I don’t get kids these days. Hell, I don’t get most adults these days.
I keep seeing post after post online that in some way ridicule “retro” fashion, such as 1980’s hairstyles, acid-washed or creatively-torn jeans, anything resembling Hair Metal or Glam Rock style, and so forth. Well, as a guy who went to high school in the 80’s, graduating class of 1986, I can tell you this:
You are all incredibly, completely, indescribably wrong.
Let me tell you a bit about the 80’s. People see the big hair, the Member’s Only jackets, the pastel polo shirts and light slacks. They see kids emulating Motley Crue or Bon Jovi, and everything was neon and loud.
It was also vibrant, alive with a feeling perhaps only Millenials might actually understand. The Cold War hadn’t yet ended when I was in school, Reagan was our Trump (albeit not nearly as bad as Trump is, but still). We lived under the possibility of impending nuclear war all through our childhood, and watched our parents struggle out of a Recession just as Millenials watched theirs struggle with the Great Recession of 2008.
My point is, we didn’t know what was going to happen from day to day. We didn’t know if Ronnie was going to get us involved in another world war, or if he’d manage to convince the Soviets to ‘tear down this wall’. We, like youth of all generations, were molded by the media of our times. MTV splattered everything in pastels and neon, lipstick and hairspray, leather and steel, and so we followed suit. I killed much of the Ozone layer myself with can after can of Aqua-Net, eschewing garish colors for a lion’s mane of hair and artfully torn, acid-washed jeans. I was too poor to afford a leather jacket, so I went with denim and covered the back with a massive Slayer patch.
And I’m not ashamed of it one bit. Nor should I be.
Why? Because I was wearing what was comfortable, affordable, and fit my style. I was a metalhead, still am, for that matter, and if I didn’t have a job in Corporate Security, I’d likely still be wearing my favorite bands’ t-shirts and jeans to work.
I assume all of you who laugh at acid-washed jeans have never actually worn a pair, because if you had, you’d keep your fool mouths shut on the subject. Acid-washed jeans are softer than a baby blanket, at least mine were. I wore them until they literally fell apart on me, because they were so damn comfortable! And while you might laugh at our 80’s clothes, and our 80’s hair (God, I wish I could still grow that lion’s mane!), and our 80’s music, etc, I don’t see all that much different between the old Retro styles, and what people wear now.
All those beards guys love to grow now came straight out of the 90’d Grunge Rock scene, same with the Hipster’s skinny jeans and plaid, Lumberjack shirts. Just being ironic? Right. You’re just being comfortable with what works for you.
As for 80’s styles, I still see people wearing clothes straight off of the set of “Miami Vice” nowadays, although I rarely see many popped collars. Metalheads are just the same as we’ve always been, jeans and t-shirts and leather or denim jackets. Skate-punks also look the same in every era, although you see more pads and helmets worn now, which is a bit jarring. But hey, live and let live!
And I think that really gets down to the meat of this discussion. It might be fashionable to make fun of acid-washed jeans, and big, 80’s hair, and whatnot, but I guarantee you that if you’d been in your teens or early 20’s in the 80’s and early 90’s, you’d have worn the Exact. Same. Things.
Not because you’d have somehow have been coerced to by the Fashion Police, or just following the trends, and so forth, but because this is what people wear, be it the 1980’s or the 2010’s. Colors and styles might change slightly from era to era, but not all that much. For every Full-on, Flower-Powered Hippy in the late 60’s to mid-70’s, for every thick-collared pantsuit Disco clubber of the late 70’s, for every big-haired fire hazard of the 80’s or gloomy Seattlite of the 90’s, you had just as many, if not more people just wearing regular, everyday clothes. Maybe there was a bit more mascara going around in the 2000’s but we don’t speak much about that, lest we see Marilyn Manson’s career rise from the grave.
(I’m of course kidding… Manson is still as big as ever, which is actually kind of awesome!)
Anyway, it all comes down to this. The next time you see some negative reference to 80’s fashion, before you join in on the crowd of people making fun, or passing it along on social media, take a good hard look at yourself first. Because I can guarantee you that there is photographic or video evidence of your fashion today that can and will be used to embarrass you by the next generation to come along. So enjoy your own “acid washed jeans”, whatever that may be, while you still can…
Or embrace it, own it, and don’t let anyone tear you down for it, ever.