1) Flared jeans
The first time someone complimented me on my clothes was in grade 7 when I wore a pair of flared jeans. Back then, the more your pant legs covered your shoes, the cooler you were. A proper pair of flared jeans would inevitably be torn to shreds and perpetually dirty near the heel of the foot - but we wore those ripped hems like a badge of honour. In junior high, all the popular girls were buying their flared jeans from Garage, and in early high school, the clique upgraded to brands like True Religion and Rock & Republic. Thick, white stitching and diagonal seams were markers of wealth and style. For me, as much as I tried, I could never find the perfect pair of flared jeans. Garage jeans were always too long on me. To satisfy my style cravings, my mom would fold the hems and stitch them in place loosely with needle and thread. While I am deeply grateful to my mother for painstakingly altering all my jeans, I will forever remember the tell-tale line around my shins from the folded hem and how the stiffness of my flare would never compete with the girls whose jeans fit them perfectly. Let's just say I'm glad skinny jeans took over.
4) Jelly bracelets
Charm bracelets were incredibly popular in junior high, but the fad that stands out most prominently in my mind is jelly bracelets. I had two: a dark blue one, and a sparkly light blue one. I loved how there were so many different colours available, and how the flexibility of the jelly offered numerous ways to wear the bracelets. People often wore a stack of them on their wrist, or had two bracelets intertwined into a cuff. Not quite sure if I'm so keen anymore on having silicon straps around my wrists, but if you think about it, this trend is still alive - bangles are essentially grown-up jelly bracelets.
5) Jeans under skirts
This one may not have been a widespread trend, but it was certainly a staple of my teenage style. There was a period in junior high when I wore ruffled skirts over flared jeans, and I can only imagine it came from the struggle between my desire to appear more feminine and the self-consciousness I had felt about my scrawny legs. In high school, I remember doing the exact same thing with tunics and leggings. I do not look too fondly upon the memories of how ridiculous I must have looked, but it wasn't until early university that I finally felt comfortable showing bare legs.
6) Long-sleeved t-shirts
It's a long-sleeved shirt! It's a t-shirt! Nope, it's just some spawn of both that a designer somewhere, somehow thought looked cool. But hey, I got tricked into thinking it looked cool too. Shirts like these are really no longer appropriate after elementary school, but for some reason, I still had one in junior high. I remember being so excited when I bought the shirt, but after wearing it a maximum of three times, I ended up realizing how childish I looked. Perhaps, like the skirt and jeans combo, it was just another way for me to wear a t-shirt without having to bare my bony arms. Come to think of it, there wasn't a single part of my body I wasn't self-conscious of at that age, so no wonder I had an interesting array of fashion choices back then.
We were all prey to the pressure to fit in when we were younger, but no matter how much I cringe going down memory lane, I don't think I would have finally discovered confidence in my personal style without having failed so many times before.