POSTED ON NOVEMBER 12, 2008:
Party On, Wayne
Favorites from the 1990s need tweaking before making public debut
Lucky Emos. What you could buy, because they are a 1990s staple and an eternally cool pair of shoes, is a pair of Converse sneakers. Though originally an athletic shoe, they now represent sneakers for the non-athlete.
I have to admit that I am very pop culture-oriented. That, to some, will sound very lowbrow -- like maybe I sit around watching TMZ and listen to top 40 songs that won't have a shelf life past six months. I'd be lying if I said I weren't familiar with some of the more tasteless aspects of what kids are watching/listening to/wearing these days.
But I would like to think that when it comes to fashion, music, movies and such, that I dig a little deeper than most. It's because of this that I have something like a half-dozen magazine subscriptions. While some would say that a magazine only grazes a subject and is therefore sub par, I say that a magazine gives you snippets of a million things you wouldn't have known about. For instance, a recent quote in Entertainment Weekly asked, "A crappy economy, a pivotal election, and the return of AC/DC. Is it just us, or did 1980 just crawl through the door?"
That question struck a chord. In some respects I agree with you EW, but so many other aspects of popular culture are pointing to a different decade: a youngish Democrat gaining the White House because of his charisma and connection with young voters; teens on television dealing with life in the area code 90210; Mario Lopez being somehow relevant. We are taking a trip down early 1990s memory lane.
That publication has its points, but it's lost the tipping point -- fashion. Well, among whatever else from the 1980s seems to be popping up now, the era has lost its fashion rights. We just aren't stockpiling leggings and skinny jeans like we were a year ago. We're mad for plaid (the flannel kind) and clothes that have more nonchalance. Gone are the days of dressing like a coke-fueled 80s queen. Now, people just want to chill, drink a beer and sit comfortably in a pair of non skin-tight jeans. That ambivalent attitude can only mean one thing: eighties, schmeighties. Take me back to the nineties!
I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it does feel really early to be revisiting these trends. Decade trends typically occur in multiples of 20. By this theory, it was no surprise that the 1980s trends or the return of the shift mini dresses a la the 1960s were both well received. The timeframe is vital because it doesn't feel like old ideas are being recycled (though it's really what they are), and it gives these trends a new audience. Things certainly appear new if you weren't old enough to wear them the first time. When you are bringing back a trend with a (roughly) 15-year gap, you get a sector of people revisiting a trend. If you were a badass 12-year old in 1993 and continue to be trendsetter as a 27-year old, you might find yourself wearing the exact same things you sported as a pre-teen.
Well, sort of. Anyone familiar with my previous rants know that time capsule trends are always slightly altered so as to: a) make you re-buy fashions you might still own from their first term, b) make it appear that they were mildly creative, and c) avoid looking costumey.
But on a high note, the resurgence of 1990s trends is true to this very point in time in two regards. First, these looks certainly are appropriate for fall and winter. And secondly, and probably more importantly, these looks aren't outlandishly priced, a fashion requisite in these economy-is-in-the-toilet times.
While the 1990s were prosperous for the nation, the originators of 1990s fashion were not. Take a cue from Marc Jacobs, who in the mid 1990s tried to take grunge to high fashion and was lambasted by critics as too simple and cheap.
Let's face it. To bring back the 1990s is to bring back flannel. Both men and women this season will be able to participate in this trend. It's more than just something plaid -- without the obtaining the right variation you could just end up looking like you're going for Western wear (should your item include pearl snaps), or just as someone that's boring (a ho-hum plaid in blah colors). Texture is crucial. For both men and women, worn over a t-shirt, waffle knit is most fashionable. Unlike the 1990s, when bigger was better, it's best to find a variation that fits. It doesn't have to be slim cut and shouldn't hug every part of the body, but it shouldn't be oversized. Additionally, the flannel shirt has lost its position as a belt. Please avoid tying it around your waist. The more comfortable the flannel looks, the more it fits in with the trend. Those searching for a genuine bargain and the most authentic look should rummage through thrift stores for their flannel.
When it comes to pants, loosen up... literally. Jeans that are a little baggy (not falling off your ass baggy) are a nice change from the past few years of painted-on jeans. Women might opt for the resurrection of belled jeans. While very popular in the 1970s, they made a return in the 1990s (there's that 20 year rule again) and they have come back again. Stone wash, rather than the dark denim that has become the standard of fashion advice for years (it flatters everyone), is also making a return for guys and gals. Find that right shade; anything too blue will look like mom/dad jeans and anything too light will just look wrong. Enjoy wearing jeans that actually might be described as comfortable.
Ladies can also rock the flannel dress of the mini variety. Find one that hints toward the look of a flannel shirt, with the collar and buttons going down the body. Anyone familiar with the looks of the 1990s knows that so many mini dresses, whether floral or flannel, were paired with combat boots. In brown or black, sometimes with socks peaking out from the top, the look certainly registered juxtaposition in one outfit. This look doesn't completely get lost in translation, but it has definitely been updated. Now, instead of harsh workman boots, 1990s flannel-esque dresses should be paired with a pair of booties - ankle boots, reminiscent of the Victorian ages or the modern peep-toe booties. When paired with dark tights, this look can strike the right balance between old and new.
Now, if boots are something you really want to do, Doc Martens are trying to make a comeback. Well, I don't know if they're trying, but some of the hipsters in major cities are trying to make a go at the 1990s staple again. I don't ever endorse trends when I'm unaware of where they're going -- on the bodies of everyone in America or in the clearance bin in a week. And since those boots aren't exactly a $15 investment, purchase at your own will. Not my suggestion.
What you could buy, because they are a 1990s staple and an eternally cool pair of shoes, is a pair of Converse sneakers. Though originally an athletic shoe, they now represent someone who wants to wear sneakers and not participate in sports. For ladies or guys, they are an item that will essentially go with anything you wear. But certainly break them in. Nothing is quite as sad as a pair of shiny black and white Converse sneakers. Scruff them up a bit.
And last but not least, for this season all the ladies need good red lips. Everyone from Kelly Taylor and Brenda Walsh to Courtney Love sported striking (or in Love's case, smeared) red lips. Should you go all out, use a lip liner as a base coat. Don't just line them, fill them in. When the lipstick fades, the liner does not and then you have that look. Not good. Essentially you just want to shape your lips since there is no shape hiding with the bold color. Also choose the correct shade. Paler skin requires a red-orange lip, while a darker complexion requires a red-blue lipstick shade.
Remember that with red lips, the rest of the face should look simple, clean and fresh. Every other makeup aspect should be minimal. Red lips and smoky eyes, for instance, do not make you think of the 1990s or the present; it mostly just suggests you're one of the back up band members/models in a Robert Palmer video from the 1980s.
The modernization of this trend is that, while the ladies of the 1990s might have rocked ruby red lips by day, it's more appropriate now as a night look. For daytime, those who still want a (mild) ruby red lip, find a high pigment sheer gloss in a red shade or a lip stain in red. The subdued version is still striking, while not overdone, for the office.
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