Teenage fashion has definitely evolved the past years, along with society. It’s about teenagers expressing themselves, and in doing so, getting bad or good criticism.
Going to Brent International School Manila has opened the realm of fashion and style to me, and I now have my own way of “expressing” myself through the clothes I choose to wear.
Teenagers in this society evidently have a louder way of expressing themselves. This could be due to the freedom they have earned over the years, or plain rebellion against such restraint by authorities.
Though Brent has implemented the rule of wearing uniforms, we can still get a glimpse of teenagers’ panache outside campus.
Girl fashion at Brent or any other international school can be categorized as either classy and elegant, dark and mysterious, bright and bubbly (neon), or showing ample skin.
Because it is an international school, the culture is mixed, and the styles can morph into something they thought they’d never wear.
Girls could be pressured into wearing clothes they would otherwise never be allowed to wear by conservative parents, as an act of rebellion; peer pressure is extremely pungent. They wear what their peers wear just to “fit in” and look fashionable, or so they think.
Their identity is clouded because of the ideas and style they steal from others.
Teenage girls also wear what they wear due to high or low self-confidence. For example, a very curvy girl may want to wear short shorts with a tight top to show off her apparently gorgeous body. Others may like wearing loose and baggy clothes to hide their bodies. What these girls wear often reflects their self-esteem.
I’m expressing my feelings about fashion in our modern society. It’s based on a portrait of Lady Gaga, and I pretend to have no idea of her identity. I imagine that she is from the future, and I am from the sensible past. Some of the lines I wrote:
Come young ones; listen to what I must say
Of the laughable portrait that paints a picture of far away days.
This woman from a vision of a seer
Illustrates the evolving society I fear.
Her deep-set eyes seem mocking
That, in fact, it would not be surprising
To find a subtle eyebrow arched underneath all that hair,
Which sports a ribbon she vivaciously wears.
What if the streets of the world to be
Are filled with such a trend?
What if society becomes a monstrosity
That we can no longer bend?
What if Utopia may never be found?
What if rationality is outnumbered
And narcissism and ignorance are to be crowned?
If the streets of our cities
Are to be devoured by women
Sporting a ribbon made of hair
Looking like two ends of a broom put together,
Sanity is lost. Where is the sophistication,
Elegance in such a fashion?
Surely not everyone
Would be such a committed hedonist?
Surely not everyone
Would succumb to madness?
Surely not everyone
Would be devoid of reasonableness?…
Different kinds of shorts
These days I’ve noticed that many teenage girls enjoy wearing polos tucked into different kinds of shorts, with a belt as accessory. I have worn this only once because I do not like going with what is common.
Other girls wear micro-mini shorts with a tight and revealing top, loose off-shoulder shirts of bright neon colors with skirts, jeans, or shorts, dark tight jeans with a nice top, sweaters, or dresses and rompers.
Many go with the latest trend and are, therefore, called hipsters. These hipsters usually wear skinny jeans with a plaid top and shutter shades or a pretty floral-print mini dress with boots.
What I enjoy wearing are clothes that are comfortable and cute. For example, I adore sweaters, shorts, off-shoulder tops, dresses and skirts. The theme I like is sort of vintage and chic. During free dress days at Brent, when students are allowed to wear what they like, with the exception of short shorts, revealing tops and shirts with profanity printed on them, many of the girls come in jeans and cute shirts.
Others wear dresses or anything dark in color. Some of the more rebellious girls come in short shorts, and just hide from the authorities. I admit to doing this once, and it was not a pleasant or comfortable experience, as I always had to be on the lookout so as not to get in trouble. Brent is pedantic in this sense because it wants its students to look as appropriate as possible, which is very understandable.
Where they shop
So, where do these teenage girls shop? Some friends of mine enjoy shopping at Topshop at Rockwell, Alabang Town Center or Greenbelt. Topshop, they say, has great style and fun “in” things to wear to parties or just plain “hangouts” with friends.
Forever 21 is another store where most of my friends shop because of its cute and colorful clothes. I prefer shopping at Forever 21 and Zara because they have a wide variety.
The accessories of these girls vary as well. Shoes, for example, say a lot about a person’s character. Some girls enjoy wearing Converse high tops, and Vans, those sporty-looking sneakers, in different colors. They give girls that punk-rock look.
Others enjoy sandals and gladiators. Still others like classic ballet flats, or they just wear heels and boots. I like wearing baby doll ballet shoes because they are comfortable and I find them very chic.
Another trend girls sport are piercings. Piercings in places other than your ears when you are around 15 or 16 look very unclean and unsophisticated. Piercings give girls that tough vibe, because they are able to take the pain.
Some do it solely to look cool.
Navel piercing is the most common among these young women because they think it would make them look more desirable.
With piercings come tattoos. Girls get tattoos for the same reason they get piercings. There is an exception, though; most people think getting a tattoo is a status symbol. The tattoo represents a tough or happy time in their lives that they would want to remember. A picture is not enough; the person or idea you want remembered must be embedded on the body so as to have it planted in the soul, as well.
Jewelry is also a main accessory for girls. Time was, when jewelry was usually how girls showed off their wealth. Today, however, it seems it’s not the value of jewelry that matters but the quantity; jewelry is piled on over arms, necks and ankles. Where is the simplicity and elegance in such a style?
Also, girls enjoy transforming their beautiful natural hair with wild colors. When I got back to Brent from Christmas vacation, the first thing I observed was the hair. Many had hair stained at the tips with red, pink or blue. This was not taken lightly, as it was not suitable school wear.
