Nostalgic Fashion: Bringing it All Back to You!

When I was a wee, just pubescent thing, all I wanted from life was a decent pair of slouchy white socks and a jade donut necklace. I didn’t just want them – I NEEDED them. Just looking at pictures of the items in question brought back the burning, unreasonable hunger for these objectively HIDEOUS things all over again.

socks jade

I eventually got both of these things, and it was seriously one of my happiest memories of my early teenage years. How embarrassing.

I blossomed into adolescence in a far off time known as the 90’s. It was a time when pants were high, skirts were a-line, necklaces were choker length or waist length, and waistcoats were cooler than they has been since the 1800’s.


Here in Australia, the style gurus for the just pubescent were local girl band Girlfriend. Mostly remembered for their amazingly shonky choreography and obsession with wearing giant hats adorned with even bigger flowers, Girlfriend were the girls everyone my age wanted to be. Their biggest single, “Take It From Me” was played so relentlessly I can still sing the chorus off by heart, and their style was so popular they started their own (short lived) fashion label.

Re-Living-the-90’sJust look at the size of that daisy on her hat. Just look at it.

Once I hit 15 or so I decided I needed to give my look a bit more “edge,” and I co-incidentally fell in with a bunch of boys in a band at my high school. Suddenly, Girlfriend and their technicolour palette seemed horribly childish – no more bright colours for me, it was faded black all the way! No more hats with daisies on them – I moved on to dresses with daisies on them, and buttons down the front even though it would never be unbuttoned.


I wasn’t quite old enough to really embrace grunge icons like Winona Ryder or Johnny Depp at the time, but I was ALL ABOUT Kristy Swanson’s turn as Buffy in the original movie.


MPW-64878For the longest time I thought if I believed hard enough I could pull off the slouchy socks with boots look. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me.

Another huge influence was the group of somewhat grungy but ultimately pretty well behaved kids in Empire Records. This “toned down” grunge kept some elements of my earlier style, while making the overall tone a tiny bit more grownup. Skirts and pants all still sat right up on the waist, but I the hems on my shirts rose up to join the waistbands of my bottoms. The jade donut stayed, but all the flounces and frills of my Girlfriend period made way for a sleeker, simpler silhouette.

Empire RecordsEmpire Records had a HUGE influence on me in a lot of ways, not least of which is my ongoing obsession with chunky boots paired with feminine skirts.

Eventually, I got over (most) of my Grunge-Lite phase, and moved on to other styles, other seasons, other styles of skirts apart from a-line. Over the last year or so though, I’ve noticed a bunch of 90’s fashion elements coming back around. No one has tried to bring back the giant squishy hats with enormous daisies on them, thank goodness, and on the whole the elements that people are bringing back from the 90’s are pretty neat. If I had the appropriate figure for it, I would be taking every opportunity to wear outfits like this again;


I would like to point out though that wedge boots are SO not grunge. Grunge boots were Docs, or big chunky heels.

Even though the majority of grunge styles don’t actually suit me that well, I don’t mind the resurrection of tying a shirt around your waist every day, to every event. But the retrospective articles are really starting to unnerve me. Ones that highlight things like parachute pants and hypercolour as being hilarious “new” discoveries unearthed from the past. They’re often chock fill of apparently forgotten “weird” 90’s styles, styles that I hadn’t really thought of as being THAT out of date just yet. I honestly thought I was too young still to be seeing my teenage fashions being “rediscovered” by a new generation. How can they be rediscovering something I feel like I only just stopped doing?

Thinking about this, I remembered being a bratty little girl, flicking through my mother’s stash of Spunky magazines from when she was a teenager. They were from the late 70’s, and let’s just say I was not kind to what I saw as the “outdated” fashions of her generation. Those jeans are gross! Who would wear their hair that fluffy? Why don’t any of the men wear shirts, for goodness sake!?

Spunky MagazineSeriously, where are her eyebrows?

I remember Mum patiently sighing, and explaining that one day people would look back on my fashion choices as laughably outdated. Remembering all this got me thinking about how other people experience these cycles.

The audience of Already Pretty is so diverse, I would love to hear from you about what styles you seen come back, and how it made you feel.  Did it make you happily nostalgic, or did it freak you out? Are you young enough that it hasn’t happened yet at all? Let’s share our nostalgia – and even some flashback photos if you’re game!

