Setting fashion trends for decades to come

I am a major trend setter when it comes to fashion. I’m guessing you probably didn’t know that about me. In all truthfulness, I didn’t know it of myself.
I confirmed it, however, this weekend while shopping and people watching around Atlanta. So many were wearing clothes, and clothing styles I styled previously. By previously, I mean 30 to 40 years ago.
That is a slight catch in building my fashion empire. My trends tend to take a few decades to catch on.
My wife Lisa and I made our annual trek to Buckhead, just north of Atlanta, to celebrate our wedding anniversary and a quiet weekend, which have been few and far between.

Joel McNeece

We started making the drive to Atlanta years ago because it’s a relatively easy drive, Buckhead is home to our favorite steakhouse Bone’s, and nearly all of our favorite stores are located within walking distance of the Lenox Square area.

It was while shopping around Lenox Square that I noticed the majority of clientele in the area were swearing sweat pants. They were nice sweat pants, but they were sweats. This wasn’t people dressing down to go hit the mall. They were dressing up – with sweats.

Let’s just say a few decades ago, I recall begging my mom to let me wear sweat pants to school. A good pair of sweats with a matching hoodie or jacket was as cool as it got. She always told me “no, put your jeans on.” Same response when I begged to wear my athletic shoes to school. People wear athletic shoes everywhere today. Far beyond mom’s purview I rotate sneakers into my work attire on a weekly basis. Obviously, Mom just wasn’t clued in on my fashion genius.

Those in Atlanta not wearing sweats, were wearing khakis or jeans with a familiar twist – they were all gathered at the ankle. Again, that’s an old trick for this style-setter.
I started my school years in bell bottoms – big, wide bell bottoms. I would get my exercise at night by trying to pull apart the leg opening at the bottom of all my jeans to stretch the “bell” as wide as possible. The goal was to get them so they completely engulfed my shoes.

Emphasizing my fashion pedigree, us trend setters tend to take the modern style in a complete opposite direction over time. Over the course of my school years I went from flared out jeans to creasing them over and rolling them up on the bottom so they were gathered at the ankle.
Lisa and I were eating brunch at West Egg Cafe Sunday in Midtown Atlanta when I pointed out a couple sitting near us mimicking my style, unwittingly perhaps, from many years ago.

The absolute exclamation point, however, on this fashion revelation was basically finding my middle drawer from junior high prominently displayed in almost every sporting goods and department store.
One of my most favorite shirts when I was a kid was a black Adidas t-shirt. It had the patented three white stripes down each shoulder and the big three-leaf logo prominent on the front of the shirt. I wore that shirt until the black was more of a gray and it one day disappeared. I bet I know the culprit behind that.

Saturday, I spotted that exact shirt, even looking somewhat worn already, marked $45. I guarantee you my mom didn’t pay $45 for that shirt I wore out. What might it be worth today?
Mesh baseball caps –yeah I was working that look long before it was cool. I must admit we hated them when I was young. We wanted a real hat like the pros wear, not this mesh stuff. The mesh hats were everywhere in Atlanta and fetching a pretty penny I must say.

If only my mom had saved all my threads instead of hauling them to Goodwill or turning them into dust rags, I could open a high end clothing store today and be set for retirement. Instead, I’ll just have to settle for being a fashion icon, sort of.
I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the call from GQ. But if you want to see what the fashion styles will be around 2040-2050, I’ll be happy to give you a tour of my closet.