On 90s Style, Baggy Jeans
Before all the TikTok hullabaloo over Gen Z bashing millennials for our love of skinny jeans, I was just out here remembering my 4th grade wardrobe with nostalgia. Among my silver crossover sandals, windbreakers, cropped tank tops, and Marvin the Martian-emblazoned glasses was a cherished pair of baggy jeans.
I would say 4th grade was my sartorial awakening. I had always been particular about my clothing and accessories, but nine years old was when I really started paying attention to the world of fashion. And in 1999, baggy jeans were in. Unfortunately, they would be out by the time I entered the 5th grade, sending me into turmoil.
Yes, it was thrilling to participate in a collective fashion culture, and to realize that fashion was a kind of non-verbal language – a way to connect across clique and demographic. But turning my gaze outward to trends meant that I also became preoccupied with keeping up with them.
As soon as baggy jeans were out, I stopped wearing them. I knew in my heart I still loved them, but my preteen self couldn’t risk being shamed. I was already on the margins of fashion culture because my mom wouldn’t/couldn’t buy me expensive brands like Limited Too. It would be too much to bear if I was ridiculed for my baggy jeans.
Here I am, 23 years later, once again wearing baggy jeans. I bought them because I saw them on a website in November and they seemed cool. I bought them because I remembered that first spark of joy at being able to share in the language of fashion. And I bought them, at some level, because they’re trendy again.
At the age of 32, will I be able to hold onto my sense of self when the tides inevitably turn again? Will I be able to keep saying yes to what I have always loved even when the world turns to ridicule?
Someday, these jeans will represent a challenge of identity. Today, they’re just a nice pair of pants.
Sweater (old): similar
Mockneck Top: similar
Boots: Modern Vice
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Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.