Stahl: Sending a decade of fashion off in style

By Samantha Stahl

As the decade comes to an end, I find myself thinking about what will be the characterizing… As the decade comes to an end, I find myself thinking about what will be the characterizing trends of the first decade of the new millennium. The ’90s had grunge, the ’80s had harsh blush and side ponytails, and the ’70s had bell-bottoms.

Years from now, what will our descendants wear when they have an “Early Years of the Millennium” party? Will it be leggings? Oversized sunglasses? Lady Gaga leotards? Crocs? Uggs? Trucker hats? Heavy eyeliner?

Somehow, a whole mess of ugly crept its way into fashion over the last 10 years — but there were also high notes. The dreadful pleather and general sartorial harshness of the ’90s segued into edgy femininity. There was a resurgence of prettiness.

Sadly, the day of “Mad Men”-era formality is long gone, but with its loss comes a new kind of casual-cool. People might not wear heels to do their daily errands anymore, but if you’re going to be comfortable, at least look good doing it. And no, I don’t mean by throwing on a Juicy Couture tracksuit.

New York-based designer Alexander Wang revolutionized laidback-luxe in 2007, with knitwear that made just about every fashion editor and assistant salivate. He created pieces that were meant to be worn fashionably every day, emphasizing that the way you dressed down meant more than the way you dressed up.

American Apparel was founded in 1989 as a wholesale T-shirt company, but since the beginning of the millennium it has re-focused its efforts on retail and became the Starbucks of the clothing business. It started pumping out a rainbow of cotton basics that let fashion and function hold hands and skip down the streets of Brooklyn.

Designer denim became a multi-billion-dollar industry with a new “it” brand debuting more frequently than re-inventions of the Facebook homepage. Finally, it was OK to dress up jeans.

If there’s one thing to be thankful for about living in this past decade, it’s that it is 100 percent possible to be comfortable as well as fashion-forward. It is for this reason I am constantly flabbergasted by people’s inability to put a marginal amount of effort toward getting dressed. So I’m signing off the semester with the following PSA:

I’m going to make this short and sweet since I know you have loads of studying to do. Forgive me for sounding like a bit of a broken record here since I’ve said this all before, but I feel like I need to give a few reminders about “The Rules” now that its gotten chilly and sartorial apathy has started to set in.

A quick refresher course in looking pulled together: Sweatpants, with few exceptions, generally do not look good. Especially when paired with a matching sweatshirt and sneakers. Unless you’re en route to a final in the Baierl Rec Center, put on something else.

I know you’re spending long hours in the library and don’t even want to think about fashion, but guess what! It’s just as easy and comfortable to put on leggings and a tunic and a pair of boots. Really. I swear to you, it won’t even take two minutes longer than bundling up in sweats. If you’re cold, put on a scarf. Gloves, maybe too. If you’re really feeling ballsy, try a hat. It’ll make your outfit look even better.

Guys, don’t think you can slip away unscathed. The sweatpants rule is applicable to you, too. You’re already allowed to wear baggier jeans, so don’t try telling me they’re “too uncomfortable.” If you want to wear a sweatshirt, fine. But stash the Pitt Panthers one and try a colored hoodie. Major improvement, I promise you.

So good luck with finals, kids. I hope you manage to survive the week without overdosing on caffeine or completely losing your sanity in the depths of Hillman. Just keep in mind that it’s been statistically proven that you’ll do better on exams if you aren’t wearing sweatpants.