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I still kind of want the mailman pants.
January 21, 2014 9:43 PM   Subscribe

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Dawson's Creek was on TV, No Doubt was on the radio, and teenage girls across America wanted every single thing in the dELiA*s catalog. Going on 20 years later, those girls are women. Women with scanners and style websites. Women who remember.

P.S. dELiA*s is still around, if you happen to still wear juniors sizes or have someone in your life who does.
posted by Sara C. (130 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Weird, this looks a lot like what we were wearing in the early-mid '90s, but I don't recall clothes looking so similar 8-10 years later.
posted by scody at 9:49 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I keep reading of how the 1990s are a long time ago. I was born in the 1960s. The 1940s are a long time ago. The 1980s are modern times. The 1990s? Too soon to even assess! And fashions do not count unless they are 1970s or before. Youngsters today have no idea. ;)
posted by EnterTheStory at 9:50 PM on January 21 [42 favorites]


Well, some of these scans are from '96, which is only 3-4 years after "early 90s". And keep in mind this is wholesome middle American catalog fashion. I'm sure college kids in the East Village or on Melrose were wearing this stuff a few years before.

I forgot how androgynous a lot of these styles were, especially the mid 90s skater inspired stuff. One of those links is a catalog from I think '99 or 2000 (I recognize the flared capris everyone in my Freshman dorm was wearing that year), and things start to get a little girlier, but damn. I really forget how gender neutral the 90s was in a lot of ways.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 PM on January 21 [14 favorites]


Oh crap, I forgot my bloomers.
posted by dumbland at 9:57 PM on January 21


Oh man, I had that dark purple dress in middle school, I loved it so much.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:57 PM on January 21


I keep reading of how the 1990s are a long time ago. I was born in the 1960s. The 1940s are a long time ago. The 1980s are modern times. The 1990s? Too soon to even assess!

Those decades are all "back in the nineteen-hundreds." 1990 will shortly be a quarter-century ago. Really, we ought to be writing it as "ye olde 1990ſ".
posted by XMLicious at 10:01 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


C:\yE_oLdE_199o
posted by Sara C. at 10:04 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


by gods, the shoes were ugly back then
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:06 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Weird. The scans in the first and third links don't look familiar to me, but the scans on Tutus and Tiny Hats set my nostalgia alarm blaring. Sugar t-shirts! Cargo skirts! Those dresses with a patterned layer over a solid color layer! I would have worn every single thing on those pages. (Though 5_13_23_42_69_666 is right, the shoes are terrible.)
posted by neushoorn at 10:09 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I still have actual clothes from delias but I'd have to have a boobectomy to fit in them now.
posted by elizardbits at 10:11 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that I'm still wearing clothes that I bought in the nineties.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 PM on January 21 [14 favorites]


The strangest part is the Actual! Mail! Order! Form! To write catalog numbers on with a pen! And put in the mail with a check or money order!

Okay, no, the strangest part is the print ad for gurl.com. "Sign up for free e-mail & homepages!" And the graphic design of that whole page of ads, which seriously makes me think I'm 15 again.
posted by this is a thing at 10:16 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


gurl.com was my gateway drug to the feminist internet. Its loss left an AskMetafilter-sized hole in my psyche, since I was a bit of the resident sexpert over there for a while.
posted by Sara C. at 10:20 PM on January 21 [18 favorites]


And when I say that I mean that I was the only young lady on gurl.com who had gotten past second base.
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 PM on January 21 [21 favorites]


I remember loving delia's but only ordering the accessories and bath salts, because at a size ten, I was too fat for their adorable sundresses.
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:22 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I promise not to completely hog the thread (and also it's bedtime), but one of those links is about exactly that, and also has links to scans of the Alloy catalog.
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 PM on January 21


It's weird to realize how permanently your taste is formed when you're a teenager. I like to think I have some concept of current fashion, but when I look at this, a lot of it still reads "cool" to me. I'm still in love with thermals and vast shoes and I want that red and black sweater. And the long a-lines, and all the brocade, and a time when women's clothing was opaque.

I can practically hear Tom and Lorenzo complaining that all those meshy embroidered maxis are "aging" the girls, which is one reason I try not to read their blog anymore.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:25 PM on January 21 [39 favorites]


Notice how none of the pictures in these catalogs move. I hear that gifs weren't even animated before 1989, so they probably still hadn't caught on yet.
posted by XMLicious at 10:27 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I've still got $5 in a pool says people will be nostalgic for their own times, around 2021. That's when nostalgia will catch up with the present. 2021. Then we start all over again.
posted by not_on_display at 10:33 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Also cats that wanted cheeseburgers would ask for them politely in grammatically correct sentences.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:34 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


I loooved Delia's as a middle and high schooler in the late 90's/early 00's, and I spend my summers these days living in sundresses that look suspiciously like outtakes from these catalogs. I don't know if that makes my style hopelessly young for my age and behind the times or appealingly retro.

Not a fan of the wide-leg jeans and the faux-surfer shirts these days, though lord knows I had them at the time, but apparently those sundresses got a hold on me.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:35 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


A couple years ago I bought this adorable very Ms. Frizzle esque dirndl sundress in with trees printed on it at a thrift store.

Turned out it was from delia's.
posted by Sara C. at 10:39 PM on January 21


In my head right now, I've just whipped out my favorite gel pen, and am sitting on my bedroom carpet circling all the things in my newest catalog I want, but that my mother will never buy for me.

Grown up me just did that with a Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog instead. Chickens > bell bottoms.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:42 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


That's when nostalgia will catch up with the present. 2021.

