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What Does Alternative Clothing Actually Mean

Jul 9, 2008
How can you define alternative clothing? Surely, what is normal for one person would probably go down as alternative clothing in another person's book. Stick 'alternative clothing' into a search engine and many of the sites listed will be for goth, emo or punk clothing so I guess, in the main, these would be considered alternative.

But alternative to what, or who? To a goth or emo, their clothing is normal. To my gran it would be laughable, to her gran it would have been a sign that you were ready for the funny farm. Yet today we have a world with an 'anything goes' attitude so you can walk down any high street in the country and see people dressed as chavs, Goths, punks, man from C & A, or walking floral creations that are usually someone's grandmother.

You see, the problem is that as people get older, there are less of them. In turn, this means they are in the minority so surely that would make them the ones in the alternative clothing?

To me, alternative clothing would mean my going out on the town in my PJ's, which I've always thought would be a good thing seeing as I've never subscribed to the fashion over function club. In fact, last time I went out to a nightclub, I swear some of those girls were wearing their night dresses! Yes, I know, that makes me sound old but I really don't care, they are going to catch their deaths dressed like that!

So, what could you possibly wear out on the street that would now count as alternative clothing if anybody can wear anything? Clothing that looks like it is manufactured from rags has extortionate designer price labels on. To me, this is alternative clothing - alternative to eating or paying the rent.

Most towns will have a shopping centre that passes for the local hang out for young kids and here you will see plenty that passes for alternative clothing to the average person. With all those chains and pins it's truly a wonder they can ever get past the alarms in any shop and equally as unbelievable that they don't somehow become trapped together in what would look like a chain gang.

Of course, for some, alternative clothing would constitute some type of fetish wear. But then you have the strange people with enough nerve to go out wearing this clothing. Whether it be rubber, PVC or compete with a dog collar and lead - to some this is normal, not alternative.

For girls in their late teens, fashion dictates that they go out with the smallest clothes possible. Indeed, even my own daughter had bigger clothes at the age of seven that what she wears out now. So, here we have another alternative - alternative to actually wearing clothes that cover tomorrows washing.

Having had a scout round a few alternative clothing sites, it seems that, in the main, the goth and emo clothing sites have the top listings. But just how alternative are the products when compared to your average high street shop? Tight jeans for emos - isn't that the fashion for everyone? Vivid colours for punks - again, a relative norm. T shirts and tops with rips - exactly what the jumble sales have been providing for years without the ridiculous price tags.

So, it seems the choice is up to you. If you feel conspicuous because you're not wearing what your mate thinks you should be wearing, call it alternative and you'll be on to a winner.
About the Author
Fashion expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way alternative clothing can mean many things to many people.
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