As anyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis will know (because I bang on about it all the time no doubt!) I have a minor, ok major, obsession with sixties fashion. I've just finished my MA dissertation on the interplay between fashion and fiction in the 1960s, with specific focus on the works of Nell Dunn. If you think that is a mouthful, you should read the full title!
Nell Dunn reading and looking fashionable: this stuff practically writes itself!!
The basic initial premise is that, as in much literature throughout history, in Dunn's works fashion is preemptive of behaviour; the guy on the motorcycle will try to sleep with you, the girl in the shortest mini skirt will let him and so on. (obviously i'm summarising and simplifying, but you get the idea!) More interestingly, Dunn (who is, and presents herself as an "heiress from Chelsea") writes about the lives on working class women, who live for the here and now caring only for fast fun, appearance and looking good. They borrow there clothes or buy them on HP, with no intention of ever paying the full amount.
What with the credit crunch and all, it is easy to compare the working class women of Dunn's ficton with the lifestyle of the vast majority of todays fashion conscious woman. Looking good over all else: better to have the telltale red of a louboutin heel and a massive credit card debt than shop in topshop like everyone else, and have noone know you're "in vogue". Just as Dunn's women coo over 'genuine' Italian leather shoes for £5, so do we coo over the latest 'it' item in our glossy magazines and wonder what we'd have to sell or which credit card we'd need next to afford them (and i'm as much a victim of this as anyone else).
So maybe it's not just fashion trends that are cyclical (and the speed of these cycles are increasing dramatically) but our attitudes to fashion and the way we buy it.
And noone would argue that the trends aren't cyclical; looking at the pictures i've collated above, I can't see a single trend I haven't rocked; in fact i'm wearing white tights today (although as I chose the photos this could be clever editing of course!) I'm not going to go into the age old discussion that nothing is truly new or innovative any more, mostly because I dont think its true, and secondly because it's hard for certain trends not to look alike, inspiration not to be taken from icons, and perceptions of "uniqueness" are all relative anyway. Ever thought you had a unique style and you'd put together an amazing outfit then seen a girl on the tube wearing something identical? I rest my case!
So moving back to the concept of our buying habits being as cyclical as our style ones, what's is interesting to me now is that rather than moving forwards we seem to be moving back. The naughties representation of the over consumptive sixties with cheap fabrics in throwaway styles (replicated by the modern day primark) is now giving way not to the seventies (lux fabrics and free love, if you believe the hype) but the conservatism of the fifties; recycling fabrics, make do and mend, create your own. Why spend money on something you could do beautifully by yourself seems to be the new mantra.
At 24, i've spend my whole life engulfed in this overconsumptive public attitude of affluence and plenty. Now armed with a pile of old floral patterned childrens clothes (too small for Abbie, who thinks i'm a bear) and a needle and thread, i'm eager to see where winding back my sixties obsession a decade can take me.