Last week was the first day of school in my town. The temperature was set to climb over 90 degrees and the humidity reached even higher digits. It was a miserable day, and it got me thinking about my own back-to-school days (yes, they were in the Dark Ages, but believe it or not, I still remember them).
Being a bit of a nerd, I always loved back-to-school time. After a whole summer with nothing much to do, I longed to have some structure back in my days, along with some purpose, like studying and homework. (Hey, I already told you I was a nerd.)
Best of all, though, were the back-to-school clothes. My mom always took me and my sister to the local Sears, a stand-alone department store that was always well stocked with the latest (for 1980) line of Winnie-the-Pooh brand kids’ fashions.
The thing was, and it’s still true today, by the time you go shopping for school clothes sometime in August, the stores only have autumn/winter things on display. So, you end up buying a whole new cool-weather wardrobe and get all excited about showing off your new duds, only to have the late-summer heat that’s still in full force when you finally head back to the classroom make you wear the same old grubby outfits you wore LAST year. (And yes, I do realize that these are more or less “rich people problems.”)
My point is, I recall all too well how much I looked forward to wearing something new to start a fresh school year, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the kids in my neighborhood, heading back to school in even worse first-day weather than I remembered from my own distant youth.
Then I remembered something else: Young people today don’t care about fashion.
Maybe I’m the only one who’s noticed, but over the past, oh, 20 years or so, there’s been a marked decline in the style sense of people under age 18 (truth be told, EVERYBODY pretty much looks like a slob to me, but it’s especially troubling to see in children).
Back in the day, my classmates and I painstakingly selected every detail of our school ensembles, from the Skedaddles brand saddle shoes on our feet to the just-right-neon-color Swatch watch. Kids today, on the other hand, all seem to sport one of two basic looks: shorts and tank tops or T-shirts in the warm weather, and leggings or jeans with hoodies in colder weather.
There’s never any attempt to “dress up,” and no accessorizing (beyond the ever-present smartphone in hand and earphones/earbuds in ears). You would never be able to tell, just at a glance, whether a young person on the street was headed to school or to the gym.
As disgraceful as I find this refusal to even TRY to look halfway decent, I also find it interesting. It occurs to me that perhaps we have reached a whole new level in our fashion evolution.
Perhaps we have reached the stage at which human beings have stopped caring what they look like, and maybe this is the final stage before we decide to just abandon all pretense at individuality and adopt the inevitable color-block or monochromatic jumpsuit that every human (and other alien race) wears in every futuristic science-fiction drama.
I’ll admit, there IS something about the idea that appeals to me. Like Einstein, who is said to have worn the same basic outfit every day to free himself from the burden of choosing clothes daily, I think I would get a lot more done if I never had to think about what to wear out to lunch with my friends or go shopping to replace worn-out garments.
Of course, young people these days don’t seem to DO much of anything besides stare mindlessly at their phones, so I’m not quite sure why they need all the extra time they free up by ignoring basic style (and, too often, hygiene).
But hey, I’m a busy person, and I certainly could use whatever extra hours I can muster up, so maybe it’s time I surrender and follow the herd. Bring on the jumpsuit!