How style has rebounded and recycled through generations

With 90s fashion back in vogue, it's got Kathriona Devereux experiencing some flushes of nostalgia
How style has rebounded and recycled through generations

Diane Keaton with Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give. Her elegant style in the film is now known as ‘coastal grandmother’

I’VE reached a weird stage in my life, when I pass young women on the street I think I recognise them from secondary school, forgetting it’s more than 20 years since I sat the Leaving Cert.

The revival of ’90s fashion is confusing my brain.

I spot a flared jean and chunky footwear and am reminded of the girl I sat next to in Chemistry class who wore a similar ensemble to our graduation party. I spot a choker and crop top combo and I’m transported to the Back Bar of Sir Henry’s nightclub, where I wore a fetching turquoise sequin boob tube. A glimpse of Buffalo trainers and I’m in a grimy bedsit during my first year of college marvelling at my roommate’s cool shoe choice.

Random flashbulb memories long buried in my brain have been rebooted because of the fashion industry’s inclination to recycle trends of old for the teenagers of today.

If you didn’t come of age in the ’90s, the above paragraph is probably an intractable and meaningless jumble of words, conjuring images of bison, rave music and Bertie Ahern, but any women in their forties will know what I’m talking about.

Maybe all women in their forties are experiencing the same flushes of nostalgia I’m having as the explosion of summer fashion hits the streets.

I sometimes have to stop myself from saying “I love your top, I too wore a satin effect handkerchief top a long time ago.” 

Imagining the pitying looks in response keeps the thought firmly in my head.

When I was in my purple flared cords and Doc Martens phase, my mother scoffed that she herself wore flares back in the ’70s, and why were the ‘young people of today’ scouring second hand shops for ‘old clothes’ and repeating what was admittedly an impractical fashion choice for Irish rain?

On a wet day floor, skimming bell bottoms would soak from the hem of the pants sometimes all the way up to the knee, the sartorial form of a Covid antigen test progress strip. The worst was if you were out for the day and the weather dried off and so did your jeans, and you had to contend with crispy flaps of material around your ankles that could nearly trip you up.

Of course, being an all knowing teenager at the time, I simply rolled my eyes because my mother ‘hadn’t a clue’ when it came to fashion.

I hope today’s teenagers are less scathing of their parents’ fashion knowledge than I was.

I assume mothers of teenagers now are more understanding of the fickle nature of fashion, and rather than scoff at style attempts, are more likely to partake in fashion trends.

I was recently intrigued by two women decked out in the cycling shorts and oversized t-shirt look, and wasn’t sure if they were sisters or mother and daughter because they were both working their look with such aplomb. If it was the mother, she was probably coping with waves of nostalgia from her youth, while the daughter thought she was an original style icon.

Intergenerational styling has reached new levels with a trend called ‘coastal grandmother’. A TikTok-er called Lex Nicoleta has coined the phrase to describe women who dress in elegant cream linen, waft around tastefully decorated houses, cook extravagant meals, and drink rosé.

The actress Diane Keaton in the film Something’s Got To Give is apparently peak ‘coastal grandmother’. Reese Witherspoon is a younger version with her book club and penchant for gingham dresses.

If you like a polo neck and wide- brimmed hat in the summer, you might be a coastal grandmother yourself. You don’t actually need to be a grandmother to go ‘granning’. It’s a hilarious, pointless trend and I can’t wait to see if teenagers of Cork will embrace it and take intergenerational styling to another level.

Cork Carnival of Science is back on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June 2022. See Picture: Darragh Kane
Cork Carnival of Science is back on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June 2022. See Picture: Darragh Kane

There are two important events for the diary for Corkonians coming up.

Firstly, the Carnival of Science. The claim of ‘the biggest temporary build in Fitzgerald’s Park since the Cork International Exhibition in 1902’ certainly caught my attention when I was looking for upcoming family activities in the city. 

Some 120 years later, the Cork Carnival of Science is taking over Fitzgerald’s Park this weekend, with giant circus tents and marquees packed with shows, hands-on workshops, and activity stands for Cork’s curious minds. Bring, or borrow, a smallie and get stuck into chemistry experiments, Lego, dinosaurs and robots.

The event runs from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Watch the crowds come and then imagine how well attended a science museum in Cork would be!

I’ve written in the past how the North Main Shopping Centre would be an ideal location for a children’s science museum, so when the Carnival of Science organisers have recovered from their Fitzy’s Park takeover, they could think about making my North Main Street science museum dream come true! Pretty please.

A smaller but no less entertaining outing can be enjoyed each Wednesday evening from 7.30pm at the Lough for June, July and August.

Bring your best Gaeltacht moves and haon, dó, trís for the delightful Céilí Cois Locha. Witness old and young, accomplished and novice dancers swing their partners and master the Walls of Limerick with live traditional music and lots of expert dancers willing to teach the steps. All while swans sail past and hissing geese stand by, wondering what’s going on.

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