After a middle school era of basketball shorts, plain hoodies and worn out sneakers from fifth grade, teenagers entering high school seize the opportunity to reinvent themselves. Some join clubs or find new friends, but one thing everyone has tried is to experiment with personal style. Fashion is always prominent in teen life, and the resurgence of ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s clothes has been a part of it since the early 2010s.
When looking back on how they dressed as teenagers, most adults cringe at the assortment of tacky, flamboyant styles they once indulged in. But the ‘vintage’ trend is an unstoppable superpower that most high schoolers cannot resist. These four years are a time about discovering oneself, and finding new ways of self-expression can help with that.
“My fashion taste is very ‘90s,” said junior Briana Lopez. “The clothes… are really colorful and unique and kind of crazy, but some people manage to pull a good look out of them.”
Current retro fads range from high-rise jeans to Nike’s Air Force Ones to tucked in tee-shirts. The aesthetic of being old-fashioned is something that teenagers have become infatuated with.
One reason may be that vintage clothing is affordable for mostly unemployed kids. Thrift shops are a haven of fashion and style. Goodwill, Salvation Army and The Owl’s Attic sell all the neon windbreakers and ugly striped sweaters that a fashion-obsessed teen could ask for.
“I work, so I pay for my own clothes,” senior Victoria Wilburn said. “I make sure I buy cheap things at thrift stores… over places like Urban Outfitters.”
Wilburn has been fixated on retro clothes since she was little, getting them from as far back as the ‘30s. However, now that later decades like the ‘90s have merged back into pop culture, her interests have also shifted towards that.
The media does more than enough to glorify everything vintage, between social media and television. Sites like TikTok are flooded with thousands of teenagers showing off their new outfits from Goodwill that they got for $5, or acting out POV’s pretending to be in the ‘80s, where they get ready for a date with their cuffed jeans and larger-than-life perms. Popular shows like “Stranger Things” add more fuel to this trend, like with Eleven’s infamous romper and the striped shirts almost every character can be found in.
Accounts on Instagram and Pinterest post old photos and graphics from ‘90s magazines like ‘dELiA*s,’with spunky outfits that feature cropped shirts and chunky shoes.
“I get a lot of my inspiration from that kind of stuff,” Lopez said. “I follow a lot of accounts that post about those things.”
Vintage trends have been around for a while, but lately it seems to be all that teenagers can talk about. Opinions will always differ on what the best trends have been, but the growing passion for a blast from the past is impossible to ignore.
“For me… I’m just drawn to [vintage clothes],” said Wilburn. “I feel like you can be so creative with them, and it’s just a fun thing I like to do.”