throwback trends: are there rules?

A couple weeks ago I was out and about at Barton Springs, a local swimming pool that Austinites gravitate towards when temperatures climb. I was making my way to a sweet spot to steal the sun and burn a few hours when I spotted these two girls walking around the pool area in front of me, clad in high-waisted denim shorts:


First thought: These gals couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16, meaning they hadn’t lived during any part of the 1990s and certainly not during the time span that high waists were first en vogue.

Second thought: I had a pair of red Guess jean shorts in the seventh grade that were amaze, and you’re not going to convince me otherwise.

When we consider retro or throwback fashion trends, what are the rules? Are there rules? Do certain trends of the past warrant a comeback and others don’t?

I’m 100% on board with Man Repeller’s declaration that 2000s-era fashion does NOT need a comeback (Juicy sweatpants, Von Dutch hats and layered polo shirts can stay in the past, thankyouverymuch). But here’s the thing: if you’re a teenager now, with no real memory of the “aughts” decade of 2000-2009, can/should you wear a trend from that time? Is it inevitable? How much time do we have to wait between fads now? Can I rock peplum like it’s 2012 and call it a throwback trend?

I have clear memories of being in seventh and eighth grade in the mid-’90s, and it was when the ’60s and ’70s-era trends were coming back: hippie daisies on everything, peace sign jewelry, and clogs were all the rage. My best friend Sara, always several steps ahead of her time, wore a dashiki to school, which was a bold move and a big-time departure from the junior high norm in Houston during these days back when Tommy Hilfiger polos, JNCO jeans, and nothing but Nike shoes were worn, and that this was the uniform for guys AND girls (ugh, such an awful time for so many reasons, but the fashion of this era was bar none the WORST.)

IMG_8562Sara in her dashiki, 1996.

In the 20-plus years since my middle school experience with flashback trends from the past, we’ve seen ’80s and ’90s-era fashion trends come back around, so it only stands to reason that the 2000s will have some trend that will pop back up in our collective style consciousness at some point in the possibly-near future. Here’s a brief list of trends that should stay in the past:

  • bubble hems
  • impossibly tall platforms
  • those tacky black wire chokers
  • elastic sewn into the waist of every dress, ever
  • gaucho pants

And I few I can’t get enough of:

  • ’60s-era shift dresses
  • Mondrian anything
  • Peter Pan collars
  • brogues
  • high-waisted flares that fit like a dream

What say you? Are there trends from the past that haven’t yet had a comeback and need to? What, if any, are the ‘rules’ for throwback trends? Are there rules (and what are YOUR rules?)

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