80s fashion makes a sneaky comeback

Photograph: Cine Text/Allstar
What is it that makes a decade fashionable? In the 1920s, the style was suited to high rolling gangsters and bootleggers and their mistresses; in the forties we have style icon Katharine Hepburn, with her long-sleeve, elegant dresses. By the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe’s glamour emerged, a dress paired with satin gloves. While the early sixties saw the high-waisted, very feminine skirts and dresses, now picked up as a style by Banana Republic. Several decades throughout the 20thcentury strike me as recognizable, distinguished, and appealing to modern day men and women.  With the popularity of the show Mad Men, based on the advertising executives of Manhattan in the early 60s, the fashion world has taken its proper cues and many people are tuning in to vintage looks for occasions both casual and formal.
However, something more unappealing has made its way back into the fashion industry: the 1980s.
Black sunglasses with neon arms, in the vein of Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, are given out for free by phone companies; bright yellow, pink, and blue neon clothing abounds in both teenage and adult venues. And then there’s my own recent purchase: a pair of massive, light pink flower earrings (from Aldo) that are strikingly similar to earrings I have in my costume box. They belonged to my mother in the eighties. When I got home and tried them on (they looked hideous), I realized that I subconsciously thought they were cool. This is what the fashion industry does to us, and what it did to us again and again during both the eighties and the nineties.
Anyone who graduated from high school in those decades can attest to the fashion atrocities that have now become their prom photos for life: perms, flower print dresses, the “Rachel” haircut (which was actually really cool at the time, I have to admit), a lot of curls and poufs of hair, usually in the front, held in place by a Goody metal clip and a lot of hairspray. Also, high-waisted, baggy pants are making a comeback, which I will a) never look good in; and b) never fully understand. The only person who could really pull those off was MC Hammer.
Were those other decades truly fashionable in the sense we think they are? Or is it the ability to be picky and only choose the best fashions from those eras that allows them to be timeless? Perhaps we need more distance from the eighties and nineties in order for them to be more attractive. But when an image of Michael J. Fox (as adorable as he was) from Back to the Future 2 comes to mind, I can’t help but think those fads have met their expiry date. My advice to you, which you may or may not choose to take, is always consider this: if I look back at this in 20 or 30 years, will it still look good? However, if you catch yourself buying a scrunchie, it’s already too late.

The Myth About Aritzia

Any girl who’s fashion conscious in Canada knows the clothing store Aritzia. It is one of Canada’s rareties; a name brand born and bred in Vancouver, it has found success across the country, and in the U.S., amidst so many American companies that seem to dominate our fashion landscape.

Although Aritzia was established in 1984, their signature hoodies didn’t find their way into east coast drawers until the 2000s. However, once the word spread, their TNA sweats and over-the-shoulder bags could be seen on teens and adults alike in the GTA, quickly blurring the age line between the two groups. Their various clothing lines are trendy, and they look great on a runway, but at $110 for a printed hoodie, is it worth it?

First off, their sweats are certainly comfortable and stylish; these are a far cry from our childhood Cotton Ginny. But avoid purchasing these in black, or washing them on a regular basis. Their colour fades after a few washes, and I’ve even had a pair of sweatpants rip at the seam after a few months and little wear. This is something I might expect from a lower quality, less expensive store, but not Aritzia.

And then there’s practicality. I purchased a winter coat from Aritzia last holiday season, and wanted to find just the right jacket to suit my style and my need for warmth. Indeed, the jacket is warm, and I picked it because of its interesting details – the buttons are magnetized, the pockets are top facing and have outside zippers. I didn’t want the “typical” Aritzia jacket because I was hoping to be slightly different than anyone else. Despite this caveat, it was obviously popular – it was the last one of its type in a few different Aritzia stores.

Yet, each time I wore it, the jacket revealed something newly awkward to me. Sure, the magnets seem like a great idea, but try grocery shopping, or going to the ladies’ room, or standing too close to the doors in your office building. I often get stuck to the grocery counter when bagging my food, and struggle to grab my jacket as it clings to the bathroom door. I feel like it’s a tug-of-war to leave work sometimes. Plus, the pockets are too high so you’re basically doing the chicken dance to warm up your hands, and even if you do manage to get them in there, you’ll scratch your already chapped winter fingers on the outside zippers.

All these ‘interesting’ details – what a sham! And because of their no return policy on sale items, I couldn’t return it. The worst is when they put essentially the whole store on sale! It sounds great, I mean it’s a SALE, but it’s 20% off many way overpriced items, and it’s a FINAL sale. This way they can ensure that even if you aren’t happy with the clothing, you have absolutely no way of returning it or getting your money back because of the big black stamp: “Final Sale”. I suggest if you’re going to shop Aritzia, avoid sales because if for some reason it doesn’t fit right, or something’s weird about it, you have no way of returning it. That’s one more thing too, because Aritzia has so many different labels, they all fit differently. I have been trying to solve the riddle of Small versus Extra Small on their various clothing lines for years.

I think at one point, earlier in Aritzia’s life, their clothing was better quality, but with their expansion and move to mass production, the quality has decreased. In fact, although I think their clothes are trendy and do look good before they fade, I haven’t purchased anything in the store for over a year, when it used to be one of my “go-tos” for shopping. The only time I get Aritzia clothing is as a gift, probably because I can’t really afford it, or justify it myself. Can you?