go back to earlier than the 20th century you'd see a slower change in fashion. Styles lasting for many years rather than just a few.

    Personally I love casual clothes - I love wearing jeans, but I also want to stand out from the crowd a little, and if that means drafting and designing clothes that i'd like to wear then I'll do it. I love vintage style, but also the sculptural styles sometimes seen with Japanese designers.

    I make my own stuff because I don't generally like what's on the high street. I often look at the quality and know I could make it better (with a few exceptions) And yes I have items in my wardrobe over 20 years old, and I still wear them - they do tend to be classic staples though - pencil skirt, jackets etc.

  15. Women of a certain age are being corralled or shunted into the dress uniform of an open jacket over a coordinating t-shirt, atop matching slacks. Find this 3 piece ensemble at department stores and specialty shops, it's the bridge sportswear one will bridge everything with. Think of it as dignity in a depression.

    Men's and women's business finery is dwindling due to business casual policies, or more to the point, "We are not going to pay you enough to live indoors and dress in that fashion five days a week." This is a symptom of CEO's making 300 times the lowest paid worker's wages - everyone else has had to trade down and deeply. This economic reality has squeezed the middle, and what we see is a dichotomy; high-end, and low-end (Target getting Missoni-ish items and the ensuing stampede!).

    Fashion used to trickle down, or up. Now it has to leap over a chasm with fabrics that have been cheapened on the loom, and stores play pricing games with their drech of the day (Macy's anyone?).

    Perhaps t-shirts and jeans rule because fashion is reflecting that simply being clothed is all the energy and financial where-with-all people have left.

    We're more fiscally routed out, than in a rut.

    Call it "fashion deflation"; too few dollars chasing too many designers.

  16. I tend to agree with you, in that I went bra-less, and wore midriff-baring hip-hugger jeans in the 70's as a teenager, but still mom on Happy Days. That is a big generational shift.

    As you so well stated, "there is to a general weakening of authority in all areas of life. I believe most Americans, at least, are unwilling to have styles dictated to them".

    I am watching "Valentino: The LAst Emperor" and find it inspiring as well as entertaining. At the same time, I have NO DESIRE to have my fashion dictated to me. LIke that scene in The Devil Wears Prada, when the new intern is lectured on Cerulean Blue. In the age of internet ver. 2.0, it seems inevitable that the "fashion establishment" is changing.
    Globalization has brought so many aspects of life to a dizzying speed of change and turmoil.
    Personal style and slower changes in fashion may be the medicine that helps us cope.

  17. So yeah, always smart to proof-read BEFORE posting a comment (oops). I meant to say that, as a toddler, me earliest memories include adult women wearing girdles, garter belts and dressing like the mom in "Happy Days" tv show. Another of my favorite tv shows was The Andy Griffith Show and, boy, Aunt Bea was light years away from my teenage style years in the 70's!! I guess I am a Ron Howard fan :)

  18. couturearts:

    I haven't read the article yet, but I agree with you. What rut? Making clothes for oneself is way too time-consuming to change the silhouette every year, or even every couple of years. It's better to take a basic style and keep improving on it.

    I also agree that the '90s styles are different from those of today. The big jacket and blousy shirts are dead give-aways.


    I think that age does play a role. No matter how much we might like clothes, our ability to be deluded into thinking that an outfit is going to be transformative is on the wane. And of course, the selection in the stores for middle-aged and older women is usually lousy.

    I prefer comfortable clothing -- real clothes, not gym clothes -- but don't care for myself in jeans.

    This slow-down, if slow-down it is, is very good for women. They have better things to do than worry about every expensive, manufactured trend pushed on them by the fashion industry and fashion press.

  19. how interesting! I agree that while the 90210 look now looks dated, the difference is not as intense as from the 1970s to the 1980s. Sure, Brandon Walsh's Texas Tuxedo is a bit laughable - and did any teenager ever wear a blazer a la Kelly? - but I think that Brenda Walsh's entire outfit and styling would totally fit in now. Donna Martin's dress is not that far from contemporary clubwear.

    I attribute the style slowdown to the rise in 'comfortable' 'basics' - the jeans/knit shirt uniform. Much contemporary rtw - the high street stuff that people buy, not the high end stuff - seems to consist of endless variations on this theme. Perhaps we might blame the rise of the Gap - the topic of one of your most memorable posts!

  20. great article! Our timeline has changed, the speed from runway to retail is faster than ever before, as well as the information we access. clothing, accessories, home goods, etc...are cheaper, Target, WalMart, Costco, etc... detail used to be the thing that separated cheap goods from expensive ones, now we are offered affordable mass goods that are amazing in detail and construction (although not in all cases, I've seen too much bad stitching & fabric at H&M) I think the speed of change may be too fast for consumers (a la Future Shock), there's little value in a purchase they are going to have to completely replace it in a few months, classic items such as denim, plaid, wool, basic cotton t-shirts are staples and have more value in that they can be carried over season to season. Right now the rest is fluff until some radical new style that makes sense becomes available.

