May 16, 2021

I'm a Millennial, And Gen Z is Making Me Feel Old

“According to TikTok, skinny jeans are uncool.” I scoff as I ‘x’ out of the article and make a show of reaffirming my pledge of allegiance to skinny jeans. Years ago, I declared the body-hugging fit to be the most flattering style for my body type and I am not going to let some random Gen Zs pontificating on TikTok convince me otherwise. 

Fast forward two weeks and I’m standing in front of the mirror in a cream turtleneck, an apple green oversized linen blazer…and pair of black straight leg trousers rolled up at the ankles. “Honestly, I’m kind of living for this,” I muse as I arrange my limbs into theatrical Instagram poses. And that’s when I realize, skinny jeans are uncool (sorry, fellow Millennials). 

Since learning of Gen Z’s disdain for the skinny fit, I started to notice that everyone who wears skinny jeans are indeed around my age or older. I knew cuts like straight leg, boot cut, wide leg and even *gasp* flared bottoms were in style, but I truly did not expect skinny jeans to ever be considered outdated. And yet, there I was, suddenly seeing skinnies as boring, basic and safe (and being safe in fashion can often lead to blandness). There is something about the way '90s-inspired jeans are “unflattering” that is so decidedly cool. I’m witnessing all these young girls wearing pants that look exactly like the kind of loose pants I would have been (and was) ridiculed for wearing as a kid. But now it’s trendy to wear what used to be shapeless and to go against the laws of attraction by indulging in our attitude of indifference, letting our casual comfort fly in the face of what is conventionally seen as “hot”—which in turn makes it totally hot. 

And so my outfits as of late have involved baggier bottoms. My straight leg trousers and mom jeans have gained more mileage, and I have even gone out in joggers and sweatpants (my goodness, now those are things I really never thought I would wear outside of the house) styled with denim jackets, glammed up with a stack of silver jewellery, or worn tongue-in-cheek with a matching hoodie for a monochrome tracksuit look. 

I haven’t gone full-fledged Gen Z though. I have not ventured into the world of teeny tiny tops (eg. cropped shirts, tube tops, short cardigans buttoned only at the bust) because—let’s be real—I don’t have a Gen Z stomach. I did try experimenting with a pair of white flared jeans, yet upon seeing the dirt swept up along the bottom of my pant legs after a walk outside, I was reminded of one of the reasons why I gave up flares many years ago. 

But all this experimentation led me to a crushing thought—was I making a fool out of myself by wearing trends meant for those 10 years younger than me? And thus, an early-life crisis ensued: I feared I was becoming a cringey old person desperately trying to stay relevant. Was I going to find myself as one of those people who refuse to dress “age appropriately” and are found shopping alongside their daughters and/or bouncy teenagers in a store pumping out boppy pop hits from the speakers? After discussing with my friends, it became clear I was the only one who had jumped on the wagon away from skinny jeans. 

I find myself at a weird time in life: the stage when one first realizes they are not young anymore. I’m at the age where I don’t understand the younger generation (90% of TikTok content makes me wish I could go back and salvage the few seconds of time I just lost...the 10% that don't include @yoleendadong and the BTS TikToks a very important person in my life—love you!—sends to me nearly daily), and where wrinkles, grey hair and sluggish metabolism are newfound topics of conversation. I’m no longer the generation that sets trends, but rather the one that finds out about them one beat too late.  

And yet a desire to stay youthful never factored into my straight leg endeavours—trying to stay relevant is not the reason I follow trends. Ironically, this goes back to a comment I made over 10 years ago. I’ll let my younger (albeit less articulate) self say it: “I love trying out new things when it comes to dressing up. That’s why I love trends so much. Trends are not all about wearing the latest and the greatest, but rather trends are a way for us to experiment with different styles and to explore the innovations of dressing up.” This statement still rings true today. I love discovering new ways of styling the items in my closet. Not a single year goes by where I don't manage to pull together new outfits and change up my personal style. I’m always on the lookout for not only new ways to express myself, but new parts of myself to express. Trends are my guide in this journey. 

So am I trying to compensate for being past my prime? Am I simply grappling onto my final vestiges of youth? I don’t think so, but people are welcome to think otherwise—it wouldn’t matter much to me. One benefit of age is finally knowing it’s not worth spending time or energy on people who don’t support or enrich you, much less care what they think of you. I will continue wearing what makes me happy, whatever the heck that may be. Besides, another benefit of age is knowing that trends cycle. Eventually, skinny jeans will be back in style—and when that time comes, Gen Z, you ready?