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a collision of the past and present. I spent last weekend, Labor Day weekend, in South Florida. On that Saturday, my brother and I went to IKEA to buy furniture and accessories for his new apartment. We met at my house, or my old house – the house Β I grew up in, and while I waited for him to eat breakfast, I poked my nose around to see what had changed and what hadn’t. On the coffee table in the living room were photographs of my stepmom from the eighties. She was in her late twenties, she was wearing a high-cut bikini, her hair was in full poof mode, and she may have been wearing blue eye shadow. The shot of her was classic – it could have been right out of movie Top Gun. After poking my nose around for a good amount of time, too long actually, I did what anyone would do with spare time – I checked Facebook. The first bit of “news” on my news feed were mobile uploads of my stepsister, Kirsten, wearing high-waisted jean shorts, a pale neon orange racerback tank, and a white bandeau bra underneath. Wow. Thirty or so years lay between these two photographs yet the fashion had not changed. Not one bit.

From Kirsten’s pose, you could tell that… how do I put this… she thought she was hot shit. She thought she was ahead of the trends. She was actually way behind, thirty or so years. This made my ask the question, how many times have I tried a new trend and thought I was hot shit when really I wasn’t? When I started wearing polka dots early last year, I thought I was genius. No one else was doing it, or so I thought, and I looked downright killer. The trend is rather old though, sixty plus years, which means I made more of a fashion boo-boo than Kirsten. After this question, another came up. Are we at a point in fashion where we’ve done it all? There are a finite amount of ways a garment can be made. Have we reached the limit? Is the future of fashion going to be less invention and more recycling? Or will invention entail new way of mixing trends from different time periods (i.e. mixing a victorian dress a la late 1800s with boots a la 1990s)?


  1. Reply

    Clare Mountain

    Maddie! We seem to be on the same wave length. Yesterday, I wrote a proposal for a knitwear bursary, with one of the themes being innovation: can one ever be truly innovative in fashion? I am proposing to produce a collection fusing old Bauhaus innovation theories, with new technology and original organic experimentation on my part. It’s really important to me for it to be very wearable too though. I hope I get the bursary to produce it – it’ll be interesting to see if I produce anything remotely ‘new.’

    • Reply


      Oh, I must see this when you’re finish! I think we’re both on the right track with our thinking. Today, invention is copying others work and transforming it into something our own, just like you are doing with your Bauhaus inspiration. Your copying bits and pieces of the art movement and putting some of your own flare on it.

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    Katie Lineaweaver

    So funny you wrote this! I started writing a post about the difference between invention and inspiration and then figured no one would understand me and scratched the idea. This might seem really stupid now that I’ve done a lot of thinking on this topic, but I actually stopped pursuing fashion design because I thought I wouldn’t be creative enough to do something new. I would only be able to reinvent what has already been done. AND HERE THAT’S WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON ALL ALONG! What the crap!

    So, long story short, I started designing again!
    Have a good weekend Maddie!

    • Reply


      You can still write the post!
      Fashion design is all about copying and that’s okay. Copying is not a bad thing, as long as you change an idea here and there to make it your own.

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    I think genuinely new fashions will come from practical necessity, to deal with new environments, from things as radical as a colony on Mars (or under the sea), to things like urban, high-rise farming, global warming, personal jet-packs, etc. By the time these things become part of the fashion-for-its-own-sake cultural conversation, they will not feel new, having been utilitarian before fashionable.

    • Reply


      Interesting thought. I think you’re correct that there will be “inventions” that will come out of necessity – high-rise farming, global warming, etc – but I think this will be more in terms of the fabrics used than the silhouettes created.

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    I don’t care about fashion trends, really. I stick to a look that flatters my style/figure, try to be as consistent as possible, and then work it. Right now I’ve gotten back into vintage so I suppose I’m more than 50 years behind on trends.

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    the Garment Farmer

    It has been said, there is nothing new under the sun. And I believe it is soooo true. For thousands of years, great writers have taken old stories and rewritten them with their own personal style and twists–heavily borrowing plot and characters. It’s all copying and “modernizing,” to make something only relatively “new.”

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    Daughter Fish

    Funny, this week I spent an afternoon on a college campus where my husband is now teaching. I quickly realized that the styles all of the girls were wearing would pretty much fit in on my college campus 15 years ago! I think there’s a perennial style on certain liberal arts campusesβ€”60’s broom skirts and flowing Indian shirts, etc.β€”but even the more “on trend” girls were wearing things basically pulled from the late ’90’s….and maybe pulled from sometime before that. I think we’re always just recycling old things. What makes it interesting, like the Garment Farmer notes, is when you can do it in an interesting/innovative way:)

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    This is funny. I think there are parts of the 80’s that always seem to get repeated, and now more so the early 90’s. I also love that you say ‘hot shit’ because I say it too and if you really think about the statement.. it makes me laugh. Have a nice weekend lady! XO, R

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    Funny you mentioned those old photos Maddie – I can’t even look at them. The 80’s look and hairstyle was definitely the worst decade of them all (so far). I don’t see anyone rushing out to copy those hairstyles but I think the preppy look is still in especially on college campuses.

