Archive for the 'Fashion' Category

Shell suits

One fashion trend that surely will never return to our streets, well except in Liverpool anyway, the shell suit was a disaster from start to finish. Even its description on Wiktionary makes them sounds god-awful:

A lightweight tracksuit consisting of a matching zip-front jacket and matching elasticated trousers, each having an outer nylon shell, often bearing panels and flashes of different colours, and inner cotton lining; popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s both as sportswear and as general leisurewear.

Any trend that is pioneered by Jimmy Saville is worrying but the problematic polyester took off in the late 80s and reached their peak during the early 90s. They often featured awful colour combinations and made people look like a packet of Refreshers.

Perhaps if you were working out at the time you could get away with it but the mere fact that people used to wear them to the pub, around the house and even on nights out concerns me. There’d be no need for a lighting system in the local discothèque as people breakdanced and bodypopped in their rainbow coloured clothing.

However they were practical as they were waterproof which is a good thing, but take it to other extreme and you’ve got a problem. If exposed to hot temperatures or fire they suddenly melted and gave you no protection, especially on Bonfire Night as they attached themselves to your skin.

At least burning shell suits is one way of getting rid of them, or the other being hand them into you’re local Oxfam. Whilst you think you’re doing a good turn and helping a charity, they won’t sell them as no-one wants to be seen or even heard in them thanks to the plastic rustling like leaves as you moved around.

Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin’ Chain attempted to reintroduce the shell suit when they had a spell in the charts a few years ago and I’m sure many of the chavs that lurk in city centres would find them tasteful today. And then there are the Eastern Europeans who probably think they look amazing dressed like someone who got stuck in a wrapping paper warehouse.

But no matter how people try to recover the popularity of the tracksuit’s scabby little cousin it looks to be destined to appearing in the mean streets of Newport rather than New York for the foreseeable future.

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Geri’s Union Jack Dress

Never before has a flag looked so good. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress that she wore during the 1997 Brit Awards is one of the most iconic images of the decade and for a few months made Great Britain one of the trendiest countries in the world.

The Spice Girls had just cracked America and Spicemania was well and truly running wild across the globe. After their first album had gone straight to number one around the world, the famous five were to scoop the main prizes at British music’s big awards show.

With the girls due to perform during the event, Geri was going to wear a plain black number but the sassiest member of the five decided it was too dull, so her sister went out and bought a Union Jack tea-towel and sewed it onto the front. It was worn during the Spice’s performance of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and instantly became a fashion classic.

The dress got plenty of attention around the world, and the fact that her knickers were on show was shocking at the time for many, but the lads loved it. Ginger Spice became everyone’s favourite Spice Girl and made Miss Halliwell the sexiest redhead ever, yes even ahead of Anne Robinson, Paul Scholes and Basil Brush.

It also added fuel to the Cool Britannia term that was being used at the time. With New Labour being ushered into power with a youthful Tony Blair at its helm, the rise of Britpop, the success of Euro 96 and films such as Austin Powers and James Bond, the dress typified the excitement on our small island.

It also started a trend which saw everything emblazoned with the Union Jack. I remember going to London a year later and went into a shop that just sold merchandise that featured the red, white and blue. Boxer shorts, toilet seats and money boxes were all available, and the latter coming with as much money inside it as today’s British economy.

Upon quitting the group in 1998, Geri auctioned off that dress and it was bought by the owner of the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas for £41,320, still a record for a piece of pop memorabilia. When the girls announced their comeback a couple of years Ginger tried to get the original back to perform in, but had to settle with a sparkly replica instead.

It was probably a good thing though, as the stick-thin Geri of today wouldn’t have had the same impact as back in 1997 when she squeezed her curves into the sexiest dress of all time. Just goes to show that women and tea-towels definitely belong together…

Curtains

Before the 1990s, curtains were only long pieces of material that protected you from the voyeurs of this world – until David Beckham came along.

After bursting onto the scene at the start of the 1996-97 season with his halfway line goal against Wimbledon the media started looking more closely at the Manchester United midfielder, but just as the rest of his career would dictate it wouldn’t just be for the magic of his right boot.

Girls started noticing Beck’s flowing locks and even my older sister got on in the act, pestering me for posters of the new teen heartthrob to stick on her school files. Then “Titanic” came out and Leonardo Di Caprio started rocking the style, which resulted in my sister buying his calendar. Curtains were taking off.

It wasn’t just my sister who was loving the new hairstyle. By growing your hair slightly longer and dragging some Brylcreem through it girls were falling weak at the knees and it was becoming incredibly popular. But then the boybands got hold of it.

The likes of Ben from A1 and everyone from Westlife started copying Beckham, but unlike Goldenballs they had centre-partings and so the top of their head started to resemble an advert for McDonalds as it looked like a giant M.

But more and more guys started trying it out and it even reached my primary school with a couple in my year giving it a go. I always fancied it myself but never had the nerve to ask my mum for one so I kept on with my simple bowl cut. Rather than copying Beckham, my style icon was more Peter Beardsley.

Becks in the end got so fed up of looking into the crowd and seeing so many people copying his hairstyle that he ended up shaving it all off to the dismay of Brylcreem. After all a bald guy trying to sell hair gel is like Ashley Cole trying to give marriage advice.

And so those who had the floppy haircut saw their leader chop it all off and like cult members followed his lead, a trend that continues until today. The skinhead replaced curtains and they’ve never really come back.

But here’s to hoping that like all fashion they do return, so I can finally see whether I can pull the look off, or like a normal pair of curtains pull myself together.

Adidas popper joggers

For anyone who doesn’t know me, I love Adidas. I have Adidas Superstar trainers, Adidas Originals tracksuit tops, Adidas t-shirts and Adidas Predator football boots. But if I could own one item of Adidas apparel it would be the legendary Adidas popper joggers.

I had a lot of cool stuff when I was a kid and my parents hardly deprived me of anything. I got involved in the fashion trends as a kid; I had spiky hair (ala Gary Rhodes, scary thought) and all the different types of trainers that appeared around the time such as the ones that had LED lights in them and the psychedelic green and orange chunky ones. But never proper popper joggers.

These were a random fashion statement. I still don’t quite understand the need for press studs down the sides of joggers as when you had them undone the flare of your trousers flapped around in the wind, but they had the three stripes running down the side , Sporty Spice wore them and I wanted them.

Looking back I can fully understand why my parents didn’t splash out £20 on a pair of trousers for me to roll around in the mud playing footy, and I had to make do with the Gola version of them. Ahh Gola – Adidas’ poorer, more malnourished cousin. If Adidas is David Beckham, Gola’s equivalent is Darren Huckerby.

But even with my garish Gola version I could still experience the joys of people running up behind you in the playground (on non-school uniform days of course!) and grab a handful of your trousers, pulling so hard that the poppers gave way and exposed your legs to the harsh Mid Wales winters.

I’ve always heard that fashion comes back around, but after an absence of a decade I think the world is already relishing the return of the Adidas “windpants”. There are Facebook groups demanding the relaunch of the design classic and there are still a few popping up on Ebay and selling for some good money. You could say they’re becoming pop-ular again…

Unfortunately any time I see a pair of these gorgeous trackies, they’re always being showcased by someone in their mid 50s who picked them up from a jumble sale for a couple of quid, trying to be down with the kids. Until they pop their clogs, I don’t think I’ll be sporting the popper pants any time soon.


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Hi I'm Jonny, creator of this blog. Like most people in my generation, I feel that the 90s were indeed an epic decade and this is my tribute to all the things that made it great!