On recent trip to a New York area beach that’s frequented by fashion-forward Millennials, I observed a man wearing an oversized 1980s women’s top with cowboy boots. Another beachgoer was letting his hipster or Yuccie — depending on what you choose to call them —freak flag fly by donning a conical hat you would see a Vietnamese rice farmer wear.
Putting aside how ridiculous wearing boots to a beach is, these sightings brought to mind fashions that have completely gone out of style and were actually terrible looking, even when they were supposedly cool. This judgment obviously requires hindsight and a perspective most didn’t possess at the moment because there are just so many examples. In the 1970s, for instance, people wore ridiculous colors, leisure suits and sport jackets that looked like they were sewn by blind people, and the 1980s saw the dawn of acid-wash and other abominations.
These fashion faux pas are not only limited to the 20th century. And by watching what people wear, it’s become clear that this need to be different runs incredibly deep, almost to the point of justifying wearing outrageous clothes just to stand out. But God help us if people in Brooklyn begin wearing any of the following 10 fashions because they might actually catch on.
In the 1990s, men’s pants got bigger and bigger and bigger, and rapper M.C. Hammer was partly to blame. The pants eventually got so big that they took on the name of the life-saving device strapped to a person’s back. I’m not sure if it was ever tried, but someone could probably have jumped out of plane with just these on instead of a real parachute and made perfectly safe landing.
Now for some real throwbacks. The doublet is a tightly-fitting padded jacket that men of some means would wear from the 14th to 17th century.
Doublet tops were often paired with a trunk hose — short, ballooning breeches — that ran from the waist to to the mid-thigh, which men wore in the 1500s and 1600s. Looking like you live in the Renaissance might not be popular yet, but who would have thought anyone would wear a Canadian Mounties hat before Pharrell Williams started to either?
OLD-TIMEY BATHING SUITS
Looking at old footage of Coney Island, Atlantic City or anywhere men would swim in the Victorian era will show the full-length bathing gear that was standard for the time. You just know someone is waiting for these to comeback so that they can claim they were the first to make it cool again. But no, these are not cool — not even when paired with a well-waxed, curly mustache like the one the Pringles guy wears.
Short for spatterdashes, these were a footwear accessory worn over shoes that covered the instep and ankle. OK, in 1890 or something — especially if traveling or walking in a trash-filled city — these were probably essential to make sure you didn’t ruin a good pair of shoes. But if I see some longhair riding a fixed-gear bike wearing these, I might just freak out.
Very fashionable in their day, these ties have already made something of a comeback, but wearing one today still just makes you look stuffy. High tea, anyone? The ascot was mainly worn for morning dress by businessmen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Back to the late 20th century, these pants wide enough to conceal a giant Italian cold-cut sandwich were never a good idea. Maybe people were cultivating a sailor-type look, but I’d rather stay ashore and avoid looking like I was about to ship off or ordered to swab the deck.
The oversized pants for gentlemen were popularized by University of Oxford undergraduates and worn in America as well from roughly the 1920s until the 1950s. With wide leg openings — circumferences ranged from 22 inches to 44 inches — these made people look oddly shaped from the waist down, were unflattering to their weight and looked a bit like a long skirt. They made a brief comeback in Britain in the 1970s, of course, but haven’t been seen much since. And we can all be grateful for that.
PLUS FOURS KNICKERS
Capri pants before there was such a thing, these trousers were primarily worn during the 1920s by aristocratic sporting men while playing golf or doing other recreation. They got the name because the pants were made with four inches of of material to hang over the knee. I like pants that go all the way down, but if you want to look like rich golfer, then by all means put on a pair.
A single corrective lens piece for reading or improving sight, the monocle was mostly worn by gentlemen of high fashion from the early 1800s until the 1920s. The lens was attached to a piece of wire or string to keep from losing it, because wouldn’t that be a shame? If that happened, a person might have to just stop being so damn classy and get a pair of glasses so they could see out of both eyes instead of only one at a time.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.