Slouch sock and jade necklace images sourced from Ebay
Girlfriend album covers sourced from CFBGoesPop
Promo image of Girlfriend sourced from Lady Rebecca
90’s floral dress image sourced from Neon Threads Designs
Promo image from Buffy The Vampire Slayer sourced from Project M
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Poster from
Screenshot from Empire Records sourced by author
Neo-grunge look sourced from Styloko
Photo of Noosha Fox from Spunky Magazine, 1979 – photo of page by author

_ _ _ _ _

The author of Reluctant Femme, Cassie is a queer thirty-something Australian who thinks too much, reads too much, and has way too many pretty things. Her writing revolves around exploring concepts of femme and femininity, feminism, and just how much glitter you really can fit into a polish before it’s unusable. You can catch up with her in shorter bursts on Twitter , look at pictures of her favourite pretty things on her Tumblr, and browse her shiny accessory creations at her Etsy store

Next Post
Previous Post

14 Responses to “Nostalgic Fashion: Bringing it All Back to You!”

  1. Sonja

    Cassie, we’re probably about the same age, ’cause I remember all of this so well. Exept the stuff about the Australian girlband whose fame didn’t quite reach Germany… 😉 Lately I’ve been noticing above all the return of the (flowery) button down dress, which really isn’t that bad. But I’m also having these moments of ‘Oh my God, I’m officially old!’ But it seems that the 20 years cycle is quite normal, I was delighted when I discovered 70ies basics like bell bottom jeans and tiny halter tops in the late 90ies and then there was a big revival of the 80ies some years ago …

    • Cassandra Goodwin

      Let’s just say you didn’t miss much by missing Girlfriend! You make a good point about bell bottomed pants in the 90’s and the 70’s though… Man, I miss pants with room for my calves!

  2. Allison

    Sigh. I spent my whole skinny adolescence in the late ’80’s dressed in big, baggy slouchy everything as per the current trend. Huge t-shirts borrowed from a boyfriend, hem halfway to my knees, baggy jeans, voluminous skirts to mid-calf or ankle, all shoulder seams halfway to the elbow. Then as I gained a fair amount of weight, the style switched to bodycon everything for several decades and low, low, lowrider jeans. Now that I’m recently back to my high school weight, all styles seem to be moving back to big, baggy and slouchy (oh, I’m sorry, “relaxed”).

    That jade necklace looks pretty cool, though.

  3. Amy Blankenship

    One trend I’d love to see come back (but from the 80’s) is layers of petticoats. So warm in winter, and both prim and naughty at the same time.

  4. jan.4987

    I’m not quite old enough to have experienced this yet, but I think I understand the feeling because it’s kind of how I feel about fashion in general, as opposed to style. I have my “look” in all its variants, and sometimes it’s in fashion and sometimes it’s totally out and I just observe that process with bafflement. How I dress is very tied to my identity, especially my non-normative gender identity and I couldn’t change it for fashion, but I guess that depends on to what extent you see clothes as decoration and to what extent you see them as part of you.

    So so far it’s been more of a feeling of “oh, am I unfashionable again? I remember when I was last unfashionable”.

    Regarding things I remember from my adolescence though, I do wonder whether those stretchy plastic “fake tattoo” chokers are ever going to have another day!

  5. Jackie

    I’m 36 so much of what you’re referencing is very familiar–I had a much-prized red dress with white daisies on it and a trove of men’s plaid button-downs I got from the thrift store, along with men’s suiting vests! I have twelve-year-old daughters too, so I’m exactly in your mom’s position!

  6. livi

    I’m 36 and a 90’s girl all the way. I dressed in a grunge lite style and I love all the nineties styles coming back. Except for the parachute pants, I never liked those.

  7. DesignWrtr

    I’m 37 and in the ’90s I loved outdoor-style chunky boots, baggy jeans, and plaid flannel shirts over a waffle-weave Henley bodysuit. Seriously. I also really liked a long flowered granny dress and boots. Or a long fitted flowered dress over a tee-shirt. I still really like elements of grunge style, or grunge-lite as Cassie puts it. I guess my style was more “outdoor grunge”. Eddie Bauer was–and sometimes still is–a go-to store for me. Looking back, it definitely wasn’t the most flattering style for my plump hourglass figure, but I hated what I had and wanted to hide so grunge was effective. My style still incorporates some elements of outdoorsiness, but with a more classic equestrian influence than a camping influence. But I still have all my flannel shirts from high school and college and LOVE them for hanging around the house and sleeping. They’re like buttah!

  8. Cindy Westfall

    I’m 41, so in high school I wore peg-rolled pants and over sized tops that hung down to my knees. And lots of Neon! When leggings came back into style I got a sense of Deja-vu; and now that slouchy, boxy, over sized, hi-low hemmed things are ubiquitous, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop in the form of permed, tall ‘Mall Bangs’ as a fashionable hairstyle 🙂 The silhouette that I like? Waist-defining, slightly retro, gothic tinged, and thoughtfully detailed. Throw some military inspiration in there and I’m on cloud nine. Whether or not my preferred look matches up with what’s ‘trending,’ I can usually pick and choose some things that give me the look I’m going for.

  9. Danielle

    Really old lady here–61! I’ve been through a lot of fashion eras but the comebacks that make me laugh the most are the ones that try to imitate the hippie era. They NEVER get it right! What I’ve learned is that the more in-fashion you are at the time, the more ridiculous those clothes (and pictures) will look later. I particularly love the one of me with waist length hair and a powder blue cowl neck tunic and matching powder blue knit bell bottoms. And yes, I’m also wearing an “Indian” headband. On the other hand, real classics have held up well. I still have the sweater set my high school picture was taken in (mom made me) and just about every Issey Miyake pattern I’ve made in 20 years still works.