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Have you ever posted a “vintage” picture of yourself on social media for “Throwback Thursday?” Whether you are old enough to remember black and white photography, or received your first cell phone around your 10th birthday, we all have old pictures lying around, whether they are in boxes, albums, scrapbooks, or on your computer (or, more likely, your iPad.) I am going to briefly indoctrinate any newbies to #tbt, because I, for one, had never heard of it prior to a few weeks ago.

The earliest known use of the term “Throwback Thursday” was in 2006, but it didn’t catch on in the social media sphere until Instagram introduced hashtags in early 2011. In researching this I did see an Instagram handle mentioned a few times that may have been the first to use the hashtag, but that which has no way to verify it may or may not be true. Regardless, it started somewhere and was spread by a few, whose friends/followers likely also thought it was fun so they posted and talked and tweeted about it…this is exactly how news, trends, scandals, and everything else that can be communicated spreads like wildfire. I remember when communication is done user in person or over the telephone. Now we have so many ways to communicate with so many different people, often simultaneously, so it’s no wonder I often see whole families eating out for dinner in absolute silence, unless you count the clicking of keys and the sounds made by games like Candy Crush as relevant noise. This has yet to completely eliminate face-to-face conversation, but it certainly happens a lot less these days. Of course that’s not a good thing in regards to building social skills, but it’s certainly an invaluable tool when news needs to travel quickly, like when there is a missing child, and has become an excellent way for businesses of all sizes to advertise and promote two they are and what they do. Anyway, back to this particular hashtag – by November of that year, the practice had become so popular that it soon was abbreviated to #tbt (for which my fat fingers are very grateful!), and by the following January was defined in the Urban Dictionary, which used to be a great tool for learning about slang, but has apparently deteriorated. I don’t know much about that, but I do know that once something spreads to celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who with her family has built an entire empire out of a reality show, social media, and…not much else. But if she has so many followers on social media, she must be posting and tweeting stuff that people are interested in. So along with many other celebrities, she helped popularize it, and in July 2012, more than 9.1 million photos were posted by Instagram users with either #ThrowbackThursday or the preferable #tbt attached, making it the 15th most popular hashtag on Instagram at the time. People continue to pull out their boxes and online folders of memories frozen in time, and on Thursdays, use #tbt to share them with the world. Of course not everybody is going to care about the pictures I just posted on our Instagram site, but as I use social media mainly to communicate with family members, I hope my cousin sees them, because he appears in them, and as we are busy adults now and can no longer travel back-and-forth to visit each other very often, pictures are an excellent way for us to recall the good times and get some good laughs in.

So how is all this connected to handbags and fashion? The denim trends for this spring and summer all fit nicely into four distinct categories, and since these trends are revivals of styles that were insanely popular at some time in the past, tying it to Throwback Thursday was the first thing that popped into my mind, or rather onto my computer screen, as I began to do a bit of research on all things related to jeans. It is also an ode to the photos and fashion fads of the past. Some will forever be frozen in time, while others will suddenly appear in the magazine you are reading as the next big thing (again). For each trend that warranted research into its origins, I will be providing a brief history of how it first came about, so if anything this will be educational. I also have stuff to share about each one, because as a child of the 80s, I am old enough to have experienced every one of them, whether for a few months or for several years. Along with sharing some of my best (and worst) recollections involving denim, I will try to point out the similarities and differences between past and present “versions.” Another reason for the theme is that, since they were all pretty trendy at some time, a search for #tbt on any social media site will unveil a plethora of fashion inspiration, as some of these trends have not changed very much at all, not to mention other trends which have come and (thankfully) gone, things like Hammer pants, poufy bangs of all heights, scrunchies, and so many other things you May or may not remember. It’s just too bad I couldn’t find any of my old pics showing the nice little ball I teased my bangs into each morning for many years, or the big chiffon bows I used in my hairstyles (along with scrunchies, of course.)

