Come Christmas or birthdays, there were certain fashion presents from the '90s and early 2000s that most of us wanted. Seriously, there was a very particular formula for achieving Cool Girl Status during those hallway-cruising times, and the majority revolved around '90s and '00s trends and fads that either moved quicker than water or mirrored music videos.
Fashion gods were Cher Horowitz and Lauren Conrad, and many of us swung from absolutely needing knee highs and Dr. Pepper lip balm to following in Britney Spears' footsteps and getting low rise flair jeans and velour short shorts. When it came to presents, we made sure to cash in so that we could restock our wardrobes accordingly. The fashion scene was always changing, but what with our obsession with MTV and J-14 Magazine, we always knew how to keep up.
One day it was chunky Sketchers that got you noticed by the cool table at lunch, but another it was the slip-on Birks that would get people's attention in the hallways. Below are nine fashion presents so many of us wanted back in our middle school days in the '90s and early '00s. No matter how rad Lauren Conrad and Cher were back then, let's just say I'm super happy those days are behind us.
1. Rubber Bracelets
Jelly Bracelets, $1.19, amazon.com
This was more of a "stocking stuffer" than the main event. All the girls I knew had them, and the more bracelets you had creeping up your arm, the cooler you were. To solidify your friendship, you and your clique would've traded bracelets and rotated around colors, bonding you forever.
2. Bucket Hats
The "Original Galaxy" Buckets by KB ETHOS, $10.99, amazon.com
I know: It was a confusing time. We didn't know all the fashion options out there, so somehow we landed on the ever-cool bucket hat to grace our heads. We thought we looked like hip hop queens, when in reality we looked like we were about to go join gramps for some fly fishing. Bonus points if your bucket hat didn't have a top to it. That was some real sartorial magic right there.
3. Plaid Skirts
Thank you Cher Horowitz and the whole Clueless clan for inspiring this gotta-own junior high trend. Everyone wanted to be a pom pom pen-touting, convertible-driving future high schooler, but since the majority of us didn't know how to even begin to wear high heels and feather boas, the plaid skirt was the most realistic option.
4. Anything With "Best Friends" Stamped Across It
Best Friends Forever BFF Split Heart Pendant Necklace, $8.99, amazon.com
How else were you supposed to know who your best friend was? You needed one of those friendship necklaces in order to gift it to one of your soul sisters, and then demand it back when you got into a fight. Either way, it was like the Tiffany's charm bracelet for middle schoolers: A total must-have.
5. Mohair Sweaters
Again, Cher Horowitz inspired our wardrobes with her adorable cropped mohair sweaters gracing the tops of plaid mini skirts, coming together to make the ultimate prep outfit. If you rolled up into school wearing this look, the world slowed down and let you do a wind-in-the-hair strut while everyone stopped and gaped. You were the definition of cool.
6. A Fly Pair Of Sketchers
Skechers Sport Women's Energy Sneaker, $39-$60, amazon.com
While today they might be reminiscent of cheesy butt-firming shoes, back in the day they were what you wore to grade school if you wanted to be known as "hip." With their chunky soles and semi off-white color, they went perfectly with your baggy jeans and non-nonchalant sweatshirt. Urban cool.
7. Low Rise Flared Jeans
When we hit high school in the 2000s, jeans became a no brainer. The only right way to wear them was low rise, distressed, and slightly flared, á la the Laguna Beach kids. If you had something baggier, you probs looked like you were wearing hand-me-downs, and if you wore something more tailored, you'd look like you were somebody's mom. It was ripped and tight, or nothing.
8. Birkenstock Slip-Ons
Birkenstock Women's Boston Clog, $67.99, amazon.com
Our fantasy of the cool girl in high school has changed since the Cher days, replaced by a more laid-back, Coach bag-grasping, Birkenstock-and-ankle-sock-wearing girl. If your parents got you a pricey pair of Birks for Christmas, you pretty much knew you were going to be reaping the benefits the first week back at school.
9. Velour Sweatsuits
Though the majority of high schoolers had a velour set with "Juicy" emblazoned across the toosh, the really cool pairs were the short short sets. Nothing says hip like wearing a sweatpant fashioned into thigh-grazing shorts with a matching zip-up, especially if you paired it with a pair of Reeboks or (if you were in the suburbs) Uggs.
Clearly, the '90s and early 2000s were an interesting time for fashion.
Images: Paramount Pictures (2); Courtesy Brands; JenniferLopezVEVO/YouTube