Feature photo by flissphill

Gee whiz, am I tired.

Of what, you might ask? Well, it is more than simple. Thank your god that the ’00s (the zeroes, the naughts, whatever you had named that crap decade) ended and now, in the advent of this ultimate year of that decade, we can focus on the rest of and upcoming decade. During my formative teenage years, I realized something that shouldn’t surprise anyone with a pulse: fashion repeats itself every twenty years. In those years of my youth, I tried to emulate that which was the ’80s. Shoulder pads, belts around the waist, day glo; I did it all (and confidently claimed to be the first to do so). I even sported some preppy, Alex P. Keaton looks in the earliest of that decade.

I figured out the formula to stay chic in an ever evolving world. The secret is reference. At the root of every fad, there is always some older trend that is being referenced. This past decade brought us not only rehashed versions of the ’60s, ’70s, but also the most relevant fads of the ’80s (for this self deprecating hipster, at least). As this year comes to a characteristic rapid finish, there are certain distinctive memories that a child of the ’90s must respect. Like the fact that that decade had a name and also, how comfortable and sloppy it became.

But that shouldn’t mean I’ve given up on our youth culture’s taste, far from it.  There were some gems that agreed with me (at least when it came to clothes) and I commend their forwardness.  Looking ahead I feel something like a weight being lifted, a time to start anew.  In the advent of this decade, I feel optimistic, I feel cleansed and I still feel that style is out there and alive, even after the horrific train wreck it suffered 2000-2009.

Instead of becoming one of those complaining, inactive critics who just judge and sit on their high horse, I will go out on the street to congratulate those who carry on the dominant fashion gene, and avoid those who have the recessive.  This regular column will focus on substance over vacancy and the battle against the bulge.  No longer shall I just lean back and judge, no! I shall move forward and explain myself to you, relive the moments of glory and analyze those of shame.  I’d like to start off with the trend of this eleventh hour.  It’s hippie meets soap, an introduction to urban hiking gear.  A look I like to call environmentalist.

It’s just that the environmentalist look sums up this moment quite accurately. Style isn’t just about looking good.  So much of it is the appropriate attire to cover yourself from the elements.  Last summer, Chicago had a mostly wet, cold summer but there were pockets of brilliance and heat. Those moments of sunshine sent people in a mad fury, flocking outside as if they had been held hostage by the elements. When I say “environmentalist”, I mean early ’90s pre-grunge, granola bar commercial sort of rugged elegance. There is a lot to be said about denim shorts and anoraks. We could take it one step further and add to the boxy silhouette with a hockey jersey (a timely and appropriate piece to own right now). Another unisex closet staple is a pair of chunky boots. Whether they be hiking or Chelsea, they really add to the out-of-my-way vibe one should feel while cutting into stalks of high grass or pushing through loads of sidewalk hogging people. The heaviness of the boots should contrast with the billowiness of your top. This look is actually practical and specific to our climatic needs as Midwestern summers tend to disappoint (whether it be British summer or a valley on Mars). To conclude, dress like your hitting the prairie in 1991 and remember: the looser the better when it comes to silhouettes.

Now comes the fun part.  A photographer and I will be in the Logan Square area, Saturday afternoon, from 12-3 pm, looking for those of us with not only one fashion sense but the full five.  I’m looking for those individuals who possess that poise or confidence or understanding that covers the scope of that which is most important of all: expression.  Show us your mid-spring duds on Saturday, we’ll be by the Logan Square blue line stop and we’ll be blue if we can’t find en vogue, en masse.

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