Don’t Call it a (Fashion) Comeback

Fashion is a finicky business…for the wearers. You may think you’re harboring the latest trends in your short trousers and funky oxfords, but what’s “in” and “out” can change in the blink of an eye. Certainly there are timeless looks that will never go out of style, but there’s nothing wrong with buying a little into the latest fad. And as we’ve recently seen, a number of trends from the past, such as the whole “skinny” look that’s quite popular for both men and women, seem to be here to stay for good. Other past fads have also been popping up here and there — fads that were once quite the thing but have since fallen out of favor with the general public. It was said that the return of leggings in the 21st century might have started with Lindsey Lohan. In the case of some of these minor attempts at reviving fashion fads, it would probably take a whole army of Lohans (scary!) to re-gift them to the masses. Some smaller trends  have never really disappeared, but rather have hung around the fringes of wardrobes and department stores just waiting for another brief moment in the sun. Here are a few I’ve noticed on the streets of my city.


Stirrup pants

I really too old to have an opinion one way or the other.
I really too old to have an opinion one way or the other.

In the early 90s, leggings were ubiquitous. Even if you (mostly girls) didn’t want them, you had them because they were cheap and plentiful. You could find them in the trendiest of clothing stores as well as your corner drug store.  As I was entering high school, a related trend was becoming wildly popular: stirrup pants.  Take leggings, add an elastic strap at the hems of each leg to hook around your feet, and voila! Instant success! And it really was. For several years you couldn’t walk two feet and any direction with seeing someone in their trusty stirrup pants. When leggings returned a few years ago, it was only a matter of time before someone decided it was a good idea to also bring back stirrup pants. I’ve seen a few here and there, but not en masse.


Leg warmers

You got me. These are kinda cute.
Not “BUY ME!” cute, but cute nonetheless.

Sometime ago, I caught the Black Eyes Peas on TV on performing, and Fergie was all decked out in legwarmers. I panicked as I thought “Oh god, they’re back!” While I was a bit clueless concerning the leg warmer trend when physical fitness was all the rage in the 1980s, that didn’t mean I wasn’t privy to all sorts of knitted legwear abuse.  In elementary school, I had a male gym teacher wore them occasionally, I kid you not (though I think he was kidding). In middle school, I had a female gym teacher who had tons of them in every color of the rainbow. Round here, especially as the air chills, I’ll catch a pair of legwarmers on rare occasions, usually worn by the coquettes in their flirty dress and tights.


Nylon running shorts

Finding this image resulted in the most offensive internet search I think I have ever done.
Finding this image resulted in the most offensive Internet search I think I have ever done.

Another hold over from the physical fitness trend of the 1980s, nylon running shorts – you know ’em, shiny with leg cut-outs – were once part of any summer wardrobe, even if you weren’t an athlete. They came in all colors and were easy to throw on with a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers.  As shorts grew longer in the 1990s and 2000s, these “short shorts” were subjected to ridicule. I thought nylon running shorts had all but died, but just recently I saw a group of young ladies all wearing them. Maybe they had just come from the gym (?), but their fancy purses and high-heeled sneakers said otherwise.  I work near a gym and I’ve also caught a few men sporting them as well. One of the problems with these shorts was that they had a tendency to “ride up” (hence the decades of wedgie jokes). I can’t imagine that the new version of these shorts don’t have the same problem, so I doubt they’ll catch on as they did in the past. But I’m not wearing them again, so what do I know?


Tie-dye shirts

These eyes just don't see the appeal anymore.
These eyes just don’t see the appeal anymore.

Every few years it seems that stores pull out their ancient stocks of tie-dyed shirts hoping that someone will becoming mesmerized enough to buy one. When I was in high school, tie-dye was a ridiculously popular fad. It was on everything summery, from men’s shorts to girl’s tank tops. I, myself, was the proud owner of two such shirts that I wore much too frequently. (But hey, they went great with stirrup pants, right?) Weirdly enough, tie-dye was a trend that everyone accepted, at least in my school’s halls. Everyone from the drama geeks to the math nerds to the sports fanatics had something-something tie-dye. Recently that friend of the hippie and bane of the yuppie has been making a small comeback. Granted, there are folks out there who have tie-dye shirts from when the trend was brand new, but I’ve seen racks of new tie-dye t-shirts, crop tops, and yes, even shorts in stores and on human bodies in recently. But the look isn’t out there in droves (thankfully).


Sweater vests

Maybe Ryan R. makes it works. Maybe.
Maybe Ryan R. makes it works?  Maybe.

My parents had sweater vests. My friends had sweater vests. I had sweater vests.  A few decades ago, everyone had sweater vests! It’s not something I can explain other than perhaps by saying…the 1970s?? I really don’t know what caused middle America to once plunge happily into sweater vest-dom, but it did. Hard. Granted, the sweater vest bug hit men more frequently than women, (I recall a class picture where at least three-quarters  of the boys were wearing sweater vests) but the trend was still everywhere — from the fashion runways to your next door neighbors closet. Nowadays, sweater vests, once the staple of anyone’s work ensemble and often the source of nerd mockery, have been barely caged by the hipsterly-inclined. Despite the tight styles and classic patterns, there’s not much super-mass appeal to them anymore, but they are out there, carefully selecting their too-cool-for-school prey.


What fashion trends have you noticed popping up in your neck of the woods?  What fads would you like to see make a comeback or just disappear forever?


Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game.

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