Lastly—makeup. The concept has somewhat been abused. Makeup is supposed to make your features stand out while looking natural in the process. Many girls abuse this invisible rule and go overboard, to the point where they cannot go anywhere without it. Makeup has made these girls feel like they’re not good enough without it.
Guys, on the other hand, those young women dress up for, have mostly remained simple in their fashion. Boy fashion has not changed greatly over the years, with only a few minor alterations here and there.
Boys don’t care
Unlike girls, boys do not change their style just because of the influence of their peers. Frankly, they do not care, neither do they have the energy to do so.
The sporty teenage boys do not enjoy shopping at all, and just throw on effortlessly what they like to wear. The fashion of these boys can fall under rogue, classic or rich-boy look. Most of them are happy sporting just a shirt and jeans.
What I’ve noticed about the fashion of some boys is that they like to wear their pants fairly low at the hips. They think it gives them that gangster look. They do not care much for accessories, maybe only for piercings and tattoos.
Boys usually do not express themselves through clothing, but rather through music and the like. Perhaps only the colors they wear would show how they could be feeling.
The rogue look is somewhat a dirty but appealing look. Boys I’ve seen wear dark shirts with dark ripped jeans, with sunglasses to top the look off. The classic look is just khaki or white shorts with a collared shirt. The rich-boy look is the Lacoste outfit, a plaid shirt with white shorts, or vice versa.
The boys who actually do care may like wearing more flashy clothes with loud colors.
As for accessories, many wear hats to go with their outfits. Sandals, dress shoes and sneakers are the most worn footwear. Boys, just like the girls, enjoy dyeing their hair and acquiring tattoos and piercings for the same reasons girls would.
In my interview with my grandparents the other day, several differences in teenage fashion came up. For the young women back in their day, in the ’60s and ’70s, my grandparents said, the fashion consisted of petticoats, bobby socks, balloon skirts, sleeveless shirts and shorts that ran to the knees or below the knees.
Women had small waists and rarely wore high-heel shoes. They were thinner, and only few had the nerve to get tattoos and piercings. Anything above the knees would have been considered taboo and disrespectful.
Also, girls in those days would not have exposed their breasts or bra lines so frequently. Dresses with high necklines were worn with boots or maryjanes.
The pencil skirts were not ripped, but colorful and stopped at the knees. Headbands, sunhats and a few jewelry pieces were worn. Sweaters were worn with colorful pants.
Pictures on this page show a typical outfit for a school day. One is a sketch of two girls back in the ’60s. The first, in skirt, has a tiny waist and short hair. She is in white button-down polo closed at the neck. The polo is tucked into a plaid skirt that falls at the knees, a very appropriate schoolgirl look.
Her hair is a dark-brown bob, with a black bow. She wears no jewelry and her shoes are ballet flats.
The second girl is in a red dress over a patterned shirt with three-fourth sleeves. The bow on her short blonde hair matches her red dress, and her shoes are maryjanes. She is also wearing white gloves and holding a book—another perfect schoolgirl outfit.
Another picture shows girls in the ’60s. Their hair is longer than the sketched version, but also has accessories such as bows.
The outfits are also very school-appropriate; the mustard-colored skirt on the first young woman doesn’t go above the knees.
Just like the young woman in polo in the first picture, this girl is in a long-sleeve patterned shirt tucked into her skirt. The second girl is in all red, from striped sweater to pants and bow.
The newer picture of me with a friend was taken at Zara over a year ago. It differs greatly from the first two pictures because of the short shorts and heels. The girl is in white sweater, short denim shorts that are slightly faded and ripped, while I’m in white short shorts.
From ’60s skirts that skim the knees to today’s short shorts and heels—our world is changing, especially in fashion. The other picture with my three friends was taken at Topshop a few months ago. Notice how both my friends are holding their cell phones to capture the fun moment. The friend in the middle is in yellow short shorts, gold sneakers and striped sweater—a typical mall outfit.
I am in a white dress with gold ballet flats, while my other friend is in heels, big balloon-type shorts and patterned shirt. Our hairstyles are fairly boring. Each of us also carries a hair tie we wear on our wrists so it’s handy.
There’s also a picture of my grandmother at a party in 1963. The dress is slightly below the knees and is a striking white. Young women then dressed this way for parties or dances. The dress slightly hangs on the shoulders of my grandmother very elegantly.
Unlike the white dress of my grandmother, today’s party dresses are usually black, red, gray, blue or white. These dresses are usually very revealing and short. These dresses rarely go below the knee, always thigh-high.
My grandfather told me that style and fashion for boys has not changed much the past 20 to 40 years.
There’s a picture of my grandfather and his friends. The boys wear similar shirt or polo, pants and belt. Their pants are belted at the waist and their collars stick out.
According to my grandfather, teenage boys in the ’60s usually wore bell-bottom pants and loud-printed shirts.
Pictures of Justin Bieber show today’s fashion—colored shirt underneath an open polo with pants tucked into big sneakers. Beanies could also be worn, and a backpack as well. Young men’s fashion has changed only slightly; it has become louder and bolder, in terms of color.
A Vanity Fair article argues that fashion has lost its creativity, especially in the last 20 years, despite advances in technology. It is truly an enigma; but, to some extent, maybe this is a blessing in disguise.
If fashion were to evolve further, maybe the streets of the world would be filled with monstrous designs and colors, designs like those in the Capitol, which Suzanne Collins created for “The Hunger Games.”
This could be an opportunity for the Filipinos to rise and create some gorgeous new designs to dress the world. This could be the opportunity a changing world and its society are waiting for—brilliance that would cover the cities of the earth.
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