Trends the Second Time Around

Thoughts on wearing trends the second time around

I was born in 1977, so I was a (mostly) cognizant being during the 80s. I wasn’t a terribly fashion-forward being since I was quite wee, but I saw the 80s clothing trends go by me and they soaked into my consciousness. Neon and leggings, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and destroyed jeans, piled-on jewelry and cropped tops. These were the trends of my childhood, even if I didn’t wear them back then.

I wear them now. OK, I don’t wear neon much because it doesn’t work with my palette, but the rest? Oh yes. I adore 80s influences completely without irony. I’m also perfectly content to trot out my floral dresses and combat boots from the 90s, and still own much of what I wore in the 00s.

Which flies in the face of that oft-repeated style adage, “Don’t wear a trend the second time around.” An adage that seems a bit restrictive to me. I mean, I get that some women may feel they’ve moved beyond the trends from their respective youths, especially the ones that never appealed in the first place. And I get that wearing a trend a second time may make a gal feel like she’s trying too hard, or attempting to regain lost youth, or just not being true to her current, evolved personal style. But the rest of us? Those who feel that when trends reappear, they’re generally tweaked and improved-upon to the point of being virtually new? Those feel that revived trends styled in contemporary ways can look fresh and fun? I don’t see why we should avoid the trends we loved as youngsters when they re-emerge, retooled and updated for modern consumption.

Especially if they mesh perfectly with our current, refined personal style preferences. And we’re nostalgics at heart.

Originally posted 2011-10-10 06:30:11.

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45 Responses to “Trends the Second Time Around”

  1. EE K

    I was born in the early 70s and have seen lots of trends come and go! Some I repeat, some not so much :). I didn’t think I would ever wear skinny jeans again (I don’t know if you remember the ones in the late 80s early 90s from Guess and Gap that had the zipper by the ankle) but I love the ones I have now, I don’t think I would get any with a zipper, however. I think it’s all a matter of how you incorporate the trend into your look so it’s not too “trendy.”

  2. Cynthia

    I was born in (gasp) 1968, so I have a kid’s fond memories of 70s color schemes and styles. But I don’t consciously wear them as “trends”, it’s just that when they’re available they appeal to me. The mid-80s, not so much. I was a teenager so I was going to be awkward anyway, but I associate that awkwardness and the lousy feelings about struggling to conform in the feral milieu of teenagers with 80s styles. I basically spent the end of the 80s channeling the Christian Slater character in Heathers. Or maybe Bender. I was ripe for the 90s and the end of all that squeaky-clean neon/big shouldered/buttoned up/skinny pants ickiness.

  3. Relynn

    I was born in 1978, and I did wear most of the trends from the 80’s, 90’s and on the first time around… like the late 60’s rehash that came about around 97 and lasted through… well, recently with the hip-slung flares. lol I did that right at the start of that fad, maybe slightly before it, actually. I have always been one to be at the forefront of fads if I’m going to follow fads. So far I’ve had no desire to wear the trends twice, though. I lived the 80’s and wore the 80’s in the 80’s. I am not a fan of neon now, as my taste has changed drastically since then. I also like structured garments and tailored details. I do incorporate some of those former and resurrecting fads, if they suit my style.

  4. Norma Pennycuff

    I think (possibly just hope) that the trends that come back around were the ones that weren’t so dangerous. I think if you are wearing past trends just because you simply can’t let go you’ve got your own set of issues.

    For instance, jelly shoes. Hrm why has no one mentioned trotting those babies out? Oh right because they were awful. The first and even the 2nd time (mid 90’s) as soon as they came off the assembly line and onto a foot someone said, “Oh dear God, what have we done!?” and they were forcefully forgotton.

    I’ve also noticed that some of the trends do come back but they are still influenced by modern design and fashion. Leggings have come back but they are in current colors and woven in fabrics that don’t seem to bunch and sag as much around the knee as earlier versions. I’ve seen men in skinny pants who don’t have the… well… “bulge” that the front men in 80’s hair bands seemed to be found of wearing.

    So maybe as a culture we learned our lesson and with each re-introduction we do it a little better. Except the jelly shoes. No amount of refining will make them ok. Ever.