  21. Well my mom wore jeans & sneakers in the 1940's and 1950's although the jeans were cut looser. I am very pleased that women no longer toss out everything to wear whatever the designers have ordained is in- several springs in a row I have read in (Vogue's website) that summer dresses are now out and pants are in- each year the dresses are still here mostly because in hot weather they are more practical than pants.
    I think though that the main reason for the slowness of the fashions shifting is because we are in a world gone more and more informal - everywhere. When I got divorced I couldn't believe it someone showed up in curlers & jeans not being able to make an effort even to go to court. That I think is going too far

  22. Economy & comfort, I believe are the main reasons fashion evolution has slowed. Who can afford a new wardrobe for every season? T-shirts and jeans are way more comfortable - assuming the jeans are not so tight they look poured on - than dresses, girdles, stockings, etc. I'm in my mid-50's so grew up wearing dresses. I'm happy to be a t-shirt and jeans person. Only problem is sorting out the laundry and getting 5 peoples jeans into the correct drawers. Nothing worse than pulling out my teenage son's jeans thinking they are mine! Way too skinny for me.

  23. I'm going to venture out there and state that Americans are too unhealthy and overweight now. I live in the midwest, so maybe its not a national thing. But most of the people I see on a daily basis can't wear anything anymore except what they're wearing everyday - jeans, stretchy shorts, flip flops, fake Uggs, sweats, t-shirts, stretchy cardigans. They feel like crap, they're on four or more long term prescription drugs, they eat junk, drink high levels of alcohol and/or caffeine and just barely get through the day. They need to drive their oversize cars right up close to the door of the mega-stores because they can't comfortably walk a block. They can't wear anything that constricts them around the stomach or the chest.

    Also, as an earlier commenter stated, they just have been squeezed out of making living wages (enough to pay their bills plus a little extra). So they are working more hours to earn less money creating a circle of stress and exhaustion. What you see on the outside is how they feel on the inside - barely surviving.

  24. The rise of sportswear is most likely the cause of fashion's demise. Not only that, but the necessity of doing multiple activities in an outfit. Gone are the days when women had house dresses for housework, separates for errands and cocktail dresses for parties. Nowadays, people get dressed once and may need to be in three or four different places by the end of the day. That does lend itself to jeans/t-shirt uniform dressing.

    I was 16 when 90210 came out, and the girls' styles look like what I see in teen stores these days (except for Gabrielle Carteris on the far right, she's frumpy even for that era but I think that was intentional, given her role as the geek). The boys, on the other hand, are horribly out of date. I have one teen and one middle-schooler, and they are wearing their clothes -- especially pants -- cut much more slim. There is much less color, but more emphasis on texture so their t-shirts have studs, appliqué and embroidery but in somber colors like black, navy blue and dark green. So I would argue that men's fashion has changed a lot since the 90s, whereas in women's fashion, the only thing that has changed is the cut of jeans.

  25. I read this article earlier this week and I'm conflicted on it. On the one hand, as a woman who turned 30 this year, yes, styles from the late 80s and early 90s do look *very* dated to me - 90201, Seinfeld, even early seasons of Friends look as much like a piece of the past to me as movies from the 70s or TV shows from the 50s. So I think to some extent that's generational, and the younger you are - the fewer decades and fashion swings you've lived through yourself - the more likely you to identify something 20 years old as dated. At the same time, I look at teenagers at the mall now, with their skinny jeans and Justin Beiber haircuts, and I know that I'm not part of that generation either.

    On the other hand, I think the points the article makes about the speed of technological innovation, our shrinking world, and art and entertainment outside of fashion are spot on. Speaking as someone who works in a high-tech entertainment field (video games) but embraces a 50s-ish personal style, in my opinion style can't really be applied to technology when it progresses this quickly. Anyone remember Razer phones from a few years back? Slim and space-aged and so very of-the-moment? I had mine for maybe two years before I upgraded to a smartphone, where features and UI trump form. Compare that to American cars in the 1950s. The industry was booming, but the technology wasn't changing very quickly, so car companies were able to focus on form along with function. As long as cellphone tech continues to advance this quickly, manufacturers will continue to focus on function over form, and most consumers will continue to buy based on features (network speed, processor speed, megapixels, Flash-enabled, etc) rather than on aesthetic style.

