I went snowboarding a few weeks ago. I know, very cool. As I stood in the lift line, surrounded by kids much younger and much cooler, I was overcome by deja vu. I hadn't seen any of these kids before, nor had I been to this mountain, but it all felt so familiar. It wasn't until later in the day, when I stopped at a snowboard store, that I realized why everything on the mountain seemed familiar: it was the clothing.
I had gone to the snowboard store with the intention of looking at new boards and pretending to know what I was talking about "Now, I heard the laminate on the new Burtons isn't great in icy conditions. Have you heard that?" but instead wandered into the apparel section. That's when it hit me: these colors, these patterns, everything about the cool snowboarding gear on sale was the same as it had been in the early 90's. Neon greens and yellows, Saved-By-The-Bell-Esque patterns on hot pink jackets, I had seen, and worn, all of this before.
And we will see all of it again, in twenty years, because it appears to me that cool kid fashion is always looking back and ironically borrowing from that which was popular twenty years ago. Think about it, in the early aughts did the cool kids not look eerily similar to the cool kids in the early 80's? Did they not wear Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirts? It's not an exact science, of course, but I remember seeing The Strokes on TV in 2001 and thinking, "Huh, they look like The Ramones." So it is with some confidence I say that popular fashion is on a 20 year loop. And what does that mean for you cool kids?
It means things are going to get real ugly, real soon.
For those of you who did not live through the early 90's, let me paint a picture of what's coming. If you choose to be cool and fashionable, you will soon appear as if you've been dipped in highlighter from head to toe. Every color you wear will be "hot" or "neon." Your shoes will be gimmicky "They pump up when you press the basketball!" and your T-shirts may have Looney Tunes characters on them, Marvin the Martian in particular. You may shave designs in your hair, even if you're white, and if you're black, get ready to grow a flat top (and shave designs in your hair). Go to YouTube and watch TLC's video for "Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg" and you will have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about. All said, it's going to be an embarrassing period to look back on.
But it then things will get a little better.
In 2015 the neon trend will start to subside and meet its polar opposite: earth tones. Grunge music may or may not return, but the flannel-and-jean shorts combo will. You will pair those with combat boots and you may or may not grow your stringy hair real long. It won't be the pinnacle of fashion or even look particularly good, but after the neon era, any change will be welcomed. Sure, there will be embarrassing moments JNCO jeans may return for a spell but all in all, this phase will not be that embarrassing to look back on.
And on the eve of 2018, the worst will arrive.
For we all remember the late 90's and early 00's, don't we? We all remember those shiny, happy times, with our boy bands and our unstoppable optimism? We remember frosting our tips and buying bright-red cargo pants, don't we? We remember thinking the guys in Smash Mouth were pretty damn cool and experimenting with leopard-print silk shirts, right? We dipped our collective cultural toe in swing-era fashion zoot suits and fedoras and then abruptly all bought trucker hats. If you were to pick an adjective to describe the era after grunge and before 9/11, you could find none better than "shiny." In my senior yearbook photo from high school, taken in 2000, I have dyed blonde hair, a shiny blue button down and a shiny, Regis-style silver tie. That is how my yearbook will remember me. It is extremely stupid looking.
Of course, none of this has to happen to you. You can choose not to wear cool clothing and instead stick to jeans and t-shirts. You don't have to frost your tips or grow a flat top. You don't have to wear Looney Tunes t-shirts, people! But then you will not be cool and that is it's own kind of embarrassment. So you most likely will frost those tips or buy that neon yellow ski jacket, but know this: the price for being fashionable now is being embarrassed in the future. The 20 year fashion loop cannot be stopped, but at least you can be educated about what is coming next.
If you'll excuse me, I'm off to the mall to buy some Reebok Pumps and a T-shirt where Bugs Bunny and Taz are dressed like they're from the hood.