High Heels & Cartwheels – Ukrainian Soldiers VS Grunge Is Back

High Heels & Cartwheels – Ukrainian Soldiers VS Grunge Is Back

What’s in the news today?

Ukrainian Soldiers, have been officially photographed training in high heels. Maybe it’s a PR Stunt. If so, it’s a good one because everyone’s noticed. Maybe it’s saying, “look at brave these soldiers are. Notice anything in particular? Ah ha! That’s right. High heels. Brave AND useless. Unless you need to knock a hole in a balsa wood door”.
It can certainly be hard to cartwheel in them, which is why hardly anyone I know wears them. Sometimes I think designers hate people. High heels make some people feel wonderful, and that’s grand, but for me, high heels are great for being on stage in (rarely though), or standing still (posing) or lying about in. If I was going to wear high heels, I’d make myself a matching t-shirt that reads ‘For Display Purposes Only’ and not leave the house.
It seems a bit stymying to make the soldiers parade in something less comfortable than paraboots, which is what the opposition will be wearing. And actually, the opposition win on fashion counts too, because comfy boots are back, apparently. Grunge 2. I saw it in Brighton, England this week.
Let’s talk about Grunge 1 (the 1990s)
In the actual 1990’s, young people who shopped in jumble sales and charity shops and hardware stores didn’t know they were ‘grunge’ until The Clothes Show had J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr on as a guest.
As we watched, bored, someone used the word for the first time, and showed us Mascis’s clashing second hand ‘grunge’ clothes that we were all also wearing and we all went ‘oh, is that what I am then? I thought I was just poor’.
Shortly after this, UK music magazine The NME released their definitive poster guide of ‘Grunge Bands’ which included Led Zeppelin and Daniel Johnston, together in the same category at last.

Up until then, young people were either ‘fashionable’, ravers, metallers, hippies, rockers, mods, goths, teddies, beatniks, glam rockers, crusties, punks, pop culture or straight-edge. Everyone else was a colourful magpie mess.

The Clothes

Mens workbooks (no name industrial ones, or Doc Marten’s if you had £25, at least they’d last for nearly two years, worn solidly). Mine were dunlop, steel toe capped and one size too big but they were also £6 and virtually indestructible. In the end I just got rid of them because I really did look like an actual clown.

Checked lumberjack shirts were warm and unisex, and about a fiver.

Tiny 1970s t-shirts with anything written on them. (I’m pretty sure I saw the previously deeply common and uncool Harvey Wallbanger cocktail recipe on someone and my friend Alison had a vintage one with ‘Elastic’ written on it, that Justine Frischmann from Elastica asked to buy off her. Alison said no). Or we painted our own (with watered down acrylic paint).
Dresses from any era as long as they were very very cheap (1910 – 1980, all secondhand or made in India and bought from the market for £15 brand new). The huge ones were good for hiding both your figure and the rape alarm you were sold at the fresher’s ball, where you’d also be signed up for a ‘self defence course’, in case of enemy attack.
Of course, the steel toe cap boots could deliver a crippling blow, which I think is one of the first things the ladies were taught. It was all the rage.

The dresses weren’t particularly flattering but that wasn’t the point. they were cheap and individual and if you really wanted to show some shape, you could take the hem up by a foot and a half and cinch in the top of it by cramming on a too-small long-sleeved cropped cardigan, to create the allusion of a waist but without flaunting your wares like a cake shop window.
Courtney Love (the band Hole) popularised wearing the see-through nylon nightie on the cover of Face magazine around that time, which was pleasing. Because nylon nighties were very easy to find in perfect condition in junk shops and went for a song, being deeply unpleasant to wear as actual nightshirts. They were worn with cycling shorts, massive underwear, cardigans, fishnets, boots and ribbon-y necklaces.
It was all very DIY. It was like an anti-statement really. Look how little I have but how happy I am, haha! Those babydoll dresses were almost as indestructible as Dunlop workers boots, unless you stood next to a naked flame.
And at least we were sold see through nighties by a brilliant rocker instead of some boring old fart designer who’d not be seen dead in one.

And now…
It was amusing to see wealthy-looking people wearing GRUNGE in Brighton, UK this week. The main giveaway were luxury designer bags and sunglasses but the rest was heart-warmingly familiar. The dresses are still hideous, except now they’re 50000% times more expensive and you’ll see them being worn by more than one person at any one time. Now the high-street dresses are chosen for their fabric and cut, rather than being the only viable option at the jumble sale. The young people look gorgeous because they are. Hobnail boots and a dress that would be rejected by your great-aunt aren’t going to stop them looking excellent.
And at least they can be in complete comfort. Either sitting around or running or walking or pirouetting about, whatever they fancy (the dresses are great for twirling). They can cover up or reveal as much as you like, which for a painfully shy and body-conscious-in-a-bad-way teenager like I was, is ideal. For once, a fashion fad that made me smirk, is actually a very welcome return. And bonus ball, you don’t have to iron anything, freeing up moshing time for The Happy Flowers and Swans. Or if that NME poster guide was anything to go by; ‘anything vaguely good’.