The Nostalgularity? War re-enactors will start re-enacting wars that haven't happened yet.
posted by XMLicious at 10:45 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Pfft. We were running out past to nostalgize all the way back in 1997.
posted by aaronetc at 10:51 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


oh my god. that first image. from the second link. the black-haired model on the left. she looked just enough like the girl I had a crush on in middle school that I stole my sister's copy of the delia's catalog for use when I couldn't connect to the dial-up server to download actual porn.

Ah, to be young and a creep...
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:58 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


High waisted narrow leg acid washed jeans seem to be making a comeback.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
posted by yohko at 10:58 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Uh-oh. It looks like the '90's are old enough to be coming back around. ModCloth is selling these metallic monstrosities and oh gosh these hurt my eyes.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:20 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I've definitely noticed Doc Martens a lot more lately, which is great because I bought some of those like 4 years back for the first time since high school and now I'm like cool 90s Uncle Jesse to these whippersnappers. Or something. Or maybe not.
posted by Hoopo at 11:27 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


I was so, so into the delia*s catalog. I was obsessed with painstakingly copying the pictures in careful pencil. At the time, I was pretty closeted in my bisexuality so I convinced myself that I merely wanted to be the doe-eyed beauties within their pages.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


I saw the words "Dawson's Creek" and started hearing the theme song.
posted by fatehunter at 11:45 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I really forget how gender neutral the 90s was in a lot of ways.

That's one of the things I loved about it. I thought we were moving into the future where gender was not such a big deal and oh god wasn't that great and then... um... it just sort of faded away. And I don't really understand that, because obviously it was so much better!
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:58 PM on January 21 [26 favorites]


I really forget how gender neutral the 90s was in a lot of ways.

That's one of the things I loved about it. I thought we were moving into the future where gender was not such a big deal and oh god wasn't that great and then... um... it just sort of faded away. And I don't really understand that, because obviously it was so much better!


I was thinking about this and I can't really remember a time when I was a kid/preteen in the 90's being pressured to be sexy or hot in regards to the type of clothes I wore. Sure, there I wanted to dress prettily at times (rarely back then), but I really just wanted to be a computer/video game/hacker chick so I dressed like one...sort of.
posted by littlesq at 12:13 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Dawson's Creek premiered in 1998.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:17 AM on January 22


Is there supposed to be something about the clothes at the catalog link above that looks particularly dated? Because to me they all just look like girls wearing fairly regular-looking stuff. Can you link to some equivalent pictures showing how those girls would dress today?
posted by pracowity at 12:56 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that I'm still wearing clothes that I bought in the nineties.

Nothing wrong with that. Once you have a bunch of clothes you like, why buy more?
posted by Justinian at 1:40 AM on January 22


Is there supposed to be something about the clothes at the catalog link above that looks particularly dated?

Those skirts.

Oh holy god, those skirts.

That's really the only thing that gets me. Everything else, I'm going "Yeah, yeah, totally, oh God, I wish they made that in my size". Because, as near as I can tell, teenage girls might not be wearing the same stuff, but women aged 20 to 40 are.

(For reference, 36 year old white woman wearing a pair of Converse in Desert Flower Purple, black boot-cut jeans, this Miss Fortune Varsity cardigan, this Smash The Patriarchy design on a grey athletic-style shirt, and a bright pink with white polka-dots scarf tied around my neck.

If it wasn't for the massive circles under my eyes due to a particularly sleepless night, I would actually say I look fantastic.)
posted by Katemonkey at 1:57 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Wow – I finally get where young women I wanted to dress like were getting their clothes. I'd never heard of delia*s until now, but yeah, those catalog pics are definitely taking me back in time.

I still have clothes from the 90s too, but boondocks Oregonian me was more grunge than punk. One day some French colleagues asked me how I dressed in high school in the States, so I came to work the next day in a high school outfit.

Stunned silence. Head-to-toe-to-head-and-back looks. Loooong continuing silence.

Finally an extraverted chatterbox colleague goes, in English, "oh my GOD YOU NEED A DODGE TRUCK you know the ones with the fucking huge, um..."
me: "grills"
colleague: "YEAH WITH THE GRILLS ON THE DODGES OMIGOD IT WOULD BE PERFECT"

Oversized, open plaid flannel button-up on top of an oversized men's-cut U of Oregon Ducks t-shirt worn over Lee jeans with ratty forest-green-and-loud-yellow checked Chuck Taylors. You..... pretty much don't see anyone dressed that way in France.
posted by fraula at 2:21 AM on January 22 [26 favorites]


For extra nostalgyness, check out this X-Girl fashion show.

I got sent home from school more than once for the length of my A-line skirts and dresses, though I sewed most of them myself. Seriously the easiest things to make in the world.
posted by cilantro at 2:36 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Those skirts.

Oh holy god, those skirts.


Wow. I'm having flashbacks to when I was into drawing "Palace dollz" and all Americans were drawing their avatars with these weird-ass skirts.
posted by sukeban at 2:48 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I'm getting a little nostalgic remembering flipping through my Delia*s mags and then relaxing on the gURL.com Palace. Those chat bubbles and avatars really take me back.
posted by Vrai at 2:53 AM on January 22


That was how pretty much how a lot of girls dressed when I was an undergrad. However, between 1996 and 1998, I had this major fetish for the late '70s/early '80s punk scene, so I usually wore a motorcycle leather jacket with a painted Sex Pistols-esque God Save the Queen logo on the back, with ripped black jeans, combat boots, and painted t-shirts held together with safety pins. I also bleached my hair blond and occasionally wore a dog collar. There was NOBODY who dressed like me on the entire Central Washington University campus at the time, which was deep in the thrall of grunge at the time. Standing out so much was both a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.