  5. Miss T

    Beautiful clothing is beautiful, no matter when it’s worn. The personal appeal of styles never really goes away, so I think women actually crave the styles they like and generally welcome them back in their new versions. You are probably correct about needing to like them in the first place, though. I was born in the late 50’s and I remember my mother putting me in “pedal pushers” at age 5 or so. OMG, how I hated those things. I remember asking my mom, “Why are they so short? They look terrible!” And to this day, I cannot embrace pedal pushers, crop pants, capris, or any bifurcated garment that doesn’t reach the top of my shoes. I have no rational reason, except that I remember my loathing for my original pedal pushers, and that’s enough for me. Later, I was studying fashion design in the late 70s/early 80s and working in an upscale boutique in SF at the time, and I remember fondly the fashions of that era. I feel a surge of excitement when I see a garment from those eras and I remember the creativity and innovation that they represented at the time. By comparison, I think the fashions of today are dull and overall, kind of depressing.

  6. Jess

    I was born in ’92, so I can’t really comment on 80’s trends the first time around, but I have to say that I LOVE the leggings trend and I wear them with almost everything, so I’m praying that they won’t go back out of style for a while.

  7. Allie

    Like Miss T, I am drawn to the fashions I liked the first go-round. I think trends come back in a different version – we’re not all wearing Guess ankle-zip acid washed jeans with Benneton rugby shirts, but the skinny ankle-zip can be stylish now with booties, a different wash, and a silk blouse. I swore I would never wear tunic sweaters and leggings again (I was born in ’75 so rocked the late ’80s fashion), but here it is 2011 and one of my favorite ensembles is a pair of saturated black jeggings with a black dolman-sleeve tunic sweater! I just don’t think one should do a literal repeat of what was worn the first time around.

  8. malevolent andrea

    Born in 1962 and if I were to eschew everything in the stores that was trendy at some other point in my life, I’d have to go naked. And no one wants that. I’m more fond of the late 70s fashions of my high school days than I am the 80s looks of my 20s, but some of that is that a lot of 80s style is really unflattering on my body type.

  9. lesliele

    I’m actually kind of loving the leggings and big shirts too. I was born in 1980, and I always loved how comfy the look was. However, I’ll pass on the double slouch socks, side ponytail, and keds white sneakers worn with them!

    Personally, I’m waiting for the 90’s looks to come back. I think we’ve seen some minimalism a’la Calvin Klein mid-90’s, looks that I loved! Also– grunge. I said it. 😀 I would love to wear a plaid flannel, jeans and one-stars and not look like a lumberjack.

  10. R.M. Koske

    I’ve found that anything I look at and instantly identify as eighties is an automatic no for me, not because I wore it the first time (I might have worn it, I might not – I was not particularly fashionable then), but for some reason most of it is hideous to me now. I think I spent the last 20 years thinking of it as the annoying crap in between the good stuff at the thrift stores and I’m having trouble relaxing that attitude. I’m a bit disappointed with myself on this point actually, because I hate the “if you wore it the first time” rule.

    On the other hand, I didn’t peg the outfit in this photo as eighties until you pointed it out, and I hadn’t made the skinny jeans connection. So I may just have that reaction to pure vintage or the reinterpretations of the extreme eighties looks that only the super fashion-forward are playing with.

  11. Patience

    Like Cynthia, I was born in 1968 and I associate 80s fashions with being an unhappy teenager. I hated how I looked in the 80s, so I’m not likely to ever embrace eighties revival trends. I do feel drawn to the ladylike styles of the early 60s–stuff my mom wore in college, and I also love the 1940s, although there were definitely some very ugly clothes during that time.

  12. Rebecca

    Leggings are so functional, I hope they never go out of style again! I don’t mind wearing stuff that’s “out of style”, as I don’t necessarily wear things because they’re in style, but it can be so hard to find things in the store if they’re not current. (My roommate said of a pair of boots I wore the other day, “They’re so out of style that they never were in,” and she meant it in a good way.)

    Also, Lesliele, you could move to Maine, the Lumberjack look is what all the hipsters here wear.

  13. Nebraskim

    I read somewhere once that people “imprint” on a style era (just like baby ducks will imprint on a human and think it’s “mommy.”) I imprinted on Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall.” I’m 56, this movie came out when I was 22. I still gravitate toward khakis, white shirts, black vests or blazers, oxford shoes and a fedora as my signature look. Diane Keaton’s personal style journey is similar to mine, I guess. When she wore those white turtlenecks in that movie with Jack Nicholson and the AWESOME white kitchen, well, I was on that “trend” as well (the shirts, not the kitchen, although if I were to be able to redo my kitchen, it would be in that style.) I don’t recycle looks and eras as much as I continue to update and tweak my signature look.

    • Sal

      Style imprinting … What a fascinating concept! I’ll have to give some thought to my own imprinted icons or eras.

