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.
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.
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.
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.
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!?
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 MoviePoster.com
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