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Is there really such a thing as ‘old-fashioned’?

Are there traits, cultural values, practices, ways of life, societal constructions or styles of grooming that we can deem antiquated or old-fashioned?

Or are the things we have come to know as being old-fashion just not as applicable or better suited for our time like they once were for certain people at a particular point in life?

And if that’s the case, are they really old-fashioned or have our societies, cultures, needs and circumstances changed and all we are doing is merely responding to that change and calling it progress and growth?

History has shown us that humans need different things at different periods of time. Things they deem as suitable, relevant and enjoyable. Take grooming for example, in the mid 90s approaching 2000, it was common for males who were teens, preteens, adolescents, and adults to keep long hair commonly referred to as afros, accompanied by a properly trimmed beard making them look like someone wearing a helmet with a chin strap.

The adult males would also wear pretty tight fitting trousers that were slightly loose towards the feet. You can see such grooming styles from our parents old photographs. The teenagers on the other side would wear baggy jeans and extra large t-shirts with big sneakers.

A depiction of some typical 90s male fashion styles

Many look back to such dress codes with scorn, disdain and as something to laugh at as ‘old fashioned’ staff. Because our experiences and circumstances have changed and people have explored more styles of dress than ever before. Wouldn’t you agree however that it is wiser to say our needs and preferences have changed, and not necessarily that such dress codes are old-fashioned?

Consider another example; letter writing. At one point in life letter writing was a very convenient mode of communication that worked effectively for many. However with the improvement of modern technology and the use of social media, letter writing isn’t as efficient, convenient or preferred as the most effective mode of communication. But is letter writing old-fashioned or have our needs and circumstances just changed?

Consider this, the grim reality about life is that its very nature is rooted in progression and never stays constant and stagnant, things will always change, or simply get improved. What’s trendy to day will be laughed about as old fashioned tomorrow. Clothes we consider top-notch and in fashion will inevitably be shockingly amusing to our children’s children some day. Your grand daughters will obviously look at your flashy crop tops in your old photos and exclaim, “wooh granny, this is what you used to wear?” And there children’s children as well will echo those very same sentiments too and just like that, life will always follow such a repetitive pattern.

It seems in some way life is trying to teach us that the many things we look down on and label old fashion are just as important now as they once were to certain people at a particular point in time. We tend not to think so because our circumstances and needs have changed.

Can the same be said of some things that are currently understood to have been old cultural and traditional life styles that promoted gender inequality and societal hierarchies that kept women under the domination of men?

When we look back to the lives of our great grand mothers, most of them were stay-at-home mums who would work around the home taking care of their children, household chores or field work. Plus colonial-capitalist ideologies about ‘good housewives’ were promoted by mining companies, churches, government, social welfare groups and the media.

As much as we weren’t there or lived their experience, living such a life was obviously not something they thought of as entirely oppressive and their husbands as tyrannical masters over them.

They obviously found gratitude and their prime identity as fulfilled women in daily child upbringing, household work, or simply working on a bounty harvest. However things have drastically changed since then. Women are not just mothers or house keepers but they now take up big cooperate jobs and some have even branched off to specialize in STEM fields. But can we look down on the times and lifestyles of our grand mothers as antiquated or old-fashioned or have things just changed and we are living in a whole different experience than theirs?

The bottom line is, there seems to be nothing in this world that is old fashioned. People just need different things at different times.

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