Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gevinson Me A Break

It's weird to wake up one morning and realize, at the age of 27, that I'm over the hill. Tavi Gevinson, who came to the public eye as a prepubescent style blogger, has grown boobs and launched a new website. As a result, I'm feeling a bit irrelevant. (Taking it personally is kind of my thing.) She's getting major coverage for her new venture - New York is blowing up over it.

I'm fond of Gevinson in a distant way - she's become an unlikely minor style icon, and while I believe that civilians shouldn't have access to designer clothes until they can vote, she clearly started out with a child's fanaticism for the dress-up box. Now, she's got her mitts on some of the designer clothes she gushed about in her more youthful projects, and she's a bona fide influence. Her aesthetic is often the gauzy look of an Instagram photo crossed with the obsessive love of the girls who make shrines to fictional characters. Her love affair with The Virgin Suicides, and J.D. Salinger books is endemic in teenaged girls across the continent (maybe, you know, I was one of those girls?) and she knows how to pose.

Gevinson's focus is apparently going to incorporate some nostalgia pieces, specifically for the 1990s. This is...what's that word? Dispiriting? Infuriating? Am I old enough to remember years that teenage girls now long for as "a simpler time"? Are Empire Records and Hole albums legitimate cultural touchstones? Woe is me. Full disclosure: when I was in high school, roughly the time Gevinson was born, I was making elaborate collages of 1980s pop culture touchstones, obsessively watching Back to the Future, and listening to the Romy and Michelle soundtrack. In short, I was just as annoying.

Call me old fashioned, but I'm not ready for '90s nostalgia. The frumpy silhouettes alone are going to kill me - dudes, have you seen first-season Dana Scully lately? It's all belted/pleated/pegged in there. Or Friends? God, does this mean high schoolers are going to start getting The Rachel? The hairdos of the '90s, which were sleek to the point of self-parody, did not allow my self-dreading curls to thrive. Grunge, which is the early-90s alternative to the CK One thing, flatters no-one: plaids upon plaids and boxy jackets. I'm going to cry. I know the best vintage-inspired looks update "the look" without returning to the crappy parts, but that doesn't leave a lot left to be inspired by.

Plus, there's a weird part of me that wants the 90s resurgence to just not happen. You know what I wore on my first day of high school, in 1996? Green jeans, a blue sweater and Sketchers with a sole as thick as a dictionary. I'm oddly protective of that particular brand of ugly: the spaghetti strap prom dresses, the platform mary-janes, the Gap. Style cycles have sped up to an insane degree in the last couple decades - the 1930s influenced stylish women in the 1970s, and some dudes in the 1980s updated the '50s greaser look with leather jackets and sneers. But the early 2000s reached for the 1980s, and now, barely into the 2010s, we're looking at mid-1990s for clues on how to live stylishly. In fifteen years, we'll be living in a state of everything being fashionable and no new influences. See you in 2026! Please, let there be a silver jumpsuit waiting in my government-issued pod.

I'm willing to chalk this '90s thing up to the intersection of teenage girls and their elaborately constructed sense of misplaced nostalgia. I did it. A lot of the women I know who got their start as fashion-conscious little weirdos have done it. Gevinson, with an admittedly larger audience and wielding much more influence, is doing it. It can be comforting to think that "before my time" really means simpler or purer, but as the world speeds along and 15-years-olds become culture magnates, what we really pine for is a childhood - innocence of our world, and a chance to play dress-up in adult clothing.

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