Since about fourth grade I became interested in style. My older brother and sister and one of my uncles were strong influences on me and they all had a pretty good sense of style. This was the 80's, a great decade for fashion and looking good, and it even rubbed off on us middle class folks in Shadyside. However, as we develop and get minds of our own we can experiment. Experimentation is usually good, but sometimes accidents happen. God gave me a great fashion sense, but there were some pitfalls along the way. I will document those. I blame the late 80s and most of the 90s for these errors.
My first exposure to serious fashion was the prep vibe. I went to private catholic school and everyone had to look preppy. Polo shirts and docksiders, later Sebagos, were the name of the game. A New England fetish was going on and I was swept up in it. I remember getting my first polo shirt it was pink and bright and plad. This style was all good. We felt confident, like little CEO bastards playing tackle football on the concrete streets of western PA (I never liked getting tackled). We watched the Eurythmics, Wham and Frankie goes to Hollywood on MTV. We wore swatch watches. We hated Bon Jovi (rightfully so). We enjoyed this. And we stuck our noses up. For the record, many of use weren't wealthy. But we acted like it.
The above was all good, and aside from the pettiness which goes along with it, I'm not really ashamed by it. But something happened in the later 80s to throw everything off. The Grateful Dead seemed to gain strong popularity with their release of "In the Dark." A mediocre album, but it contained their only hit ever. This turned a lot of preps into faux hippies. And, I am embarrassed to admit embrassed it. There was a confusion that went on. I must admit I became a minor dead head for a while which later turned into the Doors (People are Strange was covered on the Lost Boys soundtrack - around that time) to draw us all in. This was around the late 80s. I owned a Baha. http://www.crafts-gifts.com/indian-blankets/baha-shirts.shtml.
That was actually a nice article of clothing, but I would combine it with dress clothes and it just was a very awkward look. Over time, bahas become way too popular. Luckily I stopped wearing mine by then in favor of a turquoise LL Bean Jacket. But, understand, a Prep-Hippie approach confuses a lot of people.
Around this time I also grew my hair long, long enough for a pony tail. This was 8th grade. I looked like a little girl. I'm thankful my parents didn't try to control my decisions on this. Instead my dad would just make fun of me. Which made me wanna keep it until high school started. I had a fat face then.
An ongoing mistake during high school (91-95) was sometimes wearing shirts that were too big for me. I was a small skinny kid with a skinny neck and BIGGER SHIRTS will only emphasize that. I also wore pleated pants during this time. To my credit I owned a really nice pair of swede wingtips (again my older bros influence) that looked okay with jeans and a tee shirt. Needless to say, I didn't attend any social events and had just a few friends. The Steelers were doing well then so I lived through them. I stopped listening to music for the most part too. Grunge wasn't doing anything for me, though I was influenced by the flannels as we'll see.
My first year of college started, in Erie, PA (don't remind me) it was '95, and it was time to buy a fine pair of timberland hiking boots and about five good pairs of jeans, and tons of flannels. Presidents of the USA had an okay song on MTV, they played Jewel way too much though, and Blues Traveler gets sort of old, right? I owned a cap I would wear around too. Combining those with my glasses I looked like a shady creep (what's changed?). I smoked cigars then and smelled like really bad (again, what's changed?). My first taste of freedom and I made friends with some rednecks who liked the outdoors. I had a brief stint with Copenhagen Chewing tobacco, which gave me a great first buzz, with a few beers, but I never could do that thing to pack the tobacco. We would hike a lot and I was dressed appropriately for it. Erie is depressing though, everyone should leave that town. Really!
As I came out east, I remained grunge outwardly, but slowly I discarded it as I graduated around early 2000's. I think I still had some pleated pants (not related to grunge-but more so '90s dress clothes) remaining in my closet that eventually faded away along with the jeans. I had a borderline mullet around 2000 that I got rid of after a Montreal trip, there is a picture of that somewhere, I think I'm on the St. Laurence. One of my last bad style decisions.
Around 2001, and on I became a little more thoughtful on style decisions. The fashion sense I was naturally given came to fruition as I began to develop a serious eye for used clothing. Currently, about 95% of my clothes are used and I feel I'm dressed just as good, if not better than most around. Reddy Red gives me a run for my money sometimes. What others might think is ridiculous or flamboyant, I can pull off with confidence, not that I'm pushing the envelop or anything. It must always look like you're not trying for anything.
Hopefully this piece inspired you to look back at your various style choices through the years. For the most part I believe this is an accurate representation of my journey. On another note, my mother still will buy clothes for me and she almost always has an awesome sense of what I should wear. She buys them new though. Over Christmas she purchased a great pair of cordoroy jeans. I look really good in them. Currently I'm wearing light brown Clark's Loafers, Pin-Stripped Brown slacks (no pleats-used), a J-Crew rust colored sweater (used) and a baby blue, with white striped button down (used) and tie, yellow (used).