However, when I went on exchange to Belfast for a while, I stood out less, which was actually rather lovely. I could get drunk in pubs and discourse about the merits of the Sex Pistols versus the Clash, and no-one batted an eye. Also, random Irish people would ask me for directions. It was kind of awesome.

Ah, those were the days...
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:35 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


The first and only catalog order I've ever made was from Delia's. And I mean physically mailing in the order form with a check. One of the things I bought was a cargo maxi skirt, of course. I've been covertly looking for a new 90s-style maxi skirt that isn't made out of super-clingy rayon.

There are a lot of things I like about clothes now, but I also really miss 90s fashion. I could look cool with minimal effort, plus a lot of the styles were chubby-girl friendly. And the other day, I had to take off my skinny jeans to get my socks past my ankles, and I couldn't help reminiscing about breaking my ankle in the winter of 2000 and being able to slide my cargo pants and bootcut jeans over a knee-high cast, with room to spare.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:27 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


I was born in the 1960s. The 1940s are a long time ago.

It freaks me out a little, knowing that when I was a kid I knew World War II veterans who were about the same age I am now or a little older.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:29 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


This makes me realize how much I internalized the fashion of the latter part of the 90's when I was a teenager; I still dress like this, albeit in an 'updated' way.

God, I miss cargo skirts.
posted by Windigo at 4:38 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


A way to tell that you're old: seeing people express nostalgia for the fashions or other ephemera of their youth and having no idea what they're talking about because you were too old for it when it was current.

It'll happen to you too, whippersnappers. And then you'll know.

[coughs, adjusts dentures]
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:04 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Yeah, in important ways my taste was set in the nineties, although it was much more "aspirational J Crew like all the rich girls wore in HS" plus various punk and grunge stylings from college. (I'm old!)

In high school I had neither money nor friends, also I was fat until my junior year, so I pretty much wore whatever could fit. But in my senior year, my family's fortunes took a turn for the better when my mother landed a good job and I also had some part time work, so I had one of those J Crew men's wool rollnecks and a Gap white button-front and a couple of other things, and I saved up and sent away for a pair of Doctor Martens from an ad in the back of Spin. And I got a few other nice things before leaving for college, but then of course I took advantage to leaving home to wear pretty much only things from the thrift store for years - I had a pink vintage ringer tee that I'd stenciled the Crass logo on, and a bunch of fatigues and some really old combat boots and a couple of vintage fifties coats and thermals for underneath in the winter, and a pair of incredibly decayed overalls and my grandfather's old old LL Bean cardigan and a teeny tiny fifties cardigan that I literally wore into rags which just looked so much more punk anyway and I also had a petticoat skirt, and a lot of little tiny barrettes and very short hair which I bleached and Manic Panic-ed so much that at one point I actually got a sore on my scalp and had to knock it off for a couple of months. Oh, and those black and white striped tights - they were super hard to find and I wore mine to shreds. Even then, when I was a small size 12, it was difficult to find clothes in my size. Oh also I had these simply incredible NaNa maryjanes (that I still have even though I don't wear women's shoes) with a chunky leather sole and very low flat heel and a wide strap which fastened with a giant button. So well made, not at all like today.

My point being that nineties me would absolutely wear what I wear now, particularly the shoes...it's basically all men's cardigans and chunky shoes here, and I have never been able to adjust to how tight it is fashionable to wear one's clothes.
posted by Frowner at 5:06 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Also, the Gap had mailman pants like, two years ago.
posted by Frowner at 5:07 AM on January 22


I'm int he UK, so no Delias, but this was the kind of fashion we'd see in one of the popular teen mags (Just Seventeen, which by the 90s was heavily cribbing from Sassy) - mini kilts, mohair jumpers, flannel. I lived in a working-class town which didn't have the mysterious Topshop or Hennes, and even if they did, everyone wore sportswear. What later became known as the 'chav' style was popular - lots of nylon, blatant logos, heavy sovereign rings bought cheaply from Argos, neon trainers. I loathed it and had little to no interest in clothes for years, simply because what I wanted didn't exist for me to buy. I bought a pair of black Docs and got so much teasing for wearing them that I barely did.

(Also, UK schools are uniformed, so I had to wait until sixth form until I could dye my hair. In 1999 I had it pillar box red, and twisted it up into dozens of tiny little knots. Most of the time, I looked a bit like Dennis Pennis with it, though, thanks to the chunky glasses I got.)

When I went away to become a student in a far far better place, I took to clothes shopping like most teenagers do to alcohol once they leave home. I had some awesome mint green cord loon pants, and a Japanese whisky label T I bought from a charity shop. I had a dress similar to this, thanks to Oxfam, that I wore to our summer ball, and wore a floral satin nightie as a summer slip dress. Also, BUTTERFLY CLIPS.
posted by mippy at 5:30 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I went to a job interview at Delia's/gURL, for web development, in maybe late 1999. Their offices were the most inhumane eSweatshop I had ever seen up until that point - it looked like a crowded but aseptic high school computer lab with 30 or 40 miserable hip kids (men AND women, notably) in their early 20s, elbow to elbow at workstations set up on row tables, hunched over 14" CRTs showing Photoshop 5. They were on a fairly high floor of some skyscraper, across from the World Trade Center. Spectacular view, but sheesh.

I guess I am saying: add Delia's catalogs to the "laws and sausages" list of things you don't want to see get made.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:32 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I saw this the other day and had a nice trip down memory lane recalling how much I used to love overalls. I had denim, corduroy and velvet overalls, in multiple colors. I always wore them over a bodysuit and that plus those chunky-heeled shoes (probably Steve Madden) was basically my mid-90s uniform.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:33 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Can you link to some equivalent pictures showing how those girls would dress today?

