Sure, you have a best friend today, but back in '90s and early 2000s, best friends were a lifestyle. When you weren't busy having weird secret sexual feelings for Disney Channel actors or carefully writing Blink-182 lyrics on your backpack in Whiteout pen, you were hanging out with your BFF: making up dance routines, pledging eternal devotion to each other, and coating any item within grabbing distance with glitter glue. It was, in a word, "fetch."
But even all those fun after-school afternoons created a dilemma: what was the best way to share the glory of your friendship with the world at large? How could you easily convey that you were super special to each other when you were together? How could you prove that you actually had a best friend when you were apart? Thankfully, in the '90s, a world of best friend gear arrived to solve all your friendship-related fashion woes.
After woven friendship bracelets became popular in the '80s, the door was opened for a plethora of other products — from rub-on tattoos to picture frames — designed to show everyone that someone besides your mom liked you. And even though you probably no longer lead a life conducive to wearing "best friend" stick-on nails, let's be honest: you totally wish you did.
So grab your BFFL, set your nostalgia machines for the era when J-Lo was on top and it was totally acceptable to wear a shirt with only one sleeve, and come explore the best of late '90s and early 2000s best friend accessories.
The standard-bearer for all best friend swag that came after it, the friendship bracelet instantly told onlookers that you had a friend who liked you enough to spend a whole afternoon and about 40 yards of embroidery thread on you. The day that friendship bracelet finally fell off was a tragedy — although it was also a cause for celebration, because it meant whatever wish you'd made when you tied it on would now come true. (I mean, I'm still waiting for my phone call from the guy who played Spike on Buffy, but maybe it worked for you.)
A crafty homemade bracelet wasn't always enough to express the depths of your friendship. Sometimes, the intensity of your connection could only be made clear via an adjustable BFF mood bracelet from Claire's. These bracelets had a few advantages over the traditional friendship bracelet: 1. They made it clear to any interested parties that you had an actual BFF, not just a "friend"; 2. They told your mood based on, uh, the temperature of your wrist, thus allowing you and your BFF to have smoother emotional interactions; 3. They were removable, so they didn't get all soaked through every time you swam or took a shower.
Friendship isn't just about adorning yourself with accessories! It's also about moments, like the moment you and your BFF decided to only wear the same flavor Lip Smacker as a sign of unity. (And then both got mono.)
Why stop with best friend bracelets designed for everyday wear? What about best friend bracelets that were also games? The best friend slap bracelet simultaneously reminded you that you had a soul sister and helped you kill time on the bus. And that rumor that they could break open and cut your arm gave the whole affair a thrilling hint of danger.
But what if someone forgot to look at your wrist??! They could go through life thinking that you're a lonely loser, never knowing your true BFF sitch. That's why it was important to pair all those friendship bracelets with this friendship necklace. (Extra points for broken heart BFF necklaces.)
You didn't need a lanyard key chain — what 11 year old had enough keys to necessitate owning a key chain? — but still, you appreciated what a lanyard stood for, even though you could never think of anything to do with it. See also: crocheted pot holders.
There was no reason to risk having people enter your home and mistakenly think that you had no best friend, just a few friends that you medium liked. You had a best friend, and your Aunt Sara/your piano teacher/the women in your mom's investment club better recognize!
Barrettes like these helped secure your French braid and solidify your friendship. Why aren't there any adult hair products that help you perform important social tasks?
Your mom said you were too young for pierced ears, and honestly, what are you even supposed to do with those pierced best friend earrings that look like a best friends heart necklace? Shove your ears together? Better to show your friendship by graciously giving your bestie the best stick-on earrings in the packet.
And your fingers! You can't leave your fingers out of the friendship equation! Luckily, you could remedy that with a set of yin-yang stackable friendship rings, which also added a much-needed air of spiritual enlightenment to your friendship.
Finally, a way to celebrate your friendship, and totally irritate your mom, at the same time.
Put these babies on together, and dream of a glorious adult life where you'll be cool big city roommates, and able to afford fake nails that don't fall off the second you try to eat a pizza roll.
Gelly Roll Pens
Glitter Gelly Roll pens were the ideal tool for writing all your best friends' names on your binder, decorating collages for each other, or playing "hangman" (the answer was "Baby Spice").
Lisa Frank Stickers
After years of only glorifying friendly pandas and prissy-seeming unicorns, Lisa Frank finally made some stickers celebrating the most magical thing in the world: friendship. Also: psychedelic bumble bees.
Candy Poem Cards
All those Gelly Roll pens and Lisa Frank stickers are, of course, merely means to a friendship end — the best tools to help create a masterpiece like this.