The decade might have just as well, started in the fall of 2001. 9/11 split time into two eras: pre and post. One must realize, there is no year zero so the decade didn’t officially start (nor did the millennium) until 2001- not 2000 as so many people figured. Even though culturally we have entered the new decade, numerically, we have just begun to bite the bullet of those glorious defining times which we call decades.
But what to call this decade? Did we decide yet? Does anyone really know? What I do know is that, to all intents and purposes, it was The 80s: The Sequel. The years in fashion were difficult to comprehend and certainly not the best of recent memory. The sad thing is, it is the only decade I have to reference where I was extremely aware of it all, save for the latest of 90s. The 00s (easier read than said) could be divided in many different ways. Here are a cemented few sartorial milestones that I think defined the decade perfectly.
The retro look continued to evolve from the 90s and, in certain cases, the movement that existed in the 80s. The exposed shoulders, the lace, the pillow-casey tents with ruffled necks, ray ban sunglasses, big hair, leggings, Converse… it was all an appropriation of what had come twenty years ago. But it took a while to catch on as the celebrities who were big in the 90s held onto their power and thus their trademark looks. The show Friends is a good example of stylists and costume designers not being able to let go. Sure the beginning of every decade is transitional but often times, the look of the series after 2001 was a bit dated. I’d say it wasn’t until 2004 that I began to see the earliest remnants of mainstream acceptance of the 80s. It is fitting that the 80s would have come back en vogue in the 00s because of the many groans that emanate from the people who are old enough to remember how ridiculous they looked. The people of my generation will harbor the same disdain for the past decade. From preppy to punk, the styling (and over styling) of the decade took its cues from that decade of economic prosperity, and much like our own bubble, so did theirs busted. Exact replicas we weren’t, but we were damn near close.
Denim is certainly nothing new but the traditional American labor pant was given a tremendous boost in formality in the 00s. Denim began to become acceptable in just about every social occasion, given you had the appropriate wash. Designers, more than ever, raped the prospect of the rough, blue, spackled fabric in droves. Not since the early 80s was there such attention given to overpriced designer jeans. However, denim began popping up as hats, vests and jackets. Nothing new, however this time around they were cut in the signature tailored look of the decade.
What constitutes as a platform these days is hardly set in stone. No more are they the super chunky heels that conjure up memories of disco or Clueless. Perhaps the term stripper heel would suffice and make much more sense. Indeed, when one referred to a shoe as being a platform, they meant plateau, in the topological sense. In the beginning of the decade there was a push for super skinny and pointy shoes and it wasn’t until 2007 when women began to grow to enormous sizes and the height wars ensued with many models eating it on the runway (and many IRL women kissing pavement).
In contrast, flats became du jour for women. The facility that these gave were such that that emblatic Working Girl-esque custom of wearing sneakers to the office and heels at it, was replaced. This might have been largely due to Rap/Hip Hop’s coming of age. No longer was it the fresh novelty it was in the 80s and the cultural Mecca it was in the 90s. Sneakers seemed old fashioned to many who change genres as quickly as they change underwear.
Brogues came to prominence with the cool kids along with the new found Geek Chic (layover from the 90s, further explored in part two). Flip Flops were not invented in the 00s, but one might have guessed they could have been. The over use of the traditionally beach footwear gave rise to the pedicure and people with a foot phobia (or foot fetish) have never been quite the same. The cultural move to leisure and comfort over style somehow entered a mutation and it became that style was comfort.
The cut of the decade might be best summarized by a cut away gag from Family Guy in which Yosemite Sam tries on a pair of characteristically restricting jeans. In many ways, fuller figures were given much more recognition than in previous decades like the 80s and 90s. However, when it came to skinny, the 00s had nothing on them. It was a decade full of extremes that reflected the political atmosphere of the time and size was a debatable issue that could be attached to anything. From hemlines to deficits, the tubular pant became strikingly more and more adjusted and a new term, camel balls came into play (however, I’ve always been a fan of camel hump).
Part 2 shall be coming next Thursday and as always, gangsters:
Don’t be a stranger, but do be stranger.