Today’s Fashion Has Nothing To Say

Fashion is not merely clothing, fashion is a way for the time and place you live in to identify itself through clothing. Today’s fashion has lost its ability to communicate, because today’s fashion has nothing to say. We exist on a merry-go-round of fashion, where one can wear a dress from the 1970s one day, a dress from the 1980s the next, and no one will have anything to say at all – as long as one avoids the most obvious fads (and the ones that didn’t reenter the circle). This is a relatively recent development. I can remember being instructed in how to peg my jeans in the 6th grade, lest I commit a fashion faux pas. I was a pariah and someone was still kind enough to keep me from straight leg pants.

Now? Feel free to wear what you like as long as it looks good on you and is suitable. No one will even notice – so long as it’s not an obvious fad. My godmother writes me to ask what colors are in, but even Pantone is no longer in control. If one is considering the evolution of fashion, it’s a bit sad. You can, so long as you accessorize in a modern form, wear virtually anything from most of the last 100 years without chance of anachronism. WHY? Well, because we’re stuck in a loop. It’s as if we don’t have hopes and dreams of our own. No aesthetic inspiration.

Day dress
1880s – Kyoto Costume Institute
Evening dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), silk, French
1890’s – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Take note – these dresses (although owned by wealthy women) were made when fabric was vastly more expensive than it is today. But they are changing… why aren’t we?

These dresses are utterly unlike one another. Bustles replaced by petticoat, an entire change of silhouette… but this has been normal since it has been at all possible. We change what we wear. Men as well as women, although men change their trends more slowly.

it’s not the cost. It’s certainly not waste – we waste so much clothing these days. (While we’re discussing this, why in an era when clothing ourselves is trivially inexpensive compared to all of history, we can’t be bothered to search for beauty? Well – perhaps we haven’t anything to say to one another either. It matters very little what you wear when the only eyes you gaze into are the ones on a screen.).

We aren’t allowing art to inspire us. We aren’t inspired by other cultures. Nothing catches our interest. We’re bored. Bored right into leggings, jeans and casual clothes… I suppose our addiction to comfort uber alles says something about our headspace. But our casual clothes really don’t change. How many t-shirts do you own?

It’s not the fault of the designers. 1) there are plenty of up and coming designers with new ideas. 2) established designers sell what people will buy. It is, however, indicative that there is NOTHING that catches our imaginations. We just recycle old ideas. Today’s fashion has nothing to say of itself. Someone tells me that we’re going back to low rise jeans. I looked it up and it seems like it’s all over the map. We’re not having a moment, there is no moment. Wear what you like. With the right sunglasses and an expensive haircut, you’ll be on-trend.

It is convenient. You can wear whatever pleases you and flatters, with no thought of wearing last year’s hemline and being démodé . But it is also worrying – have we so little in common now that we can’t even agree what sort of pants are cool? But so it is. We don’t have a common desire, a common goal, a common definition of ‘good” or “bad” or even… interesting.

And so fashion, poor dear fashion, is left with nothing to say.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Elspeth says:

    This reveals an awful lot about who we are, actually. There is no cohesiveness in our culture. We don’t agree about anything. Not about standards of behavior; not about what is right or wrong. We don’t even agree on the definitions of basic things such as “man” and “woman”.

    We are the personification of Judges 17:6- Every man (and woman) does that which is right in their own eyes. And wears what they like most.

    I would argue that this is exactly what our generation has to say, that there is no voice. No commonality. No truth. No agreement on what is beautiful. It’s every man and woman for him or herself.

    It’s not that our fashion doesn’t have anything to say. It says plenty. It says everything. And nothing.

  2. hearthie says:

    I like it.

    Oh, and also that to be young and rich (tight body, expensive hair/accessories) is what makes the outfit.

  3. SewBrooke says:

    I think current fashion says a lot! It says people are afraid of offending everyone else. People want to be invisible and not stand out. Everything’s all about the collective and not the individual. You can’t be inspired by other cultures because it’ll be called cultural appropriation.

    Accessories are the trends these days – it’s easier to change your shoes, purse, and jewelry to be trendy than it is to buy a whole new closet full of clothes. (I made myself an orange purse in January 2020 and have carried an orange purse for at least 6 years now. It wasn’t until the last few of months that I started noticing the high school girls at my church carrying orange purses, so now I’m right in style when I wasn’t before.) Black is the preferred color of all clothing, because there’s that thing about not wanting to stand out. Today’s youth are afraid of risk – of any kind.

    And to top it all off, buyers for stores will only choose the most basic of colors for everything they decide to carry in store. If you want color, you’re more likely to look for specifics online. Black and greyed down colors are safe and always more likely to sell when shoppers bother make the trip to a physical store because it’s hard to have strong opinions about neutrals. When all the stores carry the same basic boring stuff there’s less risk involved for the stores.

    I’m bored by the lack of color every time I walk into a retail store and glance at the racks and racks of sameness. It has been the same colorless palette for 6 or 7 years now. Politics has told us that everything is bad (“the new normal”) and the clothing reflects the general mass depression of the world.

    Every time period before this has had obvious trends that follow the politics of the day when you look back at what’s going on in the world at the same time as the trends. This period is no different, but it’s harder to see when you’re in the middle of living in it – especially when it’s as boring as it currently is.

    1. hearthie says:

      I like your theory as well. We WANT to be invisible.

      Let’s pair it with Els’ “we want to be ourselves, and only ourselves”. We want to disappear, but … on our own terms.


      Y’all may be more depressing than a lack of fashion.
      Bustle skirts, anyone? Can I interest ANYONE in a bustle skirt?

      1. SewBrooke says:

        Luckily, there’s also the trend of sewing being cool again (I have a theory that is skips every other generation), and in the sewing community, there’s a lot more inspiration and color because the people who are attracted to sewing tend to be more about being unique and individual when it comes to style. (The people who are stuck with shopping regular retail will buy and wear whatever because it’s just what they can find.)

        I’ll skip the bustle for a daily look simply because it’s a pain to wear in a car – especially if I’m driving! =)

      2. hearthie says:

        Bustles and hats – impractical while driving. Also corsets. I did that for a while. Was difficult to twist to look over the shoulder. But pretty!

        I agree suddenly sewing is cool. But it’s cool on the interwebs, not IRL – still IRL “you make your clothes?” is like, “You came from Mars?” Then again, I’ve had the “Oh I wish I could wear that” IRL. About a tiered skirt. -shakes head- Did you know they were illegal?

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