Ah, the 1990s. A decade of innovation and change, from the World Wide Web to Dolly, the cloned sheep, to rising skirmishes in the Middle East, to Disney returning to the classic animated musical we all know and love. The 1990s offered us trends and fads, some of which will never truly go out of style—wearing plaid and listening to Pearl Jam, for instance, will always feel highly relevant and like everyone else, we’re counting down the days until the premiere of the Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World. However, the 1990s also had some deeply tragic trends in fashion and culture. How many of us wore tie-dye shirts, carried bright neon colored trapper keepers, and had a small arsenal of slap bracelets, which were never really for wearing but used to assault your friends at random intervals in math class? While we might be willing to see some fads from the 1990s come back, we hope these 10 never see the light of day again.
10. Butterfly Clips
Who wouldn’t want their hair to look like a small swarm of brightly colored insects suddenly decided to land and take root? Looking back, this ’90s trend was just bizarre. Millions of girls from children to young adults suddenly decided to take uncomfortable plastic butterfly shaped clips and put them on every section of hair they cold find. These accessories broke easily and got lost even easier (only to be found, invariably, at 6 in the morning, lurking on the floor where you would always step on the tiny point of a wing causing an unnatural amount of pain). The trend was popularized by movie and TV stars in the late ’90s, but thankfully went out of fashion almost as quickly as they came in.
9. Platform Shoes
Did anyone find these shoes comfortable? Particularly, the flip-flop versions of these shoes. Because we seem to remember having to take tiny baby steps to ensure that we didn’t fall out of them. Large and chunky, it took an almost acrobatic skill to be able to walk normally in these over sized monsters. One of the worst parts was how it made your toes look splayed out over the entire shoe and the strap that really dug into the foot. But even more horrifying than how you looked in them in the 1990s? The fact that they may be coming back! Platform sneakers in fashion are making a slow come back, but hopefully the flip-flop trend gets left in the back of the closet—where it belongs.
8. The Bowl Hair Cut
We have teen heartthrobs Nick Carter and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (or J.T.T if you were really crushing on him) to thank for this 1990s hairstyle. This hairstyle was normally parted down the middle and fell in uniform eye-length curtains so that the top of your head resembled, well…a bowl. We’re sure there was a logic to the haircut—a nice way to frame the eyes might the best excuse most men can come up with. But this is one hairstyle that should be sent back to the barber, ASAP.
7. Brown Lipstick
Yet another trend you simply couldn’t escape in the 1990s. We have pretty much every movie, TV, or music female to thank for this one. In an effort to walk that fine line of androgyny—between male and female—the deep dark brown lip was a fashion favorite of every girl who clearly lost or misplaced a basic mirror. And we’re not talking a basic nude lip; we mean an actual dirt brown lipstick that stuck out like a sore thumb. Like platform shoes, though, this one seems to be making a bit of a comeback, though tempered in a more rust colored or warm cinnamon. So long as we don’t have to trot out the truly ugly dirty brown color again, maybe we’d be willing to give it a go.
How many of you used the old, “but I had to take my pet to the hospital!” as an excuse for why you failed your history quiz? Secretly stashed away in your school desk, this electronic pet (and later baby) required your full attention, lest it die of starvation or neglect. The egg shaped toy even came with a keychain to hook to a belt loop so that you were never without it. While it sounds like this might be an acceptable way to teach young children responsibility, the fact that you could hit pause or reset and begin anew, rather defeated that whole purpose. Tamagotchi is currently trying to make a comeback in, maybe, the most bizarre way possible: a clothing line. Thank goodness most of us have outgrown this trend.
5. Frosted Tips
When it was the ‘90s, and when it was on Justin Timberlake, this hair trend seemed perfectly sane. But in the cold light of the day (also known as 2014), this hairstyle is actually worse than the bowl cut. It wasn’t just frosted tips; you had to have the super bleached frosted tips AND the spiky hairdo (which could do some serious damage to fingertips if you did it just right). And of course, with it just being the tips of your hair, the contrasting color of your real hair, normally kept very dark, just made your head look like it couldn’t decide what it truly wanted to be. Thankfully Justin wised up and got rid of those tips and so did the rest of young America.
4. Dumb Phrases
Aiight. This next trend was off the hook and totally phat. If you have no idea what was just said, then count yourself lucky to have missed some truly awkward catchphrases that abounded in the 1990s. Some we can blame on the movies, especially the 1995 teen comedy Clueless, for example: “as if!” (said as condescendingly as possible) and “whatever” (normally said while making a “W” with your two thumbs and pointer fingers). Some just have no excuse whatsoever. Why exactly are you all that and a bag of chips? And why does a bag of fried potatoes merit into someone’s coolness factor? You probably also told your parents to “talk to the hand” and that everything was “da bomb.”
3. Boy Bands
Was there any measurable difference between ‘NSync, Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees? Looking back, we certainly don’t think so; but that didn’t stop millions of teen girls from picking a side and fighting everyone who tried to elevate another band over their chosen favorite. Boys bands were everywhere in the 1990s; they danced, sung, and wooed their way into the hearts (and lockers) of unsuspecting teens everywhere who didn’t realize that they were all freakishly clone-like. And this is one trend that hasn’t been left behind where it belonged. We may have enjoyed jumping and singing along to these bands in the 90s, but we’re so much older now and it’s rather embarrassing to remember how we’d draw little hearts over Nick Carter’s face and sigh at his total dreaminess.
In the 1990s, we all became farmers. Or something. We have to place the blame for this trend on the shoulders (at least one of the shoulder since no one would be caught dead wearing their trendy overalls with BOTH shoulder straps secured) of mega star Will Smith. When he was just a Fresh Prince (of Bel Air), Will Smith donned the one shoulder overall trend and they became an instant hit. And if you really wanted to show how in vogue you were, having your overalls be extra baggy was the way to go. Thankfully, someone somewhere wised up and remembered that this unfortunate trend belongs to the rustic countryside and there it has stayed.
We’re still scratching our heads as to why a child would ever want one of these toys. It may seem cute now—with its furry body, wide eyes, and purring—but in reality, it was an unmitigated terror that would suddenly declare its affection for you in the middle of the night. Picture it: asleep in your bed when suddenly you hear in a warble-like high pitched voice “I looooove you.” Your eyes snap open to find some miniscule creature with eyes like space saucers looking at you, into the depths of your soul, blinking incredibly slowly. This was not a fun toy. This was a traumatizing toy sent to give us nightmares. And when the batteries were dying and the voice became even slower and more robotic, it was the stuff horror films are made of. And some reason, it’s trying to come back! It’s the demon toy that won’t leave you alone! The 1980s can keep their Chucky; we had Furby and it was plenty.