If you've been clothing shopping recently — heck even in the last couple years — then you have probably noticed that a lot of the clothes being carried in stores (looking at you, Target) are just straight out of the '90s and Y2K-era.
And you also might have opened TikTok and stumbled across videos of Gen Z'ers combing through thrift stores looking for authentic "vintage" '90s and early '00s clothing. Needless to say, if you were a millennial who wore that clothing in middle school and/or high school you're probably asking yourself three things: 1.) Ewwww, why is that coming back in style?, 2.) Am I that old?, and 3.) Could I wear some of the styles again even though I wore them back when they were new?
Well, we've got an answer: it's the 20-year rule. Most fashions and trends cycle every 20-plus years, with the '90s and early '00s being firmly within that (so Gen Z'ers never got to experience those trends). Yes, we are getting old! Nearly all millennials are now in their thirties or early forties. And lastly, probably (?), unlike our parent's generation, it's safe to say millennials don't feel "old" or out of the loop with current trends or pop culture...so it's likely we'll incorporate some of that Y2K-style into our clothing — and probably with our own updated spin so it doesn't feel like we're trying to dress like young twentysomethings.
This is actually something that New York Times contributing opinion editor Jessica Bennett spoke about in a very interesting TikTok titled, "I Refuse the Graceful Slide Into Cultural Irrelevance" which was recently uploaded to the New York Times Opinion channel, and which is based on an article of the same name which she wrote for the paper back in August (and I highly recommend you read).
Jessica, who describes herself as a "geriatric millennial," starts off by saying that she has noticed that she has seen young people dress exactly the way she dresses. The thing is, as Jessica points out, she is just dressing like herself, and in the TikTok, she was actually wearing a vintage '90s T-shirt that she has owned since then.
And she goes on to say that seeing young people dressed like her had become something that had "gotten" into her head and it made her think that maybe she was "trying too hard to still be cool" or trying to hold on to her youth.
Jessica then explains that every generation has to deal with aging and that it can be tough to navigate. She points out though that aging for previous generations came with a "trade-off" with becoming "uncool," usually a stable job, kids, retirement, and a house. However, that's not something a lot of millennials have as compared to, like, boomers.
And with more and more Gen Z'ers entering adulthood and dictating what's cool and what's trendy, Jessica wondered where that cultural power shift leaves millennials. She asks if we're now "the old guys" and the "ones trying too hard." However, Jessica says she ended up deciding what she wants for herself: she wants to keep up with things (partially because her job demands she be in the "know"), she's going to work harder at it, and that she doesn't want to fade "into cultural irrelevance."
Many people commented on Jessica's feelings towards dressing the way she wants — whether or not it may look like she is trying to dress young:
While other people resonated with Jessica's determination to stay in "the know" with trends and things going on in pop culture:
Okay, here are my two cents on this: I agree with Jessica. Millennials are truly the first generation that has come of age with the internet and adapted to everything from dial-up, AIM, and Myspace to using smartphones, TikTok, and Instagram. I think as a generation we have always been ones to want to adapt to what's new, so I think that being ingrained into us makes us want to naturally keep up. So I believe as a generation, we will probably fight off fading "into cultural irrelevance" unlike previous generations.
However, fellow millennials, and also young Gen X'ers, I want to know what you think about this. Are we doomed to turn into our parents and become "uncool" or are we a generation that will likely rewrite what it is to age? Or do you disagree with this altogether? Let me know in the comments below!