Well Delias is still around and the pics on their site seem pretty representative to me - skinny jeans, looser blouses, dresses with defined waistlines.
posted by muddgirl at 5:44 AM on January 22


I opened a dryer full of clothes at the laundromat yesterday and several pieces of Delia's in semi-adult sizes fell out. So jealous.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:55 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I like to think the only "optional" part of my (girls school) uniform is a good indicator of current fashion trends.

Context: in addition to our only-one-vendor skirt, shirts, and sweaters, we were required to wear brown flat shoes with laces. Beyond that, it was up to us.

When I was in middle and high school in the 90s, everyone wore brown Doc Martens (and oh, how I, the scholarship kid, loathed my cheaper knock-offs)

Now, I'm told all the cool kids are wearing brown Sperrys.

Given the option, I'd still be in Docs. I miss the 90s.
posted by olinerd at 5:56 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Wow. I'm having flashbacks to when I was into drawing "Palace dollz" and all Americans were drawing their avatars with these weird-ass skirts.

Ah, but were you a sk8r or a prep?
posted by codacorolla at 6:17 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I miss the days when fashion was big on little tops and big skirts, because that made it a good time to be a small-breasted, big-hipped woman.

I don't care how hip they get, skinny jeans still look dorky to me. At least in the late 80s/early 90s, we had the decency to peg roll them.

I am cleaning out a bunch of boxes/bins of old clothes that I just shoved in storage when I got pregnant, and while most of it is stuff I was wearing four years ago, I had forgotten that there were also nostalgia clothes from high school that I hadn't been able to bear to get rid of, and it is surprisingly painful to consider getting rid of them! A lot of them could be in this catalog ... although there's also an appalling quantity of vests (remember that???). And the cooooooolest vintage oversize leather jacket which I may have to start wearing again; I love it so much that I can't even tell if it's cool, horrible, or just eccentric. Hopefully eccentric since I'm at the age now where "cool" reads as "trying way too hard."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:28 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Oh wow, nostalgia. I couldn't actually wear anything from Delia*s, but I loved those long skirts and chunky shoes. And I once managed to make it out of the house, past my mother's watchful eye, wearing an actual slip as a dress!

Also, I wrote for gurl.com once! Oh, now I feel old.
posted by TwoStride at 6:28 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: an appalling quantity of vests (remember that???)

I blame Chandler Bing.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:33 AM on January 22


I was a Delia's shopper. I remember the days of coming home from school, turning on MTV and paging through Delia's and Alloy.

I wore the FROUFROU dress to homecoming in 1997.

Thanks for this post. I am now simultaneously happy and sad.
posted by morganannie at 6:41 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Ah, but were you a sk8r or a prep?

I'm too nerdy to look goth. On a good day I can manage rock chick.

But I spent the 90s in flannel shirts and brown sneakers, because my mum didn't allow me to wear regular sporty sneakers.
posted by sukeban at 6:46 AM on January 22


For a teen growing up in a small town in South Georgia, Delia's was wonderful. Clothes from in town could come from JCpenney, Belk, or Walmart. Getting anything that felt "young" meant 90 miles down the road for a Jacksonville mall trip. My white patent Mary Janes that I wore to my junior prom (1995) came from there, as did a skirt that had an overlay made of something like football jersey material. I still have both of those, tucked away in a box somewhere. What made it even more special, I think, is that it was even a little aspirational to my sister and me, in that we didn't have the money to shop there often, but we could look at the style and try to do our best with what we could get. Those actual purchases, at Christmas or birthdays, were big treats.
posted by bizzyb at 7:01 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I remember riding the train in Portland one afternoon in 1996 and seeing a bunch of girls in baggy overalls. In one of those wow-I'm-not-a-teenager moments, I remembered being fifteen and squishing my poor butt into the first wave of designer jeans. And being so happy for those sloppy kids who looked so damn comfortable.

Alas, by the time my kid reached the hyperawareness of fashion age, the tide had turned again.
posted by pernoctalian at 7:12 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


God it's so weird to think back to a time when I was convinced that the height of fashion was rocking the perfect flower embroidered twin set.

God I had so many twin sets.
posted by whoaali at 7:14 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I was already out of college when Delia*s came out, so I never ordered from them, because no matter how cute some to their choices were, I figured I was too old and it would be silly if anyone found out.

Now I'm an old fart and can afford most of my favorite designers (okay, on ebay). But somewhere along the way I figured out that all fashion is personal choice. And I'm still amazed how many people who generally know better think I'm stylish because I don't care what's in. And I still wear those long cargo skirts. With awesome shoes.

But it is hard to see how fun and free those clothes those clothes were, and how few choices teens today really have (especially since some of which is probably related more to the cost of cotton than fashion at all). Because I suspect that no matter how long the tail of choices that are out there now thanks to the internet, you still have to be an old fart or some other flavor of cultural reject to be allowed to follow your own fashion flag, same as when I was a teen and young adult.
posted by Mchelly at 7:18 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I was a grown-up during this era, but someone in my apartment building got their catalog and I loved to skim it. I remember loving their bedding and was super-bummed that the sheets only came in twin sizes.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:22 AM on January 22


morganannie: I wore the FROUFROU dress to homecoming in 1997.

That dress is amazing. I suspect you could replace the women's wardrobe department of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with the contents of that 1996 catalog and no one (except maybe Faith) would notice.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:39 AM on January 22 [13 favorites]


These scans are giving me flashbacks for sure. I was Delia's target market but I was very depressed as a teen at the state of available fashions. They were all atrocious to me. I just tried to find the least objectionable shit. Now as an adult I'm still overjoyed every time I find something to wear that suits me. Which is still not often enough. I feel like the clothing choices available to kids now is wider and better than it was at this point.
posted by bleep at 7:44 AM on January 22


I love and miss the big clunky shoes.
posted by Mavri at 7:58 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I don't know much about fashion; I grew up then but was a dude who though he was above fashion. I wore a lot of really baggy jerseys and stuff. I don't even like sports.