    In addition to all that, the internet has turned every trend into a micro-trend. Think about how long it took The New Look to filter down from Paris couture houses to ready-to-wear to the average American woman. In the 40s and 50s, the average consumer didn't have access to fashion runways. Now anyone with an internet connection and passing interest in fashion can Google "Paris Fashion Week" and see precisely what direction trends are taking. This lack of trickle-down time means that no particular style has any real chance to grab hold and stick around, at least in adult fashions (teenagers may still be most influenced by each other and by their favorite TV shows, and less by fashion week, IMO). There was a 60s revival going on just a couple of years ago, but before most women could invest in a good trapeze coat, the runways are already on to a 70s revival. At that speed, who can hope to keep up? And if you can't keep up, why not just keep wearing the jeans that have fit you perfectly well for the last ten years?


  26. (continued from above)

    But all of that, I think, is what has given rise to the age of the DIY fashion blogger, and a new sewing renaissance. With technology focusing on function over form and fashion moving at a speed that's impossible to keep up with, I think a lot of people who used to be average consumers are breaking away from the typical supply chains and striking out on our own. Especially with the economy the way it is, I know I want to invest in fewer, more classic, better produced pieces of clothing. I want something that will last, not something that will fall apart in two years so I'll be forced to go back to Old Navy/Target/H&M/wherever and buy the next micro-trend. I have the ability to sew, and can fit myself better than anything off-the-rack ever could, and usually for cheaper. There are fashions from the past that I'm drawn to, and with the wonder of the internet, I can find blogs (like yours) that focus on similar styles or sewing techniques. I love making my own clothing, I love being able to redefine my style one stitch at a time. And based on the comments I get when I wear my creations out in public, I think more and more people are being drawn towards the self-made retro aesthetic - classic, well-made, and unlikely to look passé in two years.

  27. Oh, how I wish I could wear clothes that I had in the 90's. ........and out of date fashion has nothing to do with it.

  28. I love how my vanity fair subscription makes me feel deep while I read shallow subjects. It keeps my Dorothy Parker spirit burning!

  29. I skimmed the article. Kurt Andersen is annoying to me even on the best of days. The article seems to be a bunch of examples posing as a theory. Oh, and btw, could it be the 20th Century that was anomalous? Not the rest of history?

    One counterexample leapt out at me. Has he noticed African American women's hairstyles? Many women are wearing their hair in longer, naturally curly styles. You would never confuse a photo of a contemporary woman with a woman from the 1990s. The products and methods of care for those styles did not exist.

  30. I think changes that we have lived through, simply look more gradual and perhaps less coherent to us, than changes that we view at a distance with the perspective we have on a time that is relegated to the history books.

    Also, I think that there are simply a lot more images available now than there were of the 20s/30s/40s and times prior to that. It's only since the 90s that we have the mad proliferation of digital photography. When I was a kid we had to think about what was "worth" using film on. I bet you that what we see captured in photos of earlier eras is quite restricted.

  31. Just went through some of the MIL's old clothes, (mostly from the 70's and 80's.) I can assure you that fashion has changed since then.

  32. I don't have time to read the whole article right now, but my $.02 is this: The 1920's through the 1970's were a very weird time culturally. For most of history, a century rather than a decade was the best timescale on which to measure trends! This seems to me to be just one article of many in that classic genre of essay: "Things are no longer what they were when I was a child! The sky is falling!"

    And as I'm 22 I still have some t-shirts from middle school but only a few pieces in my wardrobe, from my mom or the thrift store, are 20+ years old.

  33. Great post! Especially the photos of the 90210 cast. They really could be walking around with not a second glance that they are super dated.

    I'm kind of sad at what is out there anymore. Has it just all been DONE before, and we have reached the end of inspiration? Wouldn't it be cool to see it completely change to more polished look? The US is the worst offender for wearing things that are "comfortable" and not really looking their best.

    I think I may have written on here before about this, I'm not sure. I lived in France for two years, and noticed that French women especially, would not be caught dead in track suits while shopping, even to the grocery store. All heads would turn, and you could see the disapproval on their faces. It taught me to always look my best for the day. Even though I work from home and just go down town for errands, I always look my best. You never know who you will run into.

    BUT, the French too are kinda stuck in a fashion rut themselves. They just don't look like they have been at the gym all day.

    My daughter is a designer, and is making her best effort to bring back some unique styles. While not many can wear her look, I think it is a step in the right direction. Her blog is "Fashion Forestry" if you want to take a look see. She is living in the London fashion scene at the moment.

