When it comes to clothing, the word "vintage" covers a wide spectrum of personal definitions. For sticklers, it's a term to describe everything that falls between a flapper dress and a hippy-chick maxi – garments produced between 1920 and 1980. For others, it's just a more poetic way of referring to a belt they've pilfered from their mother's wardrobe.
But even those of us without strong beliefs on the classification of second-hand clobber would probably find it a touch previous to start referring to the 1990s as a "vintage era". Not so at London emporium Selfridges, which tomorrow opens a concept store dedicated to all things 1990s, from fashion to music, make-up to film.
"The nineties were a seminal time for Selfridges and our shoppers," explains the store's "head of creative" Linda Hewson, and from a commercial perspective, she's spot-on. The 1990s were, after all, the heyday of the global brand (I seem to remember spending a lot of time specifying "Nike" or "Levi's" on my youthful wish-lists during that decade), so it's understandable that the retail world might look back on the period rather fondly.
However, anyone, including myself, who spent the best part of the decade as a teenager might not be exactly brimming with nostalgia. In fact, my instinctive reaction to this – and to the general revival of fashions associated with that period, which has been going on for some time now – is one of horror. Cut-off denim, lycra bodies, oversized plaid shirts, Dr Martens – all have been embraced by trendies and Topshoppers alike.
It's not an aesthetic objection. It's more that it is all far too closely bound up with memories of teendom and that period of never getting it quite right on the sartorial front. When pocket money and parental shopping trips are limiting factors, style nirvana recedes even further into the distance, and the default teen disposition is quick to criticise everything, not least the self.
I note with a particular shudder that MAC make-up artists will be on hand in Selfridges with one of the brand's iconic 1990s products: "spice" lip liner. Since I spent the best part of the noughties in beauty rehab, weaning myself off the lip liner in question – rather too generously applied pre-2000, presumably in homage to Victoria Beckham (inset, far left), who also seems to have had trouble kicking the habit – I think it best I steer clear.
Most people complain that seeing the fashions of their younger years come around again makes them feel old. Me? I just feel painfully, awkwardly young again.