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Nostalgic Fashion: Bringing it All Back to You!

When I was a wee, just pubescent thing, all I wanted from life was a decent pair of slouchy white socks and a jade donut necklace. I didn’t just want them – I NEEDED them. Just looking at pictures of the items in question brought back the burning, unreasonable hunger for these objectively HIDEOUS things all over again.

socks jade

I eventually got both of these things, and it was seriously one of my happiest memories of my early teenage years. How embarrassing.

I blossomed into adolescence in a far off time known as the 90’s. It was a time when pants were high, skirts were a-line, necklaces were choker length or waist length, and waistcoats were cooler than they has been since the 1800’s.


Here in Australia, the style gurus for the just pubescent were local girl band Girlfriend. Mostly remembered for their amazingly shonky choreography and obsession with wearing giant hats adorned with even bigger flowers, Girlfriend were the girls everyone my age wanted to be. Their biggest single, “Take It From Me” was played so relentlessly I can still sing the chorus off by heart, and their style was so popular they started their own (short lived) fashion label.

Re-Living-the-90’sJust look at the size of that daisy on her hat. Just look at it.

Once I hit 15 or so I decided I needed to give my look a bit more “edge,” and I co-incidentally fell in with a bunch of boys in a band at my high school. Suddenly, Girlfriend and their technicolour palette seemed horribly childish – no more bright colours for me, it was faded black all the way! No more hats with daisies on them – I moved on to dresses with daisies on them, and buttons down the front even though it would never be unbuttoned.


I wasn’t quite old enough to really embrace grunge icons like Winona Ryder or Johnny Depp at the time, but I was ALL ABOUT Kristy Swanson’s turn as Buffy in the original movie.


MPW-64878For the longest time I thought if I believed hard enough I could pull off the slouchy socks with boots look. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me.

Another huge influence was the group of somewhat grungy but ultimately pretty well behaved kids in Empire Records. This “toned down” grunge kept some elements of my earlier style, while making the overall tone a tiny bit more grownup. Skirts and pants all still sat right up on the waist, but I the hems on my shirts rose up to join the waistbands of my bottoms. The jade donut stayed, but all the flounces and frills of my Girlfriend period made way for a sleeker, simpler silhouette.

Empire RecordsEmpire Records had a HUGE influence on me in a lot of ways, not least of which is my ongoing obsession with chunky boots paired with feminine skirts.

Eventually, I got over (most) of my Grunge-Lite phase, and moved on to other styles, other seasons, other styles of skirts apart from a-line. Over the last year or so though, I’ve noticed a bunch of 90’s fashion elements coming back around. No one has tried to bring back the giant squishy hats with enormous daisies on them, thank goodness, and on the whole the elements that people are bringing back from the 90’s are pretty neat. If I had the appropriate figure for it, I would be taking every opportunity to wear outfits like this again;


I would like to point out though that wedge boots are SO not grunge. Grunge boots were Docs, or big chunky heels.

Even though the majority of grunge styles don’t actually suit me that well, I don’t mind the resurrection of tying a shirt around your waist every day, to every event. But the retrospective articles are really starting to unnerve me. Ones that highlight things like parachute pants and hypercolour as being hilarious “new” discoveries unearthed from the past. They’re often chock fill of apparently forgotten “weird” 90’s styles, styles that I hadn’t really thought of as being THAT out of date just yet. I honestly thought I was too young still to be seeing my teenage fashions being “rediscovered” by a new generation. How can they be rediscovering something I feel like I only just stopped doing?

Thinking about this, I remembered being a bratty little girl, flicking through my mother’s stash of Spunky magazines from when she was a teenager. They were from the late 70’s, and let’s just say I was not kind to what I saw as the “outdated” fashions of her generation. Those jeans are gross! Who would wear their hair that fluffy? Why don’t any of the men wear shirts, for goodness sake!?

Spunky MagazineSeriously, where are her eyebrows?

I remember Mum patiently sighing, and explaining that one day people would look back on my fashion choices as laughably outdated. Remembering all this got me thinking about how other people experience these cycles.

The audience of Already Pretty is so diverse, I would love to hear from you about what styles you seen come back, and how it made you feel.  Did it make you happily nostalgic, or did it freak you out? Are you young enough that it hasn’t happened yet at all? Let’s share our nostalgia – and even some flashback photos if you’re game!

