Fashions and Unfashions

Last week in Berkshire, I saw a teenaged boy and chuckled out loud. He was wearing relatively baggy, mid-blue jeans, an oversized jumper with baggy arms and he wore his hair long, parted in the middle, with ‘curtains’ either side of his face. Whereas men in their twenties and thirties are wearing the skinny jeans of the early 1980s, this fellow was dressing like a cool nineties kid. Had he been whisked back in time to my school days, we would not have looked twice at his dress, so blended-in would he have been. Yet he must only have been born around 2005. We recycle fashion more than we do our milk bottle tops.

Several times now, I have hunted around my house for clothes I do not wear. Our chapel has been gathering bags of clothing to send to Armenia, where the winters are terribly cold and the people terribly poor. Wishing to fill a fourth bag, I recalled a storage box lurking in the attic. Forgetting what was inside, but knowing it was clothing, I hunted it down and dragged it into daylight. The clothes all smelled somewhat fusty but were in otherwise good condition. I found a pair of flared trousers, three garish shirts with large, disco collars, and an impossibly skinny tank top. With them were a pair of white platforms. Like a small child rummaging in grandma’s wardrobe, I put them on. The trousers were a 28” waist, and I just managed to squeeze into them. Valuing my neck, and not wishing to break it, I refrained from putting on the shoes. I looked at myself in the mirror and laughed out loud. So what was someone born forty years ago doing with clothes worn five years before? When I was at university, the cool kids dressed in the fashions of 25 years before. We would scour the second-hand clothes shops for seventies’ clothing. Like the little nineties kid of Berkshire, we thought we looked good in our retro gear, our vintage look. I see a pattern here. What you are wearing right now will in ten to fifteen years look silly. But in 25 years’ time, teenyboppers will imitate it.

Ideas come in and out of fashion just like our clothes. The irreligion and superstition we experience in modern Britain were all the rage back in the 600s. The spiritual indifference and rejection of the supernatural were popular in the eighteenth-century. Rebellion against God and rejection of the gospel have always been fashionable, even if it has manifested itself in different ways. Conversely, following Christ has nearly always been unpopular, with His people slandered as enthusiasts, extremists, atheists, blasphemers, Bible-bashers, idolaters, cannibals, traitors; they were disloyal, dangerous, too precise, maniacal, etc. Fashions and tastes come and go, but man’s rejection of God and God’s favour to man will remain a constant, until Christ returns.

None of these clothes did I place in my bag for Armenia. I doubt their worst winter would persuade an Armenian to wear clothes like these. 

I dug a little deeper in the box. I found three outfits from the 1640s. Best not to ask.