Fashion is a progressive industry that changes with the wind and the tolerance of the people. Though women continually stretch the boundaries in the name of style, men’s fashion trends commonly remain in the safe zone – most of the time. Occasionally, however, men become courageous en masse, and the end results were typically disastrous. Below are notable trends that came and went (some stayed longer than others), and we’re all wiser for having learned from them.
At some point it was decided that enormous genie-like pants were all the rage. Coined by pop artist MC Hammer, the unflattering fabrics were bold metallics or loudly busy patterns that burned the eyes. The pants grew but the popularity eventually deflated, proving that some things are far from legit and need to be quit.
Rockers, Ravers and Billy Idol are to thank for this translucent fashion faux pas. At a time when most clothing was increasing in the amount of fabric used, the mesh shirt was running in another direction. Reminiscent of an article from a Village People concert, this revealing dud was not for those lacking in confidence or fingerless gloves.
Oversized High-Tops & Tongues
Boot cut jeans weren’t always the preferred fashion amongst men – there was a time when jeans tapered and the shoe remained uncovered in all its wondrous glory. Manufacturers didn’t shy away; they simply made their shoes bigger with disproportionately large tongues. With Zach Morris as a spokesman for the movement, high-tops no doubt had their big white heyday.
This infamous hairstyle remains loved and hated all in one breath. Widely popular in the 80s, the unflattering trend fell from grace and only surfaces these days in behind-the-times Middle America or in ultra edgy hipster circles. There are many modifications to this classic but the sentiment remains the same; business in the front – party in the rear.
In the wake of Vanilla Ice and Mike Tyson, young folks everywhere began etching lines in their hair as a form of self-expression. Athletes and musicians, blacks and whites; everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Though widely supported at the time, swirling designs and geometric lines came and went the way of the stars that created them.
Rolled-Up Blazer Sleeves
The t-shirt somehow replaced the collared shirt under a blazer and business casual would never be the same. Don Johnson took it a step further, rolled up the sleeves of his jacket and sparked a generational trend copied by millions. It may have been too cool for its own good however because the dapper 90s unrolled the craze and returned to the basics soon after.
Though a popular fashion on the more liberal European continent, the “Speedo” (alternately referred to as a “Banana Hammock” or a “Grape Smuggler”) has yet to find widespread acceptance Stateside. Rarely placed on a hard body, and severely lacking in overall surface area, the spandex underwear is a hard sell. It may prove its appeal in another time and place but for now, the Speedo is fighting an uphill battle.
A common look that originated from function and denial, the comb-over is a well-known style that has existed forever but is seldom accepted. Rather than embracing their signs of age, men risk becoming a public spectacle. Belonging to no generation, men have long denied their baldness and masked it with a thin vale of cover (with little success).
Be it denim, corduroy or a cotton blend, it’s not the material but the size that matters. As the decades pass, shorts have gained in length for the better. Borrowing from the argument against the Speedo, a man’s thighs are rarely something that needs to see the light of day.
Socks with Sandals
When the sun peaks its head, it’s only natural for the skin to make an appearance. The crime is committed when one chooses to leave on their winter socks when slipping into flip-flops. It may seem tempting to combine your seasonal wear but the masses have spoken unanimously; if you wear socks with sandals, you are that guy. Note: capri-length pants do not help the cause.
The Ruffled Tuxedo
It seems no style has ventured further from the original, than the tuxedo. It started and ended as a sleek black-tie affair but lost its way between the ’60s and ’80s with the introduction of the brightly colored ruffled tuxedo blouse. Immortalized in a classic Dumb and Dumber moment, this bold style came crashing in, and for a brief moment, changed the face of formal wear.
The Canadian Tuxedo
It only made sense when the first person combined their daily denim jeans with their favorite denim shirt and completed the ensemble with their versatile jean jacket – the best of all worlds. On that day, the Canadian Tuxedo was born. An innocent mistake indeed, this concoction proves that too much of any one thing can be bad for the soul.
Women can still get away with the classic turtleneck style but it’s safe to say it has run its course amongst men. It was so adaptable at one point as a stand-alone, under a jacket, under a t-shirt, under a sweater, etc – the turtleneck simply couldn’t fail. Eventually, it did, and it now requires an extreme amount of confidence to rock this fading fashion.
The quickest way to lose your street-cred is through the illusive magic of the sweater vest. Like the turtleneck, it seems too versatile to resist but with every fiber, you must. Vastly popular in the ’90s and still spotted today on conservative older men, the sweater vest has been commonly pigeonholed and the outcome is unfavorable.
As popular trends shift with the years, hair has always been a personal avenue for expressing oneself. For some time, individuals chose to get a respectable haircut while leaving the back three-percent of their neck hair in tact – the result, a rat-tail. Though this indie style can still be found on choice individuals of the sticks, there is certainly a trashy stigma attached to this once-accepted trend.
White Socks with Dress Shoes
You can tell a lot about a man by the shoes on his feet – the socks within the shoes, can be equally revealing. Why go through the efforts of pressing your slacks and polishing your shoes only to sabotage the ensemble with white athletic socks? Yes, Michael Jackson made white socks and loafers look good but the average man commonly underachieves when compared to MJ.
The Neon Overload
Each season the design pallet changes – entire organizations devote their livelihood to the research and release of hot new color trends. There was a time when entire wardrobes were glowing neon. Though we still embrace a little neon here and there, we breathe a sigh of relief knowing that fully neon ensembles have completely faded into memory.
A result of the motorcycle boom, leather pants were developed based on a protective function. Eventually, rockers and Goths adopted the hardcore trend and pushed it to terminal velocity. These days, only those of extreme celebrity can wear a pair of leather pants though, even then, peer respect for the style is nonexistent.
Athletes have long worn tracksuits for training purposes and sport but somewhere in the haze the suits made their way into daily wardrobes. Also known as Shell Suits and commonly accessories with gold, these matching tops and bottoms tend to be bold colors and reminiscent of something fresh off the set of the Sopranos. Not everyone was born with pure athletic ability but the tracksuit allowed everyone to feel like an athlete in the off-season.
A night at the disco was always centered around style and swagger – big hair, bell bottoms and platform shoes. Since heels were originally designed to make a woman’s legs appear to be longer, it made logical sense but these elevated kicks lacked in justification for men. Unisex fashions are rarely embraced by the masses and thus the fashion folly.
Fashion is an extremely progressive industry and there will always be styles that challenge and stretch our comfort zone. Every once in a while, there are ideas that rise and fall – some never succeed and some thrive into the ranks of timeless. In the arena of men’s fashion, it’s safe to say, anything strapless will never catch.