From 1960’s hippies to 1990’s grungers, every generation has had their fashion emblem. Open a family photo album and you’ll easily locate the dodgy perms and stonewashed denim à la Bananarama circa 1984. Iconic fashion moments make an era instantly recognisable in history, but as 2011 begins and the noughties are becoming an increasingly distant memory, the style that defined our teenage years is hard to pinpoint. What exactly is our legacy?

As Catherine Nieto notes (in this issue’s interview) ‘WAG’ culture sky-rocketed in the last decade and propelled these women into the fashion spotlight. The fashion atrocities that signified the early years of the WAG phenomenon – Juicy Couture tracksuits, dodgy hair extensions and creosote skin, infiltrated mass culture at an alarming rate, defining the style of wannabe WAGS and misguided teens alike. Then in the latter noughties came the WAG makeover led by (now designer and WAG royalty) Victoria Beckham. Ex-WAG Cheryl Cole underwent a similar style overhaul, and her transition from chavvy girl band member to blossoming style queen became a national fascination. Cheryl’s stint on the X Factor brought a whole new dimension to style-stalking – suddenly what the judges wore each week secured more column inches than the contestants on the show. The rise of the WAG was complete, and we began to covet the likes of a newly polished Coleen Rooney, Abby Clancy and Alex Curran for all the right reasons.

Clearly, celebrity status has held the key to influencing fashion for some time, but where has this left us? Does our era have a signature style? When celebrities embraced the ‘it’ bag, so did we. The Chloe Paddington and Hermes Birkin spring to mind as the designs that spawned countless high street copies, but every fashion house in the world got in on the ‘it’ bag phenomenon. They even went so far as to explicitly acknowledge the power of celebrity endorsement – think Mulberry’s Alexa coined after everyone’s favourite muse Alexa Chung. Then came the ‘it’ shoe, namely anything by Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik thanks to the Holy Grail of style that was SATC. Not forgetting the most unfortunate ‘it’ footwear of the 21st Century – the Ugg Boot – the cruel joke that celebrities seemed to be in on, and thousands of women (and men) fell foul of.
Clothing trends though, were suffering from something of an identity crisis. Was anything truly new? Save for quirky icons like Lady Gaga and Agyness Deyn, every major trend of our teenage and young adult life was a re-hash of something we had already seen: skinny jeans, Ray-Bans, body-con, tassels, studded leather, shoulder pads… our parents beat us to it. Save for hipster jeans, the noughties failed to innovate in the way previous decades had, and not surprisingly, vintage fashion became something of a norm.

However, our approach to fashion has seen something of a revolution. The rise of the internet has given us limitless choice at the touch of a button. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Apps and style websites have changed the face of fashion forever. This previously mysterious world is becoming increasingly interactive and accessible via the internet, giving the individual the power to influence trends in a way that was never before possible. The pace of fashion has sky-rocketed thanks to the instantaneous nature of the internet and the insatiable interest of its users. This is the era when the people had a voice – and it isn’t over yet.

Jasmin Watts

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  1. January 18, 2011 at 07:08 — Reply

    Save for quirky icons like Lady Gaga and Agyness Deyn, every major trend of our teenage and young adult life was a re-hash of something we had already seen

    Thank God Almighty Lady Gaga came and invented something new end revolutionary

  2. Nate
    January 18, 2011 at 08:47 — Reply

    Couldn’t finish reading because AE! A&F! That’s what sticks in my head when I think highschool.

  3. Old Fart
    January 18, 2011 at 19:36 — Reply

    Can someone please tell me what “WAG” means? Something tells me it’s not “wild-ass guess.”

  4. Kazz
    January 19, 2011 at 05:24 — Reply

    Lady GaGa=Grace Jones

  5. Even Older Fart
    January 19, 2011 at 11:09 — Reply

    > Save for quirky icons like Lady Gaga…

    Hi, let me introduce you to Dale Bozzio. Do a quick google image search and you’ll see more than a few similarities.

  6. January 19, 2011 at 18:57 — Reply

    WAG = Wifes And Girlfriends

    The term refers to the wifes or girlfriend’s of footballers and was coined during the last World Cup

  7. Old Fart
    January 19, 2011 at 20:45 — Reply

    Okay, so then what is “WAG culture?”

  8. VanessaBrown
    January 20, 2011 at 00:42 — Reply

    Erm… well I think it refers to the fact that all of the WAGS, being incredibly rich, wear very expensive clothing and have a very polished look. That said, they’re not quite “classy” due to the conspicous nature of their consumption. Many of them are also far too orange-looking to ever be considered elegant.

  9. Old Fart
    January 21, 2011 at 00:49 — Reply

    “Orange looking?” Explain!

  10. January 21, 2011 at 05:46 — Reply

    @ Old Fart: Are you being serious? Lol. Well if you are… I meant that a lot of WAGs are what you can call “perma-tanned”. Basically, they have a permanent tan all year round which they achieve by either use a WHOLE load of fake tan or happily risking skin cancer by using sunbeds in order to get this “healthy glow”. Whilst a light-medium or a natural tan can look nice, a lot of WAGs just end up looking orange due to applying too many layers of tanning cream or staying under the sunbed for too long! Although, some obviously go on holiday to hot countries to get their tan.

  11. Old Fart
    January 21, 2011 at 10:29 — Reply

    Thanks for the clue-in. See, I’m an American, and other than the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, I haven’t seen too many orange Americans. Must be one of those posh Brit things.

  12. Jasmin
    January 21, 2011 at 12:23 — Reply

    Paris Hilton is a particularly nice shade of creosote though.

    And who can forget the cast of Jersey Shore – given Snooki’s foray into fashion design I feel it was an oversight that she wasn’t included in the article.

  13. Jasmin
    January 21, 2011 at 12:41 — Reply
  14. January 22, 2011 at 00:10 — Reply

    Congrats on the huge readership figures Jasmin! Nice work. It seems inevitable the The Jersey Shore will be THE style that dresses generations to come, thank God we live in such a fantastic world.

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