Written by Sara Fender
It seems, the 90s are back.
I now understand how my mom felt when I was younger and I went through her closet looking for her bell bottoms and macrame vests. I had just watched Forrest Gump and I wanted to be Jenny, with her long flowing skirts and dresses and leather fringe coats. I wanted to dance and spin and live out this bohemian fantasy I had in my head of leaving home, riding around in a van, going to concerts and not having a care in the world.
I remember frantically digging through her clothes and shoes, desperately looking for specific items I had seen her wearing in pictures and finding nothing. I gave up, grabbing the photo albums and went directly to the source. “Mom, where is this?” I asked in my high-pitched annoying teenage voice, full of disdain, as I pointed to an image of her standing in a field wearing a long cream crochet tank dress, no shoes and a daisy chain in her hair. It was the ultimate 70s cliché and I wanted it. She barely glanced at it and said, “oh Sara, I got rid of all of that stuff years ago.”
I was devastated. How could she do this to me? Why wouldn’t she hold on to her clothes? Didn’t she know she might have a daughter one day and that she (‘she’ obviously being me) might want to wear her stuff? I don’t remember what happened next but if I had to guess I probably had a tantrum and then gave her the silent treatment (which I’m sure she relished in), acted like the world was ending and basically did a bunch of typical teenage girl behaviour that had no effect on anyone except myself.
Fast-forward to now. I was so good about not online shopping during quarantine. I just didn’t want to have the temptation while I was out of work so I was blissfully unaware of what trends were happening (minus tie-dye and leisure-wear, of course!). Also, when I do shop online, I’m scrolling until I see something that catches my eye, so I’m not necessarily looking, or even grasping, everything I’m seeing. I kind of zone out until I see “the one” (I’m looking at you, Jacquemus ‘La Jupe Drap’ skirt in black). Then, as we all started emerging from our homes and dipping our toes into the waters of eating out and seeing friends, I was noticing girls wearing baby doll dresses, wide-leg jeans, and cropped sweaters – it was all feeling oddly familiar.
It really hit me last weekend when I went to the mall. Yes, you heard me. I went to the mall. For the first time in over a year. I don’t know what possessed me. I was leaving a friend’s house and I just started driving there. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was having a conversation with myself (out loud, of course), “Sara, what are you doing? It’s a mall. On a Saturday. During a pandemic. It’s going to be crowded and terrible. You don’t need to spend money. Turn around. Just go home. Go. Go now.”
Apparently, I’m a terrible listener because next thing I knew I was standing in Zara, confused as to how I got there and also concerned – not only at the crowd, but by the clothing. So many straight-leg distressed jeans. So many plain sweatshirts. So many oversized blazers. Basically, my entire wardrobe from the 90s. I left as quickly as I arrived – seriously, they had only been open 15 minutes and the lines were 20+ people deep. No thank you.
I decided to grab a lavender iced chai from the coffee kiosk as I headed back towards my car but was distracted by Urban Outfitters. I had purchased a few seamless bra tops and t-shirts from them during quarantine and there was not a single person waiting in line at the cash register, so headed in where I was quickly assaulted by Champion sweatshirts, mom jeans and prairie dresses. I walked around in disbelief. I legit felt as if I had entered a time warp. Even the band t-shirts they are famous for were all 90s bands. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved the 90s. I loved the clothes, the music, the skater boys, the television shows, the movies, and the innocence. Those were my formative years (please don’t do the math on my age, thank you kindly) and I loved them.I also think the girls that I see dressing in this fashion are super cute and I’m here for it. I’m just not here for it for me, personally. I’ve been there, done that and I am not trying to go back. I’m in a new life phase and it doesn’t not include dressing how I did several decades ago (again, please refrain from doing the math and trying to figure out my age. Although, if you ask, I will gladly tell you. I’m not ashamed by any means, just not trying to shout it from the rooftops).
So, here we are, full circle on fashion, again. I look at old photos and wish I still had those clothes. I wouldn’t wear them, but I would certainly pass them on with pride.