    • Cynthia

      That’s an interesting theory. I know I imprinted on the styles common where I grew up (Wisconsin/Illinois) and have found it very hard to change my style to adapt to living in the for-real South. I kept trying to dress how I always dressed and spent the first few years here hot, frustrated and frumpy.

    • Tracey

      I have said for many years that I am imprinted on the mid 60s as I was born in 1966. I think there needs to be some distance, but then you go back to what you absorbed in those early years. At some point in my adult life I suddenly found myself strangely pulled to mid-century modern architectural, interior and graphic design as well as the clothes – mini dresses, boots etc. This was well before Mad Men & HGTV brought this look back into pop culture. I would never wear any of those clothes mind you, but I would love to have a mid-century modern house! This would be a great topic to explore!

  14. Courtney

    I have no problem with trends themselves coming back around, but I prefer to seem some reworking. I’ve noticed that quite a bit of 80s stuff that has come back in the past couple of years looks almost *exactly* like it did in the 80s. I constantly see things in stores and think, “I owned that shirt when I was 14.” My personal rule is to generally avoid trends that I wore when I was 12 to 14. I was 12 when I started being allowed to choose trendy clothes with few limits from my mom, and I went nuts. I wore every trend that came along that my mother didn’t veto, no matter how hideous it looked on me or how uncomfortable it was to wear. (The main vetos I remember were Guess jeans and parachute pants, due to the expense.) I was a smart kid who didn’t fit in (kiss of death in Middle school), and I lost my best friend from elementary school to the popular crowd in the 6th grade. Wearing things that look like they came directly from that time period not only makes me feel like I’m trying too hard to look young–it also makes me feel as awkward and uncomfortable in my skin as I did then.

    Now, if something is *inspired* by that time period, I’ll consider it. I can see wearing a paisley print skirt or scarf if the colors suit me, but I won’t wear jeans with suspenders that have cuffs lined with paisley print fabric. I’ll wear houndstooth in different ways than I wore it back then (and I strongly prefer a small to medium houndstooth pattern as opposed to the giant, 10X magnification houndstooth.) I’ll consider wearing a hat, if the color and shape actually suits my face. I’ll wear a mini skirt with leggings, just not acidwashed denim. I’m not going to tuck my t-shirts into skin-tight jeans and blouse them out a bit, because that looks like ass on my figure. The only time you will see me wearing a button down shirt with the collar done all the way up and fastened with a beaded pin is if it’s Halloween and I’m dressing like one of the Heathers. 🙂

  15. D

    Hmmm…I was born in ’85, so I don’t really remember the 80’s, but I will say that I am attracted to NEON colors, and I really like leggings. I remember going through school in the 90’s with complete admiration for the older gals with the floral dresses and combat boots, so I’ll always be on board for that trend. In fact, I’m already/still doing the tough boots thing…

  16. FutureLint

    I’ve totally rocked some ’80s and ’90s trends a second time around… I agree with you that they are usually changed enough to make them modern or I can modernize them myself by styling them in a more modern way or with different shoes, hair, make-up, etc than I wore the first time around… Besides, every two years or so things like animal print or polka dots are declared “in” so it’s hard to avoid repeating the trends!

  17. Anna D.

    I don’t think I have a problem with anyone else my age wearing these trends, but personally, I tend to hate re-wearing the trends I grew up with. (I was born in 1969 so the 70s and 80s count.) I have a kind of anti-nostalgia gene, I think, and (this is going to sound really weird) if I surround myself with stuff that evokes another era (that I lived through) I feel kinda like I’m going to lose my grasp of where I actually am in time. Which isn’t to say I’m especially fashion forward (I’m not at ALL), just that I prefer to wear things that are sort of era-neutral (or at least feel that way now. I’m sure 15-20 years from now I will look at my clothes from now and think, “So 2010s!”).

    I do think eventually stuff on the second (or third or whatever) time around starts to say “2010s” rather than 80s, and then I’m okay with it. I loved all the big pearls/crystal baubles from the 80s that are in now, but I think I need a little longer before they say “now” to me instead of “high school.” Because I don’t WANT to go back to high school at ALL!

    (Some of this is probably because I’m a totally different shape than I was when the trends first came around – and not for the better – so I just prefer to avoid the comparison.)

    • Sandie

      I’m with Anna D (a few years older)–can’t see myself wearing Doc Martens, which I loved in my 20s, or other 80s styles. I have to reach back farther, to styles that I didn’t live through the first time round. Early 60s, 50s, 40s.

      If I traveled back in time to meet my own former styles, well…things would just get too Twilight Zone.

