As a teenager, I was obsessed with the sixties. I remember heading to Mary Quant’s shop in Kensington, London, and buying a bag from the creator of the miniskirt. (I still use that bag by the way.) Another thing which was really popular was everything from the seventies and eighties – there were theme parties and I had a Puma-bag which looked like the ones kids wore in the late 70s and early 80s. Of course, I also had bootcut jeans. We looked at the fashion “old people” wore when they were young. The eighties seemed so far away. (This was in the early 2000s, so we are only talking about a decade.) This stuff was “retro” and cool. My parents were appalled, they asked me why I would want to repeat their fashion mistakes.
Fast forward a bit more than 20 years, I find myself looking at teenagers and mocking their style. Why would they repeat my fashion mistakes? This also comes with one important realisation: I HAVE BECOME RETRO! Me and my generation are the “old people” whose style is being copied.
Recently, two young boys sat next to me in a restaurant. They were wearing baggy pants, wide-cut white T-shirts, silver bracelets and rings. Of course, they wore white sports socks (a nod to an even older generation than mine) and white sneakers. They looked exactly like the boys in my high school – or a version of the Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC with a perm. Soon after, I spotted two girls in crop tops, boot-cut jeans, mini bags and sneakers. Horrible – but just like me when I was 16. (The only difference was that our boot-cut jeans were not high-waisted but were worn extremely low, often too low…)
What we are currently seeing is the so-called “Y2K-trend”. Young people search the internet and queue up in front of vintage stores and temporary pop-ups to buy our ugly crop-tops, see-through mesh-tops, sneakers and mini-bags. Secretly, I am mad at myself that I gave most of my things away, it seems like a lucrative business right now.
I guess it is quite normal that we look back at certain periods and reinvent them. Fashion is a very cyclical business and most trends come back more than once. Unfortunately, it seems that the ugly trends have a higher likelihood of coming back – the shoulder pads, the baggy jeans, the crop-tops, the white sports socks. (I even spotted the ultra-ugly “Buffalo”-platform sneakers recently.) I am also fascinated by the current hair- and grooming styles for men: perms, mullets and even moustaches. Some boys look like they are straight out of the eighties. Their girlfriends are dressed head-to-toe in “Y2K”. I do not want to trash-talk anyone’s style, but I have only seen a very small number of people who could really pull these trends off. Most girls, however, look ridiculous in the high-waisted bootcut trousers with crop tops. (They just make the female body look horrible, no matter the size.)
I get it, it is probably about comfort. Sneakers are much more practical than high heels. Obviously they also receive less care, considering that most of the white sneakers I spot look rather grey. At the same time, I do not think that crop tops are comfortable in winter – these girls must be freezing. But probably they are like me when I was their age – the look was more important than the weather. I still wonder how I survived walking around in crop tops and a thin jacket in the height of winter. Today, I wear 15 layers before I step out of the house. How times have changed. Look at me, I am complaining and glorifying the “good old times”. I probably deserve to be regarded as “retro”.
However, I am not giving up hope that well-cut garments which will make us feel beautiful will come back in fashion. I think that after these long periods of ill-fitting clothes and shapeless items, there is a high chance that we will long for something feminine, something which does not look unwashed or not ironed and something which accentuates the beauty of the female body instead of burying it in a lumpy sweater with baggy jeans.
What do you think about the Y2K-trend? Do you like it or do you feel similar and “retro” like me?