"Consistently, people in my generation look back 20 or so years in time and borrow from trends that were popular then." -- Margaret gray, 11th Grade
Trends are ever-changing, each fad lasting only a few months, or even weeks, before moving on to the next big thing. One phenomenon in trends that is endlessly fascinating is nostalgia. Consistently, people in my generation look back 20 or so years in time and borrow from the trends that were popular then. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. The 80s were in style; then, the 90s; over the summer and at the end of 2020 Y2k, the 2000s aesthetic, had a massive boom in popularity. My question is how long has this been happening? Did people in the 80s look back to the 60s for fashion tips? Did people in the 60s look back to the 40s? Did people in the 1800s like to sport looks that were decades out of style?
In the 2000s and early 2010s there was an 80s craze. We borrowed bright colors and patterns from the era, as well as big hair, modern, graphic imagery, and more. It wasn’t even just the fashion that we were inspired by. 80s music surged in popularity as well. Even though I wasn’t even close to being alive in the 80s, I know some of the hit songs and a few of the artists (Queen, Madonna, Michael Jackson). The 90s doesn’t seem to have as unified of an aesthetic, but 90s grunge was re popularized in the 2010s. Finally, the example that I’m most familiar with, and the one most recent in my memory: the y2k revival of 2020. Suddenly, clothes that we I had seen as ugly and hopelessly out of style became cool. Furry bags and jackets, tank tops, mini tennis skirts, and purses were once again popular. It got me thinking about the pattern I was seeing; in the 2000s, we looked back to the 80s. In 2020, we looked back to the 2000s. Is this pattern new, or am I just now noticing it?
We can see that in the 80s many popular songs were actually covers of old 60s songs, which emphasizes the musical nostalgia that I experienced while I was in middle school. Classic 60s TV shows were revived and revitalized, including Pink Panther, Spider Man, and Scooby Doo. When it comes to fashion, we can see some of the same things happening. Shoulder pads were popular in the 80s, but they were a resurgence of the trend from the 60s. Lacey collars came back into style, along with polka dots. There’s more evidence of the 60s looking back to the 40s, in the areas of formal wear especially.
Let’s go even further back. If this has been a phenomenon in the 1900s, did it exist in the 1800s as well? It’s harder to track the trends of the 1800s, and while I can’t say if the 20 year pattern I noticed still existed, I can say that many of the styles that were popular in the 1800s borrowed from even further in the past. Nightgowns were inspired by Greek and Roman dress; other clothing, too, mostly dresses, imitated classical antiquity.
It seems nostalgia has always been a part of not only our fashion trends, but what’s popular when it comes to music as well. This pattern is intriguing to me. Why do we feel the tendency to reach into our past and borrow? Will our progression as a society always be circular when it comes to pop culture? Sometimes, it’s hard for me to imagine romanticizing or bringing back trends from my childhood that to me seem outdated and distasteful. However, to generations younger than me, they’ll be fresh and new. I think that the reason this happens is we are always jealous of the times that came before us. Our world continues to get more and more complicated as new technologies and crises threaten the ways of life that we've always enjoyed. We can't transport back in time, but we can implement some older trends into our current society to remind us of when things were better.
Admin. “Coming Around Again: 60s Resurgence in the 80s.” Classic Pop Magazine, 8 Oct. 2018, www.classicpopmag.com/2018/10/60s-resurgence-80s.
Daly, Dana. “18 Clothing Pieces That Defined 1980s Fashion In America.” DoYouRemember?, 20 Aug. 2020, doyouremember.com/104349/1980s-fashion-in-america. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021
Franklin, Harper, and Harper Franklin. “1800-1809.” Fashion History Timeline, 25 June 2020, fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1800-1809. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021
McPherson, Douglas. “Coming Around Again: 60s Resurgence in the 80s.” Classic Pop Magazine, 8 Oct. 2018, www.classicpopmag.com/2018/10/60s-resurgence-80s. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021
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