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Last Updated on June 30, 2021
The 90s were a glorious time. Cell phones were bricks carried by a select few, social media was a mere dream, and nights were spent by hours on the landline to our best friends.
The 90s years were full of fads, from butterfly clips to the ‘Carlton’ dance. Must-have toys were begged for, and consumerism was rife.
Here are the best, (or worst?) 90s fads.
- Butterfly clips
Multi-colored, plastic clips with butterfly wings and glitter, in all shapes and sizes. Hair was twisted into rows, gathered into a messy bun, and dotted with multiple butterflies.
- ‘The running man’
The dancing style that involved high knees, pumping arms, and a whole lot of energy. The dance originated in the 80s but was still groovin hard in the 90s. Janet Jackson and New Kids On The Block rocked this dance (and so did Stephanie on ‘Full House’).
- ‘The Carlton’
Carlton Banks on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ has gone down in history with his nerdy, high-energy dance to Tom Jones’ “It’s not unusual”. A sweater vest and bone-colored slacks optional.
- Denim overalls with embroidery
Overalls were huge in the 90s, but for a time, they were embroidered and patched. Peace signs, yin and yang signs, and rainbows were favorites.
- Mom jeans
Mom jeans were the laughing stock of the 90s in the 00s (ironic considering the ultra-low boot-cut jeans we wore then!). However, they were, and still are, all the rage. The higher, the better.
- ‘The Rachel’
Jennifer Aniston’s hair when she played Rachel in ‘Friends’ was as famous as the show itself. Women across the world flocked to the hairdresser to get those signature layers.
- Hats with fake flowers
Teen TV show ‘Blossom’ made brimmed hats with flowers a key look in the 90s. Soft-touch hats with upturned brims and big fake sunflowers pinned front and center.
- Tamagotchis and Giga Pets
Digital pets that hat to be fed, watered, and cared for were inexplicably popular in the 90s. They taught a generation of kids to be obsessed over digital toys, with technology stuck to their palms. Sound familiar?
- ‘Light as a feather, stiff as a board’
This was a 90s slumber party staple, with pre-teens and teens “lifting” a fellow party-goer with a mere finger each. Most of us learned it from teen witch flick ‘The Craft’.
- Rainbow socks
Rainbow socks were a necessity in my friend group in the late 90s. They came up to the knee and were often worn with Steve Madden black slides or platform sneakers.
- Tickle-Me Elmo
Like the Furby, the Tickle-Me Elmo doll swept the world and had parents giving in to begging and pleading. Hey, if it encourages joy and laughter, why not?
- Silly Putty Eggs
Plastic eggs filled with colored gunk. We sure did love to play with gooey substances in the 90s, didn’t we? I guess it’s not so different from the ‘slime’ trend of recent years.
The late 90s ushered in the Furby, that annoying, demanding, infuriating little fuzzy thing so many of us begged for. It was a thrill to watch these fuzzy friends “learn” English.
Did you have a troll doll with multi-colored hair stuck on the end of your pencil? Join the club! These odd little dudes were released in the late 50s but had a huge surge in the 90s.
- My Little Pony
Little plastic ponies with pastel-toned hair and glitter designs on their haunches. While they were released in the early 80s, they had a major moment in the 90s.
- Puppy Surprise
This always struck me as a little cheap, as you could get three, four, or five puppies inside your dog toy. We were painfully disappointed if we only got three.
- Doodle Bear
A teddy bear that came with markers for decorating said bear. You could draw and write all over it before throwing it in the washing machine. How were we roped into such things?
- Sky Dancers
My sister had a Sky Dancer and I was painfully jealous. They were fairy-like dolls with shimmering, pastel colors. You set them on a base, pulled the string, and watched them fly into the air.
- Polly Pocket
Polly Pockets had us all imagining new worlds and having space all to ourselves, even if it was palm-sized and made of plastic.
- Scratch and sniff stickers
Sticker books were filled with puffy stickers, furry stickers, holographic stickers, and stickers that smelled like chocolate or strawberries after you scratched them. Swapping stickers was a proud pastime.
- Spice Girl Impulse spray
Depending on where you grew up, this may or may not ring a bell. The body spray was released in 1997 and was pungent indeed. If I whiffed it now I swear my entire childhood would rush back to me.
- Blue mascara
Navy or electric blue mascara, ultra-thin eyebrows, and frosty brow bones were the height of cool beauty in the 90s. High-shine lip gloss or matte brown lipstick polished it all off.
- Body glitter
Body glitter was a gem among 90s fads, and it was favored by all ages. Jars full of colored gel and glitter in various shapes sat on the dressers of kids, teens, and adults everywhere. Cover your limbs, face, and hair before heading out to dance The Macarena.
One of the simplest games ever. A huge ring of elastic that you would wind around two people’s legs and get another friend to jump over with various foot patterns. If you trip, hit the elastics, or break the routine? Get out, my friend.
- “Talk to the hand”
“…cause the face don’t wanna hear it”. Remember that? It was up there with “phat”, “whatever”, and “wazzuuup”.
Every 90s kid will remember the blow-up phase. Blow-up chairs (I had a green one), cushions, and room ornaments in bright colors (including neon and glitter) were on Christmas wish lists everywhere.
Platform shoes were a must-have for girls the world over. We had The Spice Girls to thank for this, with their sky-high sneakers. Platform flip-flops were also a big hit.
- Ring pops
Candy in the form of jewelry has always had mass appeal. Candy necklaces and bracelets? Sure. Giant jewel rings made of candy, making your fingers sticky? We uttered a collective “yes”.
- The Macarena
Having flashbacks to your school dance with everyone doing ‘The Macarena’ when that song inevitably came on? It was grating on the ears but surprisingly fun on the dance floor.