Living as a decade


80s fashion: what goes around comes around
Often regarded as the dark ages of fashion, the iconic loud styles of the 80s has made its way back into modern fashion. High waisted pants, Ray Ban sunglasses and the ubiquitous blinding neon colors have all made their way back into today’s closets. English teacher Kerri Barnhouse has seen some of the iconic 80s looks she fondly remembers come back into style.
“The high-waisted jean is back!” Barnhouse said. “The wide belts are back! The really wide belts. I loved that! I loved it then, and it’s back. You always tucked your sweater into your pants. I’ve seen the tucking in of the sweater [coming back into style].”
Barnhouse remembers outfits with high-waisted pants, a wide belt and a tucked-in sweater, not unlike an outfit seen in the halls of West.
Junior Lily Lucas said she sees 80s fashion coming back into the mainstream, especially at bigger fashion stores.
“I enjoy going thrifting and buying things like high-waisted mom jeans that are ten sizes too big but are the most comfortable thing on Earth,” Lucas said. “Birkenstocks have made a comeback. Major stores like TopShop and American Apparel sell things that are influenced from those decades, and those are high [end] stores.”
Trends like neon sunglasses, chunky necklaces and overalls both Barnhouse and Lucas said they’ve seen come back into style.
Lucas said while her mom got rid of most of her clothes from when she was a teen, Lucas wishes she could raid her closet for those pieces that are popular once again.
[My mom] got rid of a lot of her stuff … and I said “Mom, why did you get rid of that? It’s what I want to wear right now, and I think “Those are what I was looking for for my outfit!”

Living in the 80s for a week
For five days, I dressed and lived as if I was living in the 80s to see what living in that decade was like. This challenge also meant I wasn’t allowed to use the technology that was not available in the 80s. So, no cellphone and no computers were allowed. We made a concession to allow for the use of computers for school assignments, but no technology was used for social media or other social uses.
The first day was by far the hardest. I quickly realized my phone is my lifeline when I woke up 20 minutes late because I didn’t have my phone for an alarm. Walking down the hall, everyone is staring down at their phones in hand. I’m a firm believer in technological advances and I love how my phone allows me to connect with my friends. But when you’re sitting across from your friends and they don’t look up to talk to you, it’s clearer to see why some say technology is furthering us from each other instead of bringing us closer.
After the week was over, I found myself being more productive during school and focusing more on the tasks I was doing. Instead of sending my friends a snapchat of me not wanting to do homework, I would sit down and get it done. Although I felt like I was missing out when I couldn’t login to Instagram, I did accomplish more with my time.
I still use my phone on a daily basis and believe phones have given us the opportunity to connect with others, but slowing down and putting down the phone when you’re with your friends is a tip we can all take.
Somewhere within the core of every individual’s existence is an inherent desire to be a 90s kid. We’ve all seen the memes; only true nineties kids will remember this Beanie Baby, this green-blazered pessimist with stylish glasses, this motley assortment of live action films with animated characters. When I volunteered to rewind my existence back about eighteen years (I chose to live in 1998 for obvious reasons — it was just late enough to naively enjoy such luxuries as the internet and the cinematic masterpiece that is Titanic) for five days, I was eager to be a part of such an iconic decade. Surely, I thought, this was the best idea I had ever had.

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80's & 90's Paige Brazina
90s: So yesterday

In preparation for this immersion project, I tried to gather as much information as I possibly could from the most credible sources I could find: teachers Tyson and Mr. Frese, a pair of dudes who ended their teen years in the 90s. What I initially assumed would be a ten-minute interview to round out my open hour ended up spilling deeply into fourth period orchestra. They recounted tales of terrible music, political scandal, the rise of hip-hop and all sorts of grunge, and at the end of the half hour-long interview I found myself prepared to take on my week.

Observations from days 1-3:

My first few days were full of disappointments. Apparently they don’t sell Lisa Frank school supplies anymore. I must’ve entered every single office supply store in the area, and I left empty-handed from all of them. The kids don’t like heavily embellished multicolored unicorns and jungle creatures like they used to.
Transcribing interviews by hand and then typing them into a Word document and emailing them to myself was a lot less character-building than I had anticipated. It didn’t make me appreciate the trials endured by the people twenty years prior so much as it just made me exceedingly infuriated with my situation.
No one called me on my landline despite distributing my landline number before I commenced the experiment. I would’ve been the most uncool kid the 90s had ever seen.
My Discman appeared to have stopped working at some point between 2004 and the day I tried to use it again. My Xtina and Britney CDs were useless. Never again would I be able to listen to my copy of N*Sync’s No Strings Attached. My leftover relics of the forgotten age had all failed me.
I purchased a box of gushers at Fareway and ate the entire thing in a day. It was a terrible decision. My mouth was stained a sad dark blue color and my teeth felt like they were going to fall out of my mouth. I didn’t feel 90s, I just felt ashamed.
Clothes were the easiest part of the week; it didn’t come as too much of a surprise that a majority of the clothing housed in my closet corresponded closely with the favorite styles of the day, but it did make me feel a little too much like the token quirky girls of 90s television.
I fell ill in the final days of the experiment, but boy did I still try to be the sickest 90s kid I could be. I watched half of a season of the Simpsons from my sickbed. Admittedly, it was on my computer, and this probably wasn’t a thing that was possible 20 years ago, but whatever. A girl’s gotta live.

Final Thoughts

I’ll admit I cheated a few times — I was too lazy to find a newspaper and checked the weather on my phone. I used facebook messenger because I figured it was close enough to AOL. I drove the only car at my disposal which was, in fact, made in 2004. I eventually gave up on transcribing interviews by hand and just typed it into Google Docs because I’m weak and I can’t do anything right.

I can’t say I learned a lot from this experience, but something I definitely noticed was the phones. When you’re not attached to your screen, you notice a lot of other people exhibiting this behavior. It was kind of spooky, seeing so many people looking down; I don’t intend to sound like your grandmother or some other baby booming pessimist, but it was just a bizarre experience. Technology isn’t everything, folks. Maybe let yourself be a 90s kid every once in a while.

Photos by Paige Brazina.