March 6, 2015

6 Teenage Trends I'd Rather Forget

Looking through some old photos one day, I was confronted with how much our fashion sense changes as we age. Everyone has those moments when they look back at their questionable fashion choices and wonder what great unknown force compelled them to dress the way they did. Of course a lot of what we wore (and continue to wear) was influenced by peer pressure and popular trends at the time, but sometimes I wish I had the same confidence in my personal style back then as I do now (something I talk about in I am Not Fashionable). Perhaps then there wouldn't be so many cringe-worthy moments from my awkward years captured for eternity on camera. But hey, we were kids, and growing up is all about finding yourself through trial and error. So as a toast to growing up, I look back at some of the biggest fashion trends (ie. mistakes) from my not-so-distant preteen and teenage years:

1) Flared jeans

The first time someone complimented me on my clothes was in grade 7 when I wore a pair of flared jeans. Back then, the more your pant legs covered your shoes, the cooler you were. A proper pair of flared jeans would inevitably be torn to shreds and perpetually dirty near the heel of the foot - but we wore those ripped hems like a badge of honour. In junior high, all the popular girls were buying their flared jeans from Garage, and in early high school, the clique upgraded to brands like True Religion and Rock & Republic. Thick, white stitching and diagonal seams were markers of wealth and style. For me, as much as I tried, I could never find the perfect pair of flared jeans. Garage jeans were always too long on me. To satisfy my style cravings, my mom would fold the hems and stitch them in place loosely with needle and thread. While I am deeply grateful to my mother for painstakingly altering all my jeans, I will forever remember the tell-tale line around my shins from the folded hem and how the stiffness of my flare would never compete with the girls whose jeans fit them perfectly. Let's just say I'm glad skinny jeans took over.

2) Sneakers

When I was a kid, sneakers were all anyone ever knew in life. We literally wore the same pair of sneakers year round because there were no such things as stylish flats or sandals. I remember pining so desperately for a pair of Lacoste Intrigue sneakers (because colourful velcro straps were "in"), but had to settle for a similar, cheaper pair from Wanted (a random brand from The Bay no one had ever heard of).  I did receive a compliment on that pair of sneakers, and do recall seeing another girl in my grade with the same pair, so I guess I played the shoe game right for a while. Near the end of junior high, flip flops began to replace sneakers, and so I set off once again to fulfill the next hottest trend. Flip flops proved to be a painful journey (I'm never wearing those atrocities ever again), and as high school rolled around, ballet flats took over. Cue another couple years of awful blisters and shoes with no arch support. Fast forward to today, and stylish shoes continue to come with the price of pain. It looks like I'll never be able to go back to my childhood years of comfortable, frumpy shoes - I'll admit, my vanity won't allow it.

3) Hoodies

First it was zip-up sweaters from Garage, then colorful hoodies from TNA, and finally, thick, warm hoodies from Lululemon. Apparently at that age, nothing existed except for tank tops, t-shirts and hoodies. Girls used to have entire conversations about which colour hoodie they were going to buy from TNA. I remember bursting with joy the first time I bought a Garage zip-up, and likewise when I was later gifted my first TNA and Lululemon hoodies. Similar to the ruined hems of flared jeans, a wavy, puckered zipper and worn out elbows were signs you were dressed properly. Now that I've grown up, I hate wearing hoodies. My hair always ends up looking like a mess with the hood in the back, and I feel perpetually underdressed for, well, life in general. The only time I'll wear hoodies now is when I'm at home slaving over schoolwork.

4) Jelly bracelets

Charm bracelets were incredibly popular in junior high, but the fad that stands out most prominently in my mind is jelly bracelets. I had two: a dark blue one, and a sparkly light blue one. I loved how there were so many different colours available, and how the flexibility of the jelly offered numerous ways to wear the bracelets. People often wore a stack of them on their wrist, or had two bracelets intertwined into a cuff. Not quite sure if I'm so keen anymore on having silicon straps around my wrists, but if you think about it, this trend is still alive - bangles are essentially grown-up jelly bracelets.

5) Jeans under skirts

This one may not have been a widespread trend, but it was certainly a staple of my teenage style. There was a period in junior high when I wore ruffled skirts over flared jeans, and I can only imagine it came from the struggle between my desire to appear more feminine and the self-consciousness I had felt about my scrawny legs. In high school, I remember doing the exact same thing with tunics and leggings. I do not look too fondly upon the memories of how ridiculous I must have looked, but it wasn't until early university that I finally felt comfortable showing bare legs.

6) Long-sleeved t-shirts

It's a long-sleeved shirt! It's a t-shirt!  Nope, it's just some spawn of both that a designer somewhere, somehow thought looked cool.  But hey, I got tricked into thinking it looked cool too. Shirts like these are really no longer appropriate after elementary school, but for some reason, I still had one in junior high. I remember being so excited when I bought the shirt, but after wearing it a maximum of three times, I ended up realizing how childish I looked. Perhaps, like the skirt and jeans combo, it was just another way for me to wear a t-shirt without having to bare my bony arms.  Come to think of it, there wasn't a single part of my body I wasn't self-conscious of at that age, so no wonder I had an interesting array of fashion choices back then.

We were all prey to the pressure to fit in when we were younger, but no matter how much I cringe going down memory lane, I don't think I would have finally discovered confidence in my personal style without having failed so many times before. 

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