i remember (fashion edition)

Welcome to the second installment of the “I remember” series, in which I reminisce about things that were shitty a long time ago and would still be shitty if they were around today. Join me as I take a journey through time and “fashion,” recalling all some a fun-size portion of the fads and trends we’ve left behind — and for good reason (they fugly.)

I remember hair accessories such as the claw clip:

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The banana clip:

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And the ubiquitous scrunchie:

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(Side note: The above picture of the red scrunchie reminded me of the movie Heathers so I did a little Wikipedia browsing in a “Where Are They Now?”-style attempt at pop culture research. And what I discovered was DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT THE MAIN HEATHER DIED? THE BITCHY ONE?  LIKE 13 YEARS AGO OF BRAIN CANCER? Mind = blown.)

I remember the United Colors of Benetton, an upscale Italian clothing company whose advertisements were designed to shock us –– OMG A GUY WHO KIND OF MAYBE LOOKS LIKE A  PRIEST FROM BEHIND IS KISSING AN UNCHARACTERISTICALLY BEAUTIFUL NUN IN A COMPLETELY CHASTE AND NOT EVEN THAT SEXY WAY! — as were their prices.

Pretty much no one gives a shit about Benetton now, but when I was a freshman in high school, I coveted nothing more than this hideous Benetton rugby shirt:

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Look at that thing. What an ugly, boxy, unflattering piece of shit. In retrospect, I can only characterize my desire to own a shirt like that as “dumb,” particularly given the fact that I had no idea what a rugby shirt, or indeed rugby itself, even was. But back then all I needed to know was OH MY GOD ALL THE POPULAR GIRLS HAVE THEM AND MOM I NEEEEEEED ONE.

Alas, my parents were not keen on the idea of spending a fortune on what was essentially an unattractive and ill-fitting man’s shirt for their 13-year-old daughter. So I had to Wait. And whether or not you want to admit it, many of you know The Wait of which I speak — The “Wait Until It Comes to TJ Maxx” Wait.

The Wait was the bane of my high school existence.

So. As with every other article of brand-name clothing I managed to squeeze out of my mother over the course of my adolescence, I had to endure The Wait for the coveted Benetton rugby shirt. Unfortunately, by the time it actually came to TJ Maxx – and believe me, back then, only the ugliest and most inappropriately-sized brand-name rejects ever did – the trend had already become passé.

The shirt was ugly. It was too large. It was out of fashion. It would not fool the popular girls into thinking I was one of them. I made my mom buy it for me anyway. And wore it like three times before throwing it on the floor of my closet and bitching that “nobody wears these anymore, Mom. Duh.”

I remember the iconic ESPRIT black canvas tote. The below picture is not the best, but there were surprisingly few online images of this bag considering that EVERY SINGLE GIRL AT MY HIGH SCHOOL *AND* COLLEGE HAD ONE. I’m also pretty sure that back in the day, 99.9% of sororities even modeled their tote bags after it. (Not that I was ever in a sorority, mind you. Do I look like I’m made of bucks? I had to wait till the Benetton rugby shirt came to TJ Maxx, for God’s sake.)

I wish I’d kept my ESPRIT tote. That thing was useful as fuck, and it actually looked pretty cute, not that you can tell from this picture:

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I remember pegged jeans. I realize this is sort of a low-hanging fruit, so I’m just going to say this about them: at the end of every school day, one of the first things I did when I got home was unroll those shits because THEY CUT OFF THE CIRCULATION TO MY FUCKING FEET.

Seriously, the things we do in the name of fashion:
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While we’re on the topic of jeans, I remember Palmetto’s. I hope I’m not the only one, because the whole concept of Palmetto’s was awesome, hilarious, and totally misguided. You see, there was one reason and one reason alone to wear Palmetto’s-brand jeans. See if you can figure it out.

Cheapy Palmetto’s-brand ass patch:

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Expensive-y Guess Jeans-brand ass patch:

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Remember how I used the word “misguided” just now? That’s because there was a major and obvious flaw in any every plan to substitute Palmetto’s jeans for Guess ones, and that was this: if someone looked close enough at your ass, the jig was up. And I’m pretty sure that in junior high and high school there was a copious amount of close-up lookin’ at asses going on.

The solution? Rip off the patch and leave just the triangle-shaped shadow behind. BECAUSE THAT WOULD FOOL EVERYONE. Except it didn’t fool *anyone*. Why? Well, I think this graphic says it all:

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Lastly, I remember ridiculous footwear such as the slouch sock (best worn layered for extra foot sweat and a complete inability to put on your shoe):

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The jelly shoe:

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[EDIT: A conversation that I had with My Girl T after this post was published led me to remember how cut to HELL my feet always were after wearing jelly shoes. Those things tore my shit UP. And yet, I loved them. And had about a billion pairs. They were way uglier than the ones pictured above, though.]

And don’t forget the Eastland boat shoe (WITH CURLED LACES. GOD HELP YOU IF YOU DIDN’T CURL THE LACES):

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Sooo… obviously there are way more hideous 1980’s and 1990’s fashion trends than this, but I am running out of patience with finding and fixing up the graphics. (I’m also probably going to get cease-and-desist orders on 75% of them.) So I’m gonna bring this post to an unceremonious close, because that’s the kind of blog this is – the kind where the blog author complains about having to research and/or create new material.

