The '90s Shoes You Wanted To Wear Versus What Your Parents Made You Wear — PHOTOS

While parents might often have a habit of dismissing it, kid fashion is super cutthroat. That's why there was such a tug-of-war when it came to '90s shoes we wanted to wear versus what our parents made us wear. Even though you were young back then, you probably already knew what was cool and what would send you into social exile. After hours of watching the most popular sitcoms, flipping through tween magazines, and taping pop culture icons to your wall, you possessed a strict sense of what was in vogue circa grade school.

But it also just so happened that what was cool was on your parents' hit list. Anything that might give you just a dash of street cred was likely to be shot down, while a horrifying alternative was pushed on you instead.

Oh, you wanted light-up shoes? How about these orthopedic clogs as a second choice? Did you just ask for foam platform flip-flops? Oh, that's a cute idea. But I think we're going to go with the nanny-esque option, Mr. Shoe Salesman. Jelly shoes are so hot right now? Perfect, you'll put on these Mary Jane's.

Life was cruel. So let's look back on all of these injustices and reminisce on the ways our parents screwed us over. Below are 11 '90s shoes you wanted to wear versus the shoes your 'rents made you wear.

Shoes We Wanted To Wear:

1. Light-Up Sneakers

Skechers Street Lightz, $42, Kohls

There was nothing cooler than tearing across the gym floor with your Power Ranger-esque sneakers flashing like lightning every time you slapped the floor. If you had a pair of these babies, you'd be able to strut across the playground with the kind of confidence that was earmarked for the elite.

2. Heelys

The appeal of these was simple: You never had to walk again. You had evolved past that.

3. Jelly Shoes

Forget the intensely sweaty feet come heat waves or the debilitating blisters. We learned to suffer for our #fashun at an early age, and it was worth it if you could wear glittery shoes to school.

4. Skechers

There was a ranking system when it came to gym shoes back then: Skechers were on top, followed by Reebok and K-Swiss kicks, with Sambas coming up the rear. If you had a pair of Skechers, you were in. If you had a pair of no-brand orthopedic running shoes your Slavic mother bought on the clearance rack at Value City... I hope you were prepared to eat lunch on the toilet. I still haven't gotten over that. Thanks, mom.

5. Spice Girl Platforms


If you had Spice Girls binders, erasers, pencils, and book bags (and ate gross Spice Girl lollipops and had four calendars pinned on each wall of your room), then chances are you wanted to dress like them. While midriff-baring tops and bell bottom pants that seemed to be made out of Fruit Roll-Ups were out, a kid could at least ask for platforms, right? Was that too much to hope for?

6. Steve Madden Shoes

These ads were inside every J-14 and Seventeen magazine and made us want our own pair of leather platform shoes. We paid no mind to the fact that we wouldn't be able to walk in them without twisting an ankle. They just looked so grownup and cool. Kind of like the pair your chic babysitter or your older sister rocked.

And Then The Shoes Our Parents Wanted Us To Wear:

7. Merrell Shoes

Jungle Moc Nubuck Kids, $32, Shoes

Because mom couldn't bother teaching you how to tie your shoes.

8. Mary Jane's

Mary Jane's, $31, Etsy

Nothing says "can you stay my baby forever?" more than a pair of Mary Jane's being forced upon you.

9. These Sturdy Sandals

'90s Rugged Brown Sandals, $34, Wanelo

Also known as the "road trip" sandals, because every time your parents bundled you into the car to take you to Niagara Falls or Tennessee, the whole family seemed to be sporting the same questionable kicks.

10. These School Shoes

Steve Madden Shoes, $50, Etsy

They might have been Steve Madden, but the aesthetic was all wrong. Where was the platform? I repeat: Where was the proper platform heel? Ugh, these were like the subdued pair given to your lame younger sister.

11. And These Sandals

Kids Hurricane 3, $32, Zappos

Worn by science project nerds and math teachers on summer break, chances are you hissed every time your mom tried to make you wear these come the summer.

There's always an imbalance when it comes to what kids want to wear and what parents want them to wear, thus creating a vicious battle between the cool and the lame. But at least we're all grown now and can buy our own fabulous pairs of kicks. To the parents who still pay for our phone plans and pass us grocery money: You have no power here anymore.

Images: Courtesy Brands; Heelys (1); Skechers (1); Steve Madden (1)