Skinny pants. That’s the dividing line for me, skinny pants. It’s where I was no longer able to understand the fashion that the kids are wearing today. I don’t mean tight jeans, spandex, leotards, tights or any other form of fashion that tightly hugs the contours of the body. I’m talking “hey check out the skinny pants I just bought at Hot Topics” skinny pants.
Growing up in my formative fashion years, hard rock and later grunge ruled the airwaves. Television was filled with the look of L.A. sleaze and Seattle Salvation Army. Both looks were fashionable in my eyes and made sense. I dug the look of leather pants, got flannel shirts, loved torn, tight denim jeans. This was my time. Hip hop fashion slowly began to appear while I was in college, I didn’t like it, didn’t want any part of it but I understood as the “rock fashion” of hip hop fans. Today in fact, when I want to be comfortable the first thing I turn to is a pair of tight jeans, a black rock t-shirt and a pair of leather boots, the exact same look as 21 years ago and in fact, the same look in fact that could have been worn in the 60’s and 70’s.
Today’s trends make no sense to me though. Sometime around the advent of Emo (which growing up we just called either power pop or kiddie punk) fashion began not making sense to me. There were super tight jeans that seemed to be made from a combination of denim and spandex.
The pants weren’t worn around the waist but somewhere around the middle of your backside, had huge pockets and seemed to only fit super anorexic fashion models on a diet. Surprisingly everywhere I looked kids were wearing the look. Part of me wanted to believe this was the hard rock looking making a comeback. It isn’t though.
Go into any store catering to this new millennium teenager and you’re bound to see clothing that just doesn’t make sense. You’ll see skinny jeans; you’ll see super, super, super wide pants that could fit four or five normal size adults with all strange sorts of clips, buttons, rings and chains attached; you’ll find goth fashions next to hoodies next to striped, grunge stockings, it’s a strange mix of fashion that apparently kids these days combine with no thought about what’s meant to go together and what isn’t. The only thing you can be sure of is that it all has black in it somewhere–there’s straight black, checkered black, plaid black, striped black, all forms of black and all shades of black.
When I was growing up fashion lines didn’t cross. If you liked punk rock you dressed like a punk rock kid and that was it, you didn’t add metal looks to your style (even though the two were almost identical but had important subtle differences), if you dressed hip hop you surely weren’t getting your clothes the same place I was and you definitely weren’t throwing any of my fashions into your look. The clothes you wore were as important to your identity as the music you listened to, the books you read and the people you chose to associate with. In this IPod world though things just aren’t the same. A kid today has no problem wearing a hoodie with a skating company logo (alt/punk rock), super tight, skinny jeans (rock/emo) that only come up to the middle of his butt (hip hop) and tops it all off with a pair of tight, black boots with all sort of loops and zippers
(industrial). When I see a kid dressed this way I see a mess, they see fashion. I understand why the Who had the foresight to want to die before turning 30, who wants to see their fashion, the fashion they championed and fought for stuck together with a bunch of other clothes from other trends that make no sense and doesn’t have the sense of pride and history attached to that they felt when they first put it together.
This weekend I was at a family picnic. My young cousin (17 years younger than me) passed by me. I remarked on how low his pants were and howlarge his pockets were. I made him pull the skinny jeans up to his waist. When he did the pants were suddenly too short for him. I didn’t get it and told him so. The people around me all laughed and said I was becoming a grumpy old man. Maybe I am a grumpy old man. Nothing dates you faster than fashion and music. On both counts I’ve passed my use by date. In the coming weeks I’ll share some of my music thoughts with you. That should be good for a laugh!