Watching the trends come and go

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, October 16, 2022

By Bonnie Brown

I stopped to pick up lunch recently and while I was waiting for my order I had the opportunity to people watch.  You know, just sit back and observe as customers were coming in to this busy establishment to get lunch.  Some were eating in, while others like me were getting their order to go.  

Enter a lovely young woman who was attractive. Tall, but not too tall, with long dark hair which was tousled like she had been in the wind or perhaps forgot to brush it that morning.  Next I noticed her outfit which consisted of what I would call a classic denim jacket paired with a short, black skirt.  My eyes were drawn to her jacket which clearly looked very well worn, ragged in fact.  So much so that I immediately felt sorry for her and thought I might offer to pay for her lunch when I noticed her shoes.  Her VERY expensive ankle boots!  Oops!  Yes, I finally realized that the outfit was in keeping with the “grunge” look, or what I would have called the “after-school play clothes that I used to wear as a kid and young teen” look.  They consisted of ragged jeans or shorts, or worn and torn shirt.  And it would have been a recently torn shirt because otherwise my mother would have sewn or patched it.  

Email newsletter signup

Back in my day, my clothes were not expensive.  In fact, my mother made most of my clothes.  I would have been mortified if I had to wear something to school that was torn or looked old and tattered.  But these days, that “style” is THE style!  I laugh at the pair of casual slacks that I have that fall into the grunge style category.  It took nearly 17 years for them to get that ragged, frayed look.  Yes, they look like that because I have worn them for that long!  And because I chose not to patch them or dispose of them when they did begin to show wear.  The “old” in me wanted to patch them but the “old” in me also wanted to show the world that I could be a part of this fashion trend.  

I was so fascinated by this craze, that I did some investigation (aka Google) about this fashion and found websites detailing how to create the grunge look.  Actually, I checked out several DIY sites that included box cutters, sandpaper, scissors, and tweezers to accomplish the look.    I truly believe I would be incapable of cutting into the fabric of a new garment to distress it—or even cutting into the fabric of a used garment or thrift store find.  

One other thing I noticed about the young woman with the tattered jacket was the length of her skirt.  It was actually pretty short especially given that she was a tall young woman.  I thought to myself that should she inhale deeply all would be revealed.  And this seems to be the trend today too!

Keep in mind that this senior came of age in the late 60’s when Hot Pants and Go-Go Boots were in style.   Think Twiggy.  (For those of you who don’t know Twiggy, she was a British cultural icon and prominent teenaged model during the 1960’s in London.  She was very thin, wore her hair quite short, with strikingly dark eyelashes and was considered quite the model.)  I am not a prude, but I do think that today’s dress code of wearing skimpy outfits is one that is absolutely contrary to the definition of good fashion taste.  That’s the “old” in me I suppose.  

I have seen many trends throughout my decades and I have rarely, if ever, achieved whatever the “in” look of the times happened to be.  I can honestly say that the grunge look doesn’t appeal to me at all.  I would far rather be comfortable rather than achieve today’s definition of being fashionable.  I read something recently that nails it for me: “Good taste shares something with good style in that it implies visual harmony.”  I wonder if the young woman in the shabby, tattered jacket felt she had achieved “visual harmony?” 

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at