Cut from the Same Cloth
September 28, 2019 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Artist Myfanwy Tristram was irritated by her teenage daughter’s extreme fashions — until she took an illustrated journey into their origins. Her influences come from the internet, from fast-spreading pictures on Instagram, from crazy hairstyles on TikTok. Teens’ fashion inspiration is now global, grassroots led, with the commercial interests falling over themselves to catch up... We scroll through her favorite accounts, and I meet the strangers whose fashion tips and product endorsements indirectly result in those Band-Aids in my bed.
posted by DarlingBri (28 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
This is wonderful!
posted by sagc at 12:56 PM on September 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

an incredible journey
posted by greenhornet at 1:10 PM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

That was really interesting in the front half and kinda started to hurt in the back half when the author discussed aging women and fashion. A very good article.
posted by Quackles at 1:29 PM on September 28, 2019 [10 favorites]

I thought it was a wondrous thing. I'm glad other people love it too.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:34 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Very enlightening. These fashions have always puzzled me - but not quite enough to find out about them. This insightful and beautifully illustrated piece is a window into worlds I didn't know existed.
Thank you!
posted by speug at 2:26 PM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Such a great read and I really like her illustration style, thanks so much for posting/sharing DarlingBri.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 2:43 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Her illustrations are great, but if you look at photos of her daughter, she’s dressed with far less clutter and accessories, etc..
posted by Ideefixe at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2019

Where are you finding the photos of her daughter, Ideefixe?
posted by Acheman at 3:24 PM on September 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love this. I know VSCO girls are getting a lot of negativity directed at them and I still recall the first time I really saw the look in the wild. It’s studied simplicity made me so happy! And she complimented my NAILS! I mean... fashion is meant to be shared.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 3:43 PM on September 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

@yung_bish0p is brilliant.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:49 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I love/hate kids these days. They are so perfect/horrible! This girl is so smart/stupid. I was never/always this rebellious. I cannot imagine the anxiety/joy of a mother with such a daughter/son.
posted by SPrintF at 4:13 PM on September 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

This makes an unrepentant, mid-50s goth girl extraordinarily happy. Great article to read on lazy Sunday afternoon.
posted by lemon_icing at 4:30 PM on September 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

In re the whole VSCO girl thing: I don't know why I'd expect adults to be better than this, but adults really need not to give this much media attention to teen fashions. Sure, at least it's nominally-serious reporting rather than moral panic, but I saw a Slate article (and I know, Slate, #Slatepitch) that was literally nothing more than "here are some mean quotes from teenagers about how basic VSCO girls are, lol". It was really a burn-book kind of piece, exceptionally click-baity even for Slate.

The teens are teens, you know - sometimes a kid is going to have very smart analysis about life, sometimes they're going to be all "they are just so basic and conformist*". That's fine. People need to work that stuff out for themselves, more or less. Adults shouldn't have this predatory instinct about turning every aspect of kids' fashions and social stuff into money.

I dislike the way that extremely young people are monetizable now - while this has always been true to an extent, the pervasiveness and fine-grained nature of, like, turning a kid into a brand is different because of social media. And that has the knock-on effect of turning reporting about kids-as-brands into money, like the Slate article.

There's a narrative that all this stuff is kid-led, and that seems not entirely untrue - the actual nitty-gritty of being a successful Depop seller, for instance, is something that a kid can pretty much handle on their own. But the vast majority of it requires a lot of complicity from adults in creating platforms, handling money, etc, and that means that more and more of it gets adult-directed and geared toward putting money into adult pockets, whether that's literally from selling things or from clicks gained from gross, misogynist reporting.

*A ciue for teens - if a reporter from Slate is asking you for quotes about how some other girls are so basic and conformist, you yourself are not in fact the system-shattering iconoclast that you might like to believe.
posted by Frowner at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2019 [18 favorites]

God, this is wonderful. Thanks so much!
posted by Jubey at 5:27 PM on September 28, 2019

Not exactly the same, but similar - What My Daughter Wore
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:43 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

adults really need not to give this much media attention to teen fashions.

Teens do not need adults to make media or to generate attention.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:47 PM on September 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I see myself in the "the acceptable face of middle age" illustration and I do not like it.

(I was too nerdy to dress goth when I was young anyway and years ago I replaced my Teefury geeky tees with tons of Uniqlo floral tops.)
posted by sukeban at 12:02 AM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was fascinating and scary. I'm not the target audience for the article since (a) I'm a man with a (b) son who is (c) not yet a teenager. But I'll also be in my 50s when my son reaches that age. So for me it's a prediction of the things that I, as a parent, will have to navigate as my son grows older and that I, as a person, will have to confront as I age. It's bloody terrifying. I hope I'll be able to make sense of it all as gracefully (or disgracefully?) as Myfanwy.

