Sweatpants shopping leads to revelations about fashion evolution

October 3, 2017 — by Jessica Wang

During the summer, I decided to take advantage of seasonal markdowns and look for all the sweatpants in the clearance section. There were a lot of so-called “drop-crotch” sweatpants, which were quite plain and mellow, and thankfully did not look like the ones popular in the ‘80s. Still, even when trying on a watered-down version, I felt ridiculous wearing them.

Recent trends have revived these pants from about 20 years ago. Originally called “hammer pants,” they were popularized by ‘80s rapper MC Hammer. Nowadays, they are less likely to be as large, shiny and flashy as in the ‘80s, perhaps for the better.

Continuing my shopping trip, I visited the ever-affordable Forever 21 in my quest for sweatpants. I knew that this store would always switch up some of their items as soon as a new trend came rolling by. My expectations were pretty low, as always; however, year after year, I noticed that they would consistently keep their crop top collection stocked.

I wasn’t a huge fan of crop tops at the time, partially due to my belief that it was just a regular shirt that some designer had one day decided to cut in half to make a profit.

Later, I thought back to the pants I had tried on earlier. They had evolved from their distant relatives from the ‘80s and somehow made their way back into our closets. It seemed as though many of the trends we see today had already developed a while ago, in a long-ago generation of fashion.

When we think of crop tops, we imagine a popular piece of clothing that teenagers wear for warmer weather. Surprisingly, I found out that the popularity of crop tops grew during the ‘80s, when the film “Flashdance” and one of Madonna’s music videos featured cropped clothing. For its time, the idea of a cropped shirt was probably “forward” enough that it led to a fashion craze.

About three or four years ago, designers started implementing cropped clothing into every aspect of their brands, on the runway and in stores. As of today, enter any store catered to teens, and you’re bound to see a clothing rack filled with these styles.

At the end, I didn’t end up finding some sweatpants, even though most of them weren’t loud, colorful and ridiculous. Although people may think of the ‘80s as a decade of crazy outfits, clothing lines consistently serve the public with products that stemmed from older trends. Looking carefully at the developments of specific trends, I understood the appeal of  exaggerated clothing in order to stand out in the ‘80s era, but I’m sure most of us would prefer what we have today.