By Kaitlin Gertz
The twenties had flapper dresses and swing music; the fifties conjure up poofs of poodle skirts and the start of rock and roll; the eighties bring shoulder pads and long-legged supermodels, and today, we have vague trends of skinny jeans and graphic tees — and countless throwbacks to any decade but our own. Everything has come from the past; from wearing a tie-dye t-shirt to quoting Queen and The Breakfast Club. Thrift shopping is becoming a norm, versus consumer chains or high-end shops. Many people are now shifting their attention to past decades for inspiration in fashion, music, and technology. While passionately lipsyncing to “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “going for a grunge look” is all cool and dandy, the question still remains as to why so many people have decided that going back in time is forward thinking.
Wearing iconic looks from the past is nothing new. Today, you can go into any major clothing store and find a t-shirt with the emblem of some eighties rock band or a pin-up perfect dress. There are a multitude of YouTube tutorials on how to achieve that perfect grunge look, and over twelve million Instagram posts tagged as such. Last Halloween, popsugar.com, an online magazine marketed towards millennial women, posted an article on the top eighties themed Halloween costumes, ranging from Michael Jackson to Pretty In Pink characters. But why replace current trends, like unisex clothing or punk, with something that’s been done before? Some say nostalgia, because we want to bring back values or norms of a certain time period. Others say aestheticism — maybe we’ve started wearing more and more flannel simply because we look better in it.
However, not all flannels were created equal. While mass-produced checks and stripes will add to your nineties vibe, actual flannel from the nineties gives your look more credibility. Thrifting has become a much more popular activity over the recent years, from Salvation Army to higher-end secondhand stores such as Plato’s Closet. As Regina George once said: “Vintage — so adorable.” It’s one thing to buy reproductions; going secondhand is proof the past was real and that you’re wearing it makes your take on the trend more authentic. And going to your local Goodwill is a great way to find old clothes that fit your old-school aesthetic, and double the points if you find some records while you’re there. No matter what style you’re trying to match, buying secondhand has earned certain bragging rights (because no one can believe you got a Jackie O dress for that cheap).
Jackie O isn’t the only sixties thing you’ll find gaining while wandering a secondhand store. There’s most likely some Simon and Garfunkel albums laying about, and they now share shelf-space with many mainstream artists who have started releasing albums on iTunes and vinyl. As with clothes, they’re available in just about every place you look; from chain stores like Barnes and Noble to online. While we’ve all listened to music from past decades without it ever being a trend (it is, after all, just good music), it’s the way people are listening to it that has taken a step back. Whether or not records are better than CDs or digital tracks is a question still contended; but either way, they’re now cheaper and much more accessible.
As is with technology. It’s one of those things that usually moves forward instead of back. We’ve gone from hand-written letters to email to texting in thirty years. Every cell phone is now equipped with a camera, which was once a device only for those who had both money and time. But Polaroid cameras, staples of the seventies and eighties, are now coming back into the buzz. They’re cute, small, and can be purchased at affordable and accessible stores like Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. Over two million posts on Instagram have been tagged as polaroids (as it seems more than two million people are fans of taking pictures of pictures). It’s the choice between now and then that people can make these days, and it’s that choice that highlights just how far technolo
gy has come within a relatively short amount of time. You can snap pics on your iPhone, or wait for your photos to develop. Either way produces the same result — a picture — you pick the decade.
While we move forward, we also move back. Things such as medical and engineering breakthroughs are always needed whereas improvements to clothing and technology like cameras or music-players aren’t. As J.K. Rowling wrote, “Progress for progress’ sake must be discouraged.” Whether indulging your nostalgia or staying on trend, having an older aesthetic is a movement that will only continue to grow as time passes.
Kaitlin Gertz is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram.