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What We Shouldn’t Have Worn... But Did

Turns out you're probably wearing most of the apparent fashion faux-pas in Catherine Horwood's 2004 book.

Charity shop rummaging is really never that fruitful. But sometimes, amongst the piles of disgusting Primark playsuits and Monsoon skirts, you’ll come across a gem such as a book called Worst Fashions: What We Shouldn’t Have Worn… But Did. At first I thought all the 1970s retro pictures were ugly as hell, but then I noticed that this thing was published in 2004. What's more, pretty much everything on Catherine Horwood's list of fashion trends she thinks are ABSOLUTELY STUPID are smothering the limbs, feet and torsos of young people in London right now. (Apart from the bum bags. I don't really know what they're for.)


When we tracked her down to ask her where she gets her seer-like prescience, she said, "I have a background in fashion history and I was a child of the 1960s, so it wasn't difficult. While it was written tongue-in-cheek, it also involved a lot of research into fabric developments in particular and I think that's valuable research for anyone interested in fashion trends. Many of these 'innovations' have hit the dust now and might be forgotten if it wasn't for this book."

Hmm, IDK, I don't think anyone's gonna forget about Dr. Martens any time soon. Which is probably why, these days, Catherine is well-known for writing about gardening. Seeing as how everything she trashes comes straight back into fashion, though, we asked her if there were any trends since she'd written the book that she'd add to her fashion sin bin: "I do regret not including the boys' fashion for wearing trousers so low slung they look as though they've pooped themselves." There you go.

Below are some of Catherine’s fashion trends which you apparently you shouldn't have worn, but almost certainly did at some point in the last half-decade.


Dr. Martens – "Will Dr. Martens ever reclaim their place as sub-cultural icons? Every Doc has its day, and it seems as if this medical masterpiece has had its."

Brothel Creepers – "How low can you get?"


"Worst Women’s Fashion Look of the 1990s: Looking like the bark on a peeling plane tree was not, and never should be, high fashion."



"…the chav’s jacket of choice. It turns even the skinniest body into a Michelin man."


"What could be better than tying knots in a white t-shirt and then dipping it in different dyes so it came out looking like all the colours of the rainbow? Well, pretty well anything unless you really relished looking like a primary school project."

PARKA & BARBOUR JACKETS Parkas –"Fake fur, shinier fabrics, knitted cuffs and more bum-freezer styling produced one of the least flattering jackets any man could hope to wear."

Barbour jackets – "Best-forgotten Fashions: Only for a Countryside Alliance march."


"[A] paisley jacket is more suited to the bathroom than the beach."


"Unsurprisingly, the teddy bear look never caught on."


“Wearing your bum bag at the back really did make your bum look big, so bum bags became tum bags and a slow-slung tum at that. Nowadays the only excuse to wear one is when you are running a stall at a car boot or jumble sale."


"This is one fashion that was never going to look retro-cool, even in an ironic way. Hang your head in shame."


"To wear loud patterns in the cold light of day without the slightest hint of irony was inexcusable. Fashion fabric madness?"