Fashion coming full circle
Recently my 12-year-old, Ava asked me if I kept any of my clothing from the late ‘90s to early 2000s. I shook my head and explained that my clothing was more than likely donated to Goodwill years ago. I didn’t keep things that didn’t fit or outdated with trends in my early 20s. I had to explain to her that there was a severe shift in what I wore in 1994, 1999 and 2004. She was still staring at me in disbelief that I let go of such treasures. Her request sent me down a real rabbit hole. I thought long and hard about the girl I used to be and where she had run off to.
In 1999, I was a sophomore in high school who wanted to become Gwen Stefani and marry the bassist of Blink 182, Mark Hoppus. My hopes and dreams were to land on a gig on “SNL” and be the next Molly Shannon. But, as far as fashion, it was a little messy; I was stuck between preppy and surfer chic. It was quite the combo. I often shopped at PacSun and American Eagle. Roxy, Quicksilver and popped collar polos were life. My room was covered in Ron Jon Surf Shop stickers and stenciled palm trees, and the bedroom walls were painted powder blue. That phase seemed to last until I attended college in 2001.
Fast forward to 2004 and the surfer chic vibe was slowly fading and transitioning to boho, emo, hippie vibes. Heavy eye liner, flair jeans, solid color tops, dark nail polish, hemp jewelry and moccasins were the new trends for me at least. My love for punk rock was slowly transitioning to love for local bands and Jack Johnson. But as time went by so did my love for fancy clothing. Most of my days on my college campus were filled with art classes, so wearing old jeans seemed like appropriate attire since they would be covered in my clay and paint splatters by the end of the day.
I didn’t cover all this material with Ava, but her innocent quest to find old clothing pushed me into a time machine and made me think about how different my life was at her age. Where was I at 12, I thought? What were the trends? What music did I listen too?
These questions that I asked myself sparked an even bigger revelation. I am becoming my parents. I am taking every experience I had—clothing choices in this case—and comparing it to new trends. When I was 12, it was 1994; grunge was erupting and R & B was trending. I remember my first slow dance to Boyz II Men, and buying my first flannel because I wanted to be like Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and find my own Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), just like she did in “My So-Called Life”—which I was totally too young to be watching, by the way.
As soon as I remembered all the decades I’ve lived through and how fashion was such a huge part of my life, I thought about the next thing. Yup; you guessed it—my parents and what they wore.
I channeled my younger self and remembered my father standing in front of me in tight jeans and a Pink Floyd T-shirt when he was 38 years old. I was 16, and I couldn’t shake why my dad was trying so hard to look cool, but he looked like he was stuck in 1980. My mom was still rocking her big ‘80s hair too—and high-waisted pants. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, like, honestly, can you guys just get on board with the new trends?’ But now, as a parent at that exact age of 38, I am realizing how much I am like them. I am still holding on to my millennial side part, plain T-shirts, cardigans and skinny jeans. Not only am I embracing the fashion of my younger years, but I am also listening to Sirius radio stations like Y2K, ‘90s on 9, and ‘80s on 8.
What was uncool in 1999 when my dad was wearing band tees and my mom was wearing high-waisted jeans ... is now in. It’s all coming around full circle; you try so hard not to be like your parents, but you literally just fall into it effortlessly.
When you get some time think, about what you wore in 1994, 1999 and 2004. If you saved your clothes, your kids may be super lucky to relive your memories and wear your old threads. If you didn’t save anything like me just close your eyes and see if you can relive those years through the thoughts of fashion.
Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at LifeWithLoraine@gmail.com.