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It’s funny; I bet no one thought of ‘the 90s’ as a look until  kids born at its start began dressing in teeny flower prints, piles of flannel, and Doc Martens. While it was going on, people in the 90s just dressed ‘comfortably’ or ‘fashionably’, as they saw fit, with what was available to them at local retailers. As said in the Seattle music documentary ‘Hype!’, “Wanna know why we wore flannel all the time? Because it’s fucking COLD up here.” Summing up a decade with fashion shorthand usually misses the actuality of the time period, the non-runway people living everyday lives with hand-me-downs and limited budgets.

That said, sometimes fashion shorthand is right on the nose. I was digging around for some nice Scandinavian intarsia patterns (what, you’ve never?) and came across this artifact CLEARLY, PAINFULLY from the 80s. It’s all there- the big hair, bigger tops, weird variations on beige and the masculine ideal…but it’s KNITTING patterns. As anyone who’s made even a hat knows, knitting takes a considerable amount of time and effort to create a final garment; you’re making each individual loop of the fabric. So to see something so dated and know at least one person worked at least 3 weeks to make it is one kind of sad. To open up the latest ‘Vogue Knitting’ and see the modern variant, knowing it will be dated is a whole different existential ‘I am but a brief moment in the flow of time’ crisis (one reason not to have a subscription).

Still, the recycling of the 80s has nearly run its course, the 90s are now ‘in’ ‘again’, and so we can chuckle at the folly of the following (if for some perverse reason you’d like to make any of these, I’ve linked the images to the patterns):

Post-apocalyptic wear in Oatmeal or Beige. I like the masculine ‘your seam is showing’ vs. the feminine ‘puffy sleeve’.

Guy, take the serious down a notch. You are wearing a Russian Navy hat and something with Powder Blue in it, NOT Peter Murphy in ‘The Hunger’.

I’d like to imagine the baby is seeing beyond this earthly plane, reaching out to some invisible spirit in an effort not to see the half-assed Kid Icarus on his shirt.

Speaking of shorthanding a generation’s fashion, why were the 80s obsessed with the 50s? Was it all the repression? Some yearning for the decade’s boundless optimism? And how does that relate to dolling up this poor woman like a chemical peel victim hiding the shame?

Biiiiiiig hair. Biiig hairsprayed hair.

Even the singer from Madness got into the act.


Speaking of 80s English music, wait a minute…is that…


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Apparently ridiculous shoulderpuffery wasn’t just limited to the 80s. This, however strikes me as a more stylized variant on the linebacker silhouette reigning in the Age of Regan.

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