Don’t You Forget About Me: Gen X Style

Don’t You Forget About Me: Gen X Style

Gen X is a conundrum of sneering disdain and boundless hope. We, for I am one of you, remember televisions with no remotes, endless brown faux-wood paneling, and the Cold War baring down upon us. But we also remember the birth of the computer age, our family’s first microwave, and the Berlin Wall coming down. We wore keys around our necks, took the chicken out to thaw, and looked after our little sibs. But we also explored our town's unfettered Helicopter Parenting, gloried in Scholastic Book Fair, and witnessed the birth of MTV. Perhaps these things are why we are perfectly comfortable within the dichotomy of acknowledging the futility of it all and keeping the faith alive. Whether you leaned in to Madonna or The Cure, whether you were more Calvin Klein or thrift store Grunge, whether you were the Princess or the Criminal, we share a set of experiences and remember a reality that, while it did bite, is no less precious to us in its nostalgia.

What do those things mean about Gen X style? Well, it means that we remember the worst of the 70s and know what to avoid. We remember the best of the 80s and appreciate a little glamor. We ruled the 90s and demanded a measure of comfort. We will splurge for quality, but love a good bargain. We understand the classics, but also accept that new things—clothing, bands, movies—become “classic” all the time. We have strong roots, but we’re comfortable with change because we grew up in interesting times.

Now middle aged (dude, I am so sorry), Gen X gets that while Tony Hawk still rules and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still making music, our needs have undeniably changed. We mix a little Prep in with our Punk for a professional vibe. We adopted skinny jeans and don’t like to hear them disparaged by The Kids. We put a blazer over our band tees, appreciate good sturdy boots and ladies definitely own some high waited yoga pants. We Gen-Xers are still very much ourselves, but maxi dresses, joggers and other athleisure wear have absolutely made it into our wardrobes! And we have always valued comfy shoes!

No one appreciates the style of Gen X more than I do. Defining your style is personal, and not every tenet of Gen X style will apply to you, but we Gen-Xers do bear a mark of being born when we were, growing up how we did, and coming of age at a precise moment in history. I’ll never let go of my biker jacket, but my husband will never let go of his “Marty McFly” puffer vests —thank goodness contemporary puffers are so much slimmer and stylish! My sister still bears a soft spot for neon and lace. And that’s okay! The best thing about Gen X is that we all accept that “You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess, and a criminal.”


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