But looking at this catalog: What was with sentences in the nineties with variable capitalization? I remember that being every where. I mean senTENces wOuLD LOOk like ThiS. I had forgotten how ubiquitous that was. It's like "Whoa, is this a Sega ad" or what.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:28 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Just gonna leave the Sassy mag scans tumblr here.
posted by lalex at 8:31 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


God., I remember on bolt.com - it was Facebook for Web 1.0! Back when we all knew that using a 'handle' rather than your real name was the way to internets - the really cool people aLl wRoTe LiKe ThIs CuZ iTs ~KeWl~.

Typing that just upset my fingers. And it was years before I realised what usernames spelt like 'xxRavensRulexx' meant.

None of those shoes would have fit me - I was a size 10US by the time I was twelve.
posted by mippy at 8:41 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


And it was years before I realised what usernames spelt like 'xxRavensRulexx' meant.

Am I missing something?
posted by grouse at 8:54 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


And the other day, I had to take off my skinny jeans to get my socks past my ankles

The thing I most hate about skinny jeans is that, somehow, somebody figured out how to make jeans uncomfortable.

(BTW for whoever upthread was wondering how this is different from what people are wearing now, it's the pants. Man, I really pine for a new leg shape.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


mippy, you were on Bolt.com? I was also on there!

Man, no wonder I spend so much time on this dumbass website.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I just remembered "No Fear" t-shirts, Zubaz pants, and "Mondetta" t-shirts that let Canadians tell everyone what country their ancestors were from for some reason. I'm still OK with plaid flannel shirts and Doc Martens boots, but man the 90s did have some ugly, ugly, stupid clothes too.
posted by Hoopo at 9:23 AM on January 22


neushoorn, I still have a couple of skirts with a patterned layer over a solid color layer that I drag out to wear a couple of times a year!
posted by of strange foe at 9:26 AM on January 22


Oh wow, the thermals and cargo skirts. That was totally my uniform. And faux hipster glasses and beaded chokers and at least one accessory with a butterfly on it...

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to put on my Doc Martens* and create a Jewel station on Pandora. If someone would just pass me a hit of "Grass" perfume by the Gap, my high school flashback will be complete.

* Yes, I'm a 32 yr old mother of nearly 2 children and wear knee high Docs every day because it's 1996 *somewhere.*
posted by sonika at 9:28 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


As far as I can tell, these Doc Martens are still totally stylish to the young'ins today, especially in bright colors. Teenagers always compliment me on them when I wear them to book events.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:33 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Shh Sara they will here you and take away my straight-legs! Noooooooooooo.... I just want my pants to be shaped similarly to how legs are shaped..
posted by bleep at 9:37 AM on January 22


Yeah, Doc Martens were popular in the 80s, the 90s, and now my brother's kids wear them. I don't think they'll ever go out of style.
posted by cazoo at 9:37 AM on January 22


Aw man, I remember Bolt.com. I also remember it was kind of the first time I was creeped on by older dudes on the internet and learned the value of a gender-neutral username.

I'm still kind of resentful that my mom threw away a pair of shoes I bought that she deemed too ugly. They were like these but with flames on the sides instead of stars. That plus huge pants, and a too tight tee shirt with some printed design were the height of middle school fashion for me.
posted by fontophilic at 9:41 AM on January 22


I just bought a dress from dELiA*s this year! The fulfillment of a long held dream, since I never ordered anything there as a teen and we didn't even get the catalog.

I'm a pretty small woman and it was during one of my leanest times, and I still had to order up to the medium, though (it was a dress). Tiny, tiny clothes.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:52 AM on January 22


*order up to a medium that was still too tight, that is
posted by stoneandstar at 9:56 AM on January 22


Oh to have had enough money, as a kid, to just order things that were in style and would go together properly, rather than having to cobble together old, unfashionable stuff from The Children's Place with random castoffs from my mom's 80s-tastic Working Woman wardrobe. I remember getting a delia*s catalog and almost literally, physically drooling over a totally unattainable ideal.

There are no photos of me from middle school, and precious few from high school. This is on purpose.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:00 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Also, the Gap had mailman pants

I don't know if this is a generation gap (ha) thing or what, but my teenage kids make fun of me for calling it "the Gap." Is this something that has changed? Like they would say "Let's go see what's on sale at Gap." Which is just wrong.

I've handed down actual 90s clothes (including gap stuff) to my 15yo daughter and she has friends who have commented she is lucky her mom has such cool clothes. Which is SUCH a laugh because the truth is my wardrobe has barely been updated since the 90s. I was in my 20s then, so to me a lot of those styles read just as kind of classic, not really dated or tied to a certain era. To me, for "dated" you have to go back to the 80s, to Laura Ashley dresses like the ones here... omg.
posted by torticat at 10:00 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I will always call it The Gap because The Gap is a 90s throwback experience in somewhat the same way Delia's was, except that I actually wanted the clothes at Delia's.

Actually, I still feel exactly the same at The Gap. I end up in there because, like, it's there, or something, look around, pretty much don't want anything, try a bunch of stuff on, none of it really suits me, and then I just buy $20 worth of t-shirts and leave.