  18. Brianne

    Born in ’78, so I remember the ’80s and ’90s styles quite well. It takes me quite a while to allow a style come back into my life. I was quite resistant to leggings this go-round, but I let them back in last year. I still don’t want to wear short leggings with baby doll dresses or ankle leggings with lace at the bottom. And no scrunchies.

    I’m also starting to wear blazers again after wearing them all the time in high school. I definitely had an “Andrea Zuckerman” thing going with tapestry vests and blazers. I’m particularly anti-vest lately.

    If I still had my teenage body, I’d probably love to wear some of the styles from the ’90s. Lots of mini-skirts and short t-shirts with cardigans. Clueless and Empire Records had some great clothes.

  19. Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    Well, there will always be a bit of early ’80s new romantic goth in my style, it’s thoroughly imprinted on my (a concept I’ve also heard of & that definitely clicked with me). I was glad that leggings came back bec. I lived in them as a teenager & sorely missed them when they went away. But I did NOT miss the ’80s neon colors & things like big shoulder pads & legwarmers, gag me with a spoon.

    As with wearing vintage, head-to-toe revival trends can look silly on anyone, but esp. on someone who’d clearly of an age to remember it the first time ’round.

  20. joelle van dyne

    there are some trends i can’t do again, like the grunge look with oversized flannel, jeans and doc martens. but i do like to co-opt some parts of that with a more modern spin- like combat boots that fit my foot rather than being so wide and clunky like my docs were. but trends from the 80s, i will totally revisit. i was actually bookmarking those plastic, clip-on colorful charm necklaces everyone used to have, because i think it would be fun to wear again! maybe because for me, the 80s were a really happy time, and in a lot of the 90s i was so moody and emo. in all, i think the rule about ‘not wearing a trend twice’ should be more about not wearing it exactly the same way twice.

  21. Laurel

    I think I might be too young (or just too out of touch with fashion!) for this to really apply to me. I was born in 1987 and didn’t dress at all trendy as a kid. I’m not sure what style would define the late ’90s to mid ’00s…I remember wearing there being a lot of solid shirts with a horizontal stripe across the chest and flared jeans. I feel like the skinny jeans / skaterpunk / hipster look that’s been going on since the mid-’00s is still fashionable NOW, but I’m not sure that’s one I’ll be repeating in the future (given that I don’t wear much of it now).

    I would welcome a ’90s resurgence, if that’s the way fashion is going. I really like flared jeans and flannel.

    • pope suburban

      That’s how I feel too. I think revamps of older fashions are pretty great, since they tend to have a different flavor than the originals, but I haven’t hit a point where I can go, “Oh, yeah, I wore that when it first hit the scene!” I guess I’ll have to wait and see if my theory holds true for me. I still love flannel, but I don’t know that it ever went away; I live someplace that gets very cold half the year, and all the outdoorsy types sport it every fall and winter. I think flannels and big stompy boots are the only real style holdovers I have at this point, given my age and dressing habits.

  22. Miss T

    Just realized we are 11 years into THIS era (the 00s?) — what IS the predominant style of THIS time? What are the elements that will be remembered and captured “again” 20 years from now? Am I alone in thinking that there isn’t anything distinct about clothing right now?

    The 60s brought mini skirts, the 70s bell bottoms and platform shoes, the 80s had shoulder pads, the 90s had grunge. I rattled those examples off without even thinking. If someone asked me, QUICK, sum up one of the major trends of the 00s, my response would be, “uh, uh, uh. . .????” Is this something unique to now? Could the internet/online shopping have something to do with it? In other words, is the lack of a current overriding set of style elements for the past/current decade related in some way to a different way we register the context/timing of fashion (what is then vs. now, “in” vs. “out”, fashion vs. trend) now that we have unlimited access to fashion in all its incarnations? In the 70s, for example, we pretty much only knew about fashion from stores and what our friends/associates were wearing. Now, we can attend a virtual runway show, if we want, on TV or on the internet. We can jump out of our socioeconomic “class” and buy a $1,000 pair of shoes — if we want to. And we needn’t explain ourselves; it can be done privately. Fashion decisions are largely private now, plus, we can find an online example/justification to wear clothing from any era, of any style, pretty much anywhere, any time.

    Fashion used to be a top-down phenomenon, with celebrities/well-respected women setting fashion trends (e.g., Jacquelin Kennedy). Then in the 70s, bottom-up fashion (e.g., punk) started happening. I think we are in a new age now, where there is no “top” and there is no “bottom”. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, quite frankly. But it is disorienting. And it could explain why fashion is so confusing right now, and why it’s hard to know how/why to dress right now.

