In his article “I’m Not a Dork; I’m Ahead of Today’s Fashions” Alan Ehrenhalt asserts that trends in fashion come and go in repeated cycles (which he calls Dork Cycles). According to him, past styles in clothes, shoes, hairdos etc are often considered by many people as inappropriate and unacceptable until they suddenly and usually for no apparent reason become popular and attractive again. Based on the author’s experience, these repeating changes in fashion occur every fifteen years or so.
To illustrate his point, Ehrenhalt gives examples of how loose and baggy shorts, long and short skirts, sideburns two or three inches long, and men’s bald heads have been cyclically fashionable and then out of fashion since the 1960s up until present days. The author also points out that although fashion seems to hold some power over our mind and dressing habits in general, there are certain people who manage to successfully resist this power and dress their own way.
It seems reasonable for Ehrenhalt to assume that those people dress that way because they are well aware that the Dork Cycle in fashion is not everlasting after all and thus they ignore it and patiently wait it out. Finally, the author of the article declares that the Dork Cycle is a force that can’t be overcome by ordinary people. According to him, as we can exert no influence on it, all we can do is to wait until the cycle ends. People who challenge styles and the author himself do not follow current fashions and are ahead of them because they can predict more or less next trends in fashion as well as when approximately they will occur.
As I read Alan Ehrenhalt’s argument about cycles in fashion and particularly all those examples he gives to support his view, a story came to my mind which goes back to the 1960s when my grandmother Helen was young. She has often told me stories from her youth and her dressing habits back then have been her favorite topic. As many other American girls in those days, grandma used to wear miniskirts which were fashionable in the late 1960s. Shewas a slender and beautiful young lady with long gorgeous legs as she says now. Naturally,“Page # 2”she liked wearing clothes which emphasized the magnificence of her body. When I look at grandma’s photographs taken when she was young I can see that miniskirts were one of her most favorite pieces of clothing. However, a decade or so later miniskirts became out of style. Grandma was still a young and beautiful lady but as she dared not defy fashion trends of those times she renounced miniskirts. By the time when miniskirts became fashionable again, which was about two decades later, grandma, as she often jokes now, had nothing to display anymore despite all her passion for such skirts. The article also makes me think of certain trends in music that we can observe today. For example, Scorpions, Modern Talking, Queen, Madonna, Smoke, Metallica and others become popular again after about fifteen years of “remaining relatively silent”.I find Ehrenhal’s arguments about cycles in fashion rather persuasive and well supported by examples. We can find more proof of his points of view in many films or books produced for the last forty years or so as well as looking at our parents’ or granparents’ photographs taken during those years. There are many things such as clothes, music etc which fell in disuse after having been popular for a certain period of time, and then became fashionable again. However, I do not share Ehrenhalt’s claim about a mysterious and overwhelming power that fashion has over the human brain; it seems to me a little exaggerated. At least, it is not clear nor convincing and I think more facts are needed to substantiate such a claim. I also agree with the author’s observation that there are certain people who defy fashion. In fact, I would say there are not just certain but many people around us who do not care about fashion and dress as they please. But the assertion in this article that those people defy fashion simply because they understand the Dork Cycle and wait it out, is, in my opinion incorrect. I have many friends of mine who do not follow fashion nor defy it; they simply dress the way they like. And I am sure many of them have“Page # 3”never thought about any cycles in fashion at all. They just do not care about it. To be honest, it is hard to imagine people who can defy today’s fashion just because they know that the unfashionable clothes they wear at present will be fashionable again in some fifteen ot twenty years.