I’ve been been working on that whole ‘healing your inner child’ (or in my case, the inner pre-teen) thing and I’ve reached a point where the unadulterated fury and contempt I used to feel for 11-year-old me has evolved into more of a tight-lipped toleration which, at times could seem to resemble some form of sympathy or even understanding. Images of pre-teen Imogens in their oh-so-2013 bowler hats, moustache earrings, cat-decaled sleeveless collared shirts and ballet flats, no longer send me into fits of cringing rage, but rather, elicit a weak smile. With this growing acceptance that maybe my past self isn’t the villain I’ve made her out to be, and that perhaps the 19-year old and 11-year old ‘me’s are just as bad as each other when it comes to being insufferable attention-seeking little brats, I’ve began to allow small symbols of 2010s nostalgia to creep slowly back into my life. I’ve indulged in some whiny pop-rock, ‘ironically’ used the Valencia filter on the recent ‘gram, and, in a moment of weakness- nay, I proclaim, self-actualisation- did a cheeky google search for some marked-down Repetto Camille ballet pumps. Over the past few weeks however, pushed along by a series of browse-heavy shopping trips and mindless Asos scrolling hours, my harmless forays into preteen nostalgia have evolved into something more dangerous: a discovery of the resurgence of the 2010s gossip-girl-esque, boho-twee hybrid, high-waisted minidress, and a realisation that I’m not nearly as offended by it as I may have once been.
I feel the need first to clarify what it is I mean by ‘the 2010s gossip-girl-esque, boho-twee hybrid high-waisted minidress’ for the uninitiated. For those who didn’t spend as much time on Polyvore in 2013 as I did, I’ve detailed a list of some of its most iconic features in pop culture:
Gossip Girl’s Blair’s Oscar de la Renta S/S 2010 peach chiffon dress, complete with halter neck, empire waistline and ornamented built-in-belt featured in the 2011 Season 4 Premiere.
Certified twee queen Zooey Deschanel’s 2010 baby blue fit-and-flare cocktail dress.
Zooey’s indie-sleaze Brit counterpart, Alexa Chung’s 2013 Valentino Resort satin and lace, bow-belted lime-jelly nightmare.
Emma Roberts’ teal scalloped-hemmed glitter minidress (styled with Adidas Superstars, naturally), for 2016’s Nerve.
Some pretty clear trends going on here. The minidress of the early to mid-2010s is colourful, textured, belted, and vintage-inspired. It originated on the circa-2010 runways of Erin Fetherson, Anna Sui, Alice + Olivia, Luella, Valentino, and Saint Laurent in quite dramatically different styles, reflecting distinctly the varying twee, boho, and grunge influences imbedded into the different house’s brand identities. Inevitably, however, the transportation of these runway pieces onto the shelves of mix-luxury and high street retailers resulted in the vague conglomeration of distinct stylistic motifs (Saint Laurent’s collars, bows, and buttons; Anna Sui’s glitter and lace, and mix of empire and dropped waists, for example) and the disappearance of the ornamentation and rich textural fabrics, like satin and taffeta, that make the pieces stand out.
The dresses produced from this transformation reflect clearly this sense of a stylistic crisis. Old Zoella Primark hauls or ‘Get the Look for Less’ blogs and magazines feature bright, polka-dotted or ambiguously floral minidresses with those weird built-in belts that sit on top of the waist, fake collars, and the occasional misplaced scalloped or laced hem. They had an absolute chokehold on tweens globally, myself included. I hate this fact, of course- the dresses are ugly, no ifs or buts about it. However, upon close examination of the style’s 2022 high street resurgence, I hesitantly believe we may have got it right this time around.
In retrospect, the return of the dress was unavoidable given the 60s and 70s revivals that had inspired the 2010s twee and boho trends in the first place. Rumblings warning of the dress’s return could be heard from the beginnings of the decade from the runways of Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent and Anna Sui (again), with 60s-inspired silhouettes, a collar revival, and rich fabrics. Key to the innovativeness of the 2020s revival, however, is in the looks’ creative layering and accessorising. This attention to styling has been carried through to the high street, along with modernised muted colour palettes, a commitment to consistent fit, and a rejection of polyester. Though not priced as attractively as those 2014 Primark and Boohoo dresses mentioned earlier, they’re high street nonetheless, and potentially pretty cute NYE options. Feminine, playful, and eye-catching, the 2010s minidress has returned with a vengeance: