Style time-travel travails


The street style of 2012/2013 is crashing onto the sidewalks — a wave of crop-tops, florals, lace-up boots, maxi dresses and denim vests. The ’90s have returned.

The world of fashion moves in cycles, but a return to a style prevalent less than two decades ago seems to be shortening the loop to the point of absurdity. I don’t feel balanced on the tip-top of style in outfits I’m replicating from my elementary school days.

Is fashion looking backwards because it moves so quickly? Thrift stores, warehouses and dumps overflow with discarded clothing while retail churns out pieces on the “cutting edge” on almost a week-by-week basis. Is our desire for novelty, as a culture, catching up with us? After being bombarded with new clothing cuts and embellishments for years, do we long for something familiar?

I search for the logic behind the second coming of jelly sandals, popular during my stint in Grade 5.  Why were the shelves of Urban Outfitters in the summer of 2011/2012 restocked with this plastic summer footwear? Did the hip urbanites of Vancouver strap their feet into candy-coloured PVC in a desperate attempt to return to childhood simplicity?

Is this regression to the 1990s a generational phenomenon? The demographic of those between 18–39 is being referred to as the “Peter Pan generation,” defined as a generation that will never grow up. Generation Y shies away from any long-term, adult commitments: careers, marriages and mortgages, for example. Does a stylistic return to the laissez-faire days of platform sandals, summery ombre hair and crop-tops lessen growing pains while transitioning to adulthood?

As a debt-ridden, single and apartment-renting 25-year-old woman, I cannot advocate grade-school dressing as a way to ease one into the sobriety of being an adult. When sampling the nightlife in Victoria, I often come across other young ladies wearing outfits I recall having flounced across the playground in. Maybe they’re in a set of overall shorts with lace nylons and Doc Martin boots. As a grown-ass woman, I can’t get behind that outfit; overalls are for Midwestern farmers and children.

My perspective may be different from that of someone who is a few years younger — maybe someone who missed the heyday of plaid and stacked boots. But this return to the age of grunge reminds me uncomfortably of being 11, when most of my time was occupied listening to Garbage, wearing acid-wash denim and sulking. I’ve moved past that time in my life and so should the rest of our generation. Rather than dawdle in the past, our street style should strut its way into the future. There is a healthy balance to be struck between fast fashion and stylistic regression into childhood.