Today’s Greatest Fashion Comebacks

Bell bottoms: a true fashion comeback

We asked some of The Nature Conservancy’s top scientists to tell us what they thought were Nature’s Greatest Comebacks. They had some obvious picks (bald eagles) and some we’d never heard of (Mauritius kestrel). See gorgeous pictures of all 10 in this slideshow.

The whole thing got us thinking of some other cool comebacks, so the editors of Cool Green Science took to the blog. See 5 great fashion comebacks here, and then check out our look at comebacks in pop culture and sports.


Today’s Greatest Fashion Comebacks

Buying my first pair of flared jeans at the age of 16 was quite a monumental occasion in this budding fashionista’s life. I wanted to show my high school that excess fabric swinging around your ankles was stylish (always a trendsetter!).

After my high school graduation in 2000, I remember packing up for college and wondering if flares were going to stay in style. Were they just a fad? A trend that would quickly fade into oblivion?

It hadn’t occurred to me yet that fashion trends always come back. My flared pants — formerly known as bell-bottoms to my mom’s generation — were simply a recycled trend from the groovy 1970’s.

The fashion industry thrives on comebacks. Every “new” style you see on the runway is just a fresh take on a long-forgotten trend. Sure, there are some styles that we should never speak of again (Hammer pants, anyone?) but there are a few classic trends that are always welcome to make a comeback to my closet.

Here are my picks for today’s top 5 greatest fashion comebacks:

1. Wayfarer Sunglasses

Wayfarer Sunglasses

What would an 80’s movie be without wayfarer sunglasses? Tom Cruise stole our hearts behind those large plastic shades in the 1983 movie, Risky Business. And don’t forget The Blues Brothers and Miami Vice. Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses were synonymous with COOL, which meant, before you knew it, every man in America had a pair.

Wayfarers hit a slump in the 90’s as new styles gained momentum, but in mid-2000’s, men — and now women! — were ready for the comeback of this retro and universally flattering style.

2. Leggings


What is the one piece of clothing that can be worn by fashion-forward women, tweens and pregnant ladies? Leggings! Madonna and Cyndi Lauper must be thrilled to have lived through two rounds of this spandex-craze, made popular during the 1980’s aerobics phenomenon. Today, women of all ages are modernizing leggings by wearing them in shades of black and grey under tunic-length tops and sweater dresses. Pull on a pair of riding boots and you are ready for a fashionable fall.

3. Skinny Ties

Skinny tie

Prepare yourself for… the return of the skinny tie! Men of the 1950’s (think: The Beatles and Rat Pack) rebelliously ditched the traditional 4-inch wide ties of the 40’s in favor of a new, sleeker version that was a whole 2 inches narrower.

Today, hip celebs like Justin Timberlake and David Beckham can be seen recycling the black skinny tie trend. The look is retro, confident and a little bit rock and roll. More skinny ties, please.

4. Platform Heels

Platform heels

“So tell me what, what you really, really want.” Well, Spice Girls, I want a pair of platform heels like the ones you wore in the 90’s! Okay, well, maybe not exactly like those clunky sneakers and PVC platform boots they so famously wore. But that’s the great thing about fashion — there is always the hope that a style will reappear in a more refined and modern version of its ancestor.

Case and point: the platform heel of the 18th century was worn to protect women from muddy streets (true story!). Today’s platform is less about function and more about making a woman’s legs look like they go on for days. Sleek, modern and stacked. Perhaps by the next time platform heels make a comeback, I’ll have mastered the art of walking in them!

5. Red Lipstick

Red lipstick

Every woman has a little Marilyn Monroe in her, right? Then it’s a no brainer that the red lipstick trend is showing up again on the lips of today’s glamorous movie stars. Red lipstick is the perfect way to channel that signature Old Hollywood look.

Since Marilyn’s generation, we’ve seen a rainbow of lipstick trends over the years – hot pink, nude, matte – but the one color that goes with every skin tone is red. Go bold. Make Marilyn proud.

Madeline Breen is a senior editorial manager for The Nature Conservancy. In her spare time, she dishes out affordable fashion advice on her blog, Style Me Thrifty.

(All images from Flickr via a Creative Commons license. Images: Sewing pattern via AForestFrolic; Wayfarer sunglasses via miss.libertine. Leggings via nasrulekram. Skinny tie via: JonoMueller. Platform heels via nozomiiqel. Lipstick via MuLaN).

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  1. Never throw away ties. Eventually, all styles will come back…

  2. I love platform heals <3 but the red lipstick? only for big dinners or formal parties. not for everyday school.

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