I Was Quite a Fashion Victim
Lookin' back now, I can see me Oh man, did I look cheesy
When an old, embarrassing outfit is spoofed In-Universe
People can get caught up in the fashions of a certain time, and just cringe thinking about it later on. This can be any time, but usually it's about the decades immediately before most present day works. So for a while, The Seventies
and The Eighties
were the most popular subjects for this, and now The 1990s
and The 2000s
are quickly becoming this.
Sometimes it's the character acknowledging how dumb he/she looked, but just as often it's their friends laughing at how dumb he/she used to look and that character not denying it, or we see the character back then and get a good laugh out of it.
Often shown during a Flashback
, home video, or Embarrassing Old Photo
This is virtually universally Truth in Television
for people looking back on their younger days. Remember, people: whatever you think is fashionable and stylish today will look ridiculous to the next generation, or yourself some years later.
Compare Old Shame
, Fashion Dissonance
, Deader Than Disco
, Outdated Outfit
, Impossibly Tacky Clothes
Contrast I Was Quite a Looker
(when a character looked better in the past).
- In one of the Fifth Doctor's Big Finish audio plays, There's No Place Like Home (which came as a free gift with Doctor Who Magazine), he actively tries to keep Erimem from seeing the velvet jackets and frilled shirts of his third incarnation, and is mortified when she discovers them.
- In The Berenstain Bears and the Dress Code, most of the students are trying stranger and stranger clothing styles, including one wearing a tiny miniskirt that prompts Miss Glitch to send her home to change. This prompts vice-principal Mervyn "Bullhorn" Grizzmeyer to try to institute a school dress code, which the students promptly rebel against through Loophole Abuse, up until Mr. Grizzmeyer sets the rules as "If I don't like your outfit, you go home and change". The matter is ultimately settled by a public debate with Mr. Grizzmeyer, Miss Glitch and Papa Bear on one side and the cubs on the other, which the cubs (Brother in particular) win without saying a single word: they simply show three slides they got from Grizzly Gran (Papa's mother), Mrs. Grizzmeyer (Mr. Grizzmeyer's wife) and Miss Glitch's mother of the adult trio in various bizarre outfits, including Papa in bellbottoms and Mr. Grizzmeyer in a zoot suit and a wide-brimmed hat. The dress code is promptly discontinued, and having made their point, the students largely abandon their stranger outfits for more normal ones.
- Briefly mentioned in A Murder Is Announced — Miss Blacklock's niece Julia mentions being amused by pictures of Miss Blacklock as a young woman in the fashions of The Roaring Twenties. Julia's brother remarks that in thirty years' time, it'll be Julia's turn to cringe at what she's wearing now.
- Doctor Who:
- In the "Power of the Daleks" novelisation, the Second Doctor (on first regenerating) starts going through his jewellery box and finds a large earring, telling Ben and Polly that he used to wear it when he was younger. "Very fashionable once."
- In the book The Roots of Evil, the Fourth Doctor encounters a statue of his Eleventh self and despairs that he will someday think wearing a bow tie is a good idea, insisting that he hates them and that they are not cool.
- Friends did this any time (mainly with Chandler and Ross) there was a flashback to when they were teens or in college:
- Ross spent much of his time in college looking like Lionel Richie.
- Chandler sported A Flock Of Seagulls hair and once entered a Vanilla Ice look-alike competition and won (Ross entered too, but he only came in fourth).
- And in one of the Thanksgiving flashback episodes, Ross and Chandler turn up dressed like Sonny Crockett, complete with nonsensical posing and rolling up their sleeves. They also acknowledge their previous looks as embarrassing, failing to realize that they still look ridiculous.
- Subverted in Better Off Ted. A flashback to Phil's first day shows Phil with long hair and a tie-dye shirt and Lem with an afro and purple glasses. Then Lem says, "It's too bad your first day had to be during Sixties Week."
- In 2010, when Sigourney Weaver hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time in nearly 24 years, she showed a still of herself when she hosted in 1986 (on the first episode featuring a new cast after the season 11 fiasco that almost got the show canned for good), wearing this outfit◊. Things have changed a lot since then, she acknowledged; she "wears a bra now."
- Emily Prentiss in Criminal Minds is revealed to suffer badly from this in one of the more hilarious moments of the series.
Garcia: You're seriously trying to tell me you don't remember rocking that look?
Reid: Perhaps your lack of recognition stems from a dissociative fugue suffered in adolescence. Say, at a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert?
- Cordelia from Angel, while studying her own photo album to get over her amnesia:
Hmmm. Cute... [flip] cute... [flip] hot... [flip to egregious
afro haircut] Yikes!!
- Angel himself sported a rather horrifying mullet (yes, mullet) in the seventies. He's still a residual fanboy of Barry Manilow.
- This trope is a staple of I Love the Exties shows.
- In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Kira sees a picture of Tommy in his Mighty Morphin days and makes fun of his long hair. Tommy counters that in the '90s everyone thought it was cool.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the whole family sees Phil and Vivian on an episode of Soul Train sporting Afros and Bell bottoms and other wacky 70s styles.
- Top Gear's tribute to the now-defunct Saab included a clip from the old format of the show, featuring a much younger Jeremy Clarkson, complete with atrocious 80's hair and clothing.
We would like to apologize for the music...and the shirt, and the jacket and the hair...
