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Generations of Fashion

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“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” (68)

“That jacket is so last month,” Martin scoffs as he brushes past me on his way to his office. But I just bought it a month ago! How could someone be criticizing it? After I spent over two hundred dollars on it! Maybe it’s because every day I am surrounded by the world’s most judgmental people in the world of fashion: Vogue Magazine Headquarters. I look around me and see that all of my co-workers are wearing the new dark green, yellow, orange, blue, or red, loose-fitted-without-losing-its-shape, knee-length anorak from Prada, and here I am at my desk, wearing last month’s “old” leaf-green, waist-length jacket from the same store.
You may be sitting here pondering, how is last month old? The word “old” in fashion has been effectively redefined. When you were a child, old meant your parents, grandparents, and sometimes even an older sibling or cousin. Throughout middle school, high school, and even college, old meant anything that had happened about thirty years ago or even before that. In the world of fashion, old has a vastly different meaning. Old in that world means everything that is not brand new. So this jacket, the one that I bought only a month ago, and was made about a month before that, is already old in this bubble of designers, editors, and models. In fact, the gray matted heels from Louis Vuitton which came out a week ago are already being thrown aside, mocked, never be worn again. Now the gray sparkly heels from Louis Vuitton, that came out just yesterday, are everybody’s “dream” shoe. Some of the women around me have been praying to get themselves that new pair of shoes. Soon they will be tossing those new shoes, the ones that they had put their blood, sweat, and tears into procuring, into the bottom corner of their closet, along with all of the other outdated shoes.
Once a month the design team at Vogue meets to discuss the upcoming month’s issue with its new styles and upcoming trends. The first half of the magazine displays the “best of” each upcoming month, while the second half ridicules all the styles from the previous month. The Premium List (the first half) is regarded as a Bible to everyone in this building, and to those who follow fashion and all its trivialities. This “Bible” as I will now call it, is studied by its followers; each month’s meeting is like a Church or Temple service, every writing piece about each trend is a prayer, and every sentence said by the editors begins a sermon. Designers become the angels we worship, and the models are their choir. Following each trend is like turning to a new chapter of the Bible; the old verses being replaced by the new.
At age ten I became obsessed with this one shirt which was long-sleeved, with a rainbow pattern going down the front, back, and sides. In the middle was a huge white smiley-face, with dotted black eyes and a wide smile. I wore this shirt at least four times a week, sometimes refusing to take it off without a fight erupting between one or both of my parents. I loved that shirt like a sibling does another sibling, never imagining that I would ever love another piece of clothing quite like this one. But now looking back at it, sitting fifteen years later at my desk next to the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, I cannot comprehend why I would ever have loved such a hideous piece of clothing. I’m sure every employee here has had an item just like my rainbow mess of a shirt, and loved it just as much as I loved mine, but now remembers it and can only think of it as ugly in every sense of the word.
While it may seem as though I am ridiculing these devout worshippers of fashion, I understand their need for change; my desire for change (and probably yours too), is just a little less compulsive. When I look at old photographs of my mother, father, or grandparents, of course I notice their hair, their eyes, and how their faces and features have changed over the years. Specifically, I look at a picture of my mother at a Thanksgiving dinner, maybe forty years ago, and notice that she is wearing an outfit I would never even dream of owning: an ugly sweater, a vest, and pants that just don’t “work.” I feel so disgusted that I must disclose my opinion on the fashions that my mother had complied with, deriding her style and mocking her “look.”  As I continue to ridicule her horrid vest, and try to understand why she would ever buy it, much less wear it, I ask myself: “Why did I just buy this gray hoodie that I’m wearing?” The answer is “because it’s in style, and everyone’s wearing it nowadays,” or simply that “I like it.” That hoodie which I fought to attain, that hoodie whose picture I ripped out of a magazine and hung on a wall to worship, is one whose trend I know that I will follow to its final days; I know when those days are done, and many years have passed since I had ever thought about the hoodie, it will be mercilessly mocked by my children and grandchildren. My mother’s generation, who wore those “ugly sweaters” which I just disparaged, probably felt the same about their sweaters as I do about my hoodie, and religiously followed that trend to its natural end.
As each generation replaces the next, fashion trends fizzle and new fashions phenoms replace the old. Each generation reveres its predecessor, honoring its traditions, beliefs, and wisdom; each respecting all but one thing: the style of its apparel.
Comparing this disdain for the previous generation’s attire to Vogue’s mockery of each preceding month’s trends, a noticeable pattern appears in the population’s continued chase of new fashions. The comparison of each generation’s clothing styles mirrors the separation of each month’s trend at Vogue; no matter if it’s the generations of mothers and children every few decades, or the generations of new clothing being created each month, every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new” (68).




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