  34. I live in Italy and spent time in Spain last month and now am in Berlin. I can shop in H&M or C&A or Zara in any one of those places, perhaps anyplace one might say. I think globalization is part of the issue. It's homogenizing fashion -- which all seem to be sewn in sweatshops in third world countries. I do not notice great differences between these three places -- every woman is wearing boots, scarves, jeans, and puffy coats or woolen midthigh length ones. I'd posit that men's styles have changed slowly for much longer -- is gender equity also part of the equation? Also, whoever above said that the pill didn't have an impact on women's lives and choices -- I don't know what history she's reading (or living) but that's a laughable claim. At any rate, I am glad I can sew, glad I do sew . . . and a few hours in an art museum always makes me hanker for my sewing nook, better inspiration from the great masters than from Vogue IMO. And I just had the pleasure of going to a department store with a fabric section . . . oh, what a treat on Christmas eve. Merry Christmas Peter -- and I look forward to MPB 2012.

  35. I think the preponderance of classic rock stations says it all.
    Culture has stopped because making money is more important than making progress.

  36. I think we're going "back to normal" again and the drastic style changes of the 20th century were an anomoly reflecting the rapid, extreme changes in the role of women in society that took place between 1920-1980. If you went back farther to the 18th or 17th centuries, you'd see fashion evolving far more subtly from one decade to the next.

  37. In the 70's I loved wearing vintage clothing from the 30's and 40's, then obtainable reasonably at my local thrift store.
    Now I look through the list at and buy vintage patterns for big bucks. The "vintage" clothing stores are entirely out of my reach.
    I think as long as we like what we are wearing and feel good in it, it matters not a whit whether it's "in style."
    I love to make clothes, never liked the fashions in the 70's much. Got into the big shoulders in the 80's because it looked like the 40's.
    Now, jeans and t'shirts are my daily wear unless I'm teaching a sewing class. Then I wear all the fabulous things I make.

  38. I have two comments to make on this blog:
    1. (I was going to say this already) - after I lost a lot of weight a few years ago, I (re) discovered a pair of jeans I had bought on my first trip to the US, in 1991. I fit into them again! But the waist was so high that it cut into my lap-band port (just under the ribs) and so they were too uncomfortable to wear. Oh well.

    2. (As I was thinking of posting the above) My 16 year old daughter came into my room to ask permission to wear a jumper (sweater) from my wardrobe. I have photos of me wearing the same jumper from the early 1990s.
    I guess fashions DO cycle back in every 20 or 30 years.

  39. As some of your other posters have been noting, I think the technological age - digital photography, the wide amount of information which is shared on the internet, etc - has led to a certain global homogenization of fashion.

    Personally, while I think those 90s styles look kind of dated in some ways (the guys' hairstyles, some of the shirts), I think the styles that do look fashionable have less to do with fashion not changing so much as cycling faster. If the 80s invoked the 40s, the 90s most definitely quoted the 70s (which were also quoting the 30s). The 80s were chic again in the late 2000s, and the 1990s are just coming back into fashion again - note the number of nostalgic "grunge" editorials, the return of plaid and wide-leg pants, etc. I agree - we do seem to be recycling (at a faster and faster rate) rather than striking out in search of a new sartorial look. Though I would say that the key to keeping the capitalist cycle of consumption going is that the quotation is altered just enough that the originals won't quite pass muster - you know?

    All the same, I was a teen in the 90s and that look was very influential for me (though perhaps that has as much to do with figure flattery - as a tall gal with long legs and arms, I can rock huge bell bottoms, long coats and maxi skirts and dresses with aplomb). And I'm happy to see that 70s/90s look come back in. I fear its resurgence will be quite temporary, so I'm snapping up all the maxi skirts, princess coats and wide leg pants that I can for the time being.

  40. I've thought about this for a few days now. I'm sad to see the rut in fashion. I've always been fascinated by the fashions from the 30's to the mid 60's. Men looked like men, and women looked like women (hey, I'm a gay man, I can write that). You saw pictures of people and merely because of the fashion, you wanted to be them or know them (that may seem superficial, but it was exciting!).

    Now, with most all fashion houses being run by corporations, its all about the bottom line and making the most for the cheapest. It feels like there is no more excitement in fashion, no more art. I'm not advocating that mean go back to grey flannel suits or women should wear girdles. But where is the excitement in fashion for the last 20 years? Where is the art?

  41. I suspect that fashion changes are reflective of the need for change in the way we live (women working and needing physical freedom) , the loss of servants who did all the washing and ironing and the scarcity of time to get dressed in the am as well as get kids ready etc. Also the throw away culture which emphasises quantity rather than quality is what makes money . They (manufactureres ) dont have to be innovative in any big way .

  42. Fashion vs. Style. Maybe my favorite philosophical topic. Fashion says, "I'm wearing it because it's cool." Style says, "It's cool because I am wearing it. It's not narcissism. It's confidence, confidence in your own judgement. I am not cool, I am old, my clothes are old, but I have been accused of coolness because i tied my muffler, which I wanted only to keep my chest warm, in a certain way


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