When I was in middle school, one of my classmates bought a braided leather belt about 10 inches too long. The guy was always meticulously dressed so, naturally, I wondered what he was doing. The pendulous accessory hung down his khakis below the pockets and swung as he walked down the hall in a phallic, eye-drawing manner. In retrospect, it was probably a little risqué for tween fashion in the hallowed halls of my midwest alma mater, Portage North Middle School. I’ve never been too fashion-forward, nor interested in following the trends of the day, so I diverted attention from the guy and passed it off as a fashion faux-pas.
Within a week, however, I noticed a few others had adopted the strange, over-sized accouterments. Within a month, there were dozens of other braided belts accessorized over the in-crowd’s fashionable attire. Then, it caught like wildfire an even teachers and staff were seen following the trend. I found it a little perplexing to watch the style grow in my little microcosm and attributed it to flukish nature of a town secluded from fashion. What I hadn’t realized, however, was that that, in itself, WAS fashion. This is how the world worked. Fluorescent macramé necklaces, rat tails, sillybands, metal-snapping bracelets, waterfall bangs, pegged jeans and acid-washed jeans ruled the day. And at some point, with each of these trends, someone undoubtedly shared my befuddlement: what was going through their minds when they decided to wear that to school?