You Thought You Was Cute: Styles We Thought We Looked Good In When We Really Looked A Mess

September 24, 2013  |  
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Achieving personal style you can be proud of takes time. Many of us have worn a thing or two that we’ve later wanted to burn, or found a picture where we were rocking an ensemble that we should have known was dead wrong. We thought we were killing the game when we really looked crazy. But like I said, to get fly and fabulous takes time. Just ask newly minted fashion icon Solange Knowles, who once said, “Look at my fashion choices back in the day. You know how people say ‘Who let her walk out the house that way?’ or ‘She needs more people?!” Sometimes you need to strike out before you can hit a home run sartorially. Here are a few looks that many of us rocked back in the day and once thought we looked good in, only to realize years later we looked a mess.

Jumpsuits and Jersey Dresses

Raise your hand if you had a terry cloth or velour jumpsuit.

*Raises hand* Damn you J.Lo! I spent good money back in the day when I was trying to be seen in expensive Rocawear and Baby Phat jumpsuits. One in cream cotton, the other in pink velour. While I was trying to look fly in those materials, my classmates were also rocking denim and terry cloth jumpsuits. And don’t get me started on the Boston Celtics jersey dress I was thirsting to covet. While I thought I looked like a stunner or would look like one in a jersey dress, about a year later I was throwing such attire in the back of my closet and watching such looks quickly go out of style.


What were we thinking? It’s like hammer pants meet culottes. While they looked pretty good long, this short gaucho look? We now know better. But don’t feel bad if you were out here rocking brown and black bottoms trying to let your lady business breathe. We all were. They were the go-to church look and were often paired with a blazer or bell-sleeved top. The polyester/rayon pants definitely lost their luster quick.

Net Shirts

How many women did you peep rocking a hot pink, blue, purple–whatever mesh top with a white or black tube top/tank underneath? For a time there, folks would rock such shirts with their flared denim jeans and crisp white K-Swiss Classics thinking they looked fresh out the magazine. After these shirts got tore up one too many times in the washer, someone finally figured out that it was time to let the net look go.

French Rolls

Every special event at someone’s school, wedding, party or ball (Cotillion that is) required a french roll. I was never that good at doing them so I used to beg my sister and mom to show me how to tuck and roll my unruly locks. All these years later I wouldn’t be bothered with the style (though some naturalistas look fabulous with an improved take on the look), but for a good decade or two there, special occasion/school pictures = french roll.

All Knockoff Everything

Remember that time when everybody was out here with the fake rainbow colored Dooney & Burke? What about the small Louis Vuitton bookbags? Can’t forget the fake Gucci belts and bags. Even though folks could barely pay their phone bill in college, they wanted everyone to think they were Gucci Fendi Prada’d out. But when the strap started peeling, everyone could tell we were living a lie…

Love Spell and Glitter

It was the worst-kept secret in beauty. Folks were coming out the house glowing in the sun with their glitter rollerball-induced looks. You had glitter on the eye, glitter on the neck, and inadvertently that mess ended up on your face and clothes. And if that wasn’t enough, everybody had a bottle of Victoria’s Secret Love Spell on deck, trying to smell like a mix of candy and fruit. We were bathing in that mess, spraying it on us and putting it on our hands when we were ashy. It was all an overkill and I’m glad we left the glitter and splashes behind for actual perfumes.


I know many folks still love their Uggs (including my niece, hey boo!), but I was just about done with these joints when they started being worn outside of cool and cold weather seasons. Not to mention that when they were worn in actual snow they were damn near liable to make you slip and bust your head open if you actually picked up a stride over some slush. They were cute for fashion purposes, but you and I both know they weren’t all that functional. Warm? Yes. Had actual grip? Nope.

Brown and Black Lip Liner

Oh lip liner and lip gloss. The combination was a must back in the day, but in retrospect, it was actually a mess. We were smiling in school pictures and hitting up parties with our black and brown lip liner and gloss thinking it was the cutest thing ever. Too bad we didn’t realize that putting some actual lipstick in the middle of it all would look a whole lot better. But hey, you live and you learn.

The Struggle Ponytail With Bang or Baby Hair

I was just sharing the tale of my struggle to get to school on time because I was so pressed to try and make sure my baby hair was together under my rhinestoned bandanna. Ponytails weren’t just ponytails back in the day. They included bangs that were glued to your hair with gel, thin bangs that fell like waterfalls, bangs bumped to the gods, and other colorful things we can do with ProStyl and a rat-tail comb. And don’t get me started on using gym socks for buns.

Platforms and Melissas

There’s no shame in your game, girl. You weren’t the only one in platform sneakers (not today’s wedges, but full-on platform) and see-through kicks. Melissas were like the grown-up version of jelly sandals we wore as kids, and platform sneakers were just fun and funky. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it last for more than a hot second and are now sitting in the bottom of a trash bag. Good times though…

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