Friday Fun Link: Future Fashion FAIL


Nick Gillespie's link to Ebony's 1985 prediction of how Michael Jackson's look circa 2000 A.D. (porn 'stache, baby blue blazer, and orange skinny tie? Really?) inspired this pressing Friday afternoon question: Why are predictions of future fashion always so completely off the mark? The occasional science fiction writer manages to predict, say, widespread use of the Internet, but costumers almost uniformly insist on spandex jumpsuits and silver lamé.

Since we're coasting into the weekend—and since I am the magazine's token possessor of lady parts and SF nerd— I'll pursue this vital inquiry a bit further. Check out this 1930s predictions for "Eve, A.D. 2000." Of particular interest, a hair-mounted "electric headlight, to help her to find an honest man." Menfolk will be "fitted with a telephone, a radio, and containers for coins, keys, and candy for cuties."

Actually, some of the dresses aren't half bad.

Can't say the same for this 1970s clip from a 1970s U.K. show Tomorrow Today. 

Gillespie quotes RU Sirius's  H+ eulogy of Jackson, proclaiming the Gloved One "a signpost on the road to post-humanity… the future will study him from that perspective, and in some odd way, it will learn from his many mistakes." The same sentiment goes doubly for bygone efforts at futuristic fashions.

Of course, all bets are off when women become uberfeminist cyborgs.

More on the past of the future here.

NEXT: Soulless, Capitalist Vampires Making Money Off Human Pain

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  1. huhuhuh…. she said “token possessor of lady parts”…huhuhuhuh.

  2. Menfolk will be “fitted with a telephone, a radio, and containers for coins, keys, and candy for cuties.”

    Full points for the phone. Half points for the radio (cuz of the Ipod). “Candy for cuties” will get you hard time, though, you perv.

  3. Why are predictions of future fashion always so completely off the mark?

    Fashion elements have little practical value, so there’s no directional selective force leading them one way or another, just random drift. This makes them impossible to predict. Technologies like the internet do have practical use. So, it’s possible to envision the ideal end state of that technology which inventors will reach once they figure out how.

  4. “Candy for cuties” will get you hard time, though, you perv.

    Yeah, when you think of it, the paternalistic attitude men had towards their wives a hundred years ago is kind of creepy.

  5. I can confidently predict that bell bottoms will NOT be coming back.

  6. The 1930’s video was right about dresses that adapt for day or evening. Just look at the infinite dress.

  7. Episiarch,

    They never went away. They just became more subdued, really.

  8. Boot cut jeans are not bell bottoms, Bill. Remember the incredibly brief fashion resurgence of bell bottoms years ago? It lasted about 3 months, because bell bottoms are an abomination, much like Henry Waxman or Michael Bay.

  9. Oh, Swish!

  10. Though I agree that fashion is inherently hard to predict, to call it “random drift” is overkill – the trend is clearly towards less coverage for women; and more casual, thrown-together-looking clothing for men.

  11. I loved those UFO moongirls.

  12. The 70’s sucked, but I do miss the mini-skirts and the short-shorts.

  13. Some fine babe wants to prance around my house in a silver lame mini-skirt and go-go boots? I’m good… I’m good.

  14. Oh, and I don’t think I could think of a better breakdown of why fashion predictions are off-the-mark than jtuf’s offering above.

    Nice, jtuf, nice.

  15. Why are predictions of future fashion always so completely off the mark?

    I’m going to go out on a limb, and predict that Gillespie will be seen sporting a leather jacket in the year 2020.

  16. I’m going to go out on a limb, and predict that Gillespie will be seen sporting a leather jacket in the year 2020.

    That’s not predicting fashion, that’s predicting Gillespie.

  17. since I am the magazine’s token possessor of lady parts

    [points at Amanda Carey]

    Ha ha!

  18. That’s not predicting fashion, that’s predicting Gillespie.

    Yeah, but past performance is no guarantee of future behavior. Nick might trade in the cowskin for a spiffy synthetic material as yet undreamed of by us mere mortals.

    But I’m betting on the leather, myself.

  19. Shit, “Predicting Gillespie”, we gotta get a movie script around that. It practically writes itself. It’s like Chasing Amy or Waiting for Guffman or Deconstructing Harry

    I see Peter Gallagher in the lead role co-starring Ben Affleck as Matt Welch and Russell Crowe playing the always affable Tim Cavanaugh.

