Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

How Ironic: self expression through vintage fashion trends

Photo by Maraleis Sinton

As Amelia Clough makes her way across school in her red Crocs, adorned with cartoon jibbitz and bright donut socks, wandering eyes latch onto her colorful feet.

Crocs, fanny packs, sandals and chunky sneakers are staples in the recent ironic ugly fashion trend that has taken both teenagers at Palo Alto Senior High School and across the country by storm.

These items would have been considered fashion disasters as recently as six or seven years ago, but with the re-emergence of wild and iconic ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s clothing, these staple pieces are back in fashion.    v

Fanny pack

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Price: $60, Lifted Anchor

Fanny packs have been one of the bolder additions to the category of ironic fashion trends.

“A lot of artistic fashion people like Rick Owens … wear outrageous fashion,” junior Elijah McKenzie says. “One of the articles had a photograph of this one model wearing a cool fanny pack,” he says.

Junior Eliijah McKenzie’s fanny pack is equal parts aesthetic and functional. He believes the upswing of ironic fashion is a way for people to give new meaning to old fashion items.

“I see a lot of people that were wearing crocs with $500 pairs of jeans, and that’s at this school,” he says. “It’s kind of a trend in the fashion community that doesn’t really die out — the weird style of clothing.”


Price: $30, Crocs

Brightly colored Crocs are an essential element to the “bummy fashion” — most accurately described as loungewear — aesthetic, according to Clough. A call back to a more recent era, Crocs was launched in 2002.

Clough received her red Crocs as a present from her mom, and says that her style is driven by her comfort. She pairs her Crocs with brightly patterned socks, baggy sweatpants and hoodies.

“I was going for comfort over ‘aesthetics,’ but I guess that is a subgenre of aesthetics,” Clough says.

Conversely, any outfits that are supposed to connote a relaxed look are composed of relatively expensive items from brands such as Supreme, Nike and Lululemon, she says.

“People will wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt from somewhere like Supreme and say ‘ugh, I look so bummy today,’” Clough says. “But in reality, their entire outfit costs more than two of my paychecks.”

Ugly Sweater

Price: $16, thrift store

Out with the old and in with the new. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Clad in gingham pants and an ugly Halloween sweater, junior Isabel Armstrong describes the differences between today’s so called “70s” and “80s” fashion and the clothes our parents used to wear.

“It really just speaks to me, [it’s] interesting. [Vintage clothing is] not just what you could find at Urban Outfitters,” Armstrong says. “It’s something that’s tells a story.”

Armstrong says that compared to the fast fashion in today’s stores, vintage fashion differs in design and quality.

She also notes how fashion reflects evolving social norms and the current political sphere. In light of the 2018 midterm elections, turmoil from the White House and the growing sentiment for gun control, today’s political controversies draws parallels to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1980s, according to Armstrong.

“There’s a lot of ‘80s nostalgia going on in our media right now,” Armstrong says. “We’re a generation [that’s] trying to find our voice … so we’re trying to find our voice [through] fashion.”


Price: $60 to $90, Tevas, REI

Similar to the trend of Birkenstocks, Tevas, which are strappy hiking sandals, have made their way into mainstream fashion. Junior Ella Ball, an avid Teva-wearer, uses such “ugly fashion” as a means of expression.

“Ugly fashion is just about showing that I’m fine with going against the grain in terms of style,” Ball says. “I think that it’s a super easy way to distance oneself from trends and judgement about style.”

For Ball, the draw to “ironic fashion” is not only integral to her personality, but also transmits a societal message.

“I like how they [Tevas] look,” Ball says. “They’re so quirky and cool, and I think it’s more like a statement about my personality. Some people just think that it feels more comfortable or use it as a way to express their individuality.”

Chunky sneakers

Price: $70, FILA Disruptor 2 Premium Mono Sneaker, Urban Outfitters

Senior Julia Tournay can be seen sporting her beloved chunky FILA white sneakers most days and with anything from high-rise, striped business pants to simple skinny jeans.

“I like these because they’re big and they make me look taller,” she says. “I don’t have an aesthetic. I like

vintage clothes, and sometimes I’ll dress really basic in Brandy Melville.”

The huge comeback oversized sneakers are a combination of the ’90s chunky basketball sneaker trend, which reemerged in 2017 after Raf Simons Ogweezo transformed the overlooked the ’90s Adidas sneakers.

Although her friends sometimes tease her about them, Tournay says her mom is a big fan.

However varied her outfits may be, Tournay’s chunky white sneakers almost always make an appearance.

“They’re not cute — they’re ironically cute,” she says.

Photo by Maraleis Sinton