16 Gen X Fashions That Would Flop Today (And Some That Still Rock!)

Fashion trends come and go, and what was once popular can quickly become outdated. For Generation X, the fashion choices of the past may have seemed cutting-edge at the time, but today, many of these styles would likely flop. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore 16 GenX fashions to see which ones flopped and which survived.

Shoulder Pads

woman walking wearing clothes with shoulder pads
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Shoulder pads were a huge trend in the 1980s that carried over into the 90s, adding width and structure to jackets and blouses. However, in today’s more minimalist and streamlined fashion landscape, shoulder pads would likely be seen as outdated and too boxy. Thank goodness we’ve finally left them behind!

Acid or Stone-Washed Jeans

man wearing stonewashed jeans
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The acid wash trend was all the rage in the ’80s, with its distinctive bleached and streaked patterns. Teens nationwide used everything from chemicals to rocks in their mother’s washing machines to try and copy this trend. While it may have been a hit back then, stone or acid-wash jeans might be considered too retro and overly flashy for today’s fashion sensibilities, although some still rock this style.

Fanny Packs

Blue eco Leather fanny pack for men, women, teenagers, travel fanny pack, blue belt bag, man waist pack, women bag.
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Fanny packs were a convenient accessory in the ’90s, perfect for carrying essentials hands-free. Many exercise enthusiasts used these fashion accessories to carry keys, wallets, and more easily. However, today’s fashionistas would likely opt for sleeker crossbody bags or belt bags over the bulky and often unflattering fanny pack. It’s really a choice: convenience or style?

Platform Flip-Flops

platform flip flops
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Platform flip-flops were a popular footwear choice in the ’90s, adding height and a touch of retro flair to casual outfits. However, platform flip-flops’ chunky and clunky design may not resonate with modern consumers looking for more streamlined and minimalist shoe options. And talk about a tripping hazard! 

Parachute Pants

New York City, NY, USA - September 10, 2016: A woman walks in front of the Skylight at Moynihan Station on 33rd Street during New York Fashion Week SS17 in New York City.
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Parachute pants were a bold and baggy choice for GenXers, with their distinctive gathered cuffs and roomy silhouettes. They were seen in rock music videos quite often. In fact, Mike Votava even wrote a song about them called “Parachute Pants.” However, in today’s more tailored and slim-fitting fashion landscape, parachute pants may seem too dated and overwhelming. They are quite comfy, though!

Tinted Sunglasses (at Night?)

woman wearing tinted sunglasses
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Tinted sunglasses were a must-have accessory in the ’80s and ’90s, with colored lenses adding a pop of personality to any outfit. Picture Tom Cruise in the original ‘Top Gun.’ However, in today’s world, those same lenses are often more associated with the police than with fashion and style, which is ironic, considering that the motorcycle cops on the T.V. show ‘C.H.I.P.S.’ also wore them. But no, I wouldn’t wear them at night.

Mood Rings – Fun Today, or Stay Away?

Mood Ring turned blue on finger
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Mood rings, which were reported to change color based on the wearer’s mood, were popular in the ’70s, ’80s, and even ’90s. While they may have been a fun conversation starter at the time, mood rings would likely be seen as passé and outdated in today’s more sophisticated jewelry landscape. But then again, who doesn’t want to wear jewelry that turns something other than their fingers green?

Bandana Tops Aren’t Just For Hippies

Dirty old jeans. sneakers and bandanna on floor
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Bandana tops, often tied around the chest or midriff, were a popular choice for ’90s fashionistas looking to channel a bohemian or edgy vibe. However, the revealing nature of bandana tops may not align with some of today’s more modest and covered-up fashion trends. While the casual and D.I.Y. aesthetic of bandana tops could feel out of place in some more polished and curated wardrobes, these are still a great wardrobe choice for the more laid-back fashionistas during warm, sunny weather. 

Windbreaker Jackets Needed to Go

Modern materials in the fashion industry. Windbreaker from the rain. A man is posing in a fashionable silvery waterproof jacket made of new technological materials.
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Windbreaker jackets were a practical and sporty choice for GenXers, offering lightweight protection from the elements. While windbreakers have made a comeback in recent years, the neon colors and bold patterns of the past might not be as popular in today’s more muted and minimalist fashion world. And let’s not even bring the matching pants into the conversation. 

Long Hairstyles For Men

man with mullet hairstyle
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The 1970s and rock’ n roll brought many longer hairstyles for men than were worn in previous generations. While the men in Biblical times may have worn their hair longer, the men of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s opted for shorter hairstyles. Then came the permed or naturally curly shoulder-length hair, Jheri curls, long feathered hair, and even the mullet. Many of these styles still rock the stage.

Male Beauties – Makeup For Men

man looking at mirror applying makeup
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Thanks to performers such as Boy George, Cheap Trick, and many others, makeup became popular for men during the 80s. Cult classic films such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show also contributed to this trend, opening the world of cosmetics up to men in a way that it had never been. From there, the world went into goth makeup and more. And, of course, the male cosmetic industry is still rocking on.

Neon Everything Everywhere!

A girl in a yellow jacket and blue jeans with an afro hairstyle sits on a chair. Fashion eighties, the era of disco. Studio photo on a gray background.
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Neon colors were a huge trend in the 80s and 90s, but this bright and eye-catching palette would likely be seen as too loud and garish for today’s more subdued and minimalist fashion preferences. For a brief moment in time, everything was suddenly neon yellow, green, orange, and purple, with socks, scrunchies, t-shirts, and even notebooks all matching in huge block, geometric, neon chunks.

Leather Jackets, Pants, and Dresses

a fashionable lady wearing black leather jacket and pants
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Leather jackets with chains were a punk-inspired accessory for GenXers, adding a tough and edgy vibe to any outfit. They were often worn with leather pants, leather dresses, or acid or stoned-washed jeans. While leather clothing may have made a bit of a comeback in recent years, the heavy and clunky chains of the past have been removed, and the leather has been swapped out for a more eco-friendly faux leather option.

Name-Brand Or Bust

levi strauss brand on jeans
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While younger generations may think that a name-brand clothing preference is theirs alone, GenX was rocking name-brand clothing way back in the day. From Members Only to Izod, their shirts and jackets were all the rage for the guys. Of course, Levi’s 501 jeans, along with Chic, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Calvin Klein, held the monopoly for girls’ jeans in high school everywhere. And don’t forget the Nike, Dance Reebok, and L.A. Gear shoes!

Disco Tops

Smiling fashionable woman in sparkling dress with disco ball against silver tinsel
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Thanks to fashion worn by actresses such as Heather Locklear in 1981, disco tops became quite popular among Genx fashionistas. Worn with high-rise jeans, these shirts were made from chain mail, metallic, or sequin materials that clung to the curves and flaunted the figure. This style is still a popular party-girl fashion statement.

Checkered, Plaid, and Plain Blazers

man wearing checkered blazer
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Blazers became a popular fashion accessory thanks to movies such as ‘Pretty In Pink,’ which featured them worn by both males and females. Brooke Shields also helped the popularity of blazers continue on, often wearing plaid or checkered ones in photo shoots. Blazers could go from the office to the dance floor without missing a beat. 

Flop or Rock?

Back in time 90s 80s. Stylish girl in retro jacket and vintage cassette player listens to music, fashion trends, entertainment, heat in summer
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While GenX fashion had its fair share of iconic trends, there are certain styles that would not hold up in today’s ever-evolving fashion landscape. From chunky platform sneakers to neon everything, some of these 16 GenX fashions would likely flop if they were to make a comeback today, while others are still rocking on!

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