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L to R: Vanessa Hudgens in Frankie B. Hipster Overalls; Katie Holmes in 7 For All Mankind Bell Bottoms; Nicole Richie in Vintage High-Rise Levi’s; Alessandra Ambrosio rocking double denim in a Denim Vest and Destroyed Shorts, both by Colcci; Model wearing Max & Co. Denim Culottes

Recognize any of these styles? Do any of them bring back memories of good times past? Hopefully some of them not only will evoke these positive recollections, but will also get you psyched to once again give them a spin. Overalls are at the top of MY list, and I will surely dork out over them in a second! I hope you are ready to first take a few trips down memory lane to various decades, and then have fun shopping for these styles once again (or, for you younger girls, perhaps for the first time!)

Also, being a company that sells handbags, I chose to mention a few of the bags we have that I think fit these trends quite well. All are available on OUR WEBSITE, and if the purse’s name is a link, you can click on it and be taken to our site, where you can find out more about that style, any additional colors available, and it’s features & specifications. But basic information, including prices and whether or not it is part of our leather collection. For styles that I found on the Internet, with the exception of those found in the collage below, I have provided prices and have listed the sites on which I first saw them. For the more expensive styles, I myself would first look for them on eBay, or perhaps shop around for the best price, because I am in no way endorsing these websites as the only places to go to find these styles.

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L to R: Me, modeling my favorite beat-up Levi’s Overalls; Overalls by Lucky Brand; Overalls by Silver Jeans; Womens Destructed Overalls by Tinseltown, $39.99, at tillys.com; “Erin” Rolled Crop Relaxed Overalls in Lost Paradise by True Religion, $358, at bloomingdales.com, Denim Overalls in Bug Out wash by BLANKNYC, $118, at bloomingdales.com
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L to R: Harleigh Messenger Bag, $45.95; Fiametta Shoulder Bag, $25.99; Farin Large Hobo Handbag, $67.95; Droste Bucket Handbag, $62.95

Ever since they started popping up in stores and online, while simultaneously being named in fashion magazines as one of the top denim trends for this spring and summer, I have been putting my favorite pair of overalls back into my regular wardrobe rotation…more on them in a minute. Overalls were actually first created around the year 1750 as protective garments worn over regular clothing by people like mechanics and factory workers. I am so glad they eventually evolved into a fashionable garment, valued more for their looks than their function. I remember how popular they were in the 1990’s, though I want to forget the “hanging strap” look that somehow became popular that I admittedly participated in. I myself wore my overalls well into the 21st century, as I like their combination of looks and comfort. The last pair I bought, the “favorites” mentioned above, are a style made by Levi’s. I love the way they look and fit, with wonderfully deconstructed denim and unique, suspender-style straps that crisscross in the middle, thus exposing a lot more skin in the back. Do you think the term “sexy overalls” is an oxymoron? Think again! I never got rid of them, and continued to wear them for some time despite not seeing them much anymore, except on farmers. I have already posted a couple of pictures of them on our Instagram and Tumblr. accounts, just to make sure everyone knows that I called this one, I knew they’d come back again at least once in my lifetime. My only obstacle is that my Levi’s have little in common as far as fit goes with the new pairs I have seen thus far. The NEW styles seem to all feature a much skinnier cut, and although they look great on these models above, I am a bit afraid of how they will look on me. As I will explain later, skinny jeans weren’t a style I embraced willingly, at least at first. So these new, modernized overalls, even though I am drooling over them (especially the pair of True Religions in the picture!), make me feel slightly hesitant to jump right in and try some of them on. One thing I have come to appreciate about overalls, at least the old styles, is there adjustable, roomy fit, perfect for those yucky days when you feel bloated and nothing else fits. Well, it seems the times are a-changin’ (and the overalls are a-shrinkin’!), so I guess I’ll just have to rely on my Victoria’s Secret sweats to get me through those “drawstring only” days that will of course come up every time my Levi’s are dirty. Such is life. I wonder, will I be able to get used to a “skinny” version? More importantly, will they stick around for a while, being embraced as a whole by the public? Time will tell!

