Your preteen years are supposed to be sartorially awkward and full of many cringe-worthy moments. Moments that were (of course) documented extensively with disposable cameras and family albums. There were some honestly weird '90s trends many of us wore in grade school and junior high, making me question why teenage-focused designers hate the youth so much. Surely the majority of the things they put out (and that we gobbled up) were some kind of sick joke?
From camouflage maxi skirts to head-to-toe neon outfits, the '90s brought us some doozies when it came to outfits. While our cooler 20-something counterparts were rocking Perry Ellis-inspired grunge and Kelly Kapowski two-piece sets, we were stuck with fishing hats and tattoo chokers. Not exactly what you call Vogue-ready.
But with some of those more tragic outfits, one thing is for certain: It really is fun to look back and laugh through the cringes. Like, I'm pretty sure this is how our parents' feel as they glimpse back at the Dynasty-teased hair and linebacker shoulder pads of the '80s. So let's take stock of everything we did wrong over a decade ago. Below are 11 of the weirdest '90s trends we wore as kids. Ya live and ya learn.
1. The Cargo Maxi Skirt
As if cargo pants weren't bad enough on their own, we decided to replicate the abomination in the form of a swishy, zipper-heavy skirt. The only way to wear this was with sneakers, thermal shirts, and cotton tees, pulling off a skater-centric slash snowboarder-like vibe.
2. Shrunken Hoodies
These bad boys have had multiple comebacks over the past couple of years, but I never understood the appeal of them (even if I myself owned them). You either had to hang out with your friends at the local Pizza Hut with your abs out, or you had to make some awkward layering formula whereby you covered up with a tank, making you look like you borrowed your dog's hoodie. Like, wut?
Polos, Bermuda pants, sneakers, and square-shaped reading glasses: The ultimate starter pack for the accountant on a road trip to Columbus, Ohio. Because that's just what we loved to wear when it was time to unwind.
4. Cargo Pants
If we had cargo skirts, then you better believe we had cargo pants — and the bigger, baggier, and the more swish-inducing, the better.
5. Denim Flower Bucket Hats
These just about made the rounds in every '90s girls' closets, but in hindsight they really didn't make any sartorial sense. It was like an old lady hat... made out of denim... with the brim pinned back with a flower. It shouldn't have worked, but it did.
6. Bell Bottom Sleeves
This girl in the catalog looks rightfully confused as she's staring down at her sleeves. Bell bottoms were no longer only for pants — your shirts could enjoy the same ventilating goodness as hippie pants. As well as snag on every corner, nail, and door knob known to existence.
7. Color Coded Outfits
Did you have a purple shirt? PERFECT — now back it up with a purple hat, purple sneakers, and maybe a backpack featuring purple geometric shapes if you could swing it. The '90s were all about color coding those outfits.
8. Clear Strapped Platform Flip Flops
From far away, it looked like you were sliding along on giant foam blocks. But upon closer inspection, it became evident that you just had really weird flip flops on. Why? Why did we do this? Who at Delia's hated us?
9. Fishing Hats
That's right — the hat your dad wore to protect his bald head while fishing had a sartorial moment in the '90s. Which meant two things: Your dad was smug that he was ~stylish~ and you didn't have to go out and spend your allowance money when you could just steal his steez off of the laundry room peg.
10. Neon Hues
The mission was to resemble a highlighter as closely as possible, and a lot of us achieved our operative. We looked like 7-year-old raver kids, and we were totes OK with that. Meet you at the Skrillex stage over by the slide? Kewl.
11. Colored Lenses
Shaped like hot dogs and coming in hues of medicine-orange, crisp-blue, and baby-pink, wearing sunnies that did almost nothing to protect your eyes was so cool. I collected just about every color because I apparently had nothing better to spend my money on.
Whether you owned platform flip flops or indulged in the cargo maxi trend, the good news is that our mistakes are in the past. Let's learn from them, and move on. (Far, far away.)
Images: Delia's (6); WGN (2); Seventeen (1); Paramount Television (1)