As a side note, it's a refreshing take on fashion that's so different from most of the menswear blogs I look at occasionally. It's not Yet Another Ivy Style piece, and the emphasis on thrifting is the opposite of Buy This Fashionable Expensive Thing. It's more like Put This On's Style & Fashion Drawings which are always a favourite of mine.
posted by milkb0at at 1:19 AM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you want to get an insight into these teenage fashions, try watching a few episodes of Kawaii International | NHK WORLD-JAPAN On Demand. Sorta makes me wish I was a teenage girl with a sense of fashion.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:03 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Teens do not need adults to make media or to generate attention.

Yes, that was exactly my point. Let the teens sort out how the teens feel. Let young people do their thing among themselves, instead of turning every teen thing into an opportunity for adults to get clicks.

It's not easy to know what to do with ourselves as we get older, but monetizing the kids isn't it. Letting young people be young with relatively little interference is a form of granting them privacy. Being able to let go of teenagerhood/young adulthood to leave it to the young adults is an important thing, even if it requires bucking our culture's fetishization/exploitation of youth.
posted by Frowner at 4:45 AM on September 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

A very good genealogy of fashion. The second half really got me (52), like it did Quackles.
posted by doctornemo at 5:19 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I for one am really pleased that teenage fashion is taking another swing towards the excessive. There was a period where teenagers literally all just had the same hipster-esque aesthetic. So boring! Bring on the return of extreme teenage trends (and, I'm sure, lots of people complaining about kids these days - and how this time it's different).
posted by leo_r at 2:28 PM on September 29, 2019

I love this, not least for introducing me to Iris Apfel, with whom I am now fully obsessed.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:22 PM on September 29, 2019

This was so great, the perfect mix of personal anecdote, art, research and self reflection. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Cuke at 4:49 PM on September 29, 2019

I felt this one so hard.

My daughter is 8 and has marched to the beat of her own fashion drummer since she could talk. She does the junior version of school uniform boundary pushing mentioned in the article. She wears a headband with cat ears every single day, keeps her bangs long and purposely combed in her eyes, and doodles little drawings on her arms of cartoon characters she has created. On Friday she drew a pink cat nose at the tip of her nose to match our elderly cat.

Before she was born I kept a little journal written mostly to her in case the worst happened and I didn't make it. In it I promised a bunch of things: never to hit her, never to belittle her, and never to comment negatively on her appearance.

My parents were shift workers who both experienced rough and poor childhoods. They were often gone or just leaving when we woke up to go to school. I was incompetent at dressing and styling my hair myself and often compared negatively to my classmates who were often groomed by their stay-at-home moms. My parents were really embarrassed by me and gave me a hard time about it. I can't blame them; I had everything they didn't while growing up. But they couldn't be home to help and weren't really interested in helping me set a routine within my skillset. I felt really awful about myself and really unlovely next to my peers. My mom gave me a lot of terrible home perms and overly fussy clothes. My dad would get randomly angry at my inadequate grooming (also I've learned that 'pobrecita' is one of those words that causes instant shame and anger in me). Fortunately, the 90s brought grunge and earth tones and I fit in fine with some help from friends.

My daughter is currently in the third grade and I remember these comments from the exact same age. And now that I hang out with a kid that age I've realized that those expectations were not realistic and my classmates had a lot of help to look so put together every day.

I've managed to process a lot of feelings by french braiding my daughter's hair every day (as she requests). It's something I can giver her that my parents couldn't give me.

But I remember how awful it felt to feel so ugly all the time, especially having your own parents think that (though they are now nice people and I cleaned up nice). So, I let her do whatever she likes and help her spend her allowance and clothes budget on her own taste preferences. I will never say anything other than that she looks cute.

And she likes herself and how she looks! She even has her own group of girls copying her cat ear headbands and choker necklace paired with a navy school uniform. I have no doubt that her teenage years will involve some wild stuff, but I'd rather her be happy and help her with basic grooming than an unhappy clone of my own tastes.
posted by Alison at 7:32 PM on September 29, 2019 [19 favorites]

leo_r: "I for one am really pleased that teenage fashion is taking another swing towards the excessive."

I'm happy that foreigners are keeping the old Harajuku spirit alive, because it's now really, really, really rare here in Japan.

Harajuku fashion has largely disappeared from Harajuku over the last 10 or 15 years. There are still shops, and still a few people wearing it, but it's really rare. You could spend an entire day in Harajuku and not see anything particularly funky (side note: my 13-year old son and I did just that, yesterday).

So it's great to see that people overseas are kinda keeping that spirit alive. Who knows, in another ten years the pendulum may swing back and Japanese youth fashion might become interesting again.
posted by Bugbread at 7:58 PM on September 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

Harajuku fashion has largely disappeared from Harajuku over the last 10 or 15 years. There are still shops, and still a few people wearing it, but it's really rare.

Kind of like goth in the US. Once in a while might see an actual full-on goth on campus, and I feel like I should rescue them from the cruel outside and put them in a preserve.

But like you said, the pendulum might swing back. I hope so.
posted by happyroach at 10:13 PM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

The outcome is good. But, my take-home message is "all parents arrogant, controlling assholes, even the thoughtful ones who appear to mean well."
posted by eotvos at 7:24 AM on September 30, 2019

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