Side-Part Hair, Don’t Care: Thoughts on the Gen Z vs. Millennial Fashion Feud

I heard there is a fashion feud going on. Gen Z vs. Millennials.

Apparently using certain emojis, the way we do our hair, and the jeans we wear are very controversial these days. Who knew it would come to this? Not me. Okay, maybe me.

Maybe I did know. Because women of all ages can be mean. Especially women who aren’t as comfortable with who they are. And women who have conformed to certain beauty and fashion standards want to ensure they are still in the majority by speaking ill of those who are outside of their “group.”

So, I guess, no, I’m not surprised by this.


Image: A young woman during the Gen Z vs. Millennial Fashion Feud


I’m not also surprised this is a feud between Gen Z women and Millennial women. The men aren’t part of this, right? I haven’t seen anything about millennial men being pressured to change their hair or wear different jeans. I’ll let that sit with you for a moment. That is  messed up — the societal expectations related to beauty and fashion standards as it relates to gender. However, I’m not here to talk about that right now. That is another blog post for another day . . .  because I have feelings.

Here’s the deal. I turned 39 in February.

I’m the oldest of the Millennials. Born in February 1982, I am what you might consider a “cusper” — cuspers are born on the cusp of Gen X merging into the Millennial generation. I can relate to many characteristics and life experiences of Gen X and yet I also relate to Millennials in many ways. The oldest of the Gen Z folks would be 24 this year.

Let’s be clear — when I was 24 I thought anyone over the age of 35 was old despite the type of jeans they wore or the way they did their hair. They just seemed so . . . old . . . and grown-up. They had established careers. They often had spouses and children. They had bought a house . . . or maybe even moved out of their first house and bought their second house. Whoa. Real life grown-up stuff.

When I was 24 I was just trying to finish graduate school and keep my 1992 Chevy Lumina from breaking down before graduation.

I get it though. To those women in their early twenties I am old with a capital O. And guess what? I am completely okay with those women thinking that way about me because it’s all about perspective . . . and I felt the same way when I was their age.

But can we just be nice about it?

You want to know something humorous to me? The fashion trends of Gen Z were popular when my mom was 39 in the early 2000s. In the early 2000s do you want to know what was “in” with fashion? Denim. Velour tracksuits, tiny backpacks, and little sunglasses. Guess what I found when I searched “Gen Z fashion” on Google? Yes, I had to search on Google because I don’t pay attention to or care about this stuff, typically. All the articles about trends in Gen Z fashion stated things like denim, athletic leisure wear, tiny backpacks/fanny packs, and little sunglasses!

Multiple articles stated that the fashion trends of the early 2000s were back. What goes around comes around ladies.

The things is, Gen Z doesn’t realize that all the millennial women are likely making fun of them for their fashion choices as well. The difference is that we do it behind a closed door with other Millennials over a glass of wine — and not on TikTok.

I have no intention of throwing out my skinny jeans, or doing my hair differently until I have made the personal decision to make a change. Additionally, my love of the “laughing until you cry” emoji is not going way anytime soon.

I have seen numerous friends make social media posts about how they are going to make changes because they don’t want Gen Z to view them as old. Don’t do it friends! Don’t listen to them! Just be you. Wear the jeans you want. Do your hair the way you like it. You want to side-part your golden curls? Do it. You want to perm those auburn locks, go for it.

Just do what you like.

Millennial mom friends, I hope you don’t feel the pressure to make changes to yourself or your fashion — or even your freaking emoji usage — as a result of snarky banter on social media.

Gen Z women, be careful what you say now, because the roles may reverse someday. In 20 years, some younger generation may be making fun of you for clothing yourself in athleisure wear and carrying tiny backpacks. You may be feeling pressure to part your hair to the side again or try on some skinny jeans.

As the old saying goes, as you sow, so shall you reap. Because we all know, for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.

Be nice.


 What do you think about the Gen Z vs. Millennial fashion feud?

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Linda, a Michigan native, moved to Iowa City in 2011. She is the Director of Women in Science and Engineering at the University of Iowa but enjoy summers off with her two children: Quinn (7) and Isaac (4). Linda has been married to Jacob for over ten years. Together, they enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (shhhh!), going on adventures both big and small, and playing board games (they have over 100!). Linda enjoys reality television and can often be found watching a Bachelor franchise show while curled up in her “mom chair” with her favorite quilt. Linda is often told she has two volumes ON and OFF. No matter the volume she uses, Linda is an “old soul” with a love for baking, embroidery, and old movies.

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