Monday, October 03, 2011

Retro fashion fallout

If you're over the age of 25 and are labouring under the delusion that you're still “cool”, I've got news for you: you're probably not.

(I say “probably” in case this magazine has somehow found its way into Johnny Depp's loungeroom and he is currently reading it, in which case – hi! You are still cool.) (Also, please don't make any more pirate movies, thanks.)

I hate to break it to you, but unless you're regularly featured on Rage or in the credits of Quentin Tarantino films, once you find yourself in the back end of your 20s you automatically become so uncool you might as well be your own parents. Any older and you might as well open your own socks and sandals boutique, selling novelty ties on the side – THAT's how cool you are.

You may feel permanently 21 and hip, but if you're ever in doubt of your true age pick up a copy of your local street press. You'll find out pretty quickly just how old you really are.

Take me, for example. I may be only a few weeks shy of 30, but after leafing through some local street rags recently I have discovered I am actually about 82.

Whereas 10 years ago I'd gladly read about new bands, new songs and what brand of sneakers we should all currently be wearing, this time after flipping through a number of feature articles, fashion spreads and social photos my only thoughts were “What the hell band is that?” and “That girl should really put on a cardy”. I'm only a few steps away from whacking youngsters with my handbag for not standing up for adults on the bus.

I shouldn't have been surprised – I've been aware of my gradual journey down the slippery slope to dagdom for some time. It all started about three years ago when I noticed floral vests for sale in a shop in Rundle Mall. And young girls were buying them. FLORAL VESTS. Worse than that, they were teaming them with high waisted stone-wash denim shorts and patterned tights – willingly! It was like a long lost video clip from Girlfriend - I kept expecting Robyn Laou to burst out of the changerooms and for everyone to break into a few bars of “Take It From Me”.

It was then I realised the unthinkable had happened - the 90s had become cool again. All of a sudden two decades had passed, and snap-in-the-crotch bodysuits were suddenly de jour once more. And the trend hasn't slowed down: now every time I venture into the mall it's like I'm being haunted by the Ghosts of Fashions Past.

My mother warned me about this day. I remember when I was about 15 raiding her wardrobe and finding a heap of 70s fashion pieces hidden at the back – leather coats, platform shoes, bodyshirts, flares. I'd struck the jackpot.

“Why didn't you TELL me you had all this cool stuff?” I wailed.

“Darling, it's not cool when you actually lived through it the first time,” she said.

Now, surrounded by teenage boys in tight bleached jeans and Wayfarers and girls in sunflower print dresses and floppy hats, I finally understand what she meant. None of it looks cool to me, which of course just means that I am now utterly, drastically and irreparably UNcool.

C'est la vie. I guess it had to happen – we can't all be Johnny Depp. But if I ever see someone in happy pants or Hypercolour T shirt, I really will whack them with my handbag.

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's Sunday liftout on October 5, 2010.


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