Fashion undergoes constant reinvention, infusing vintage styles with contemporary flair. However, some trademark trends from the past deserve to remain buried in previous decades. From cringe-worthy clothing to outdated hairstyles, specific fads have haunted past fashion eras, showcasing impracticality and a lack of taste. Despite the efforts of nostalgia-driven designers, not every retro look can be redeemed. As culture cycles through ongoing waves of ’90s and Y2K revival, it becomes evident that certain offbeat trends should remain long-forgotten memories. Regardless of how ironically stylish they may appear, these iconic fads should stay dead and buried. Let’s not call it a comeback! Now, fasten your seatbelts; we’re embarking on a journey down the lane of bad fashion memories. From neon leg warmers to mullets and beyond, here are the top 10 fashion trends that no one should resurrect.
10 Parachute Pants
Who could overlook the swishy, crunchy realm of parachute pants? These oversized, baggy trousers, adorned with numerous pockets and a built-in belt, dominated streetwear in the ’80s and ’90s. Championed by hip-hop artists like MC Hammer, parachute pants were crafted from nylon fabrics that produced a distinctive swishing sound with each movement of the wearer. Embraced by breakdancers for their spacious fit and trendy street style, parachute pants, however, weren’t the most flattering or practical fashion choice. The billowy silhouette, often coupled with a matching nylon sweatshirt, could overpower smaller frames. Attempting to squeeze parachute pants into a standard backpack or locker while on the go proved to be quite a challenge! Let’s consign these loud, puffy pants to the bygone era where they truly belong.
9 Jelly Shoes
Chunky, vibrant jelly shoes were the preferred footwear for kids in the ’80s and ’90s. Typically crafted from rubber or PVC, jelly shoes came in vivid neon hues to complement every ensemble. These squishy sandals were waterproof and easy to clean, although their thin straps often resulted in quirky tan lines during the summer. Despite being fun and colorful, jelly shoes tended to lack sufficient support, and wearing them with socks often led to unpleasant foot odors. The resounding slapping sounds of jelly shoes on hard surfaces could be a source of irritation for parents and teachers. Even years later, the echoing clunk of jelly shoes still lingers in the memories of Gen Xers and Millennials. Let’s preserve these rubbery sandals in the retro footwear hall of fame where they rightfully belong.
The mullet, characterized by short hair in the front and long hair in the back, burst onto the fashion scene in the 1970s and ’80s. Musical icons like David Bowie and Billy Ray Cyrus proudly sported mullets, setting a trend embraced by athletes and celebrities seeking a cool, edgy style. Mullets became ubiquitous, adorning the heads of men, women, and even kids.
However, the novelty of mullets eventually faded away, and they earned a reputation as one of the worst haircuts, often becoming the subject of mockery on TV shows and comedy skits. Despite sporadic attempts to revive it as an ironic retro style, many people agree that this haircut should remain in the past. The mullet demands meticulous upkeep to avoid looking unkempt, and very few individuals can genuinely pull off this eccentric and polarizing look. It’s time to bid farewell to this hairstyle for good.
Scrunchies reigned supreme in the realm of hair accessories and pop culture during the ’80s and ’90s. These fabric-covered elastic hair ties, larger and thicker than regular elastics, were often crafted from brightly colored silky materials. Teenage girls amassed scrunchies in various hues to coordinate with their outfits, adorning their ponytails or braids with these stylish accessories.
However, the charm of oversized scrunchies gradually diminished as thinner and more discreet hair elastics gained popularity. Except for nostalgic retro styles, contemporary scrunchies may appear cumbersome and overly youthful for adult women. They tend to create uneven bumps in hairstyles and, due to their size, struggle to stay put in fine or silky hair. While we can cherish scrunchies for their era, it’s time to consign them to the days of mall bangs and crimped hair.
6 Super Low-Rise Jeans
Ultra low-rise jeans reigned supreme in late ’90s and early 2000s fashion, with waistbands perilously descending close to the hips. Pop icons like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera flaunted hip-hugging jeans both on stage and in everyday life, contributing to the popularization of belly button piercings.
However, the extreme exposure from low-slung jeans ultimately proved impractical and unflattering for everyday wear. Sitting down became precarious, and constant adjustments were needed to prevent embarrassing moments like plumber’s crack or unintended thong reveals. The intense Denim Danger Zone simply wasn’t suitable for most body types.
