It happened back in July while I was working as a nanny, when, in a fairly typical moment where boredom and temporary insanity collided, I found myself with my 14-year old summer protege Joan standing in front of an oh-so chic make-up counter in Saks Fifth Avenue asking, begging for a brand new look. Ready to shed my au-natural girl-next-door norm for more cutting edge cosmetics, I was open to the possibility of experimenting with some of the season”s more colorful looks. So, hopping up in the makeover chair, I closed my eyes and placed my face and my faith in the trend-trained hands of Cindy, the make-up artist.

Paul Wong
Keller Instincts<br><br>Meredith Keller

Twenty suspense-filled minutes later, my fully-mascaraed lashes opened. And, as I lifted up the hand-held mirror to my new reflection, I suddenly understood why Joan had been laughing so hard. With darkened eyebrows, orangey eye shadow, and pale shellacked lips, while Cindy”s make-up maneuvers had successfully incorporated the looks of the summer onto my face, by the time she was finished with me, I needed dental records to verify my identity.

Looking more “Rocky Horror Picture Show” than runway fashion show, I was less than impressed with my trendy alter-ego. Two washcloths and gobs of facial cleanser later, I made up my mind that that was the last time I would try to be trendy. But that doesn”t mean I stopped looking.

As a self-proclaimed fashion magazine fiend, many a month have I shelled out the $3.50 that is necessary to gaze at the glossy pages of “Glamour” or live vicariously through the vision of “Vogue.” Content with my own classic style, twice a year in February and September, I anxiously await the fall and spring shows for a glimpse of what might emerge as the newest definitive phase of fashion.

In contrast to the more revolutionary trends of yesteryear, however, which brought about such iconic items as the Chanel suit, the Hermes Birkin bag, and the von Furstenberg wrap dress, it would seem that where today”s trends are concerned, there is a fine line separating what is stylish from what is just plain silly.

A good example of this stylish versus silly dichotomy can be seen in the so-called “80s revival, which began sometime in fall and is supposedly hotter than ever for spring. Calling for hiked-up hemlines, off the shoulder shirts and rhinestone studding, while fashion magazines may encourage us to break out our Pogo Balls, I still have a pair of yellow Benetton bicycle shorts that would suggest the “80s revival is a very, very bad idea.

Remember, these very same fashion magazines once told us that we could really wear red and green eye shadow without looking like an over-glittered Christmas card. These very same fashion magazines encouraged us to bob our hair, and three months later denounced the look in favor of Lady Godiva-length locks. And these same fashion magazines will endlessly preach that true beauty is in the eye of the beholder, when in fact, their true beauty is in the eye of the air brushers.

So, knowing this, can we honestly assume as these magazines suggest, that going from Runway to Reality is a smooth transition? Unless by some twist of fate, you are exclusively known by your first name, live in a Malibu dream house and have a boyfriend named Ken, I would be weary of such promises.

Contrary to what my sudden cynicism towards style may suggest, I will stop short of proposing the notion that we are currently a part of a “Couture Conspiracy Theory,” hand-crafted by the fashion industry in an attempt to make the rest of us look bad. Assuming instead that recent proclamations of style are more likely the result of an over-consumption of Moet and Diet Coke during the critical stages of Fashion Week, I will leave you drowning in sap with this duh-provoking thought.

Despite what fashion magazines would have us believe, when it all comes down to it, what is truly trendy is a matter of personal preference and personal style. What is In and what is Out vary interchangeably throughout time. And with a more eclectic scope of style emerging, faux-pas may be a thing of the past. Or, at least the “80s.

If you”d like to share a complaint about “80s fashions, contact Meredith Keller at makeller@umich.edu

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *