Our 90s life, in clothes.

My So Called Life
Angela and Julie circa 1994.
 We re-watched the quintessential 90s movie Mad Love over the weekend for the first time since, well, 1995, and it got us thinking about what it was like to be a teenager back then, compared to today. Obviously the differences are night and day; no cell phones, internet, Snapchat. But there was also no fast-fashion, no online shopping, and very few good chain stores. There were a few cool boutiques in Toronto, but it was slim-pickings compared to today, and that meant we had to get creative with our clothing.

90s Drew Barrymore

Take Mad Love for example. We worshiped Drew, on and off screen. She was the coolest. We plucked our brows to the point of non-existence and wore daises in our hair. We dreamed of running away with our imaginary boyfriends in a "f-you Mom and Dad, no one understands me!" kind of way. We wore unbelievably unflattering oversized men's shirts we bought at Value Village, baggy pants, and at our most feminine, spaghetti-strap babydoll dresses over baby tees. 

Drew Barrymore Mad Love

Drew Barrymore Mad Love

Drew Barrymore in Mad Love

Back then it was actually cool to look unattractive (or at least at least, attractive in a very non-sexual way). It was also cool to wallow in your own angst. What were we so upset about? No idea. We had very nice, comfortable lives. We had a great time in high school and dated cute boys. And yet we still managed to come home at the end of the day, put on some Pearl Jam and have a good wallow. We wore  XXXL Nirvana t-shirts that drowned us. I had a little collection.  

Because "grunge" was everything, it wasn't cool to look like you had any money or shopped at the mall. We wanted more than anything to be this era Courtney Love. Luckily it was very easy to replicate her dirty-grunge look with pieces we found in Kensington Market and our local thrift shops. I would go out with $30 and come back with bags of ill-fitting clothes. Somehow. 

90s grunge Courtney Love

We played this album to DEATH and screamed along to Rock Star at the top of our lungs in our bedrooms, about how everyone else was the same, and we were oh so different. So individual. So much better. HA.

Hole, Live Through This

My So Called Life was a revelation. We idolized free-spirited Rayanne and her amazing ensembles but identified more with insecure Angela and her demented interior monologue. 

My So Called Life


The overalls, the plaid shirts, the obsessive layering, the not-wearing-anything-that-fit-us-properly-ever.  I even had Angela's cut and colour. It was much worse on me. And all the hot guys had long hair like Jordan. If they didn't, they weren't worth our time.

Wearing my cherished Docs, overalls and a peace necklace, summer '93.

Reality Bites

Reality Bites was another favourite. I remember thinking it was so funny and ironic that Vickie worked at the Gap. The Gap was so lame. Brands in general were so uncool. So corporate. We wanted so much to be what we thought was "anti-establishment" that I can actually remember people cutting brand labels out of their shirts so no one would know it came from the mall. No joke. For some reason we were alright with pricey Doc Martens, (I begged my parents for months for my pair) but that was it. And if I did get my jean jacket at the Gap, I sure as hell wasn't going to admit to it. I found it in, like, a dumpster, guys. 

Vicky in Reality Bites

These days we all freely align ourselves with brands, as it's so much easier to do so now because of social media. Branding yourself has become the norm. But it didn't used to be that way. There was a real sense that it was "us against them". Oh how the times have changed. 

The one example of branding that really struck a chord with the grunge generation were those iconic Calvin Klein ads, because we were all so obsessed with the grungy, no-makeup, waif-like Kate Moss. She was the anti-supermodel, and a brilliant example of the CK marketing team capturing the zeitgeist of the youth at that time and selling it right back to us. Maybe that was the beginning of it. At some point in the mid-nineties I remember everyone suddenly lusting after those classic Club Monaco label sweatshirts. Were we outgrowing grunge?

Kate Moss  90s Calvin Klein ads

Or maybe Sex and The City and Clueless just came along and changed everything. Maybe we all just grew up.

