Picture this: a young man, perhaps 17 years old, standing in the middle of Euston station, looking up at the board through gold wire-frame glasses. As he looks around, his dirty blonde hair falls in waves across his eyes. His knee-length felt coat is open, showing his striped shirt tucked haphazardly into his jeans, gold belt buckle standing out on the brown leather belt he wears. He is the ultimate picture of fashionable cool; something I definitely wasn’t at his age.
He begins to walk away, and he strides confidently through the crowds. I notice something. His jeans are short, flapping loosely just above his ankles. He is wearing well-worn canvas Lacostes and in the gap between his jeans and his shoes, I can see his NASA print socks. Now, in my day – don’t I sound old! – trousers that flapped around your ankles were called jack-ups. Spotted in a pair of trousers too short for you, you were teased mercilessly, asked if your parents couldn’t afford to buy you trousers that fit.
Being taller than most boys my age when I was just reaching my teens, this ‘banter’ was something I experienced whenever I borrowed my friends’ jeans as they would inevitably be too short. As the boy walked away, ankle-swingers proudly doing their thing, it got me thinking: how have some styles changed and evolved since I was a teenager? And perhaps more importantly to me, have I changed with them?
During my late primary, early secondary school years there were many an item or a style that – where I went to school, at least – you wouldn’t have been caught dead in. Here are the top three that I remember and how popular opinion of them has changed in the last decade.
Ahh, creepers. The shoe that everyone openly hated and secretly wanted. Originally a shoe worn by soldiers fighting in the deserts in WWII, this shoe has seen several peaks and troughs in terms of popularity over the years. In the late 90s, early 2000s, I think it’s fair to say that in the very outer edges of East London where I went to school, creepers were most definitely in a trough. To my classmates, creepers were an item of clothing that only a ‘goth’ would wear (I know, I know!) and perhaps, for a good many years at least, this was probably true as generally it was only people with an affiliation to the ‘alternative’ scene that wore them where I grew up.
My best friend and I went through a bit of a rebellious period during secondary school and for us, part of that meant wearing clothes that other people wouldn’t think were cool. Creepers were one of the top items on that list. Considering the very openly negative opinion of creepers that was rife in my school, it blew my mind when only a few years later, creepers had managed to make it into the hearts of my more fickle friends. Major ‘I told you so’ moment.
Creepers, as they often have done, made a major comeback in the mid 2000s and now they can be found everywhere, all over the highstreet in various forms. At least with this particular trend, hand on heart, I am able to say that I was fan even before they came back into highstreet fashion.
Glasses are an interesting one. Not really a ’trend’, for many people – myself included – they are actually an essential piece of equipment. In fact, my eyesight is so bad that without my glasses, I can barely see anything more than 4 feet away from me. However, despite their importance to my everyday life, when I was growing up, glasses were one of those things that I only wore when I absolutely had to because of the stigma attached to them.
I distinctly remember one ghastly year when we had sailing lessons at school. Cue the elastic glasses tape. My parents, determined that I wouldn’t lose my expensive prescription spectacles at the bottom of Fairlop lake, made me wear an piece of elastic string attaching my glasses to my face like goggles. Needless to say that this moment wasn’t one of the fashion highlights of my youth.
Now, in hindsight, I think a lot of the negativity around glasses that I experienced when I was younger was teenage bluster and naivety rather than specifically due to the lack of fashionability associated with glasses. However, nowadays, glasses are definitely seen as both a necessity and a fashion trend.
You only have to walk into Primark to find a pair of fashion rims that frame clear plastic rather than treated glass. More or less every major designer has an eyewear range as well as their clothing lines and glasses are seen in full focus of many large-scale fashion ad campaigns. Just consider the furore that erupted over Victoria Beckham’s use of model Giedre Dukauskaite recently. Whilst the backlash was focussed around the model’s weight, it’s interesting to note that she was simply modelling Victoria Beckham’s Eyewear range in a series of pictures released on Instagram. Flick through any fashion mag and you’ll come across multiple pictures of multiple models wearing all types and varieties of glasses.
And designers are not the only ones who have made eewaer more desirable. Celebrities like Emma Watson, Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Depp and even Justin Bieber have all sported glasses in public, lending credence to the fact that glasses have become both a fashionable accessory and a medical marvel.
Ahem, as a very fashionable 8 year old, I was ahead of the pack when I sported a double denim ensemble of light blue denim jacket and dark blue cut off shorts, compete with elastic chunky-heeled sandals. Clearly, at that point in time double denim was a winning combination. Roll forward about ten years and double denim instead had become a fashion crime that once committed, would give you a very long sentence in the elephantine memories of a pack of teenage girls. Conversations centred on the fashion faux-pas of double denim were commonplace in my secondary school and it wasn’t unusual to hear catty comments made on non-uniform days when someone was spotted wearing double denim.
However, in 2018 double denim has become a veritable fixture on catwalks. From Mid Miu’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, to Erika Cavallini’s and Adam Selman’s Autumn/Winter 2017, to Tom Ford’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection, double denim is making it’s presence felt. In line with it’s popularity on the catwalk, the full on denim look is also being sported by models and celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Miranda Kerr. But whilst they look good in their beautifully styled, expertly put-together outfits, I’m not convinced it’s for me. Too many awkward teenage associations.