The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

Future fashion is an especially tricky trend for me to predict

I think fashion is fascinating. New fashions are always a complete surprise to me. I never even have a vague idea of what they are going to be.

I could probably make educated forecasts on the future of the economy, social norms and television programs - but I couldn't predict one color other than black.

This is probably because I don't have the remotest fashion sense. It consists of one question: "Would women like to see me wearing this?"

Usually, I'm not even sure how to answer that. And as I helplessly buy clothing I don't understand, I wonder, "Who decides what will be fashionable? Why? Where are they? Can they be influenced?"

I've heard that the style in question began in Europe two years prior. Eventually, the Europeans tired of it, and they handed it down to us. Thus, we look like we were unearthed from very brief European time capsules. I wonder if they get nostalgic when we visit.

Regardless, this cycle bodes well for me, because I was in Italy almost two years ago - and let's just say all those people who constantly tell me not to wear male capri pants will soon be whistling a different tune. And they'll be whistling it with a small length of pant leg missing.

Whistling aside, fashion is such an enormous part of our culture that I figured an exploration of it would yield something meaningful. But I've found that I lose my vague idea of what the current fashion is by living here.

I'm not implying that UNC students don't know how to dress, but the types of dress and levels of activity associated with the dress on the men and women varies too greatly. I can't put my thumb on the pulse.

In order to find exactly what the latest fashions were, I needed pure, unadulterated data flow directly from the source. So I went to the malls.

I visited three - the largest being Concord Mills, a sprawling caricature of a normal mall growing outside Charlotte.

Concord Mills houses roughly 500,000 stores in two conveniently adjacent 10-mile loops. It sells everything from fashionable evening wear to fishing tackle to expensive glass.

It even sells boats, the sales (pun intended!) of which should skyrocket next year when the mall expands into the Atlantic Ocean.

As you might imagine, the jam-packed malls offered a perfect opportunity to cut directly to the heart of this thing. The first trend I noticed was that young girls dress like whores.

Yeah, I said it. You want to call me out for libel, girls? You can't. You're way too large a group for identification, and I have the truth defense.

I understand that fashion has a cyclical quality, but I thought that whore fashion existed in an entirely different circle. It's one of the small occupational fashion circles with its own orbit, such as Catholic priest fashion.

Black shirt, black pants, white collar. Not a lot you can do with that, although it might be funny if a deacon wore a collar insert made out of a colorless Fruit Roll-Up, and whenever the priest's back was turned, he would nonchalantly bite off a small piece.

But back to fashion.

The overriding concept I was able to glean from several hours of mall-watching is that everyone is trying to look older than they are.

When boys are young, they try on their father's ties and slide their tiny feet into his dress shoes. Young girls smear their mother's makeup across their cheeks and drape her pearls around their necks. When they get older, guys' clothing gets longer and baggier. Girls' clothing gets tighter and shorter.

When you reach college age, following the age hierarchy doesn't bear fashionable results anymore, so you go vintage or "retro" and look really old and young at the same time.

This doesn't really explain why young girls are dressing so provocatively - I don't see this in grown women - but that's not the point.

The point is that I think I'm finally able to make a prediction about future fashion. Americans won't do anything half-assed, even if we do copy it from Europe, so I think that we'll push the vintage style to the absolute limit.

Next year's fashion will resemble popular dress of the early 1900s or even the late 1800s. Capes will be all the rage, as will monocles and spats.

When people are happily surprised by something, they will shout, "Ain't that a sweet load of clams!"

Unfortunately, young girls will continue to dress like floozies.

Contact Jonathan Yeomans at

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