The oldest fashion statement must be,
“That is not in fashion anymore!”
By its very nature, a trend or a fashion catches the fancy of everyone at the same time and builds up to a point where everybody is heartily sick of it. After that, it’s a sudden slump into disgust and finally oblivion.
Some trends get resurrected from that place. The laugh-worthiness of a passe fashion evolves into its becoming an ironic statement, then a novelty piece and finally finding acceptance as a new trend. I remember when bell-bottoms and flared trousers were something only people who had..errr…missed the boat, so to speak, wore. Then I remember when they were available in stores all of a sudden. I remember when everyone around was wearing them. And I remember when, like everybody else, I gave my own pair a wry shudder and chucked it away. Bell-bottoms have regained their ickworthy status. But it has been a few years so my pair of flared jeans (bought back then which still fit me so wonderfully!) passes as an offbeat style statement now and then.
There are the trends, whose designers should have used contraception on their ideas. Imagine the horror of realizing that they’ve been resurrected! Why does bling pass for civilised apparel? A designer with a block must have taken a walk in the neighboring steelware shop and come back with an apparent solution to his situation. Why oh why must we continue to proceed with his stupidity? I hated bling in the 80s when it was on every part of the body that it was possible to apply it. Then I had a chance to detest it all over again when it appeared in the last decade, albeit in more restrained quantities on lips, waists, bags & shoes. But there will always be someone who decides that anything worth doing is worth overdoing it. And with the grave irony that life foists on us, such a person is exactly the type that loves bling.
The 80s are everyone’s favorite love-to-hate decade when it comes to fashion. Big hair, shoulder pads, excessive bling, huge plastic jewellery, rat-tailey long hair on men…they really outdid themselves, didn’t they? The 80s were especially badly timed, coming as they did, close on the heels of the 70s. The 70s may be old but they weren’t ugly. Platform heels, flower power jewellery & long hair enjoyed their time and rightfully so.
The electric 80s, on the other hand, seemed to have been all about machines & robots and electricity. Fashion followed that mood with its metallic tones, overstructured lines and techno noises. And maybe, just because that decade overdid it, the following one seemed permissible in comparison.
Nobody bitches about the 90s. Does anybody even think that the 90s had a distinctive look & feel of their own, as a decade? I just stumbled upon an idea that the 90s did. Think of the razor-sharp hair ends after excessive rebonding (or hair straightening). Think velvet tee-shirts & dresses. Think skin-tight jeans. Think metallic sunglasses in crazy colours and then that bizarre trend of coloured contact lenses. Think dominatrix-style chokers. And finally, think of the excessive bleach-blonde look post hair colouring. The 90s still had us stuck in artificial mode, only instead of being 80s machines, we were unnaturally blemish-free humanoids. What’s more we were clones, with uniformly coloured & textured hair, in identical clothing & footwear.
Pop culture reflects that well. We all remember Asha Parekh’s aa-aa-aaja booty shaking in the 70s short tops & fitted pants. In the same decade, Neetu Singh strutted micro-minis & thigh-high boots. The 80s had Madhuri’s heaving chest in a choli-lehenga and padded-shouldered skirt-suits while Sridevi sizzled in chiffon sarees, shiny lipstick and humongous matched earrings. But I don’t remember any distinctive look in the 90s except Karishma Kapoor’s over-mascara’ed, over-straightened one in Raja Hindustani. And the same look was echoed by Raveena Tandon, Kajol, Tabu and whoever else graced that insipid decade before the millennium.
It wasn’t till after Y2K (itself a trend that flopped) that hair styling techniques got smoother and clothes got more accessible to non-model-types. The rebonding got a little milder and let hair find its own staight-ish path. Colours softened to burgundy, chocolate and others that weren’t OTT. I don’t know if the first decade of the millenium did have a distinctive look or not. I find I’ve worn skinny jeans, anti-fits, frilly tops, shorts and pretty skirts.
The overlarge jackets of the 80s are now called boyfriend blazers. Tights, already a rehash of ‘cigarette pants’, have now reappeared as leggings (and denim skin-tights as jeggings!). The ubiquitous ballerina design of shoes that I wore with my school uniform, have lost their buckle straps and now calls themselves ‘ballet flats’.
We’re recycling, just as we have in every decade before this one. It’ll probably be another decade before I can get around to seeing the laughworthiness of the decade that we just left behind.