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L to R: Briella Leather Hobo, $160.95; Petite Charlie Flare Jeans in Clear Horizon by True Religion, $228, at zappos.com; Lido Crossbody Bag, $32.99; 1981 High Rise Flare Jeans in Castilla Wash by Guess, $39.97, at shop.guess.com; Samantha Shoulder Bag, $34.99; The Bell Jean in Cypress by Rag & Bone, $176, at singer22.com

I distinctly remember my own pairs of bell bottoms, which were called “super flares,” but they were no different than the pairs I saw in old pictures of my mom and dad. Most of them were Silver Jeans, of which I had quite the collection about 10 years ago. I still own one pair of Silvers, and they are definitely super flares! Back when they were strictly known as bell bottoms, a style that was actually created in the early 19th century as the bottom half of U.S. Navy uniforms. It seems that a lot of denim styles have similar origins, and were initially created to be functional far before they were considered fashionable. The unisex “bells” first got their footing as a wardrobe must in the 1960s, which continued for some time, until Brooke Shields made that infamous Calvin Klein ad and spoiled all the fun, and the bottom legs of jeans got much narrower. When I began caring about my clothes in the early 1990s, “bells” were long gone, a thing of the past. Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with tapered styles for long (looking back, the style just looks terrible on me!), though, because although bell bottoms didn’t suddenly become popular again, the style was reinterpreted in the early to mid-1990s, when the formerly super-wide styles were reintroduced as narrower-legged flares and boot-cuts. Some companies stuck with the modest flare that caught on quickly, while a handful of others, Silver Jeans included, simply widened the flares on some of their styles, so although they weren’t called “bells,” the bottom leg measurements of one pair I remember owning was 23″ around. There is kind of a gray area between what is considered a flare and what is considered a bell bottom, because both terms are used these days to describe flares of the same and similar sizes. So I guess I could also say that flares were re-reinterpreted, or interpreted in reverse as bell bottoms, because the only thing that has changed is the language – more styles are being called bell bottoms, even those that would have been called flares back in the day. I am starting to confuse myself with all of this! I neglected to mention that skinny jeans have proliferated for a very long time, and while they dominate my jeans wardrobe today, when they first came out I was absolutely adamant about not buying them because they were so tight, and it didn’t help that years of gymnastics had given my legs some muscle. Each time I tried them on I felt like a freak, and could almost hear my muscular calves screaming for air. I simply stuck to the flared styles I already owned, and I really can’t remember the first time I gave in and bought a pair of skinny jeans, but think they couldn’t have been that skinny! I am curious to see what happens to denim styles, or rather, the bottom half of them, because if we shoppers embrace the “new bells” enough to knock those skinny jeans from their throne. Since companies are increasingly focused on the preferences of the millennial generation, it will probably be up to them to determine which styles ultimately stay on the shelves. Maybe they all will, but we don’t know yet if they can, as different trends and styles are constantly fighting for shelf space, and the department stores won’t just build some more shelves to accommodate every style – they like to sell whatever is most popular, so that is what gets the shelf space. We could see another huge shift in bottom leg measurements, like when bell bottoms were essentially replaced by the tighter-fitting styles. I hope I am not starting to beat a dead horse with this, but I guess the bottom line is that it is very interesting to me to see what stays and what goes, and to understand why it happens and who is kind of to blame. I have realized that, trends follow a sort of life cycle, coming to life for a a while, but dying when the world sees fit for them to go, like it’s “their time.” I am not sure whether or not I believe in the reincarnation of humans (I go back and forth), but I know for sure that trends have the ability, that it is part of their life cycle after they leave us. We just can’t always predict if they will return in their original form, or if they will come back looking a little bit different.

