How Many People Can You Fit in Your JNCOs?

Oh dear — the ‘90s.

I fondly look back on that era. I was the hottest bitch in my elementary school — and by that, I mean supremely shy and nerdy, with giant pink-framed glasses and scrunchies for days. So many fashion staples defined the ‘90s, and as a socially awkward tween, I tried to encompass all of them into my style — at the same time.

Using the best of my memory (addled in recent years by tons of PBR and whiskey, the preference of many a former ‘90s nerd), the following is my recap of GREAT ‘90s FASHION FADS:

Starter jackets. Who cares if I’d never seen a pro basketball game before I entered high school? Starter jackets were the shit — puffy, designed for boys and always paired with an oh-so-fly pair of acid-wash jeans. Of course, my closet didn’t contain a jacket from the Chicago Bulls or any other actual team. I got my lovely faux starter jacket at WalMart, and the logo was a plain basketball embroidered on the chest with a generic star on the back. THE COOLEST.

JNCOs. I don’t know what it was about the ‘90s that encouraged girls to envy the trends of scraggly-haired skater bois, but it was a “thing” for sure. A girl wearing JNCO jeans always made me wonder how many of her younger siblings were hiding in the pant legs. No child left behind, the easy way! Now I wonder how many Goodwill stores are trying to give the damn things away. Ed Hardy, eat your heart out.

Swatch watches. I won’t lie, I still kind of have a thing for these watches. Adored during my youth, frowned upon as an adolescent and now remembered lovingly as a semi-adult-like-person, Swatch watches embodied everything that is right with neon and telling time. The best collection, of course, was the Swatch Pops.

Skechers. Before the days of Shape-Ups was the golden age of platformed tennis shoes. And no brand embodied this fad better than Skechers*, whose catalog pages I poured over while envisioning channeling my inner Spice Girl. Remember, “It’s the S.”

*Click link for awesome Skechers commercials from 1999.

Butterfly clips. In all sorts of mysterious ways, ‘90 girls managed to get their hair off of their face to run laps in gym class. Or, you know, just to hang out. The worst offender of all hair accessories (yup, worse than Scrunchies) had to be those tiny butterfly hair clips. We would essentially cornrow the tops of our hair and pin each section back with a glittery, butterfly-shaped clip so our mullets were cleverly disguised as an up-do from hell.

Stirrup pants. A little known fact about your fair TNGG writer: I didn’t wear my first pair of jeans until the sixth grade. So what did I envelop my peach-fuzz-covered legs with before then? Stirrup-pants, like, duh! All day, every day — black ones, brown ones, pink-and-purple floral ones. Hey, look — no puddle will desecrate my ankles because the hem of my pants are tucked neatly into my off-brand LA Gears. Bitch.

Current American Apparel Scrunchie ad, NSFW. Leave it to them to bring it back.

Scrunchies. Before “I Whip My Hair Back and Forth” came “I’ll Pile One Hundred Bands of Fabric Around My High-as-Shit Ponytail Until My Equilibrium is Suffering.” Understated hair-do? No thank you. I’ll take a zebra-print Scrunchie, and make it a double.

Grunge. Olive green. Flannel. Baggy jeans. Combat boots. Doc Martens. SO SEXY. Bonus points if your long, curly hair was not graced with the presence of shampoo during the entire decade. Kurt Cobain, I will have your love child! Wait, he died? Someone verify this please…

Zubaz. Girrrrl, the best thing I ever did in fashion was to pretend the bottom half of my body was a Mexican blanket. Zubaz were shorts (and then pants, capes and…diapers?!) tapered at the bottom with elastic – basically the poor-man’s Hammer pants…if poor men liked to stop traffic with their loud-as-balls upper-thigh regions. America, don’t let this happen again (I spoke too soon. They’re baaaaack).

Logo tees. Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, Calvin Klein. Nothing says “individuality” like a plain grey t-shirt showcasing nothing but a designer’s name. Fifty dollahs to make you hollah!

And that’s a wrap. I’m done reminiscing now — and I’m on my way to burn all evidence that I ever wore the above-mentioned fashion items.

What were you rockin’ during the ‘90s?

Jessi Stafford Graduate of Mizzou. Starving freelance writer and hipster-watcher who just moved to the Dirty South. I will work for coffee, booze or tofu scramble. I write the weekly column The Feed Bag for TNGG. Twitter: @jessistafford

View all posts by Jessi Stafford

15 Responses to “How Many People Can You Fit in Your JNCOs?”

    • Angela Stefano

      I dunno, the shot with them on her arms is very Spanish dancer/Chaquita banana-like. Could be a new trend.

      I most definitely wore stirrup pants until 5th or 6th grade, too. When I did finally start wearing jeans — oh my. They were overalls. Or had patches on them (like those ’60s-style ones you’d buy at New Age Creations — also where I often bought my butterfly clips!)

      My friends and I went to a ’90s night at a bar a few months ago — I wish I could show you photos — fanny packs, flannel and sweet-ass hi-tops, oh my!

      • Jessi Stafford

        In all honesty, minus those God-damned butterfly clips, most of this stuff could be regurgitated into some new wave of fashion. Urban Outfitters we’re coming for you…

  1. Rolliene Mallari

    THIS. All this.

    Oh my goodness, I remember collecting butterfly clips (mine were the ones with the spring attaching the wings to the body so when you moved, it looked like the thing was “flying”).

    I remember coveting Skechers but never being able to ask for a pair of my own. Scrunchies were THE SHIIIIIIIT. Wore it like that on top of my head and had the hair just cascade a la fountain-sprouting-from-head too.

    Yea, let’s not talk about that last part….

  2. Jessica

    Awesome post, Jessi!

    I thought I was so cool in my JNCO jeans. I also had a pair of those sparkly vinyl-like Vans sneakers (and before that I lived in my red Converse high-tops). The ’90s were the best!

  3. Melissa Tope

    Hahaaa! The butterfly clip section was my FAVE! Your writing style is great.. so conversational. Great post Jessi! I was just waiting for the section on jean scorts or overalls. I think I even had a a denim scort jumper!

    • Jessi Stafford

      Mellissa – thanks for reading! Um – and along with stirrup pants, you can believe I wore jumpers and skorts – that was my go-to outfit for picture day…good LORD. (I may need to see pictures of little Melissa.)

  4. Mike Nunez

    Swatch watches are still huge in Asia. Almost bought one recently, but they sell for abou $70 each. The colors are great though. They pair well with the fashion trends in Seoul and cost much less than the brighter heavier plastic watches from Japan.

  5. Allison Ubriaco

    Jessi, I totally forgot about butterfly clips but I have to admit that I wore them all the time. Great post! I loved it.


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