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Constrating the Fashions of the 1990 and 2000: Decades in North America

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    Historically, fashion has always fascinated men in all human culture. Fashion, fads and trends are intertwined with human culture and civilization. The desire to look good and exceptional and to be acknowledged by others drives individuals to invent new fashions. Fashion can simply be defined as ‘’the cultural construction of the embodied identity’’ (Fashion Theory, 1). In everyday usage and for the purpose of this write-up, fashion is seen as the prevailing mode or style of dressing prevalent at any particular period in any given society.

    Fashion embraces all forms of self-fashioning that includes street styles and the so called high fashion created by high designers and couture (Fashion Theory, 1). Implied in this definition is that fashion is prone to changes. Changes in fashion often reflect changes in the socio-economic state of the society. It is pertinent to point out that there are fashions in other human endeavors such as furniture, automobiles, houses etc. However, greater attention is often paid to sartorial fashion.

    The reason for this is probably due to the fact that clothing has such intimate relationship with the physical body and by extension the personal identity of the individual. This essay focuses on the contrasting styles of the 1990s and 2000s fashion with particular reference to the North American fashion scenes of those decades. The 1990 decade began with recession and high unemployment figures. It was a very uncertain decade in many ways. The 1990 decade witnessed rapid socio-economic and political changes that were occurring globally.

    Dictators and totalitarian regimes were kicked out of office and democracy and its concomitant freedom gave many people the opportunity to savor the gains of the free world. The pace of life accelerated and the world experienced great technological changes. Internet, mobile phones, personal organizers and other gargets that were novelties in the past decades became increasingly part of man’s daily life. In no other parts of the world were these changes more pronounced than in North America.

    For the purpose of this article the USA and Canada are the two Northern American countries that this write-up focuses. Globalization and socio-economic uncertainties and changes had profound effects on the citizenries of these countries. The 1990s fashion was heavily influenced by these prevailing situations. The decade was called the decade of anti-fashion. As Evans pointed out, it was a decade that witnessed the death of the designer as street fashion won over haute couture (Evans, 2003).

    It was also a decade of anything goes in fashion- a seeming rebellion against elitism that kicked against the power dressing of the 1980s. One prominent feature of this decade’s fashion was the penchant to pick and combine from different styles or periods that appealed. It was simply a period of nostalgia and retro. The readiness to cannibalize other styles led to the assertion that real creative intelligence has gone out of fashion (Mcevoy, 2007 p. 8). As with most recent fashion trends the 1990s fashion was influenced by the musical genre of that time.

    The fashion sense of top musicians and musical groups were copied by their followers. MC Hammer readily comes to mind. The grunge musical style and fashion choice also reigned supreme. Thus, in 1990s flannel shirts and thick-soled boot dominated the fashion scene. Baggy pants were extremely popularly for both men and women. Flannel shirts and tight girly T-shirts were popular with the girls. They also preferred the low-rider pants that reveal the lower part of their tummy. For men the extraordinary baggy pants were initially in vogue.

    It was common to see men in stylish jeans or slacks that were worn half-way down the backside that reveals the underwear having secured it in place with a tight belt. This fashion was alleged to have originated from the American penitentiaries and became a global fashion statement. Inmates in American jails usually get loose fitting pants. For security and safety reasons belts were not given to these inmates. The result is men wearing pants that hang halfway down the backside. This mode of dressing was popularized by some musicians and embraced by the larger society. It became a global fashion trend.

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    Constrating the Fashions of the 1990 and 2000: Decades in North America. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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