By Sofia Weddle
Since the beginning of time, fashion has been as central to humans as food. In the times of monarchies and kingdoms, dripping jewels and inordinate ball gowns distinguished the rulers from the ruled. Flash forward to the the roaring 20’s, where beads and drop-waist flapper dresses became closet staples. Nowadays, it seems such consistency is extinct and comfort is the new norm.
There is nothing wrong with comfort. After all, female fashion has evolved in time with the sole underlying purpose of increased ease in wear. Whale-bone corsets were thrown away in the 20th century for unrestrictive A-line skirt suits and flowy slip dresses. Swimsuits evolved from full-coverage bodysuits into the barely-there bikinis strewn across fast-fashion stores we know today.
If one were to describe the present (the 2010s), what could be said? Track suits and side bangs were surely popular, but each for only a year. Plunging necklines, athleisure, and crop tops may be possibilities, but only for specific generations of youth. Walking around a high school, the most popular outfits are those of skinny jeans or leggings, chunky sweaters, college sweatshirts, and slip-on sneakers: each of which scream comfort. Glenelg Senior Delaney Moore says that, “I always start out the new school year trying to look nice and dress decently, but as my stress builds, my desire to dress comfortably increases.” This attitude towards fashion in high school is rampant among teenagers, to the point that many give up their personal style in favor of ease and relaxation. “At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised that if eventually I just stop trying all together [with my style],” says Moore.
With all of these comfort-designed clothes, people have gained immeasurable convenience, but have we lost true fashion in the process? Especially now, it is all too easy to wake up tired and shrug on a pair of overpriced black leggings, an oversized sweatshirt, and chunky sneakers to look relatively presentable. According to Michael Lewis, a Senior at Glenelg, “The stress of school nowadays inhibits creativity of fashion mainly because people just don’t have time to think about stuff like that. Also, I think these changes in fashion are part of a general societal shift away from formalities, and maybe today’s ‘comfort’ fashion is just a part of that trend.” Soon enough, the fashion history books will have nothing notable to write about for the 2010s.
Gen-Z, which consists of teenagers and college students, may be marked as the generation filled with fast-fashion, excessive spending, and an unhealthy obsession with Gucci (not the real Gucci, but the fanny-pack social media-fueled Gucci). This generation may very possibly be killing fashion. Instead of taking inspiration from decades before us and putting an innovative, imaginative spin on the pieces we find, we have fallen into an abyss of stagnant style. The creativity is gone, the flame of inspiration extinguished. We are born with the right to choose our own style and buy our own clothes. But do teenagers actually use this power? We are constantly influenced by peers and social media to wear what we see. Apanjit Sahi, a Senior at Glenelg, believes that “People are scared to deviate from the norm because they feel like others will judge them. ‘Keeping it basic is safe,’ is something that I hear people say all the time. People don’t usually have courage to have their own fashion so they like to stick to the norms.” Now more than ever, what we see is comfort and repetition, so we choose comfort and repetition. Over and over and over again goes the vicious cycle of absent-minded fashion. Instead of choosing what we each like for ourselves, we choose what the majority would approve of. We choose the metaphorically and physically comfortable.
If the creativity and beauty of fashion is sucked out of an entire generation, what can be expected for the future? One can only predict a world full of matching uniforms and trash-bag style. According to Senior Kylie Haynie, “As of right now, I am unsure on how future generations are going to sum up our own fashion era. The simplicity of our current day to day outfits is going to jeopardize our hope for seeing improvement in the fashion industry.” To most people, this may not matter. But it should. Fashion not only defines time periods and history, but our individuality in the moment. Essentially, today’s youth are giving up on a creative legacy for sweatpants and crop tops.
Maybe comfort is not ruining fashion, but instead bringing it into a new era. It cannot be said yet if such an era will be commended (such as turtle-necks and heeled booties) or regretted (i.e. shoulder pads and low-rise jeans) in the future. All we can do is try our hardest to not fall victim to the fast-fashion, and instead live in fashion that showcases our distinctiveness in its best light.