Slouch sock and jade necklace images sourced from Ebay
Girlfriend album covers sourced from CFBGoesPop
Promo image of Girlfriend sourced from Lady Rebecca
90’s floral dress image sourced from Neon Threads Designs
Promo image from Buffy The Vampire Slayer sourced from Project M
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Poster from
Screenshot from Empire Records sourced by author
Neo-grunge look sourced from Styloko
Photo of Noosha Fox from Spunky Magazine, 1979 – photo of page by author

_ _ _ _ _

The author of Reluctant Femme, Cassie is a queer thirty-something Australian who thinks too much, reads too much, and has way too many pretty things. Her writing revolves around exploring concepts of femme and femininity, feminism, and just how much glitter you really can fit into a polish before it’s unusable. You can catch up with her in shorter bursts on Twitter , look at pictures of her favourite pretty things on her Tumblr, and browse her shiny accessory creations at her Etsy store

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Hats Off To Dad


My dad has had a major influence on my personal style. As far back as I can remember, he was a man who enjoyed his clothes. He was irresistibly drawn to vivid colours and bold patterns – no doubt because they reminded him of the vibrant surroundings of his West Indian childhood. He had a true fondness for oddball sneakers. I remember one specific pair of yellow, red and blue high tops that he found on a discount rack and wore proudly for years and years until they literally fell apart.

And he absolutely loved hats.

During the week, my father always donned a fedora. He had an extensive collection in all manner of colours and fabrics. I can still see that gleam in his eye as he flipped one onto his head and walked out the door for work. On weekends he favoured tweed newsboy caps, and in the summer months a big straw-brimmed sun hat trimmed with a citrus-coloured band. None of the other dads wore those kinds of hats. I pointed that out to him once, but he was undeterred.

“This is a sharp hat!” he would insist. If my dad felt good in what he had on, there was no bursting that bubble.

Dad often asked me what I thought of his outfits. Sometimes I approved, which pleased him.  Sometimes I had criticisms. “Da-a-ad! What are you doing? Everyone knows purple and orange don’t go together!”  I was young and self-righteous and I’m sure my tone was more than a little obnoxious. He’d consider my opinion and occasionally he would take my advice, but as often as not, he’d give himself a second glance,  decide he was happy with his choices and continue with his day.

I know  my father’s attitude was – at least in part – the result of his early life. His childhood wasn’t easy. He grew up on a small island with very limited access to anything beyond its shores. Racial oppression was blatant and brutal. His family had very little money. Even as a kid, he had to juggle school with any work he could find in order to could contribute to the family finances. Sadly, there wasn’t always enough money  to pay for services like medical care if someone was sick. He lost more than one sibling and eventually his mother to preventable illness. My dad grew up watching fine gentlemen in dapper hats and envied the comfortable, carefree lives they seemed to enjoy. These were the men who were privileged enough to spend time reading great books and enjoying fine art. They were respected in the community. They could protect their families.

The reality is that few of us live truly carefree lives and my dad was no exception. But through a combination of very hard work and some very good fortune, my father did find some comfort in his adulthood. He understood that his hats wouldn’t make him more respected, more learned or bring greater to security to our family. But they were a tangible reminder of how fortunate he was to have realized some of those youthful aspirations. After everything he’d been through, getting dressed as a daily exercise in self-expression and joy was something he deserved.

A few weeks ago my dad died, unexpectedly from undiagnosed cancer. It happened so quickly, I’m only just now starting to feel how profound his absence in my life is. It hurts so much right now, but I keep reminding myself that I was lucky to have had a father that I loved and who loved me back. And I’m lucky that he taught me to find happiness in something as simple as putting on clothes. People always have said that I’m my father’s girl. They’re right. When I find an item of clothing I love, I look in the mirror and smile that same goofy smile that he had. On more than one occasion, my son has given me some serious side-eye and told me, “Mom, that outfit is not…the best.” I must admit the kid has valid criticisms at times. But if I what I’m wearing is making me happy, it’s very hard to talk me out of it.

I miss my dad. Terribly. His favourite fedora now sits on a shelf in my office. I’m glad no other dad wore that kind of hat because now when I look at it, I only think of him.

Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and writer. She has recently returned to her hometown of Toronto, Ontario to complete her doctoral studies in Human Sexuality. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.

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A Plus Size Pleated Dress

Alice & You Contrast Collar Skater Dress Zatchels baby blue barrel bag,  New Look Wide Fit Tiny Heeled Sandals

Dress- Asos Curve (out of stock- similar)

Bag- Zatchels

Shoes- New Look

This dress turned out to be cuter than I expected, I only bought it because I loved the collar but the pleating details turned out to be a nice surprise. I usually stay away from pleats because they remind me too much of the school uniform I had to wear for most of my teenage life ( it was in a flattering shade of death grey). Also, I’ve heard pleats are a big NO for plus size girls, but I think they’re quite flattering on this dress. What do you think?

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