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    the whole cut-out trend was killing me until i came across forties movie stars in… gowns with cut out panels. suddenly i was all in. i think the restyling of a trend makes me like that trend even more, maybe it gives it weight?

    i’m the same way about sitcoms. if i’m watching it first air, i’m probably not laughing. in reruns, i’m happy. like it’s passed the test or something.

    • Reply


      Ahh… I have an interesting tid bit for you about cut-outs. Did you know WHY the whole cutout trend occurred in the 30s and 40s? The Hays code prohibited cleavage from being shown on screen so actresses found other ways to be sexy and seductive. Interesting, eh?

      • Reply


        SO interesting. i had no idea. and what i love about the trend then was the use of cut outs in body hugging gowns, so that makes perfect sense.

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    Marisa Noelle

    So true, so true. I have thought the same thing many times – especially these past couple years when 90s style has made a huge comeback. I used to dress like this in middle school/ high school – do I really want to do it again? There’s a whole been there, done that thing going on. I don’t know – That’s pretty funny though about your stepsister. I’ve been there many times myself πŸ™‚ xo Marisa

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    Antoinette Perez

    I’m digging this post a whole lot. I loved your reply to a comment — that nothing is really new, but the remix might feel very fresh and current. I use that approach in my sewing, patternmaking, volunteer work, and profession designing training experiences. No shame in recycling an existing idea and putting a new spin on it. Combining many ideas in a new way. On a separate note, I think I’ve got a blog post coming regarding trend cycles. Still processing that one in my head….. πŸ™‚

    • Reply


      I love this post layout too. I think I’m going to keep it for awhile.

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    As a fashion design student this though keeps me up at night. Ok maybe not so extreme, but it is something I wonder and think about a lot. It seems like we have been recycling fashion trends for a hand-full of years now.
    I really like that this is a though-provoking post and it makes us question what is yet to come and imagine what fashion could be like in the future.
    I hope you had a great time is South FL, it’s my favorite state and I will never get over how beautiful (and sometimes insanely hot) it is.

    • Reply


      I have this same thought sometimes and it gets me down a little. I ask why I “design” anything if I’m sure someone else has most likely “designed” it too. It puts a lot of pressure on designers but at the same time, it takes a lot off – don’t stress because what you’ve done or plan on doing has probably already been done so it will make your work easier – just copy them and tweak a little to your own taste. I hope that makes sense. Rereading my comment, I kind of don’t understand myself πŸ™‚

      • Reply


        I get what you are saying and it made me feel a bit more at ease about this. I am actually sketching designs right now for a collection I’m working on for one of my classes and I am noticing that I am much more conscious and aware of this topic during the design process than I already was – if that’s even possible. It is not a RTW collection so I think that this usually allows designers to try to push the envelope further per say and create a design that some might call “crazy”. But, in my opinion, this contributes a great deal to that effort of trying to come up with something unseen, since those designs trickle down to RTW and influence trends. Now I am worried I’M not making sense, hope so I am. hehe πŸ™‚
        I think Sallie’s comment is spot on and makes a lot of sense.

  13. Reply


    great photos. your blog is lovely.


  14. Reply


    Hi Madalynne, thanks for your comment on my lace vest. I got the elastic from ebay (.co.uk) a year or so ago. I foolishly didn’t make a note of the seller because I would her loved to have ordered lots more, it’s amazing stuff. All the best and happy sewing xxx

    • Reply


      Thanks lady!

  15. Reply


    A great and thoughtful post, Maddie, as always.
    I might be taking this all a bit too far, but I always like to think about the politics that surround the way we dress – what are the cultural similarities between your stepmom’s experience in the 80’s – and how was that reflected in her dress – and how is your stepsister’s experience now similar? Trends are usually a reflection of a greater cultural movement that usually has a momentum all its own. And sometimes part of that cultural movement involves a certain amount of nostalgia for a time, like the 80’s, where we can idealize the politics, the music, the fashions, etc. Fashion is just another part of culture, like art, and to say that no new art can be made is a really reductive way of looking at the world. Of course designers are going to be influenced by the past, you can’t research the future! But its the context that the styles are worn in that makes them new and relevant again.

    • Reply


      As always, an interesting comment Sallie! This one made me think. I agree that politics influence the way we dress but I’m not sure what was similar between my stepmom’s experience in the 80s and my stepsister’s experience now – mostly because I’m not in their shoes, figuratively – but I believe that similarities DO exist and IS the reason they dress similar.

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