Denim is a fabric that never goes out of style, but it was arguably in the ‘90s that the trend really hit its stride. Unfortunately, with all good things come the bad — and there are certainly a fair amount of embarrassing things we did to our denim in the ‘90s. You see, the decade was when our love for all things jeans really took on a life of its own, with most of us not only purchasing large amounts of the material, but also utilizing what we already owned to DIY the latest trends and sartorial fads.
From adding extra studs, rivets, sequins, and patches to bell bottoms wider than our waists, acid-washing or tie-dyeing every item we owned, and even turning our old, has-been jeans into handbags, no stone was left unturned when it came to how we wore our denim.
Although many of our prior efforts may make us cringe now, it’s worth considering that, in the age of fast fashion and very little thinking when it comes to where we get our clothes, our DIY efforts of days-gone-by may make more sense in 2016 than we first thought. Below’s a list of all the good, bad, ugly, and ultimately embarrassing ways we wore the fabric once upon a time.
1. We Turned Our Old Jeans Into Handbags
Mom Bag Recycled Upcycled Jean Bag, $19.34, etsy.com/AuntBrendasBags
I used to think these bags were the pinnacle of coolness. Although they most definitely belong at the back of the wardrobe these days, DIY-ing your own jean bag was the best of the best when it came to sleepover activities.
2. And Wore Jeans With 50-Inch Wide Flares
Vintage '90s Menace Jeans JNCO Style, $89.50, etsy.com/CarnivalOfTheManiac
Whether you owned a legit pair of JNCO's or any of the other wide-legged incarnation, most of us can likely remember trying super hard to fray the bottom of our oversized trousers by dragging them along the underside of our skate shoes.
3. We Acid-Washed Everything
Acid Wash Denim Jacket, $29.25, etsy.com/downhousevintage
Call it a hangover trend from the '80s if you will, but one thing's for certain: If your denim wasn't acid wash, it just wasn't worth wearing.
4. And Even Wore The Stuff On Our Feet
Patchwork Denim '90s Chunky Platform Ankle Boots, $55 etsy.com/ACTUALTEEN
We loved our denim so much that wearing the fabric as pants or DIY-ing bags wasn't enough. While many of us may cringe at the thought of head-to-toe denim in 2016, I can't deny how handy the extra pocket space would be.
5. We Rocked Jean Prints, But Not Actual Denim
'90s Denim Pocket Patterned Long Sleeve Crop Blouse, $18, etsy.com/TheArtsyAttic
This is one trend I never understood. There are many upsides to denim as a fabric: Durability and long wear, for instance. But stretch fabric replicas? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
6. We Cut Up Our Old Jeans To Make Chokers
FRAYED Denim Choker, $16.12, etsy.com/EDTdesigns
We really were a resourceful bunch in the '90s, and after cutting our bell bottoms in favor of booty shorts, there was only one thing to do with all that excess denim: Make a super cute choker.
7. We Made Patchwork Reign Supreme
Vintage '90s Denim Patchwork Mini Dress, $30, etsy.com/BlackPaganVintage
You may think double-matching denim is a bad thing to do, but once upon a time, the only way forward was to combine acid wash with indigo blue and bleached denim in an ode to the '70s hippy movement via the lens of '90s trashy chic.
8. We Poured Bottles Of Bleach Down Our Old Shorts
Black Denim Shorts With Bleach Design, $30.23, etsy.com/AbiDashery
Once upon a time, we all walked around looking as though we'd had a haphazard accident with the bleach bottle while cleaning the bathroom.
9. We Wore Jeans So Low That Almost Everything Was On Show
'90s Does '70s Dark Blue Stretchy Spandex Denim, $18, etsy.com/flyingnuns
I'm truly thankful that the days have passed in which I lived in fear of sitting down just in case my low-rise jeans left left me baring a little more flesh than desired.
10. We Combined Two Pairs Of Trousers To Make DIY Bell Bottoms
Bell Bottom Jeans, $65 etsy.com/LandOfBridget
It didn't matter if the denim didn't match: Upgrading your straight legs for a bell bottom with this too-simple-to-mess-up trick was a certified way to keep your wardrobe relevant in the '90s.
11. We Hacked At Our Denim Diapers With Scissors
Distressed High Waisted Shorts, $22.50 etsy.com/DenimRenewalByBri
In 2016, it's in no way uncommon to buy your blues already ripped. But way back when, the only way to shred some overpriced denim was to get at it with scissors, protractors, pins, or by any means necessary.
So while I won't be rocking low-rises or extreme bell bottoms anytime soon, as summer slowly draws to a close, I will take a moment to think about how my old jeans can be DIY-ed for winter. Dodgy bleach jobs not included.
Images: Courtesy Brands