Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to the Future (Again)

Let's talk about this 80s thing for a moment, shall we?

I was born in 1983. My early childhood was filled with stirrup pants and body suits and windbreakers and very, very bright colors. Denim on denim on even more denim. And the florals. My goodness, the ugly florals that I loved to death. I lived that time. Sure I was young and I wasn't really picking out my own clothes, but I wore all of the trends. And when their time passed, I was done with them. (This might explain why my wardrobe only contains white, black, blue, gray, pink and sometimes yellow now and is devoid of patterns.)

I was definitely not ready to see the clothes of that period return. It makes me feel old. Not that I am old. I'm not one of those young people who has no concept of the fact that she is, in fact, young. I know that I am. So let's rephrase that. Seeing 80s fashions return makes me feel older. But that only explains a fraction of my distaste.

During my adventures through stores of many stripes, I often try on things I would never, ever purchase, even if I were flush with cash. A recent trip to H&M featured a lot of this. I entered the fitting room and examined what I had picked up. A red and yellow striped tunic, or possibly dress if you're so inclined, completely covered in sequins. And a dress with the over-sized shoulders that have been everywhere since the early Spring.

I felt like I was playing dress up when I put them on. Or preparing for a Dynasty-themed party. I kept poking at the shoulders of the dress and watching as they collapsed slightly before I restored their shape. I became mesmerized by the way the sequined tunic made the light dance on the white walls before remembering that I utterly hate being the center of attention. And there would be no way to avoid that in such a piece.

For me, a lot of the clothing feels like costume. Fashion designers are always referencing the past. But many of the clothes I see don't feel like they are inspired by the 80s. They feel like they are from the 80s. Like someone opened my mother's closet or went through my sister's wardrobe, picked out some of their dresses and acid-washed jeans and blazers from 1985 and copied them stitch for stitch. And if any decade lends itself to quickly falling into the category of costume when not handled correctly, it is the 80s with all of its flash and all of its excess.

It's a fine line that few can navigate.

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