(Time) Capsule Wardrobe


Question: What’s the difference between the fashion trends of the past and today’s trends? Trick question - there isn’t one, at least at first glance. The Victorians had frills and lace, the 20’s had their glitzy attire with intricate beading, the 70’s had their earthy tones in suede, the 80’s had their bright athletic gear, and the 90’s had their denim and grunge. All distinct, these styles were shaped by and defined the era that they came from. Take a look at 2017 and you find that our runways and streets are flashes from the past, both recent and distant. When you compare us to our forebears who knew who they were and how they could signal themselves as unique additions to history, it seems like we’re having an identity crisis since we don’t have looks of our own, nor can we seem to settle on any particular epoch to take after.  

In the past, nostalgia has been accused of being our generation’s source of inspiration and simultaneously it’s creative disruption. This fondness for the past (mostly for its aesthetic value) has seeped into every aspect of forging style - beginning with fashion labels from Dior to Alexander Wang who seem to take pieces out of the archives, dust them off, and tweak them into collections just short of being from Uncanny Valley. While last year was all about the 70s and 80s, the projected trends of spring 2018 are derived from eras like the 20s, 60s, and 90s. When you look at the trends of the 2010s as a whole, is it possible that much like Hollywood has become dependent on sequels and reboots in order to make bank, designers are realizing that nostalgia sells clothes? Or is it that after the experimental fashion disaster that was the early 2000s, designers are now unsure of themselves and have opted to play it safe by sticking to what they knew and loved when they were growing up?

Maybe we’re being so ambivalent in our style because we’re living in such an ambivalent time. We live in an age of technological advancements and are supposedly barrelling toward the future, yet we also are trying to make sense of the strange times we find ourselves in - where many want us to recede into the past with all its ugliness. We want to feel connected to our past for the sake of having something to keep us from floating away into a future of unsurety, but simultaneously want to cut ties with it because we know better.

These points of view seem cynical (and shouldn’t be forgotten), so let’s look at the everyday individual. Today we wear athleisure (albeit not our parents’ athleisure), and turtlenecks paired with mom jeans, and vintage tees with denim jackets adorned with pins and patches, and we look good. Thrift stores are now a goldmine for the fashion-forward, who pick and choose from piles of clothes deemed fads by the people who first wore them, and spin their finds into original looks. Emerson College students rush to the Garment District in Cambridge for hidden gems to add to their next showstopping party outfit. Gloria Perez, a junior Journalism major, says she’ll nab vintage statement pieces from her mom’s closet to incorporate into her own looks. Dressing up in the mornings becomes a test of how many anachronisms we can fit into one outfit while looking nouveau. This sort of experimentation is how you create our “modern” looks - how else could we have come up with the crop top-gauchos combo?

So we’re student protesters wearing bell-bottoms and punk tees like our 70s and 80s equivalents. We dress like the 90s club kids who were just beginning to openly embrace the LGBT community while we thrive in it today.  We wear conservative Victorian lace paired with cutouts that would make them all clutch their pearls.  Regardless of why we’re dressing uncannily like our predecessors, one thing should be clear - while we’re connecting with what’s good from the past, we’re still remembering to move forward and better ourselves. So until fashion decides to do the same, we should roll with the moment and wear our time capsule wardrobes with pride.

Photography by: Livia Lange