5 Trends That Gen-X Got Totally Right (And 1 Trend They Got Wrong)

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While Gen-X might be one of the smaller generations, we have them to thank for some of the most iconic pop-culture references (consider, for example, both Friends and Clueless). See, anyone born between 1965 and 1984, according to this Atlantic article, fits squarely into the Gen-X box. And as a generation who came into adulthood in the ‘90s, they definitely did not shy away from questionable fashion trends. Crushed velvets aside, a few of those trends have actually made a resurgence in 2020. Here, five that Gen-X was totally right about (plus one we’d be better off without).

How to Wear Ankle Boots in 2020 (Including 2 Styles to Retire)

flannel trend
Getty Images

1. Flannel

While we now think of this plaid shirt as a fall staple—it wasn’t always that way. We have a dramatic moment in the ‘90s to thank for this iconic look going mainstream. When Marc Jacobs sent the infamous Grunge collection down the runway at Perry Ellis in 1992, he made a major statement. So big, in fact, that he was promptly fired for a lineup that included haphazard layering, slouchy beanies and chiffon dresses that were made to look like cheap polyester. While Jacobs’ employment didn’t stick, the disheveled look went on to define that decade. Needless to say, the flannel-heavy lineup was ahead of its time.

Get the look: H&M ($35); Urban Renewal ($39); Faherty ($158); Gestuz ($250)

shoulder pad trend
Arthur Elgort/Getty Images and Jeremy Moeller/Getty Image

2. The Power Shoulder

One of the most popular t-shirts of the year is this bold-shouldered tank from Frankie Shop. It’s become a gender-fluid staple spotted on the backs of nearly every big influencer from Pernille Teisbaek to Gary Thompson—and has spurred countless knockoffs. While it might be a far cry from the epic shoulder pads worn by OG supermodel Linda Evangelista (both on the runway and on the streets), it’s an undeniable nod to the early 90s look.

Get the look: ASOS Design ($23); Endless Rose ($40); RD Style ($58); Frankie Shop ($75)

combat boots trend
Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images and Hanna Lassen/Getty Images

3. Combat Boots

While Courtney Love has claimed that she never actually wore Doc Martens, the lace-up combat boot was a major staple of the Seattle grunge scene. Especially when worn with a floral babydoll dress. Such boots are definitely back with a vengeance, and you wouldn’t be wrong if you said they were the trendiest footwear choice of 2020. Just cue up some Nirvana on Spotify and you’re ready to go.

Get the look: Wild Pair ($80); Dr. Martens ($180); Schutz ($275); Tory Burch ($498)

claw hair clip trend1
IMDB and Emi Jay/Instagram

4. Claw Hair Clips

How else did Gen-X pin up their messy French twists? The gargantuan hair accessory is making an unlikely resurgence among the current supermodel set—both Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner have been spotted rocking them in the past year. And yes, they did pair theirs with belly-baring crop tops, thank you very much for asking. In fact, these clips are among the top-selling products from cool girl brand Emi Jay. Meaning you too can join a waitlist to get your hands on the clip that was once frequently spotted at malls across America.

Get the look: Aimee ($24); Tasha ($25); Emi Jay ($34); France Luxe ($40)

slip dress trend
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images and Raimonda Kulikauskiene/Getty Images

5. Slip Dresses

We’ve got the ultimate Gen-Xer to thank for this slinky, sexy trend. Just add a Cosmo. Yep, Carrie Bradshaw was totally ahead of the curve with her “naked” dress (you know, the one that ended up plastered on the side of a city bus) and every other time she inevitably paired a slip dress with a fur coat and Manolo Blahniks. Because of course she did. As long as you lose the cigarette habit, we give Bradshaw’s embrace of this dress a total green light. And whether you wear yours as is, layered over a T-shirt or under a blazer is totally up to you.

Get the look: Topshop ($68; $46); Everlane ($88); AStars ($129); The Line by K ($199)

tiny vest trend

The One Thing They Got Wrong: Vests As Shirts

While vests have been vying for a comeback over the past few seasons, they haven’t quite caught on—and we’re okay with that. For example, even Vogue wondered if we’re “ready for the return of the tiny little vest?” And we have a haunch that very few of you reading this actually went out and bought one. Basically, we feel how OG Gen-Xer Tori Spelling looks in this pic: deeply underwhelmed.

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Fashion Editor

From 2019-2021 Dena Silver held the role of Fashion Editor covering product recommendations, trends, and what you should be shopping this season.