I stumbled upon an interesting way to measure if you are appropriate in your dress, it is Laver’s Law. James Laver (1899-1975) who was an author, art historian, and museum curator who acted as Keeper of Prints, Drawings and Paintings for the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1938 and 1959 created Laver’s Law. It was his attempt to compress the complex cycle of fashion change and the general attitude towards any certain style or period into a simple timeline. It first appeared in Taste and Fashion (1937):
Indecent 10 years before its time
Shameless 5 years before its time
Outré (Daring) 1 year before its time
Smart 'Current Fashion'
Dowdy 1 year after its time
Hideous 10 years after its time
Ridiculous 20 years after its time
Amusing 30 years after its time
Quaint 50 years after its time
Charming 70 years after its time
Romantic 100 years after its time
Beautiful 150 years after its time
He was also an important and pioneering fashion historian described as "the man in England who made the study of costume respectable. Why not check your wardrobe now and eliminate dowdy, hideous or ridiculous items. Perhaps anything older has a certain museum quality or will come in handy for those 70's revival nights. Seriously if it is older than 20 years and it has a good label and in good condition it may be valuable - ONE DAY - it is almost certainly already being collected by someone somewhere in the world and is described as vintage.
Stanley Marcus, the former president of Neiman Marcus, recounts in his memoir Minding the Store how Laver’s Law was used by Neiman Marcus clothes buyers in the late 60’s. There was a heated internal debate on whether the trend for that next year would still be the mini skirt (which was the current fashion) or the longer midi skirt. Marcus asked Laver point blank if the mini skirt was dead. Laver told him that the mini skirt had at least another 2 years to go — against expert opinion at the time. His forecast was right, the midi was a complete flop, many women continued to wear the miniskirt, and those who couldn’t or wouldn’t make up their minds went into the pants suit. Pants were bound to come, but the skirt-length controversy made pants acceptable at an accelerated rate.
Do you think it applies today in the average person dressing plan? If you walk the street in your town, you will find an array of dressing styles from the sedate (ladies with proper teas dresses) to the tough and wild (biker babes in Ed hardy and Harley Davidson covered in tats). Just look around at your local mall or shopping center. Just remember that in a few years it’ll start to look bad. In 10 years it’ll look REALLY bad. Then, after some time, it will be appreciated — or even revered — again.