While low-rise jeans may still make occasional appearances, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Let’s consign the super duper low-cut styles back to the early 2000s where they belong.
The visor emerged as a quintessential accessory in the ’90s, serving the dual purpose of shielding the eyes from the sun and showcasing stylish hair. Initially popularized by tennis players and golfers, visors soon infiltrated mainstream fashion, with teens and college kids sporting them backward or tilted for that extra “dude” factor.
However, the practicality of sun protection provided by visors started to pale in comparison to the risk of looking like a clueless tourist or a vacationing mall cop. Not only did they cast awkward tan lines on the forehead, but they also offered no shield for the rest of the face. As the visor trend waned, it became associated with awkward dads and eccentric golfers.
While we can fondly remember the visor, it’s evident why it faded from fashion’s spotlight. In the 2020s, the call is for full coverage and wide-brimmed hats, eschewing squinty half-measures.
4 Frizzy Perm Hair
In the 1980s, perms were the go-to for achieving voluminous, bouncy curls and waves, adhering to the principle that bigger hair equaled better style. Teased perms with enormous frizz and volume gained popularity, even though managing such hairstyles proved challenging. Women resorted to large curling irons and copious amounts of Aqua Net hairspray to achieve these towering perm styles.
However, the association between big permed hair and the excesses of the Jersey Shore, coupled with the melodramatic flair of the ’80s, led to a decline in popularity. The extensive teasing and perming process resulted in dry, damaged locks susceptible to extreme frizz and breakage. Additionally, the high-maintenance styling requirements of perms became impractical for many. While some attempt to revive retro finger waves, the consensus is that massive ’80s perms should remain in the past, making way for the comeback of healthy, natural hair.
3 Stirrup Pants
Stirrup pants, featuring a snug fit from thigh to ankle with fabric loops for the feet, surfaced during the aerobics craze of the 1980s and lingered into the ’90s. These stretchy, spandex-heavy pants offered freedom of movement while showcasing legs ready for leotards, making them immensely popular for workouts and casual wear.
However, the constrictive ankle bands and tight silhouette eventually fell out of favor, giving way to looser and more comfortable pant styles. Stirrup pants were associated with awkward tan lines and the potential for bulges around the ankles and feet, especially if sized incorrectly. The hassle of putting on and taking off shoes added to their impracticality. While we can fondly remember stirrup pants for their era, they now find a niche in ’80s-themed costume parties and closet nostalgia. Leggings and joggers provide comparable comfort without the foot traps.
2 Acid Wash Jeans
The quintessential denim style of the ’80s that screamed “radical” was none other than acid wash jeans. Achieving their distinctive faded and mottled appearance involved manufacturers using acids, bleach, and various chemicals to give a weathered look to brand-new denim. Popularized by music groups like Guns N’ Roses, acid-wash jeans became synonymous with heavy metal fashion.
However, the rugged and gritty aesthetic of acid wash jeans eventually lost its appeal in mainstream fashion. The intricate fading and patterns of acid-wash jeans were challenging to replicate at home, limiting style options. Moreover, the chemical processing rendered the jeans stiff and scratchy, lacking the soft and worn-in feel that denim enthusiasts often prefer. While acid wash jeans still make appearances in costume form, contemporary denim has thankfully moved towards softer and more comfortable directions. Let’s confine acid washing to the hard rock atmosphere of the 1980s where it belongs.
1 Hyper-Colored Eyeshadow
In the 1980s and ’90s, the go-to look for a big night out was characterized by bright, intense eyeshadow. It was not uncommon to see shades like electric blue or neon pink extended up to the brows—the more dramatic, the better. Pop stars such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Paula Abdul popularized bold eyeshadow looks that became defining makeup trends.
However, shimmery, super-saturated eyeshadows can tend to overwhelm eyes, especially for individuals over the age of 25, leading to creasing. During the day, these intense hues may appear jarring and out of place in many professional settings. While vivid eyeshadow still makes occasional appearances on runways and red carpets, the trend toward more subtle, flattering neutral, and pastel shades has been widely embraced for daily wear. Let’s reserve the disco shadow for Halloween and decade-themed parties, where it can truly shine.