Whether we care to admit it or not, we've all done it. And, when we look back at the photos years later, we downright cringe and squirm. What is it? Wearing something that, at the time, seemed like a great idea. But, that with hindsight, probably wasn't a wise move, after all. Welcome to the deeply embarrassing world of the UK's worst fashion trends. Ever.
Back in the early 1970s, no self-respecting glam-rocker of the day - whether David Bowie, or bands like The Sweet and T. Rex - would be caught going on stage without their brightly coloured platform shoes. How the fans screamed with hysterical delight all those years ago. How we roll with hysterical laughter today. Platforms? Really? An undeniable fashion faux pas of the highest order, this nightmarish item of 1970s naffness still gets resurrected now and again. But, frankly, freaky footwear like this needs dispatching to the great shoe shop in the sky.
Ask anyone of a certain age and they'll doubtless tell you that there was a time when everybody wore flared trousers. Well, yes they did. But, the big question is: why? They don't look good. They flap around like a beached fish taking its last breaths. And they're the definitive trademark of the hippy. Punk rock was supposed to have sent flares and hippies into oblivion. So, can we please let them stay there - for the sake of all of us? These trousers are just about as plain wrong as Wallace and Gromit's were.
Back in 1984 a little-known Liverpool-based band, that went by the name of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, caused a storm of controversy with the old folks of the UK and the BBC when their out-of-nowhere hit went near-viral. You know the one: "Relax." Less impressive than the song's success, however, was the annoying range of t-shirts that rose up like a collective and unstoppable Frankenstein's Monster and almost overwhelmed the UK fashion industry in the process. "Frankie Says" was the logo. Finallly, however, the day came when Frankie's t-shirts weren't saying anything. A whole nation breathed a sigh of relief.
The Kipper Tie
Any mention of the Kipper Tie - truly one of the biggest fashion disasters of all time - is bound to provoke red-faces and memories best forgotten by those that dared to wear them after their introduction in the 1960s. Ridiculously wide, stupidly coloured, and guaranteed to blow around crazily whenever the wind got up, for some unfathomable reason they became essential items of clothing for the man about town. In fact, and incredibly, for just about every man in every town. Finally, however, common-sense prevailed and the Kipper Tie was hung up. The wearers should have been strung up.
Ah yes, the absolute hallmark of the geek, the aging virgin, and the forty-something still living in mum and dad's spare bedroom. What is it? The white socks against dark shoes and way too short trousers, that's what. If you look carefully, you can actually see these cringe-worthy, fashion-free items just about here, there and everywhere in the UK. But, most often at comic-book conventions, standing in line to buy the DVD of the latest Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, or waiting patiently to get the autograph of someone who once played a green-faced alien on a TV series that no-one remembers.
For a couple of years in the 1980s, one of the most popular TV shows around was Miami Vice, starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. It was a show in which the cops opted not to wear uniforms, but instead donned expensive, designer pink t-shirts, white trousers and silvery jackets, usually with the sleeves rolled up. You could get away with that in sunny Miami. But, seeing slightly tragic characters propping up the bar of the Dog & Duck on a rainy Wednesday night in Glasgow - dressed like Johnson's Sonny Crockett character - was downright criminal!
Was there ever a more annoying and pointless fashion accessory than the Deely Bobber? Quite possibly not. Just like an alien invasion, they took the good folk of the UK by complete surprise when, in 1982, they first landed on these shores and began to exert their creepy control over practically the entire nation. And that's a pretty apt analogy, since the wavy, antenna-like creations made the wearer look like the closest thing to E.T. that you could have imagined back then. A very silly-looking E.T., though, it must be stressed.
In 1987, the music world got a new injection of energy courtesy of three guys from New York: the Beastie Boys. Their anthem-like track, "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)," became a huge hit, and led to a fashion craze that had the UK's Volkswagen owners fuming. The band was known for wearing VW badges on chains around its necks. So, devoted UK fans quickly followed suit. Overnight, badges vanished from VW's all across the land and turned up around the necks of young kids. A Lamborghini would have been cool, but a VW? Come on!
It crept up on us like a deadly disease. Before we knew it, whole swathes of the UK were infected by its presence. It was one of the most terrifying statements of fashion that ever took hold of the country. It was the male ponytail. Whether trying to appear sensitive, alternative or boringly "with it," the saddo invariably ended up looking like a victim of fashion than anything else. We all knew someone who had one, and - go on, admit it - we all secretly dreamed of grabbing a pair of scissors and slicing off that offending, dangling growth!
When the Grunge music phenomenon exploded in the US in the early 1990s, it didn't take any time at all before it hit the UK. Nor did it take long before the face of rock and roll changed forever. Certainly, the down-market fashions that bands such as Nirvana adopted were a backlash against the likes of Motley Crue and Bon Jovi, but couldn't they have found something better than lumberjack shirts? The music was cool. Seeing a bunch of kids all looking like they were ready to chop down a forest full of trees, instead of rocking out, was not!
Now here's one that is still shamelessly adorned by fashion offenders everywhere and all in the name of "practicality." Croc shoes are a bit like Marmite in the sense that never in the world of fashion has a piece of footwear provoked such hate and love. The clunky, awkward looking monstrosity is often defended because they are comfortable. So is the adult romper suit but it's no excuse to wear it in public. Face it; you are wearing plastic clogs and you're going to regret it.