WHATEVER. *does W with thumbs and index fingers*

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48 Replies to “i remember (fashion edition)”

  1. I remember the Bongo jeans and how you had to wash them alone, by hand, several times, in the sink so that you wouldn’t colour yourself and anything you touched bright purple or red. And D.A.R.E. shirts, cause for some reason we thought it was cool.

    1. Oh my God, the D.A.R.E. shirts. And the S.A.D.D. shirts too. Neither of which did we seem to have a problem juxtaposing against our keggers and illicit pot smoking.

      I just remembered: Hypercolor by Generra, Bugle Boy jeans, and Ocean Pacific “like there’s any ocean anywhere near me” surfwear.

  2. After a pair of Guess jeans (zipper tapered) didn’t fit me anymore and I was encouraged to give them to my cousin, I took the triangle off first and saved it for myself. Like a selfish little bitch basically. Can I also get an amen for acid wash, LA gears (pink and white and pristine), Electric Youth perfume and perms. I had the Esprit bag (and the deep shoulder indents to prove it), the jelly shoes (and the deep toe indents to prove it) and made my mom pay a stupid amount of money for Mexx shirts. Full price. Again see selfish bitch. I eventually segued from full on label obsession to thrift store punk. All this to say THANK YOU for this delicious walk down memory lane.

    1. LA GEAR! Also British Knights (How ya like me now?) and bright white Reeboks.

      Other horrible perfumes: Bijon, Dior Poison, and… OH MY GOD DESIGNER IMPOSTERS do you remember those shits???

      I was also just telling my girl T that my jelly shoes cut my feet UP. Who thought making girls wear plastic shoes was a grand idea??

    1. Oh my dear Lord, the Coca-Cola shirts. Those were just as ugly and boxy as the Benetton rugby shirts. And yet, we all had one.

      I still like Swatches! I have about 5. But they don’t look like they used to, all fluorescent with the plastic Swatch protectors. Those things were awesome.

  3. I never understood the appeal of Benetton. I didn’t really like the clothes but I just wanted them because they were expensive, so like a status symbol, but I couldn’t afford it….Wait, I just got it.

    1. Bahaha!

      I was in NYC once and we walked into a Benetton and I actually saw ONE. THING. I. LIKED. And I was so excited that I almost forgot to look at the price tag. But then I did and was like “…well fuck that.”

  4. Sad to say, I actually had some of that stuff. Awful. If I only knew then what I know now. Although…what teenager would care. You want to have what’s popular. Those Benetton shirts were hideous though, weren’t they?!

  5. I had two pair of Guess jeans–one I got for my birthday (and that was all I got) and one I got for Christmas (same deal). They are long gone, but I still have my Coat of Arms Swatch. Next time we get together, we can admire each other’s watches.

    1. I actually have 3 Swatches right now but they are not 80’s vintage – more like early 2000’s vintage. And they don’t have cool stuff like Swatch protectors. I envy you.

  6. Candies shoes. 41/2″ high heels. I fell in the store and BOUGHT THEM ANYWAY! I fell again, sold them to a friend for 5 bucks, she fell down the steps and dislocated her knee. Beautiful shoes. Worth all the medical bills!

  7. Oh my God – I’m so embarrassed. I still wear banana clips, scrunches every day & the claw clip. Man, thought I was depressed before.

  8. I just had to explain to my kids why I named my pet childhood chick “Izod Esprit” (epic name, by the way). I also just happened across some Generra shorts for sale at Costco today. Wonder if they’re making a come back?

  9. I posted on Twitter just a few days ago:

    Attention teen girls: Jelly shoes are a lie. Plastic shoes make your feet sweat and rub blisters.
    Signed,
    Someone who suffered in the 80s.

    They’re making a comeback. Someone needs to warn these children.

  10. Ahhhh Memories! I had an amazing pair of Coke jeans which I paired with an over sized Vision Street Wear tee-shirt, in spite of not even being able to stand on a skateboard. For a fancier look I paired the same jeans with my glorious Camp Beverly Hills zip front rugby and a pink turtle neck underneath, complete with above mentioned, special shoe lace Eastlands. It’s so weird I was never a hit with the fellas.

  11. what about Cavariccis? & definitely hypercolor shirts!!! and the shirts that had the strong sex references… crap, why can’t I remember any? I thought they were hilarious!

  12. Hahaha, yeah, the 80’s ruled! I actually tight rolled a pair of my jeans a while back to see what it was like and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember why we ever thought it was cool.

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I’m sure somebody (probably Kate) brought up Coca Cola rugby shirts and Swatch watches, right? Those were big when I was in junior high. Those and parachute pants. Lol. You know what? I never got any of ’em! Wait, I did get a Swatch watch finally. I didn’t get 47 to wear on my arm at once like everyone else did though. It was black and yellow and had a cool yellow rubber thing that protected the face of the watch. So rad. You know what else I hated? I remember being with a young lady in high school and experiencing my first body suit. What the fuck was that? How is a man supposed to get to second base if the shirt is snapped shut way down by third base!!? You can’t skip bases!

    1. I was never into the body suits. But I did have Swatch watches AND the Swatch protectors. I even collected Swatches recently for a while but they aren’t as cool and they fall apart instantly.

  13. Spuds Mackenzie tee-shirts.

    Units. Complementary colored shirts, belts (that doubled as mini skirts or tube tops), skirts and highwaisted, pleated front pants. And they had that tiny, weird triangle or trapezoidal cutout in the armpit seam.

    Hair crimping irons. Back when crimping irons were bent sheets of super heated metal, who cares about hair health?

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