Tuesday, November 20, 2012

top ten Tuesday: childhood clothing flashback.

Not too long ago, James and I were enjoying a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Sioux Falls. We’d been to a parade in the morning, and we had just finished a leisurely lunch. Our day was going well… until we made a grave mistake: we went to the mall.

The Sioux Empire mall on a Saturday is a death trap. It’s bursting with hyperactive teenagers and aggressive stroller-pushing moms who will not hesitate to run you over. Despite having to stay on our toes to avoid injury, James and I did manage to do a little window-shopping. Between our stop at the mall and our subsequent visit to Target, I noticed a pattern: the new clothing in stores looks an awful like my closet, circa 1994. I realize that the clothing industry has been experiencing a flashback for a while now, but never have I seen so many 90s clothes concentrated in one place.

This clothing flashback is certainly not limited to the 90s. Many of the resurrected trends are straight from the 80s, and in some cases, even the 70s. If you look around your average cheap/trendy store, you would find it very difficult not to cross paths with jumpsuits, crop tops, and those goofy plastic sunglasses with the stripes. Mercifully, I was either a.) nonexistent, or b.) too young, so I was spared those particular fads. However, the 90s and early 2000s were not as kind. I did my best to find pictures of myself wearing each of these items when I was a kid, but alas, photographic evidence doesn’t exist for each and every one. You’ll have to take what you can get.

So here I am, wandering through stores and recognizing their offerings as items I wore when I still played with Barbies. For this Top Ten Tuesday, I’d like to present the top ten clothing items I wore as a kid that are experiencing a comeback in stores. Let’s go through the list, shall we?

puffy neon coats
A puffy coat is a Midwestern necessity. Our winters tend to be long and brutal, and the least you can do is have something warm and marshmallow-like to shield you from the bitter wind. There were a great many puffy coats on the market, but if you were an elementary-aged girl in the mid-90s, it had to be neon. If it wasn’t, you were tragically uncool and inevitably subject to ridicule. I avoided such mockery with my hot pink puffy coat: a faithful winter companion for many years. Before long, though, neon coats had joined the ranks of the lame. The must-have coat that followed was the Arlington Cardinals coat with your name embroidered on it. 
Like so.
After that, you had to have a Columbia coat. In any case, it’s been many years since neon coats were in style. Apparently, now is their time to (re)shine.
You can buy this coat RIGHT NOW.
If it doesn't scream 1990s,
I don't know what does.
floral dresses
I got lots of hand-me-downs as a kid. “But Calla,” the attentive reader might say, “aren’t you the oldest?” Why yes, I am the oldest; hence, my hand-me-downs didn’t come from an older sister. My mom had many coworkers with older daughters, so she’d lug boxes of clothes home for me to try. The clothing in these boxes fell into two clear categories: the things I liked, and the things my mother liked. 
Above: a dress my mother liked.
The flowery dresses contained in these boxes almost always fell into the latter group. These were the frilly, lacy, poofy, tent-like dresses in which I suffered through many a church service. 
I shudder at the memory.
Happy was the day when I got to donate these dresses to Goodwill. Lo and behold, fifteen years later, similar dresses are appearing in stores. These dresses are more grown up (read: slutty), but I still wouldn’t be caught dead in them.
No thanks.
lace-up boots
Thankfully, denim dresses have yet
to make a comeback...
Wearing my lace-up boots drove me nuts. They were impossible to get on, and they took forever to tie. Plus, I thought they looked super dorky. (My mom insisted otherwise, but looking back, I was totally right.) During winter, I was coerced into wearing these boots with tights and dresses. Besides my floral dresses, this combination was my mom’s go-to church uniform for me. The lace-up boots of today are certainly more stylish than the pair I loathed fifteen years ago, but they still bring back plenty of dorky memories.
At least these have zippers.
colorful and/or patterned pants
Suddenly, colorful pants are EVERYWHERE! As a dorky pre-teen, I was a colorful denim connoisseur. I had a pair of red jeans and a pair of maroon jeans that I wore to death, as well as my lime green denim overalls. 
So much maroon.
When I was a little younger, I tended more towards patterned denim: stripes were my favorite. 

