As I mentioned in my first piece on this topic, there are all sorts of styles and trends from the ’90s that I’d like to bring back. Upon the first column’s publication, I immediately thought of several more that merited inclusion. So here it is, the sophomore album of ’90s cultural touchstones that deserve a resurgence.
Of every ’90s-associated brand, Bugle Boy is my hands down favorite. Yeah, that’s right Nautica, Polo, Gap, and Tommy Hilfiger. Bugle Boy. Sure, most of these other brands got the last laugh since Bugle Boy went belly up a few years ago. But the stuff that company produced holds up so much better for my stylistic preferences. The shirts that just said “Bugle Boy” in 98 different fonts? The crazy shorts with differently patterned legs? Bugle Boy was out there, man. And I have to say, while I wouldn’t put together a whole wardrobe of Bugle Boy staples today (because I’d look like a damn clown) I would absolutely rock any individual Bugle Boy piece within an ensemble.
And no, I don’t regret referring to my everyday wardrobe as an ensemble.
Using Only One Strap On Your Backpack
Kids, if you didn’t know, wearing both straps on your L.L. Bean backpack was a recipe for being the lamest dude around back in the day. This concept is still relevant in our professional lives. My last office job was pretty casual, so I wore a backpack to work every day with my laptop and emergency supplies inside (cigarettes, stolen parking pass, unprescribed Vyvanse, etc.). Both straps on. And I regret it every day. If I ever have another job that requires some form of personal luggage, I refuse to switch over to a man satchel. I’m gonna get myself a classic Jansport, maybe throw some nice Sharpie art onto the front pocket, and wear the fuck out of that right strap. Business casual norms be damned.
Bear with me on this one. Pagers used to be the ultimate status symbol. They said “the shit I do is so important, people need to be able to tell me they need me at any time.” The pager was obviously shunned into obsolescence by the advent of the cell phone, but I really think they could still offer us some value. If you give people your phone number, they have complete access to you in terms of contacting you. They hold 50 percent of the power. But let’s say you have a pager to go with your cell phone. Then you can give someone your beeper number, and the decision to return a person’s call resides entirely with you. It’s better than letting him or her go to voicemail, because that person can’t annoy you with five-minute rambling messages. It also sends a strong message to the person in question, “You are not important enough to have my phone number, so here is a crude, rudimentary way for you to contact me, peasant.” Telecom power move at its finest.
Sitting Backwards In Chairs
Looking back, I think we’ve made the “flipping the chair around and resting your hands on the back” move entirely about AC Slater. This is fine, but as I’ve written before, “Saved By The Bell” does not hold up well, and I’d hate to see this beautifully cool move go down with the bad sitcom writing ship. Everyone did this back in the day. Your teacher split you up into groups, so your first move was to drag your chair over to your buddy’s table, give it a precise spin on one leg, and plop down to plan how you’re going to do nothing for the rest of the class period. This could have a lot of great office applications now, but unfortunately, most of the chairs we’re provided in a corporate setting are not ideal for this move. If we’re going to bring this back, I think it’s worth sacrificing our beloved armrests. You can bring in a second chair, and its sole purpose can be to travel with you to your office friend’s desk. Buy that chair yourself, and enjoy all the aesthetic benefits the backward hat of sitting has to offer.
I am, and always have been, a short shorts kind of guy. All of my shorts are in the 5 to 7 inch inseam range, and I petition the NBA every year to bring back the Bird/Magic-era bottoms (my hope is that Adam Silver will give more weight to my argument than David Stern did). But I have a slight hole in my wardrobe; I want some shorts that are more casual than khakis, but more publicly acceptable than a pair of trunks. Umbro shorts fit this mold perfectly. Sure, there were the ones that were purely made for playing soccer, but they also had some really great pairs with cool designs and color combinations that you could just motor around town in on the weekends. Finding a pair of perfect Umbros at a thrift store is like discovering gold while playing paintball in the desert with your brother-in-law. It’s totally unexpected. Some pairs are boring colors, and many are too wide to be worn seriously. But every now and then, you can find a pair that fit your leg width perfectly–and when you do, pair those bad boys up with a short sleeve button down and a pair of camp mocs. Baby, you got a stew goin’!
Hanging Out At The Mall
I’ll grant you that the popularity of chillin’ with your buds at the local shopping center originated in the ’80s, but it was the following decade that really perfected the art. Going to the mall to meet up with your friends in the food court, picking up some Orange Julius, and then walking around, hoping to meet girls who go to the school across town was the epitome of a good time back in the day. But then online shopping and boutique stores ruined everything. Girls are buying their clothes on the web, or thrifting them, and all the brands the mall carries have become passé. Plus, it used to be that when you got bored, you would either hit up the arcade or create some ridiculous game that would get you and your friends yelled at by security guards. Now arcade games are, like, $9 per turn and require a credit history to play. Also, every mall has a fucking movie theater, so if you get bored, instead of turning to imagination, you can just go see Marvel Cash Grab Part III for the sixth time.
And I can’t remember the last time I had an Orange Julius. I miss it.
No one knows who originally thought of the idea to put lights on the bottom of sneakers that went off when you walked. Hell, no one really knows why it caught fire. But it turned out to be one of those magical things where one instant, the concept had never occurred to you, but once it was introduced, your life seemed incomplete without it. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is about L.A. Gear that’s so damn cool. I’d call it “swag” if that word hadn’t been so badly crucified on the cross of cultural idiocy. But it certainly makes a statement. It says, “My every step is so important that each one deserves its own celebration of light and joy.” I’m not even necessarily saying that we should bring back the L.A. Lights. I’m more just warning all of the women out there that someday, you’ll be sitting with your girlfriends in a dark, crowded bar. From the shadows, a cacophony of red light will erupt from the floor, highlighting a pair of white high tops, signaling to everyone around that, I, the owner of these shoes, am here to fuck up the status quo, and charm you out of your lady britches.