12 Extinct ’90s Fashion Trends, In Honor Of The Death Of Aeropostale

by Meghan Sara

A piece of our adolescence has died: popular mall retailer Aeropostale has officially filed for bankruptcy. All across this great nation, “preppies” are sinking to their knees in their relaxed-fit slim khakis and blowing their noses on their long-sleeved polo shirts. Though a Hollister may eventually fill that empty space in the mall between Payless Shoes and Pretzel Time, no one can fill the void in our hearts.

But we come to bury Aeropostale, not to praise him! In honor of our departed store, let’s dig up the fossils of yesteryear’s trends and pay homage to the extinct fashion trends of the 90s!

Before you say “Meghan, have you been using ZzzQuil recreationally again? ’90s fashions are totally coming back!” I will say, yes, SOME 90s fashions are coming back. But NOT THESE. How do I know? Cuz I went full Dr. Ellie Sattler and spent way too long excavating these fossils from the deepest reaches of the Internet. We’re talking Ebay deep. So cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of nostalgia! Here we go!

Velour mock turtleneck Etsy

The realest struggle of every 90s girl: trying to look cool in your velour mock turtleneck when you were just so hot. Literally. Stifling hot. That material DID NOT BREATHE, and why did we think it was a good idea to cover our entire prepubescent torsos with it? Two words: PIT STAINS. This grey version might be kinder to you in that department than my own eggshell-white version I wore proudly when they were in style for the first (and last) time. Alls I gotta say is, it takes a lot of Teen Spirit to pull off this look.

90s camisole lace tank ETSY

Every day was “pajama day” that year that lacy camisoles were in fashion! Boldly pushing the boundaries of those anti-“spaghetti straps” dress codes, these lacy, silky tops were all the rage among girls who were able to convince their parents that they weren’t underwear, they’re shirts, duh! As an adult looking back, I must now face the facts: we were totally wearing underwear as shirts. How did we not see it. What were we thinking? Hindsight.

MUDD bootcut jeans Ebay

All I wanted in seventh grade was a pair of MUDD jeans! The lower the rise, the higher your social status. They had to be tight-tight-tight-tight-tight and then WHOOSH! Big enough to cover your shoes and so long, they trailed on the ground! No, MOM, I DON’T want you to “hem them for me!” The trail of my MUDD jeans is the glory of my legacy!

HM chenille sweater 

Chenille sweaters weren’t so bad, honestly…until the third or fourth time you washed it, and the fuzz started falling out in large patches. “What is chenille?” the younger millennials cry. Imagine a pipe cleaner, without the wire. Now imagine it all over your body. Soft AF? Yes it was. You know, I’m feeling a bit wistful for chenille…which is good, because H&M (the buzzard circling our childhoods) is bringing chenille back with this cozy sweater which looks almost exactly like the one I loved to *literal* pieces back in eighth grade. LITERAL PIECES. Warning’s fair: those suckers FALL APART.

Glitter Jellies WITH THE HEEL on Surfdome 

Good news, everybody! Jelly shoes are still out there! The ones with GLITTER and a HEEL. I confess that these were the only heeled shoes I’ve ever been able to walk in. Just be warned that if you’re trying to buy a pair for your grown-ass self, Google is gonna throw mad shade at you:

google throwing shade at me wanting adult sized jelly shoes 

I’m an adult, damn it! I do my own taxes, I only hit snooze ONCE every morning, and I’m entitled to rubber shoes that make my feet sweat profusely, GOOGLE! To sock, or not to sock? That is the question (and the third Shakespeare reference in this piece so far. I’m finally getting mileage out of that BA in Literature, squee!).

90s polo shirt Wanelo

If you had a crush on a boy in the ’90s, he wore a shirt like this EVERY DAY. It was the pinnacle of prep, back in the days when boy bands roamed the Earth. A key component of the shirt was that the collar would pop seemingly of its own accord, once the shirt became suitably rumpled. This shirt brings back fond memories of boring holes into the back of Chris’ bowl cut, praying he would notice me. Spoiler alert, he never did. Tear face emoji.

poet blouse  

How can we make future generations understand the poet blouse? Seinfeld wore one as a joke, and for some reason we thought, “Hmm, that could work.” True story: I had a white poet blouse that was my go-to “dress-up shirt” for band concerts and semi-formal functions. I guess, in a way, I’ve spent my whole life trying to become Stevie Nicks. Someday.

Magic Bubble Shirts

Guess what? Until I started researching these, I never knew that this was called a “Magic Bubble Shirt.” I was like, “You remember them crinkly things that got bigger when you put them on?” Truly there was no greater thrill for the middle school girl than having her shirt slowly shrink on her as she was wearing it. Doesn’t that sound kind of like a nightmare? “I swear my shirt covered my entire torso when I left my house!” On the plus side, these are light and airy and feel like you’re wearing nothing at all…becuase by 9th period, you kind of aren’t.

JNCO jeans Ebay

JNCO jeans have yet to make their way back into the mainstream the way they did back in the glory days! Some can still be found on the darkest reaches of Ebay. In fact, this pair of seemingly ordinary pants is up for bidding, starting at $300! You can still rock out in JNCOs, but it’s gonna cost you.  UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!  Alert readers and JNCO afficionadoes Stephanie and Shannon have informed me that JNCO is making jeans again!  Go to their website for the pants, stay for the product review from “joefirelizardsupremepyro.”

cargo pants 

Do you remember cargo pants? “No shit, Meghan, my dad wears cargo pants on the golf course!!” No no no my dear, I mean do you remember CARGO PANTS?! I’m talking the eyeball-assaulting, bright AF, so big you could basically live out of them CARGO PANTS in bright neon colors and patterns! I really want these to come back (not only because I have pants similar to these in orange which I found at a Goodwill for $8 and call my “Gwen Stefani pants”) because, since the advent of skinny jeans, I have all but forgotten what it feels like to be able to fit your phone in your pocket.  

neon windbreaker 

I had a windbreaker so similar to this and I wore that thing literally every day of sixth grade. EVERY DAY. My devotion to my neon windbreaker was borderline pathological. I’m certain it’s somewhere in my parents’ house, but you can find these on Wanelo and other vintage sites if you try REALLY HARD!

eye glitter gel

Of course I saved the best for last! Have you frickin MET ME? I got so excited when I finally tracked down glitter eye gel, I whispered “yes bitch” to myself under my breath. Of all the things I miss about the ’90s, it’s the ubiquitous glitter gel. Surely you remember your favorite pot of sticky, goopy eye gel? My favorite glitter gel was silver, so when I found this one on Etsy, I knew I’d be recreating my favorite looks from sixth grade. True story: My friend got sent to the nurse’s office once because a substitute teacher was afraid the glitter would give her a sty. That irrational woman!

Do these bring back memories? Which of these did you wear every day until it fell apart? Did you have a crush on a boy named Chris in 8th grade? Let’s pour one out for Aeropostale and for all these gone and almost forgotten trends!

feature image via Wikipedia


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