Taking away "The" attempts to rebrand The Gap into something its marketing department may want it to be, but which it most certainly is not.
posted by Sara C. at 10:12 AM on January 22


Does anyone think that Lori Petty could have been considered something of a sex symbol in any other era then the early 90's? I was thinking about this recently after a double feature of Tank Girl and Point Break.
posted by mediocre at 10:17 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


"Fall into... the Gap!"
posted by sweetmarie at 10:17 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


The fact that Docs are back in "style" (though if you saw the inside of my closet you would never know that they weren't) makes me happy as they are easier to find and soon will likely flood ebay which is a huge boon to my I never have enough docs heart.

OTOH, my biggest regret was getting rid of all of my platform Chucks. I also wore all of my platform Vans out so badly I had to throw them away as I completely wore the indies out.

And I dream that one day that Converse will bring back the slides because they were the best summer shoes ever.
posted by bibliogrrl at 10:25 AM on January 22


I also miss my Swear Sneakers
posted by Windigo at 10:28 AM on January 22


Though mine looked more like this - yes, I was a raver.
posted by Windigo at 10:30 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I am amused and amazed that this dress from the current Delia*s catalog could easily have appeared in it back in my high school days. And that I still want it.
posted by maryr at 10:30 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I love that Chuck Taylors have been in style three separate times since I was born. I have a pair of Chucks that are identical to the ones I wore in middle school.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:37 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I have so much to say about this. First off, the mid-90s were 20 years ago. That is more than enough time to be nostalgic about the 90s. Just because you're crying that you were 25 when you saw Singles in the theatre does not mean it's not a long time ago. it's as far apart as the release date of Grease was from the year it was set in.

I too was Too-Fat-For-Delias and still read the catalog a thousand times and circled everything I liked in it a thousand times. I was once crestfallen when I thought I found some pajama pants that would fit me (according to the size chart) but they were SO tight I couldn't breathe in them. Ugh. I also often tried to copy their style in my own size but was mostly relegated to the plus size section of Fashion Bug, which at the time tried to dress all fat women as either retail store managers or fluffy pink mohair bunnies. At least I could find frost blue lipstick a la Delias at the CVS! The rest of the time I just did weird boyish outfits, or hippie-like clothes cobbled together from thrift store purchases.

I'm also moderately certain I had the same early twinkling bisexual crushes that PhoB mentions above. Those girls were cute. And all the girls I knew who actually wore Delias clothes were too.

Looking at all the recent "remember-Delias"posts (which have really cropped up in past 6-12 months) the thing that strikes me is how covered up these girls seem. Sure there was a "Gwen Stefani belly top" element or girls who dressed like Clueless and Jawbreaker were documentaries, but for the most part everyone wore big long pants and skirts and long sleeve shirts with a t-shirt over top. Summer of course was different but that skater style really hung on there! I feel like mailman pants went out (for girls anyway) around the rise of Avril Lavigne.

I remember in like 2003 or 4 a boy showed up to our college newspaper offices and everyone was so confused by his tight jeans. "Why is he dressed like that? he looks like the 1950's! His pants are so tight!" No one got it. This was just before the Strokes and that whole proto-hipster aesthetic became mainstream I think. I could not have been happier to see those dumb giant-flare/JNCO type jeans disappear (mostly) forever.
posted by SassHat at 10:52 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I still own the pair of turquoise and yellow fold down Chucks I bought when I was a senior in high school in 1991.

because I might be a shoe hoarder maybe
posted by bibliogrrl at 10:53 AM on January 22


SassHat: I have so much to say about this. First off, the mid-90s were 20 years ago. That is more than enough time to be nostalgic about the 90s. Just because you're crying that you were 25 when you saw Singles in the theatre does not mean it's not a long time ago. it's as far apart as the release date of Grease was from the year it was set in.

I mentioned recently in a similar thread that we are now the same distance from Nevermind that Nevermind was from Abbey Road.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:01 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


These army green pants.

I had pants of these color (I think they were GAP brand) and they were my absolute favorite. When I outgrew them, they didn't make pants in that color any more. I spent years trying to find a pair of pants that were the right color (they had lighter green sometimes, or evergreen, but never army green). I finally found a skirt of the right color, and I wore it to-death.
posted by hopeless romantique at 11:04 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I remember in like 2003 or 4 a boy showed up to our college newspaper offices and everyone was so confused by his tight jeans.

I remember in 2005/2006 when all the cool girls on Craftster were taking their bootleg jeans, turning them inside out, and pinning them into the shape of their leg so they could make DIY skinny jeans, because it was impossible to find them in stores in the US.

Delia's was so far above aspirational for me... it wasn't even on my radar. I seriously thought all the girls at my youth group were shopping at some secret store to get their cool-yet-modest tank tops and skater pants.
posted by muddgirl at 11:15 AM on January 22


And it was years before I realised what usernames spelt like 'xxRavensRulexx' meant.

What, do the xx's stand for something dirty?

I was a teenage boy in the late 90s, but my sister used to get this magazine, and it's definitely giving nostalgia pangs. I wonder what my old high school sweetheart is up to these days...
posted by Team of Scientists at 11:21 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


You know what I find striking about a lot of those Delia's outfits?

How cheap they look.
posted by maryr at 11:25 AM on January 22



What, do the xx's stand for something dirty?


Back in my particular day, they stood for straight-edge. But that's not a nineties thing, it's an eighties thing that carried over.
posted by Frowner at 11:26 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


xxUseRNaMExx = straightedge

Though I think after a while it was just because the username you wanted was taken.
posted by Sara C. at 11:27 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


How cheap they look.

OTOH they are mostly disposable fashion for teenage girls with changing bodies.