  20. Anyone else remember UFO? X-files and a lot of other series copied from that show.

  21. “[points at Amanda Carey]”

    Until they put up a picture of dear old Amanda I’m reserving judgment.

  22. Paul, how about Michael Bay as director. That would pelase Epi.


  23. jtuf is partly right, but as Space Fiend says it’s not random drift. A lot of it is just esthetic reaction to what came before. Style A stops seeming fresh, so Style B appears, then B begins to seem old-fashioned, so C appears.

  24. Then when Style D comes along, Style B seems retro and cool.

    Was going to do a long dissertation on how the kids these days are trying to look cool by wearing the same fashions we wore in high school, and how retro is getting dangerously close to something that happened 15 minutes ago, and then I remembered this article:

    U.S. Dept. Of Retro Warns: ‘We May Be Running Out Of Past’

    WASHINGTON, DC-At a press conference Monday, U.S. Retro Secretary Anson Williams issued a strongly worded warning of an imminent “national retro crisis,” cautioning that “if current levels of U.S. retro consumption are allowed to continue unchecked, we may run entirely out of past by as soon as 2005.”

  25. This post saddens me. If only we were as stylish as the people in UFO.

    That clip needed more Gabrielle Drake, BTW.

  26. The man’s outfit with utility belt was virtually indistinguishable from the kind of things future spacefarers were imagined to wear in 1950s and 60s movies and TV. So either the designer was way ahead of the curve, or the movies and TV shows of 20-30 years later were way behind. As for the “containers for coins… etc.,” check out “Tactical Internet Pants,” one of a species of clothes that provides handy places to stash all of your mobile geek gear (including candy for cuties).

  27. …”and every part is replaceable!”

    So true, so true, and ever more so as time goes on. 😉

  28. costumers almost uniformly insist on spandex jumpsuits and silver lam?.

    C’mon KM-W, model it for us.One of those purple wigs like Gabrielle Drake wore in UFO would complement the lycra lam? catsuit quite well.Don’t forget the go go boots.

  29. er


    call me a perv but

    I get my kicks from chicks clad in latex

    sci-fi art and sex together

    feckin well

    (there should have been some kind of good rhyme there but I’m too cunted to think of it)

    but anyhway

    exotic coffe coloured women
    and latex
    and drugs
    and malt whisky

    thats why any man gets out of bed in the mornin right?


    what was this post about?

    green women!

    fuck yeah and latex

  30. ah yeah

    sci fi and chicks

    so right is there any good sci fi porn?

    rule 34 on spandex

    that exists whats her name zee

    wait there gets link



    fecking great stuff

    there be gas mask in there too



    if your job sucks ass


    sci fi porn rocks

  31. Paul: Correct, the past can suddenly look fresh again, or at least fresh if reimagined. Though I doubt hoop skirts are ever coming back.

    Of course, it should be of note to libertarians how often future fashions are shown as uniforms of one sort or another. I think this is a legacy of the progressive/rationalist/socialist views of the late 19th and early 20th century, when they thought future societies would be rationalized. “Long ago decided that fashion was irrational and wasteful, and so now we all wear efficient clothing.” I think this lasted in movies and TV from the ’30s until the ’70s, when the glossy future started to seem old-fashioned and the decayed/grungy look of Mad Max and Bladerunner became the new clich

  32. I remember the big thing in the futurism of the late 80’s or early 90’s was wearable computers. Which sort of came true with cell phones, PDAs, and netbooks, but not with the unique body-molded style of the old concepts.

  33. I predict in 20 years that:
    -Jeans will be still be popular among boys and girls.
    -sneakers will still be popular.
    -Cotton T-shirts will still be popular.
    -Boxers, Y-fronts, bikinis and thongs will still be popular.
    -Flip-flops? Still popular.
    -Aloha shirts? Still the party monster shirt.
    -Jump suits? Will still make you like a toddler with progeria.

  34. I want to be able to exclaim “Oh Swish!” with as much fruity panache as that mincing narrator. And as long as I’m dreaming: I want to wear fabulous gowns with as much girlish brio as those futuristic ladies.

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