Remember when being a teenager meant walking around in nothing but black band tees three sizes too large and some Docs you scuffed up on purpose? Or not washing your hair for three weeks because it looks betterthat way? Or, better yet, awkward sexual tension you had no idea how to deal with? (Followed by: boners for no reason, wet dreams and bizarre peach fuzz you can't exactly shave off yet—in that order.)
More and more often these days, I find myself elbowing girls 10, 15 years younger than I am out of the way at sales racks for the last Anna Sui blouse in my size. And then I find myself wondering how these gals developed their own unique style at such an age—while my junior-high-aged self wore nothing but cotton Guess? shirts and bad flared denim.
Most people attribute their mantras and fashion senses toward cultural influences. Stumbling upon a black-and-white photograph of Edie Sedgwick, Louise Brooks and Jane Birkin or listening to a Françoise Hardy or Dusty Springfield record can change a 12-year-old's life, you know. The range of influences and inspirations out there is vast, obviously—and with media like the Internet, all this stuff is just a few clicks away. Now kids can look up what color Nudie suit Gram Parsons was wearing on the cover of The Gilded Palace of Sin before heading down to their local Buffalo Exchange.
Going to a show at an all-ages venue is probably the best place to spot these kinds of youth—and there you'll spot pint-sized versions of every American subculture possible. It's cute. Impressive even.
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I spotted our girl here at a Matt Costa (successful local musicians, woo hoo!) concert on a particularly scorching Sunday. It was one of those days when it hit 100 even in the coastal communities—when you were unhappy holed up indoors, but unhappy as soon as you stepped foot outside, too.
She paired a loose, cotton, heather-gray tank top (probably from American Apparel) with a brown-and-tan high-waisted skirt and simple flip-flops with thin straps. It was the ideal outfit for the day's weather, but most of all, it impressed me that she stood out from most peers her age obsessed with cut-off denim shorts and platform sandals.
The look even reminded me of Miu Miu's bold and memorable Spring/Summer 2008 runway show. A major highlight of the collection was its proportions—flared skirts that sat high on the waist but were still mini-length coupled with pretty blouse-like tops with Peter Pan collars. This girl? This girl, who's probably way younger than you? Channeled Miuccia freaking Prada—perhaps inadvertently—but still wore the outfit in such a way to adapt to the temperature, environment and her age.