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shirts

“…they were trapped in the dress of their youth…” Jonathan Meades¹. I read this line a few day’s ago and started to think. Meades was talking about people born in the before the first world war who he met as a child in the 1950s.

Are we still trapped in the dress of our youth?

What was the dress of my youth, I was slightly too young for the worst that the 1980s had to offer. My youth was later it started around the so called second summer of love, and I would guess ended around the time that people stopped talking about the millennium.

Yet that is a long and twisting road of fashion. Two sixties revivals, a minor Northern soul revival, Grunge, Second Wave Goth, Nu Punk, Rave, Football Fashion, New Goth, Post Goth, Post Metal the list is endless.

The most ubiquitous style from that era was the flannel shirt. What used to be called a cowboy shirt and what the Americans call a plaid shirt. It cut across the landscape of the 1990s and is still with us today.

My first memory of someone wearing a flannel shirt was Luke Duke one of the titular ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ The flannel shirt was the dress of the cowboy, the Duke boys were modern cowboys in a fast car. At the same time Bruce Springsteen wore a flannel shirt. It was the dress of the American working man and Bruce was their champion.

But it was heavier music that brought the flannel shirt into the open. Although it is associated with the Seattle sound the flannel shirt was the dress of all heavy bands wanting to pull away from the excess of hair metal. Pantera are from Texas, the dress of the cowboy from hell is the flannel shirt, sleeves ripped off. Sepultura and their offshoots are from Brazil, White Zombie from New York. All adopted the flannel shirt.

The flannel shirt is practical. The same practicality that saw it worn in the mosh pit saw it adopted at the rave. The rock kids wore their flannel shirts loose with jeans and Dr Martens the ravers wore their flannel shirts loose with denim dungarees and Kickers. Only the mod revivalists eschewed the flannel shirt.

The mod revivalists trap themselves in the dress of their parent’s youth. (see Bradley Wiggins)

After the turn of the century the youth stopped wearing the flannel shirt but it is still popular. With those of us who are older. Those of us who if we do wear a hooded jersey wear it in the style of Rocky Balboa.

The flannel shirt is warm, practical and if you get a padded one warmer still. I read the line quoted above and thought that I had gone out wearing jeans, a tee shirt, a pair of Dr Marten’s and a flannel shirt. I was trapped in the dress of my youth.

Meades finished his thought with the words “The prospect of octogenarian hoodies is one I shall thankfully be spared”.

¹ p155 ‘An Encyclopaedia of Myself’ Meades, Jonathan 2014 4thestate ISBN 978-1-85702-849-2

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