Let’s create a space of truthfulness during this beautiful afternoon: summer 1999 was my favourite year for fashion and beauty, ever.
Which I know is equal parts controversial and absolutely the opposite. On the one hand, 1999 was nearly two decades ago, and we’ve had more of our fill of great seasons, great trends, and great resurgences in the meantime. But on the other, we’re all dressing like it’s days from my grade eight graduation, which means I’m onto something.
Because I am. (Please pause for dramatic gasp.) In just one trip to the mall, I stumbled upon everything from bucket hats to Adidas everything to Calvin Klein crop tops to sandals that are equal parts fashionable and functional — as though we all know we’ll be walking home from school but still want to impress whoever we had a crush on. (Shout-out to Liam, who for sure started dating my friend instead of me.)
So in the spirit of repressing my painful memories by talking about why we were all very fashionable as wee baby teens, here’s all the proof you need that 1999 was our style reckoning and that it’s all been working up to this moment. (Both this summer and also this piece, which is just as important, TBQH.)
You think the Kardashians started this? You think Gigi Hadid woke up one morning and said, “"You know what? Here we go." You think rich people who take plane rides and get photographed at the airport determined the worth of Adidas, Nike, and Puma? Absolutely not. Bless their hearts, but a) athletic pieces have never gone away and surged in 1970s, and b) lest we forget 1999.
Blame the Spice Girls (see: Sporty, specifically), blame pop culture, or blame the fact that some of us were unsure of how to dress ourselves with the newfound addition of hips and boobs that we embraced elastic waists and pieces we could still move in.
Either way, althleisure is back, and it’s wonderful. Not only because I prefer to wear an elastic 99.9 per cent of the time, but because I knew I was on-point with my three-striped stretchy pants and bucket hat.
Speaking of which . . .
Let’s talk for a second about the fact we all wore bucket hats and avoided sunburns on our necks because of it. (And I say "we" because that’s why *I* wore bucket hats, and there are no words for how happy it made me not to have to apply so much SPF 45.)
Would I wear these now? No, because my haircut won’t allow it. But do I appreciate seeing them sold and worn in droves? Of course. Because 1999 was a beautiful year and I will never forget the array of bucket hats displayed on my elementary school playground and exactly how cool I felt wearing one among many. Bless us everyone.
Or maybe I just love 1999 because it was practical. Where the 2000s brought us an onslaught of accessories, circa-Y2K kept it simple.
Enter the spaghetti strap ribbed tank top that every human owned and wore and made look freakishly cool. Why? Because you couldn’t wear it incorrectly. You want to layer it with a white T-shirt? Do it. You want to wear it solo? Live your life. You want to wear a bra? Cool! No bra? Do you. The world is your oyster, and the only uniform is whatever you want. The only thing standing in anybody’s way was a student dress code. But today, here in 2016, the only dress code is your heart. Thus, dress (eh?) accordingly.
In the spirit of honesty, I will be just that: I wasn’t allowed to wear chokers. Evidently, at 12-going-on-13 my Mom said I wasn’t old enough to carry them off, so I let the trend die alongside most PG-13 rated movies (including "The Mummy," a true point of contention in my family).
So maybe that’s why I look upon them with distinction. A true "grown-up" trend, chokers dictated the landscapes of dances and after school mall outings, cementing the wearer as a bona fide trendsetter. Therefore, they allude to the same today. And sure, we would all be removed from a school dance unless we were chaperoning. Yes, we’re now allowed to function within the mall like regular people and also take ourselves to another location — like our homes — to hang and snack and live our lives. But look: for the sake of commodifying nostalgia, chokers may do the best job out of everything.
Which of course, I say as a woman who doesn’t love them because of how tightly they fit. I’m sorry.
If you thought I was about to leave this post without engaging the memory of the most important shoe trend of the 20th century, you’ve got another thing coming. Enter: the wedge sandal. (Pause again for dramatic gasp.)
They could be heavy, they could be made of foam. They could be a flip-flop, they could be a style you wouldn’t fall out of if you were walking down the steps. Its specifics weren't important and neither was its colour. But it was an intro to heels. A step (get it?) away from running shoes and those Adidas sandals that said they would massage your feet. (They didn’t and I can’t describe the pain of wearing them for an entire day, oh my lord.) They could be worn at graduation, or throughout the summer while lounging on friends’ front porches. But most importantly, they go with almost everything now, and if that’s the only legacy of 1999 we truly keep alive, then bless us everybody.
Just kidding: the only legacy we should really keep alive is our obsession with glitter and/or powder blue eyeshadow some of us were very excited to wear to our grade eight graduations. Which, I should add, works perfectly with every trend I just mentioned, all while accompanied by Backstreet Boys and/or NSYNC and/or the soundtrack to "10 Things I Hate About You."
Not that I’m projecting or anything.
Want to re-live the summer of '99? Shop the trends here: