Long mirror? Check. Phone? Check. Outfit of the day? Check. Everything was ready to go.
Patrick Phillips posed in front of the mirror, snapped a photo and uploaded the day’s “fit check” with its signature swirl and star emojis to their social media. These emojis are Phillips’ favorites. They said that the swirl reminds them of the ’80s and ’90s, and the star is a representation of aesthetics and good fortune.
They first started posting “fit checks” for personal enjoyment, saying they like to show people what they’re wearing, but Phillips also wants to encourage others to embrace being different and express themselves.
“I like helping people and motivating people,” Phillips said. “I remember one time I was in North [Dining], and somebody came up to me and was like, ‘Yo, look at this shirt. You’re the reason why I’m wearing this. You gave me the confidence to wear this shirt.’ And I felt really good. I’m like, ‘That’s what my intentions are. I want you to feel comfortable being yourself.’”
Phillips, a second-year fashion major, first got into vintage fashion back in their senior year of high school after dressing up for Throwback Thursday with their friend in ’80s outfits.
“I remember that day, I looked in the mirror, and I was like, ‘I’m really digging this style,’” Phillips said.
Beginning to wear vintage clothing was a gradual process for them, and it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that they began to do a lot of research on the style. After that, Phillips began wearing ’80s and ’90s outfits all the time, thrifting the majority of their clothes.
“Even if I get new clothes, I will want it to mimic a style or a trend from back in the ’90s and ’80s that I can use for one of those outfits,” Phillips said.
They have favorite trends from each decade, citing acid wash and neon colors as their pick for the ’80s, and baggy clothes for the ’90s.
“Baggy clothes are my go-to,” Phillips said. “I watch this guy, and he says a phrase that I live by all the time: ‘If it isn’t baggy, it isn’t swaggy.’ I go by that all the time.”
They would describe their personal style as ’80s and ’90s with a little twist.
“Because I’m a nonbinary person, I like to not really think of gender when it comes to clothes,” Phillips said. “So I’ll go, say, from the women’s section and wear a women’s shirt or women’s pants and kind of make a women’s fit but add some men’s stuff in there and add my own twist to it. It’s still vintage, it’s just, back then I probably wouldn’t have been able to get away with doing this, but now I can.”
Vintage style has seen an increase in popularity over the last few years. Many people have embraced the style, some wearing it every day, others only on occasion.
Avery Gilbert, a fourth-year theatre education major, loves vintage style but also likes to experiment with different styles as well.
“Sometimes, I’ll dress more contemporary, sometimes I’ll go into the alt. field, but right now, [vintage] is generally my vibe,” Gilbert said.
One of the reasons he likes vintage clothing is he feels the clothing quality is much better than new clothing is today. He also feels that style was more refined in the past.
“Now that I’m able to really get into dressing up, and things of that sort, I like to look back and be like, ‘These pieces were just so fire, I wanna try a style like that,’” said Gilbert.
One of the places he finds inspiration is from his grandma, whose style he admired.
“I have this red pantsuit that I got from my grandma from the ’80s and it has pearls on it,” Gilbert said. “It’s very beautiful, I used it for my Halloween costume. It’s important to me, because one, it's a vintage ’80s pantsuit, you don’t really find those that often, but also because it’s a connection with my grandma.”
Today’s vintage style bridges the gap between the past and the present. Gilbert and Phillips both enjoy creating their own version of vintage, exploring what the heart of the style is.
“I feel like when it comes to retro style, there’s always ways that you can refine it to make it new and make it your own,” Gilbert said. “So I feel like this new wave of everybody dressing in vintage clothing really is amazing. Plus, fast fashion is ruining the world, so the more that you shop vintage, the better it is for the environment.”
Phillips recommends in-person thrifting as it tends to be less expensive than online thrifting.
There are many thrift shops and vintage stores that are serving this passion for vintage and a return to past styles, including Attic Window, Well Made Vintage, St. Vincent de Paul and Lily’s Labyrinth in Muncie.
Lily Brannon, the owner of Lily’s Labyrinth, opened her shop because she loved thrifting and wanted to make it her job. She had always gone thrifting but didn’t start getting into vintage until she started her shop. Her favorite vintage styles are ’90s and Y2K, but she doesn’t limit herself to one style.
“I will wear anything from any style, any era,” Brannon said. “I change it up all the time, but I like colorful styles and unique-looking things.”
Along with vintage clothes, she also sells all kinds of vintage accessories from hats to jewelry, and her store has a record player playing music.
The popularity of vintage clothing has been accompanied by an interest in vintage music and culture. Phillips listens to a lot of ’80s and ’90s rap and R&B, and Brannon enjoys old rock music. Its clear interest in the past is still present today.
“As far as my every day goes, I couldn’t really see myself dressing any other way besides ’80s or ’90s,” Phillips said.
Contact Scarlet Gallagher with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.