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This next style, like many denim trends, is just a feature found on every pair of jeans, but it has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows…literally. I am talking about jeans’ rises, the measurement or space between the crotch (where all four seams meet) and the top of the waistband. As I have laid out above, these measurements sometimes reach extremes. Before I delve into that, I’ll note that higher rises seemed to be all that existed when my grandma was a child, but around the late 1950s to the early 60s, they first began to shrink, and alas, “hip huggers” were born! They merged with the bell bottom trend to form (what else?) bell-bottomed hip-huggers, and were also associated with the hippie counterculture.. Their popularity grew even more when rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were rarely seen wearing anything else, and remained popular throughout the 1970s as disco music swept the nation. Then came the 1980s, and by the time I was a preteen and started caring about fashion and brand names in the early 90s, high rises and tapered legs were the popular styles, and Guess and Girbaud jeans were the brands to wear. Never mind the fact that they were two of the most expensive brands on the market at the time, because being a stylish 11-year-old was far more important than my mom’s bank account at the time (or so I made it seem). She and her bank account were greatly relieved when I “matured” into a shy, awkward 13-year-old who adopted a “uniform” of baggy Levi’s Silver Tab jeans paired with equally baggy and mostly black t-shirts emblazoned with rock bands’ logos. Metallica and Alice in Chains shirts made up most of my collection. Basically, I dressed like a rebellious teenage boy. I only wish I could find one of those pictures to post for Throwback Thursday! Finally, at the turn of the century, the length of rises began to fall once again, and low-rise hip-huggers were once again popular. They provide an excellent example of a trend going too far, because not only did rises continue to get shorter and shorter, designers followed suit, manufacturing jeans with rises so low that some didn’t even have zippers (see the picture in the upper left corner of the above collage). I never bought jeans that shocking, but I do remember loving my William Rast Savoys (the brand was the brainchild of Justin Timberlake and one of his buddies). They had maybe a 4- or 5-inch rise, so the tiny zipper was almost unnecessary. They were my go-tos for a while, but as I began to see pictures on the Internet – posted in a mocking way of course – of the thing that happens when you bend over when you have really low-slung jeans on, I began phasing out another pair of my favorite jeans. R.I.P., Savoys! I’m not sure how long it took for the rest of society to start adding more fabric denim styles, and who knows, v may have been the last one to cover myself up. At any rate, when the Japanese came out with what they called “Bikini Jeans,” we should have known things had gone too far! If you’re curious about these beauties, or if you don’t believe me when I say Chuck Norris Action Jeans are very real, read this article on the web entitled, “12 Strangest Jeans” – funny stuff. Anyway, it seems the trend these days is veering towards styles with much– higher rises, so that we’ll all be demurely covered up, at least on our bottom halves. For me the style is a bit daunting, because I have always worn jeans that hit below my belly button! However, there is one style I have a lot of faith in and want to try, 7 For All Mankind’s Ginger jeans, a high-rise trouser style that seems to be very popular, and is currently sold out on a lot of websites, but currently “in stock” at my favorite auction site!

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The “Texas Tuxedo” is finally heading into oblivion, at least in our fashion vocabularies. It is being replaced by the term “Double Denim,” which refers to the same fashion style but doesn’t come with so many negative connotations. Of course, both mean an outfit that features a denim piece worn on top and on the bottom. The idea of double denim being a “fashion faux pas” was exacerbated by all the negative publicity surrounding those coordinated all-denim outfits that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wore to the 2001 American Music Awards. For that one misstep, the two endured a lifetime’s worth of ridicule. I am not blaming Britney and Justin, but rather all the unnecessary shaming and negativity, for the fact that it took so long for us to realize how good double denim can look. Luckily, that time has passed because people began to rebel against the fashion machine, wearing their Tuxes with pride, and today the look is being lauded as a HUGE trend in fashion. Also formerly thought to be very difficult to pull off, if you study the fashion forward looks above, you will start to notice a pattern: most are simply mixing up the colors, fabrics, washes, textures, and other characteristics we see in jeans. This makes it work because then the pieces making up the outfit appear different enough for us to forget about all the denim, and instead we notice how cool the outfit looks. Another thing I’ve noticed is that, especially when pieces are similar in color, breaking them up with other items of clothing such as T-shirts, belts, and other accessories has the same effect. For instance, Zoë Saldana wears almost identical shades on top and bottom in one of her looks above, but it seems to work because of the added accessories. Other than that, I don’t know her secret to making it work – that’s simply a theory. Hopefully by now you are as excited as I am to begin mixing and matching your denim, but if you’re not quite there yet, check out all of the “double denim” boards on Pinterest. There are also several websites dedicated to all things jeans, my favorite being Denimology. The site not only contains a gazillion pictures of people wearing jeans, but also includes with the pictures descriptions that let the reader know all about the jeans: the brand, specific style, and wash of jeans that appears in the picture, and often they go even further by providing a link to where you can buy them. Cool, huh?

