Is it me, or is the fashion cycle spinning faster? I feel like I've just wrapped my brain around the 80s revival only to discover that there's a 90s revival is waiting in the wings. Which makes sense, I suppose, since the 90s started 20 years ago. But honestly, I've just started re-adjusting to the idea of padded shoulders--do I have to start worrying about flannel and Doc Martens? Doesn't this ride ever slow down?
Well, call me a Pollyanna, but I'm trying to see the bright side of being so damned old. And one of the pleasures of having traveled down the fashion road a good long time is being able to rejoice when a favorite style is revived. So how do you know what's cool and what's just old?
Retro cool versus old and frumpy: The old rule of thumb states that if you wore it once, you're too old to wear it again. The problem with that approach is that now that fashion is cycling faster and faster, and borrows more and more looks from the past, there's hardly anything out there that I haven't already worn. Miniskirts, flared pants, Lacoste shirts, acid wash, and Doc Martens-you name it; I've worn it. Except tube tops and hot pants. I have some standards, after all.
My rule is that 20 years marks the point between frumpy and retro. That's because once they're old enough, things start to look fresh again. And let's face it; it's highly unlikely that anyone held on to their old clothes for two decades, so if you wear 80s-inspired clothes now, they're probably new. Neo-eighties, if you will.
I also think it's perfectly fine to have fun with certain characteristics of a decade. For example, wearing some bright 80s colors is fine. And women with narrow or sloping shoulders are probably rejoicing that shoulder pads are back. Just skip the Hammer pants, Like-A-Virgin accessory overload, and that whole dress-for-success skirt suit phenomenon.
Clogs (A Case Study): I'm actually amazingly comfortable with the 70s revival which has been under way for a while--so long that at this point, it might be a revival of a revival. The flared jeans, platform shoes, fitted tops, beaded necklaces, and fringed bags are all familiar friends, and I love their bohemian vibe.
My latest dilemna is the recent revival of clogs. I wore clogs when they were first in style in the 1970s. The eighties were a clog-free decade, and the nineties my cravings for clunky shoes were pretty much satisfied by a single pair of Doc Martens. But in the 2000s, as soon as I tried on my first Mephisto Satty clog, I fell, and fell hard. For knocking around the house, tidying up, doing laundry, cooking, and doing dishes, nothing beat my uniform of jeans, t-shirt, and clogs.
I was in good company. Chefs, surgeons, nurses, and anyone who stands for hours and hours wear clogs. Women with wide feet swear by them. But they've always had a practical reason to wear clogs. No one was wearing them because they were in style.
Chanel Spring 2010 collection as seen on the runway. Photo courtesy of Style.com
Well, they're back in style. Chanel showed clogs for this spring, complete with big interlocking Cs on them. Naturally, the news that clogs were actually considered stylish made my heart leap with joy. But then I discovered that there is a very loud anti-clog backlash, particularly amongst young fashion bloggers. Only the very, very avant-garde express any interest whatsoever in wearing clogs.
Fashionista early re-adopters Ashley Olsen, Shenae Grimes, and Mary-Kate Olsen wearing clogs. Photo courtesy of CollegeFashion
This is because women in their twenties equate clogs with middle school. Or with moms. For these younger women, clogs have really negative connotations. And that's a lot of baggage for an already heavy shoe to have to carry.
But for me ... the connotations are positive. I wore clogs when I was in my teens, so to me, clogs are cute. In an ugly-is-beautiful way. And young. And they're comfortable. And they make my feet look tiny.
How to wear clogs: How does a woman of a certain age wear clogs without looking insanely frumpy or insanely trendy? First of all, I'm ignoring the designer versions. They're incredibly expensive and are even clunkier than my Mephisto clogs. The good news is that the non-designer clogs are more refined and elegant-looking than the ones by Chanel, Prada, and Miu-Miu. Even the $300 clogs at Anthropologie are insanely clunky-looking in comparison to some far less expensive ones I've seen.
Once in a normal price range (and I really think you could stay well below $150 even for a pair of superbly well made clogs) I looked for something with a heel and a low-cut vamp to lengthen the leg. High-cut shoe vamps are very trendy right now, but you'd need legs like Catwoman to get away with a high cut vamp added to the general clunkiness of a clog.
Then I looked for studs, laser cutting, or some other some kind of detailing to refine the look even more.
Here are my semi-finalists:
Biviel laser cut taupe Nubuck clogs from Zappos
And the pair I actually bought and paid good money for:
TopShop's $80 Ollie clog
Although I've also got my eye on the Michael Kors Sycamore clog pictured at the top of this post. Please don't mock me!
Now, how am I going to make them look modern, and not like something I've kept in my closet for 40 years?
If I were slim, I'd wear them with with cropped pants, or even better, with long pants rolled up into a cuff. But I'm sure they'll work fine with straight-legged pants, as long as they're not too skinny.
I might really rock a 70s revival and wear them with flared white jeans and a tunic top.
Or, for a combination military/70s boho look, with a knee-length olive green pencil skirt, a long-sleeved jersey, one of my new long fluffy scarves, and a luggage colored cross-body bag.
I might even try them with tights. There. I said it.
Where would I wear these? Lunch with a girlfriend, a museum outing, and at BlogHer' 2010. (So if you see me there, be sure to check out my clogs!)
So Internet, have I gone mental? If you ever wore clogs, would you wear them again?
College Fashion says no to clogs.
Kelly at Comfortable Women's Shoes doesn't care for them.
Viva Fashion Blog says yes and suggests some inexpensive styles to try.
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