The '90s was an amazing decade to grow up in, sartorial wise. It was full of electric colors, crazy patterns, comfy clothes, and wild accessories. But there were some things I wish I'd known about fashion in the '90s so I could have taken better advantage of all the bold trends and quirky clothes. I grew up with the usual staples: Stirrup pants for roughhousing, overalls for play dates, windbreakers for fall afternoons, and light-up shoes for gym class. But while it seemed like my mom did a great job getting all my fashion essentials stocked in my wardrobe, I didn't necessarily know the cooler, big-kid trends.
For example, how was I supposed to know a scrunchie looked coolest in a side ponytail, and not a regular ponytail? Or that plaid shirts weren't just cleaning clothes but a sartorial marvel? Or that those chokers in vending machines were more of a fashion statement than any Hanson t-shirt. Lucky for me, the '90s are having a comeback this year, so I can atone for all my past mistakes. Yay for second chances! But in that vein, here are all the things I wish I knew about fashion in the '90s — learn from my blunders.
1. Mood Rings Don't Actually Tell Your Mood
Be Wild Brand Mod Ring, $6.50, Amazon
All those times I went into a placebo-effect-inspired sulk or pinched my brother because the ring said I was mad were so unnecessary. But when you're a kid these things seem to be powered with infallible science, so what could you do?
2. Your Overalls Were Meant To Be Worn Unbuttoned
God, I was such a square. I strolled the sidewalks of the playground with both straps firmly buckled, like I was about to rat someone's candy stash to their mother. I had no idea one of the buckles were supposed to be unhitched a la Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Someone cooler and in junior high should have had the decency to stop me and tell me what was what.
3. Neon Windbreakers Are Actually Fly
I'd resist so much when my mom would try to zip up that Saved by the Bell inspired windbreaker on my wiggling body. I wanted to wear my Donald Duck coat, not that silly, madly colored patchwork jacket. Little did I know my mom was just trying to make me fly and I was derailing a good thing.
4. My Aunt's Knitted Sweaters Were Actually So Grunge
Arizona Striped Pullover Sweater, $7.00, JC Penny
My Slavic aunt would send me striped knitted sweaters from Poland about every year around Christmas (I had my own personal Mrs. Weasley, guys,) and I'd refuse to wear them because they were so itchy. But with their wide stripes and dark color combos, they were actually pretty Kurt Cobain inspired, making me miss on a great sartorial opportunity.
5. Graphic Tees Needed An Extra Layer
Back to that grunge aesthetic, it wasn't enough to just wear a Princess Belle graphic tee. That sartorial look required an unbuttoned collared shirt on top of it to look right.
6. Popcorn Shirts Could Have Doubled As Doll Wear
Short Sleeve Popcorn Shirt Hot Pink, $9.95, popcornshirtwholesale.com
How did I not put those puzzle pieces together?! Here me and my bears could have shared a closet and swapped clothes, and I just let that opportunity float away.
7. I Should Have Kept All My Babydoll Dresses
Sure, at 27 the majority of those babydoll dresses would be butt-grazing at length now, but that's the way I like to wear them. Instead I went through an "I'm not a baby anymore" phase and dumped all my dresses in favor of stirrup pants and baggy jeans. Those frocks would have been like a '90s goldmine now.
8. I Should Have Begged Harder For Those Jelly Shoes
My mom refused to buy me jelly shoes because of the blister logistics, much to my deep devastation. But if I knew they'd still be trending 15 years later, I would have had a stronger case on the timeless quality of those painful, sparkly shoes.
9. Spend Less On Butterfly Hair Clips
Glitter Rainbow Ombre Butterfly Clips, $5.50, Claires
I must have pulled hundreds of dollars out of my mom for my butterfly hair clip collection. All of that could have gone into my college fund instead. Convinced that the trend would stick with me till old age (because who gets sick of butterfly wings?!) I conned her into buying me pair after pair with my adorable girlish smile. Or when that didn't work, a bratty meltdown in the car.
10. I Could Have Worn Sweaters Around My Waist
Instead of dumping my sweatshirt at my mom's feet by the jungle gym, I could have easily wrapped it around my waist for a cool-kid, grunge look. Like even Ashley from Fresh Prince was doing it. To think I had so little foresight back then.
11. Crushed Velvet Shouldn't Only Be Worn During Christmas
It was more of an "all year long" fabric, even during the sweltering Julys of a Midwestern summer. It could be used in sassy skater or babydoll dresses, maxi skirts, chokers, or wide headbands. I somehow never received that memo — was it never in a Delia's catalog? How did I miss this?
While I might have missed a lot the first time around, at least I now have a second chance to remedy that today!
Images: Tonight Show (1); JC Penny (1); Jukebox (1); ABC (2); WB (2); Clarie's (1); Popcorn Shirt Wholesale (1); Amazon (1)