I remember the prices back then being a smidge higher than my mom really wanted to spend for flavor-of-the-month novelty clothes, but not astronomical (J. Crew was astronomical). Looking at the website now, the prices are on the lower end of what you'd find at Modcloth or Urban Outfitters.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on January 22


Don't forget to wear a bindi!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:34 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Huh, I have no knowledge or memory of Delia's at all. I was a bit older than the target age, I was in my mid-20s, and apparently never got the memo.
posted by desuetude at 12:00 PM on January 22


Frowner: Back in my particular day, they stood for straight-edge. But that's not a nineties thing, it's an eighties thing that carried over.

sXe also meant straightedge, and was not, as I embarrassingly discovered as a Freshman in college, a misspelling of sex.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:05 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I shopped almost exclusively at the Buckle and Delia's. In fact, I was just wearing a sweater I bought at the Buckle around 1998. It's a wool black and red fair isle cardigan and I will wear it until it falls apart, which it shows no sign of doing anytime soon.
posted by MaritaCov at 12:12 PM on January 22


oh my god blue lipstick.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:42 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I didn't get Delia*s but looking at those catalogs did give me some mad nostalgia. I still want a lot of those clothes.
posted by NoraReed at 1:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Cargo skirts. Ripstop nylon cargo skirts, with zippers. I had two of them--one in grey and one in green. I impressed some dudes at my high school by playing hackey-sack while wearing one once.

I loved reading delia*s but even then I was too curvy for most of their clothes--I got an ankle-length flared denim skirt from them once though that I loved to death.

Also that page of jewelry...I still have a drawer full of necklaces exactly like that.
posted by Tesseractive at 1:34 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


> God I had so many twin sets

Wait, is there something wrong with embroidered cardigans, or with twin sets? Asking for a friend. A middle-aged friend.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:45 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


No, but they had a very specific Moment circa 1995.

Like a lot of the clothes in the catalog, there's nothing inherently wrong with them, and in fact in a lot of cases they are universally flattering and classic items. However, fashion goes in cycles, and a lot of these items are at the nadir of unstylishness.

Like high waisted jeans, Doc Martens, and Wayfarer sunglasses, they will eventually be back and mentioned as "classics that never go out of style", until of course they go back out of style.
posted by Sara C. at 3:52 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


This is why I laugh at the fashion articles that swear that skinny jeans are universally flattering and comfortable and the ideal form of butt covering garment for all of time.

Sure. So were flares 15 years ago.
posted by Sara C. at 3:53 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Ha, I bought a few things in the mid-90s from deLia*s, two maxi skirts (one a grey sort of chino, one a paisley-patterned mesh layer over a red jersey layer), and a pair of beige linen drawstring trousers. I was closer to 30 than 20 at the time, but they fit properly. I would've never been able to order tops from there.

The chino skirt got a really bad, unwashable stain, the paisley skirt was ripped on some nail/peg/sharp jutting object on the subway, and the drawstring trousers I eventually got too fat for, so by 2011, they were all gone.

I do miss the paisley skirt, which still would have fit me. I usually wear a lot of solid colours out of a feeling that, being really short, I have to watch out for prints making me look ditzy and immature. But that skirt was so comfy and went with so many of my tops and shoes, and could be dressed up or down... #THANKSNYCMTA
posted by droplet at 4:50 PM on January 22


When my best friends moved out to the suburbs in maybe 1999 or 2000 (they were sisters), they started receiving deLia*s catalogs at their new house. The store had previously been off our radar, but I think it's hard to overstate how seductive those catalogs were to us. When I'd be able to get over to their new house, we'd hole up in their room listening to the radio and pouring through those catalogs for hours. It was sort of for the clothes, but mostly for the models. I would have given an eye to be one of those girls!

In college (around '04 or so), I had my own money and there was a deLia*s store in the mall by campus, so I finally got to actually buy deLia*s stuff. And yeah, I felt like hot shit shopping there, even then! There was this one pair of stretch, no-back-pocket flares from there that I wore to shreds.

Nowadays, the only 90s fashion I really miss are cargo pants. Comfortable, durable, and -- against all odds? -- flattering. The striped sweaters and metal chokers, not so much, though I tried my hardest to rock the hell out of them at the time.

I actually don't know that *all* the fashion is much different now, though...there was the baggy and quasi-unisex skater/grunge look, but at the same time, a lot of girls were into skin-tight suko jeans, which were basically proto-skinny jeans. Maybe jeggings if you want to get technical.

(Speaking of "lost fashion" though: Does anybody remember that fad for girls to cornrow or twist their hair back from the face to maybe the crown of the head, and then have the rest loose down the back? And then there were these weird headband/barrette things that you could wear to mimic that look without actually "doing" your hair? The headband/barrette things were made of plastic and were ubiquitous at the time, but suddenly disappeared sometime between now and then. Does anyone remember the name of those hair things? I have tried to google them so many times, with no success. Don't ask me why I try and google them, just to see what they looked like outside of my (dreadful) school photos, I guess.)

(Also -- and sorry if the years are off, I'm sure I was behind the times, seeing as I was wearing dark lip-liner all the way through '05 or something -- but was anyone else doing the thing of tucking in the (logo on the chest, of course, preferably Hilfiger, Polo, or Nike) T-shirt in the front so it hung loose over your butt OR tucking it in in the back so it showed off your butt but was loose down your front (depending on your particular clique)? The cargo-pants-and-front-tucked-man's-tee was my "uniform" for basically anytime in or around 1998).
posted by rue72 at 5:45 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Wait, is there something wrong with embroidered cardigans, or with twin sets? Asking for a friend. A middle-aged friend.

No, it's fine. I mean you aren't going to win any style awards, but it's totally unoffensive. I wouldn't call it dated or anything, especially if you are wearing it to work.

Maybe, stay away from the twin sets or wear them separately.