    • Erin

      I remember thinking that there was nothing distinct about clothing during the 90s. I think we need distance to see it.

    • Susan

      I think Erin is definitely right about needing distance. But I think we’re far enough removed from the early- to mid-00s that I can remember a few things that were popular when I was in high school but are much less popular now:
      – midriff-baring shirts (and navel piercings)
      – distressed or embellished jeans (high-contrast whiskering, blingy back pockets, etc.)
      – velour track suits
      – a lot of glitter and rhinestones, not only on clothes but in cosmetics like eyeshadow and body glitter
      – an overall trend toward tight, revealing and “sexy,” which I would guess was a backlash from the androgynous 80s and the grungy 90s

      Do these things seem right to other people? I didn’t participate in any of them, and I don’t think I’ll revisit any of the other few trends I can remember taking part in, such as the overalls I wore in, say, 1996. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with incorporating your previous favorites into your style if they fit.

  23. rb

    Hello Peg Bundy!

    I think there’s a difference between trends and trendy.

    I am appreciating the current trend toward slightly longer skirts and will definitely wear this one again (though not mid-calf skirts, most likely.) I also like the whole ladylike blouse thing and am seizing the opportunity to stock up.

    But I will not be wearing neon and ripped sweatshirts because 1) I never really liked them in the first place and 2) I’m too old not to feel ridiculous in them.

  24. Courtney

    I just had to giggle about the “destroyed jeans” trend. There were some “pre destroyed” jeans available, but most of the people I knew who wore torn jeans in the 80s either ripped them naturally or cut up jeans that were already mostly worn out but hadn’t actually torn yet (i.e. jeans that would normally have been made into cut off shorts.) I didn’t know anyone who was allowed to tear up new jeans or whose parents would shell out for jeans that were already torn. The one ripped up pair of jeans I had got ripped up when I took a tumble in the parking lot and tore up the knee from one side-seam to the other. At that point, my mom didn’t care when I cut the other knee to match. They were the one pair of jeans that fit me perfectly, and I wore them and washed them until they were as soft as felt. I finally tossed them when the crotch seam frayed. That was a bit much.

    To this day, I shake my head at people who pay extra for pre-ruined jeans, but I will happily keep and wear jeans that get torn in the course of living. I’d rather have a frayed rip than a patch.

  25. Tracey

    I was born in 1966 (see my reply above to the comment on fashion imprinting) so I was in high school and college throughout the 80s. I loved leggings and long sweaters then, and love them now, though I have not fully incorporated this look into my daily wardrobe. Not necessarily the most flattering look, but so comfy. Also have happily re-embraced skinny jeans as I am short and have decided that flare, wide leg, and boot cut jeans overwhelm my frame. Now if the waistline on dresses would migrate back down to my natural waist as they were in the 80s, I would be happy.

  26. Anne

    Boy does this post make me feel old. I was born in the summer of love (1965). When I was in my mid 30’s, I first heard the term “no backsies.” It meant that if a trend came back, you weren’t supposed to revisit it. The truth is that while there are trends coming back that I wouldn’t go anywhere near, there are some that I really love. I bought a pair of flare jeans that I wear with wedge heals and I love them. They make me feel so tall and leggy. I would love to wear shoulder pads again. (maybe in a less extreme way?) I think so many past fads have come back as fresh trends and I think it makes fashion so interesting because of how an individual interprets and tweaks these things help her/ him to create a very personal look.

    Maybe that is the 00’s “thing.” Although what’s offered in malls is all rather ubiquitous, you can blend influences from several different eras to create a unique or signature look. Another thing that really seems hot now, mixing hi-brow with low- brow. After college, there was a long time when I would never have gone shopping for clothing in a thrift store, let alone brag about the bargains I was wearing. I think options have really opened up and we all know that we can opt out of a trend if we don’t like it. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to pin down specific trends for this particular era.

  27. Erin

    If I could get away with wearing a white baby tee, a flannel, enormous men’s jeans, Birkenstocks, and socks, I would. The 90s were sooo comfy! At 15 I looked cute – now I have a feeling I would just look sloppy.

  28. virago

    The preppie look was popular when I (born in 1965) was in high school, and I wouldn’t wear it again on a bet! At the time, I held it against myself that I looked so dumpy in Fair Isle sweaters, turtlenecks, khakis and boat shoes. Now that I know more about my body type — short-waisted and buxom — I realize that it would have been a freaking miracle if such apparel had been flattering.