- In The Nanny episode "The Kibbutz",the '70s flashback scenes show Fran Fine wearing 10-esque cornrows, Maxwell Sheffield wearing a leisure suit and Porn Stache, and C.C. Babcock with long, black Yoko Ono-esque hair.
- In the first episode of The Chris Rock Show, Chris Rock claims he's actually the second Chris Rock, much like how there were two Lionels on The Jeffersons. He shows a picture of "the original Chris", which is a picture of himself with a jheri curl hairdo.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor has made all sorts of short-sighted fashion decisions over the years, making this a frequent theme whenever he recalls his early behaviour or meets himself:
- When the Seventh Doctor debuts in Time and the Rani, having finally shed the Sixth Doctor's... interesting... clothing, he remarks "I'm glad to see I've returned to a sense of haute couture"
- In the 1993 The Power of the Daleks audio reconstruction, with narration provided by the Fourth Doctor, he audibly cringes when recalling his decision to go around wearing the First Doctor's clothes, even though they no longer fit him:
I looked like a clown. I will never understand why I thought this ensemble was acceptable garb for a Time Lord.
- In some of the Official Fan-Submitted Content about the Ninth Doctor on Clive's Character Blog, the Ninth Doctor is reported to have been spotted at the dump throwing away frilly shirts, long scarves and a multicoloured coat in the name of 'a clear-out'.
- In the charity special Time Crash, the Tenth Doctor is delighted with Five's cricket gear, but has a harder time complimenting the stick of celery. "But fair play to you; not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."
- In The Day of the Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor snipes at the Tenth Doctor's "sand shoes" and even remarks negatively on his taste in TARDIS décor, saying it was his "grunge phase" and telling the War Doctor that he'll grow out of it.
- In Deep Breath, the Twelfth Doctor announces that he needs a new outfit with a really long scarf, then quickly changes his mind about the scarf because it'd look stupid - although not because the scarf itself looks stupid, but because the look is too young for him to pull off (the Fourth Doctor was about 750, and the Twelfth is over 2000).
- In Time Heist, the Twelfth Doctor allows a psychic alien to feast on his memories, telling it, "Big scarf... bow tie... embarrassing."
- In Torchwood: Miracle Day, Jack, when approached about a picture of him with a bushy Porn Stache, simply responds "The Seventies". His clothing, however, averts this trope as he still wears his World War II greatcoat.
- Only Fools and Horses: Most people tend to look back on what they wore during the 80's with embarrassment. Mickey Pierce on the other hand, averts this by never changing his look at all... leaving his wardrobe stuck Two Decades Behind by the end of the series.
- In LOST, during a round of "I Never" Kate gets Sawyer to admit that he once wore pink. Sawyer just replies with "It was the Eighties!"
- In a Doctor Who Magazine interview about costume design, Tom Baker summarised an imaginary scene of his Doctor shaving, getting dressed, pulling one of the Third Doctor's frilly shirts off the rack, looking at it for a second, and then tossing it to the floor in total disgust. Coincidentally, this is quite similar to a scene in the Target novelisation of the Fourth Doctor's regeneration story, "Robot", where the Doctor has just woken up out of a post-regeneration coma to find UNIT has prepared a change of clothes for him ("a velvet jacket, checked trousers, and a frilly shirt") which he refuses to wear, commenting in his internal monologue that they are far too fancy - "What sort of a chap would go around dressed up like that?".
- Death from Family Guy dressed horribly in The Seventies, as seen in the picture.
- Many people in flashbacks in The Simpsons, but particularly Dr. Hibbert (who had an afro when Bart was born, beaded cornrows when Lisa was born, and a Mr. T-style mohawk when Maggie was born)
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Call of the Cutie," Cheerilee shows a class of young ponies a picture of herself when she got her cutie mark, and her 80s clothes and hair gets a laugh.
"Yes, I know, but honestly, that's how everypony was wearing their mane back then."
- Doubly hilarious, because some prior My Little Ponies actually looked like that. Bonus points: Cheerilee is one of the few characters directly named after an existing pony.
- The Mayor on The Fairly OddParents was blackmailed by Vicky with pictures of him from the 70s. Even though he still succumbs to the blackmail, he makes a strong claim that it was fashionable back then.
- Done in an episode of Birdz, with Mr and mrs Storkowitz (Mr. Storkowitz is far more embarassed).
- An episode of Code Lyoko involves Odd publishing in the newpaper an old picture of Yumi dressed in a ridiculous pink fairy costume for a party (in her defense, she was forced to dress like that by her parents). Yumi is not amused.
- In another episode, Odd and Yumi switch bodies following a materialization bug. While at Yumi's house, Odd finds colourful provocative clothes and decided to dress in it, much to Yumi's embarrassment.
- In the Disney Hercules series finale, Hercules gets a hold of Meg's yearbook which we don't get to see...
Hercules: Look at your hair!
Meg: That was the style of the time!
- Parodied in Clerks where Dante and Randall get locked in a freezer, and remember the first time they met each other at the Quick Stop, with Randall commenting on how he still can't believe how they looked back in the day. The flashback clearly takes place in The Eighties so you'd expect them to be wearing some ridiculous 80's clothes, but they're dressed exactly the same as they are in the present day.
- Dave Barry has noted that he distinctly remembers looking normal in high school, and was horrified to see that his yearbook photo shows a very stereotypical nerd.