Sex and The City Season One

Cher in Clueless shopping scene

We're not saying one era was better than the other, just that things were very different. You never had to worry about what you looked like at school, because no one was going to put your picture on the internet. You weren't going to be tagged on Facebook or Instagram.  There were no such things as selfies or Snapchat. The worst that could happen was a bad photo of you in the yearbook. And that was once a year, so really, who cares? 

Part of me is kind of sad that teens these days will never experience the kind of anonymity that we took for granted. But they seem quite content to incessantly post their fabulous lives all over social media, so I'm not gonna feel too sorry for them. I'm just so happy there was no Instagram in the 90s, because my life was anything but fabulous. 

Drew Barrymore 90s YM cover

Back-to-school babe I was NOT. My look was more "homeless-runaway-chic". But that was fine with me.


  1. Love this post!! I remember all of those feelings growing up in the 90's!!

  2. Whether you’re looking for off-duty denim or work-wear staples, our women's cloth has got you covered for any occasion. from directional daytime looks to party-ready pieces, our affordable prices will allow you to update your wardrobe season after season.

  3. Thanks For sharing this Superb article.I use this Article to show my assignment in college.it is useful For me Great Work. Kinderkleding online kopen

  4. Give yourself sufficient opportunity to search for the correct style of outfit to coordinate the forthcoming event. Kinderkleding online

  5. I have read all the comments and suggestions posted by the visitors for this article are very fine,We will wait for your next article so only.Thanks! clothes

  6. When I wore an outfit that I got no consideration about, I really felt undetectable and discouraged. In some cases simply contemplating another new outfit I would wear the following day and how great I'd look and how begrudged I'd be was all I considered on those discouraging days. pirate surf clothing

  7. Style exists as two universes today, the genuine and the shallow. I feel style is horribly misconstrued and censured in the contemporary sense. In the shallow universe of style, it is seen as the benefit of the alleged upper strata of the general public. This is the deplorability of the present design.

  8. Hello, this weekend is good for me, since this time i am reading this enormous informative article here at my home. cocktail dresses in Australia

  9. Dark is likewise not a shading but rather the nonappearance of all the rainbow hues. In painting there are three essential hues red, green and blue. Different hues are called auxiliary hues and are produced or acquired either by blending any at least two of the essential paint hues. White paint is a blend of the three essential hues. clothing uk

  10. They usually do not have a store of their own to display their clothing wholesale merchandise instead they work from warehouses and offices. They get in touch with the customers through salesperson or through the internet. Custom Iron On Patches

  11. When you first start out, it is your friends and family that will likely help you choose which designs you should move forward. Dutch Label Shop

  12. We do custom patches, embroidered patches, printed patches, custom Velcro patches, clothing labels, PVC patches, custom leather patches, custom keychains, and other promotional products. Following is an overview of our products. Custom Iron On Patches
    Houston Embroidery Service
    10685B Hazelhurst Dr.
    STE 13006
    Houston, TX 77043
    United States

  13. I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about.. get instagram likes free app

  14. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article... marcasite bracelets vintage

  15. allow women to make their booty "pop" in seconds, curving out their jeans, shorts, pants, skirts and dresses. Women can now have the hourglass silhouette they've always wanted safely, easily and comfortably. You'll be wearing all day, every day! Snack Booty Shorts

  16. Don't let moths and other insects destroy your clothing. To protect your clothes, Wedding Collection you may want to use canvas storage boxes or vacuum storage bags. You can save your clothes for years if you know how to wash them properly.

  17. You will agree that some of the threats to good clothes are mice and roaches. If mice driven crazy by Sommerkleider starvation get a tiny chance of accessing your closet, your clothes will be in a great deal of trouble.

  18. This holds particularly valid for recycled vintage attire. These garments may have most likely been specially crafted to fit the proprietor. Some garments could have longer sleeves or a more extensive chest which may seem off-kilter when worn by another person. When purchasing dresses or covers, know the proper length that would accommodate your tallness. trendy boutique

  19. Guys are evidently oblivious to this dilemma; it's the gals who have a hard time. Maintaining an air of dignity while moving around a shop in search of plus size clothing is difficult. Bondage Kits