I did own a pair of black denim overalls (what’s with the overalls?) patterned with bright white flowers, so I’d occasionally stray into different patterns. While overalls are not terribly prevalent in store fashion today, you won’t have any trouble finding colorful or patterned pants.
Target, NOOOOOO!
I will admit, this is one flashback fashion that I have tried: Target lured me into buying a pair of red pants and a pair of purple pants.
However, I promise you, I’m staying away from the patterned pants.
Once was enough.
 maxi skirts
I just HAD to add
the denim vest.
The maxi skirts of today are really not too bad, if you know how to wear them. Today’s maxi skirts give off more of a bohemian vibe, whereas the maxi skirts of my day made you look like you belonged in a religious cult. By the time I started wearing these long skirts, I’m ashamed to admit that I was picking out my own clothes: I can no longer blame my mother. I’m sure I thought I looked fantastic, but my sense of fashion clearly wasn’t fully developed.
Nothing says
fashionable like
a flowery maxi skirt
and a sparkly
sweater, right?
Nowadays, I have been guilty of wearing a maxi dress or two, but as long as I don’t look like a sister wife, I think I’ll keep it up.
I don't think sister wives are allowed
to wear shoes like that, anyway.
Whenever I think of corduroy, I think of a joke our college jazz director used to tell before concerts: “did you hear about the new corduroy pillows? They’re making headlines!” Har har! I couldn’t dig up any photos of me wearing corduroy, but you’d better believe it was a wardrobe staple. I had a pair of black corduroy overalls (again with the overalls!) that I wore long after they had become too short. I had some tan corduroy pants from a rummage sale that served me well as part of my go-to oral interp outfit. I may have owned a corduroy jacket at some point, but my memory is a tad hazy. But now, from the hipster jackets at H&M to the skinny pants at Target, corduroy is back. Thanks, but no thanks.
Double whammy: colorful AND corduroy!
Remember my second grade obsession with The Lion King? It should come as no surprise that said obsession extended to my footwear. I owned not one, but two pairs of Lion King shoes. Both pairs were white, and one pair may have been Velcro. The possibly-Velcro pair had a little picture of a nuzzling Nala and Simba on the sides, and I wore them to death. The second pair also had a picture on the sides, but this time it was Simba. These, my friends, were a pair of hi-tops. 
This is not the pair I had, but these are awesome.
For that reason alone, they didn’t get near as much wear as the Velcro shoes. Hi-tops were way too much work for my eight-year-old self: you had to loosen the shoelaces, for crying out loud! Even though the loosening and subsequent tightening of the shoelaces added, at most, sixty extra seconds to me getting ready in the morning, every second counted. I never got out of bed with time to spare, so a whole added minute to get my shoes on would probably be enough to make me late for the bus. Hi-tops (with the exception of Converse All-Stars) fell out of favor in the mid-90s, but they never totally went away. Recently, though, I’ve been seeing a lot more of them in stores and out and about on people’s feet. Will I be reliving my past with a pair of hi-tops? Not if that means I have to get out of bed any earlier.
Not even for hot pink.
The resurgence of flannel has been going on for a few years now, and I have allowed select pieces to infiltrate my closet. The flannel of today, thankfully, is nothing like the flannel I wore in my early teen years. Flannel never completely went away, but the flannel that has made its way back into stores is far superior to the manly flannel I wore back when I still had braces. My flannel of yesteryear made me look more like a lumberjack than anything, but the new flannel is fitted and much less lumberjacky. I am more than happy to embrace this trend the second time around.
I don't think lumberjacks embrace graffiti and
drink Caribou coffee, anyway.
I'm the one in the middle: the purple Keds should give me away.
(When I say “Keds,” I mean all shoes in the style that Keds made famous.) Keds are seeing a comeback, thanks mostly to their popularity among hipsters. You can get them in every color and pattern under the sun. I loved my childhood Keds, and I know for certain that I had at least three different colors (black, purple, and lime green, of course). Though I am no hipster, I find myself sorely tempted by the new Keds/shoes that look like Keds but actually aren’t. It probably won’t be long before you’ll be able to find a pair in my closet.
Like these Target brand faux-Keds!
big old headbands
Do you spend much time in the hair accessories department of your local shopping center? If you do, you may have noticed the abundance of headbands with something decorative (and usually sparkly) attached to them. It could be a flower, a bow, or some unidentified sequined shape. I distinctly remember wearing headbands a lot like these when I was a youngster. One in particular comes to mind: it was a white headband with a giant bow made out of red, white, and blue shoelaces. Nowadays, headbands aren’t as delightfully tacky, but they still remind me of the days of the shoelace bow. As a kid, I had more headbands than I care to admit: skinny headbands, fabric headbands, butterfly headbands, and headbands with little teeth that were supposed to make them stick to your head. I gave up on headbands sometime in my preteen years when I realized that they just didn’t look good on me/I was too dumb to figure out how to make them look good. Several years later, I seemed to have forgotten, as I purchased a headband with one of those unidentified sequined shapes attached to it. Turns out that I STILL can’t make a headband look good. Some things never change.
Even crazy art museum backlighting couldn't help me.

Are your eyes bleeding from all these dorky childhood pictures? Man, what were my parents thinking? Unfortunately, I can’t always blame my parents: I’m a little ashamed to admit I’ve fallen prey to the second coming of more than one of these trends. Let’s just hope they don’t come back to bite me. Again.

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