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Monday, 23 July 2012

"Today, there is no fashion, really. There are just . . . choices. Women dress today to reveal their personalities. They used to reveal the designer's personality. Until the 70s, women listened to designers. Now women want to do it their own way. There are no boundaries. And without boundaries, there is no fashion." 
- by Oscar de la Renta in 2002
I've said this same thing on Retrospace for years - each decade has a very distinctive, recognizable fashion identity.  However, as the 90s wore on, it started to become apparent that hallmark styles were becoming extinct.  Sure, you had an easily identifiable "grunge" look for a few years - but, overall, fashion as we knew was going extinct.

We mock the seventies look, but at least it had a look.  Maybe it's because we got lazy, or maybe it's just as Mr. de la Renta said: there ceased to be boundaries.  For instance, in 1971, if you were a female of high school age, you wore a miniskirt.  There was no room for divergence from the fashion of the day.  You had to do it.

The same goes for men.  In 1976 you did NOT wear your hair even close to a crew cut - you wore it grown out PERIOD.  To do otherwise was simply not up for discussion.

Nowadays, I guess, people have no boundaries - they don't have to follow a certain fashion etiquette.  Thus, you lose that uniformity and subsequently you lose that identifiable "look" that went with each decade.  For instance, I can easily tell from a photograph (with people in it, of course) whether it is from 1971 or 1978.  I promise you, I'll never get it wrong.

In contrast, I can't tell whether a photograph is from 1997 or 2012 - a full 15 years apart!  (Yet, think of the fashions of 1970 versus the fashions fifteen years later in 1985.... holy crap, what a difference!)

A perfect example: All women knew you DID NOT wear white shoes after Labor Day - this hard and fast rule lasted into the 1990s.  In the 1960s, you didn't wear white clothes period.  Now, no women give a flying shit.

And please don't argue the point and say we have, today, certain styles that do get popular - for instance, "skinny jeans".  But that's not the point - I'm not saying that things don't get popular.  The point is that the rules have disappeared.

One more example: In 1979, you could wear bell bottoms completely free of embarrassment.  By 1982, a mere three years later, you would be publicly mocked and ostracized. In stark contrast, I could easily walk into a mall today and see everything from skinny jeans, to bell bottoms, to flare legged, to straight legged, to Capri length, to low rise..... you get the point. In fact, I could literally wear the same wardrobe I wore in college (I graduated college over 20 years ago) and get away with it..... and actually look quite nice.

What the hell happened to our collective mindset? I think Oscar de la Renta said it perfectly.  We don't have rules anymore.  We lost the boundaries.



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