Apparently there are only so many fashion ideas coming from the top designers. After a while, they simply recycle them hoping no one remembers seeing them before and that they appear new.
The most obvious example, of course is blue jeans. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and even some Millenials considered jeans an unalterable uniform. Jeans were so central to young people’s fashion identities, employers even tried to attract workers by advertising “blue jean” jobs.
After leggings replaced blue jeans for women two decades ago – they were more comfortable, offered a sleeker look and you could work out in them – jeans are now back. What a novel idea. Some are pre-torn – again just like before.
Are flared jeans – aka bell bottoms – just around the corner? And overalls which occluded the body shape of everyone who wore them, both men and women and the thin and fat? Already blue jean jackets are re-appearing, sometimes with gauze peasant skirts and jeweled flip flops – an old/new look. Can we soon expect sweat pants to come back which were workout attire before leggings and health clubs?
Dresses disappeared for a long time (except for summer sundresses) but there are signs they are back too. Especially mid-calf print acetate chemise dresses that once upon a time were called “house dresses” and associated with mothers and aunts. Will they be paired with anklets and flats in keeping with the retro spirit?
Blue, pink and green hair is not new but actually debuted during the punk era (as did nose rings and tattoos). But one of these days, colored hair will become so deja vu, it is entirely possible that poodle perms will resurface as featured in 1987 yearbooks everywhere. (Think heavy metal and Twisted Sister.)
It is also possible the “inverted triangle” of the first wave of militant businesswomen will return. Blazers, shoulder pads, Reeboks the size of snowshoes and 20-pound briefcases swung like machetes. Along with that could come the shiny tights, high cut leotards and headbands immortalized by Olive Newton-John in the hit “Physical.”
No one, including those who wore them, liked the clean-cut, sappy pastel Esprit fashions that dominated U.S. fashion until nihilistic grunge took over. (And probably ushered in grunge.) But those vanilla, asexual T-shirts and pants could resurface too, so devoid are designers of new ideas.
Currently, almost all urban women are wearing slick, water-repellent polyester or nylon winter coats. But aren’t they just long versions of the “ski jacket” which dates back to the 1950s?
Finally, a word about underwear. Underwire pushup bras that made every woman busty have segued into the “barely there” bralettes that are currently popular. Bralettes offer no support or coverage but are hardly new. They are simply what used to be called “starter bras” for women who wanted grown-up underwear before they needed it. Girdles that hid women’s excessive thigh, stomach, and hip fat, have resurfaced as “shaping briefs” and leggings like Spanx.
Still, it is doubtful that the “slip” will resurface. Slips kept blouses and skirts from allowing others to see the shape of a woman through her clothes. Modesty is no longer the overriding principle in today’s fashion.
There is one under-appreciated benefit of top designers’ creativity vacuum: they have turned second hand and vintage stores into the best places to shop. Anything you find in a resale shop whether a “pencil skirt,” a cape or a paisley print shirtwaist will eventually come back into style if you wait long enough.