My daughter just turned 15. I know. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
But I don’t want to talk about teen angst, the dangers of social media, or why I’m accused of being “totally cringe” when I drive her and her friends around. I want to talk about fashion.
I don’t know about where you live, but in my little corner of Oregon, the ’80s are alive and well in teenage attire.
Feel like donning a pair of jeans? Grab that acid-washed pair, preferably with the calf area so tightly pegged, it will take the jaws of life to extricate yourself.
Want to throw on a dress? Grab something short and preppy that looks like it’s right out of Heathers.
Going out for a jog? Pull on a pair of bike shorts. No, seriously. They’re in. As are shoulder pads, scrunchies, and Converse sneakers.
So far, hairstyles have stayed safely in the scrunchie and curtain bang zone. (The latter being a tad more ’70s than ’80s.) But I’m anticipating the return of antenna bangs and home perms. And I’m here for it. (As you can see, I was a big fan.)
All of this retro-wear is a bit mind-bending because my daughter goes to my old high school, essentially wearing what I wore when I was there. Sure, there’s more sophistication and less flammable polyester than when I sashayed about in my blue satin baseball jacket. But still. It’s like looking into a mirror through a portal of time in a book that Stephen King probably wrote.
In my books, fashion doesn’t play much of a role. Yes, there are a few mentions of Maggie’s workwear. An emerald green sweater here. A cute LBD there. Then there’s Aunt Fiona’s Jean Nate, which I would argue counts as an outfit of fragrance. But for the most part, physical descriptions are about actions and expressions.
Part of me thinks I’m missing the boat. What characters wear tell us about more than their occupation (scrubs? three-piece suit? overalls?), age, or daily life. It can also offer insight into how they see the world, themselves and their place in it. Do they follow trends or go their own way? Do they have enjoy the ritual of getting gussied up or can’t afford the time to do so? Are clothes purely functional or a form of self-expression?
Maybe clothes do make the (wo)man. At least partly. And sometimes.
So as I watch my daughter contemplate what to pair with her neon t-shirt, I think back to the real ’80s, a time of Alex P. Keaton, E.T., and wall-mounted phones with a cord that could stretch from kitchen to bedroom. And I wonder what happened to my stirrup pants.
What’s your favorite fashion trend from your high school days? What’s one you wished you’d skipped?