I was mostly referring to my somewhat misguided pride at having so many embroidered Gap twin sets in middle school and thinking I was very fashionable at the time.
posted by whoaali at 6:14 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


by gods, the shoes were ugly back then

Did every girl I had a crush on in 1991 wear pilgrim shoes?
posted by jonp72 at 8:09 PM on January 22


Laver's Law of Fashion remains valid.
posted by holgate at 8:16 PM on January 22


I mentioned recently in a similar thread that we are now the same distance from Nevermind that Nevermind was from Abbey Road.

But compare the amount of style (and music) changes between Abbey Road and Nevermind vs Nevermind and now.
posted by bongo_x at 8:57 PM on January 22


The headband/barrette things were made of plastic and were ubiquitous at the time, but suddenly disappeared sometime between now and then. Does anyone remember the name of those hair things?

Banana clips?

Or maybe you are thinking of the plastic headbands that stayed on by painfully squeezing the sides of your temples. I still see those for sale in stores though.
posted by yohko at 9:36 PM on January 22


rue72: "Does anybody remember that fad for girls to cornrow or twist their hair back from the face to maybe the crown of the head, and then have the rest loose down the back? And then there were these weird headband/barrette things that you could wear to mimic that look without actually "doing" your hair? ... Does anyone remember the name of those hair things? "

Um I still own those.

And I still wear them in the summer because they keep the hair off the back of my neck.

Try "stretch comb headband" such as here and here. Style can also be accomplished with tiny butterfly hair clips, such as a couple examples in this post. (And also! Bra strap head wraps!!!) Which I also still own, both the tiny butterfly hair clips and the bra strap head wraps.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:48 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


That 90s hair link is great!

I had the School Headband (well, more in like 1989-92, in elementary schoolish years). In black watch plaid, which was our school plaid. Why, yes, I did go to parochial school.

Mini ponytails, I think I might have done, but were never really my thing.

I wore Butterfly Clips to prom!

Clarissa Headbands would never stay on my head.

I had the Rachel in 9th grade, about six months before every other girl got it. By then I had grown it out and dyed it purple.

The "bra strap" style headbands are still around, but that's another style that would never stay on my head.

Those stretchy comb things are yet another thing that would not stay in my hair.

I'm shocked that there are no scrunchies in that link. Want to hear about another thing that wouldn't stay in my hair?

And thus, headbands are a land of contrasts.
posted by Sara C. at 12:04 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Oh crap. I don't update my wardrobe very often. A not insignificant amount of my clothes still date from the late 1990s, which is when I was earning my first paychecks and therefore buying nice clothes for the first time. Looking at these links, most of the clothes don't look dated to me: they look like stuff in my closet.

I think I need to rethink my fashion concepts.
posted by lollusc at 12:28 AM on January 23


Oh wow, chalk me up as another one who just realised that my sense of beauty and fashion is basically unchanged from school. Why am I pretending to go along with all this noughties nonsense about carrot-legged jeans and metropolitan sports jackets?

This thread just earned Doc Martens £80 and I'm going to go cut a thumb hole in my sleeve.
posted by forgetful snow at 3:18 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


I'm still kind of resentful that my mom threw away a pair of shoes I bought that she deemed too ugly. They were like these but with flames on the sides instead of stars.

GOOD GOD. I'm now reminding myself that shipping and customs will double the price of those shoes, but I really want them in case I have to go to a 70s superhero party.

Scrunchies are back in! Our uniform was restrictive down to the colour of hair accessories we were allowed (black and blue bobbles/ties only, no hairbands or other than plain clips, and the only jewellery we were allowed were plain stud earrings for girls and small religious symbol pendants) but I had a turquoise chintz one for weekends.
posted by mippy at 5:09 AM on January 23


Yeah, Doc Martens were popular in the 80s, the 90s, and now my brother's kids wear them. I don't think they'll ever go out of style.

Yeah, I don't get the inclusion of Doc Martens with stuff like "high waisted jeans". The popularity of Doc Martens may go up and down, but they're never out of style. Maybe some of the more radical looks, but brown and black? They're pretty much timeless, simple, look good, last forever. Sorry 90s, they do not belong to you.
posted by justgary at 7:24 AM on January 23


"peekaboo sweater" it says at the top of one scan image - were times more innocent or am i too venal?
posted by maiamaia at 7:31 AM on January 23


I remember loving delia's but only ordering the accessories and bath salts

It's too bad "bath salts" has become a term for sketchy mephedrone and methcathinone derivatives sold in seedy gas stations, because I had a brief double-take here for the first time evar reading the term.
posted by lordaych at 1:45 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


These army green pants.

Nowadays, the only 90s fashion I really miss are cargo pants. Comfortable, durable, and -- against all odds? -- flattering.

Yeah, I found some army-green cargo pants a few months ago at a thrift store, and in my size, even—like, they actually are comfortable and cover my butt! They're amazing. I've been wearing them all the time, even to work, because man, it's hard for a big girl to find clothes these days. I've always hated tapered jeans—in fifth grade, I even made my parents take me to the boys' section at Sears to try to find pants that weren't tapered, to no avail (the jeans there were still all tapered, and worse, not made for girls' butts).

Anyway, yeah, please '90s fashion, come back! All this cheap-ass girly fast fashion, paper-thin shapeless T-shirts, bizarrely cut and sewn blouses, see-through shit, skinny jeans...it's terrible.
posted by limeonaire at 9:40 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I owned those parachute pants and LOVED them. Bad for summer rock concerts, though, as they did not breathe.

I also owned that 'C' dress from the second link. I wore it to our anti-prom party at a casino.

I loved Delia's. *sigh*
posted by jillithd at 12:15 PM on January 26


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