Even though I am a child of the 90s, I was never all that comfortable with ironic dressing (obviously I mean the tongue-in-cheek donning of the granddad suits and polyester shirts that were popular at the time, rather than a bottle of mayo with a dry wit).
It was – I suppose – the hallmark of British style during that decade, but I never quite took it up. My instinct has always been that it's better and braver to try to be a thing rather than defining yourself by what you're not. I hope that doesn't sound too faux-noble. The reality is anything but, as you obviously have to work out an actual thing of your own, which inevitably involves mistakes (many, many mistakes; some with photographs) along the way.
I hadn't given ironic aesthetics a lot of thought since 2003, when the Darkness released their debut album Permission to Land in a blizzard of highlights, catsuits and Van Halenesque axe-smithery and it seemed briefly important whether they actually meant it. Shortly after this – before anyone established the band's motivation for sure – the internet got fast and distracting, and I forgot to find out.
Recently, however, I was prompted to reappraise irony's contribution to British style. First by Alexis Petridis's Brits review (which – dispiritingly – identified earnestness as the calling card of modern pop. I'm not one for nostalgia, but this observation and the event in general really made me miss Jarvis Cocker's arse. It could have contributed a lot). Then I had a conversation with a fashion-editor friend, who explained the idea of "unfashion". Apparently the industry is up in arms about the phenomenon, which illustrates Hegel's master-slave dialectic, but with denim (they keep telling us to stop buying skinny jeans, we won't, and in the blogosphere "ordinary" voices drown theirs out, which – understandably – they find terrifying).
Petridis's thought made me realise that the generations below mine have moved on from irony (although laboured authenticity is almost always less engaging and less authentic, ironically enough). Unfashion is their movement: irony's heir after it danced itself to death Red Shoes-style in a crescendo of revivals, ambiguity and winking.
Where was I? Oh yes, clothes. As befits a democratic phenomenon, unfashion is everywhere, from the wearable cool of Vanessa Bruno to the played-down prettiness of Paul & Joe. And my new favourite shop & Other Stories, which is full of subtle, wearable, not-too-pricey (but not-too-cheap), low-turnover pieces to cherish. Like these.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenLaverne
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010