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Top Row, L to R: Wide Leg Cropped Denim “Bonny” Culotte Pants by Corey, $248, at shopburu.com; Chambray Culottes by See by Chloé, $171.49, at us.asos.com; “Wayward” Denim Culottes in Bleached wash by Rachel mComey, $358, at madewell.com; Denim Culottes by Adam Lippes, $780, at saks.com; Bottom Row, L to R: Zara Leather Tote, $189.95; Hayden Leather Tote, $147.95; Blevins Tote Bag, $65.95

I saved the culottes for last not only because the trend terrifies me, but because I really didn’t know what to write about them! So forgive me, because I am kind of winging it right now. I can start with the history, that culottes began as part of military uniforms, and were first worn by women as a means of making it more comfortable for them to ride horses (while remaining modestly dressed, as the times dictated). I recall owning a handful of them, which I wore throughout grade school, though the only pair I remember were short and black, with an allover floral pattern and a flowy fabric that was cut in a manner that perfectly disguised them as a skirt. I also have not seen them “come back” for a while, except perhaps in the form of the gauchos that were briefly popular around the time I graduated from high school. My strategy: I am going to try them, while pretending I am just wearing a denim skirt, as I love denim skirts! But I still might not like them, and that is perfectly fine, as long as I can at least get a few laughs out of my brief foray into the new world of culottes.

Which brings me back to what I said earlier, either somewhere above or in my blog about trends in general, about there not being any RULES in fashion. I truly believe that, because we should ALL wear the things WE like, the clothing and outfits that make us feel sexy & confident, and the new styles that get us excited to go shopping. Trends will always be a big part of fashion, sometimes sticking around for a while, other times for only a short time, The beauty of it all is that we can embrace the things that we love, and leave everything else on the shelves. That is up to YOU and ONLY you. That’s why I continued to wear my Levi’s overalls long after they were considered popular and had virtually disappeared from stores everywhere (except for the baby stores and departments.) The only important thing was that I still loved them, and didn’t care if nobody else did. And now that they have made a comeback, I have a head start because I still own a pair.

I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it, and hopefully I have done my job by turning you on to some new “throwback” trends that are coming back from the dead, regardless of whether or not they interest you or make you want to go shopping for something new.

I would love for you to share your thoughts about this piece by clicking the “Leave a Comment” link above. Tell me about your favorite pair of jeans from times past, which I hope you still have (or have literally worn to death!) Or let me know about the “throwback” trend in jeans that excites you the most. Either way, I will do my best to respond to every comment, as I love to engage with my readers. And don’t forget to share a few of your best #tbt pictures next Thursday – please include me (@donnabelladesigns) so I can’t miss it!

***ADDED MAY 21***
Last Friday, a friend of mine posted a collage of pics, circa 1999-2000, on Facebook and tagged it “Flashback Friday.” So now I am confused. Is it Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday? Or perhaps we can post our old pics on any day of the week and tag them using any catchy, fitting word with the same first letter along with the chosen day of the week (like…”Monday Memories”), and just wait and see if it catches on and spreads like things do these days on social media? I kind of like that idea, because that collage of snapshots of “the good old days” really made me smile. Thanks, Natalie & Laura!

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