Growing Up ‘90s: Struggles, Trends, Fashion and Fun
Growing up in the ‘90s meant baggy clothes, grunge rock, mix tapes and many other trends that would seem weird to today's generation. The decade led to some incredible memories for the kids who were lucky enough to experience it all firsthand.
The ‘90s were filled with great TV shows and movies, neon colors and plenty of things Gen Z youngsters would never believe today. Check out these ‘90s trends and the fun they brought to the game. Think you will recognize them all? Take a look and find out!
Magic Breath Made the Game Work
Ah, the original Nintendo with Super Mario Bros., the game we all thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sure, other cool games came along, but Mario was the bee’s knees for the longest time.
Hit Me Back After 9
Cell phones became a little more common in the mid- and late-90s, but there was nothing "smart" about them. If you did have one, it probably looked like one of those pictured here. We spent hours playing "Snake," the only game available on the phones.
Rocking the Normal Look
This photo shows you what just about every ‘90s school gym looked like. Graphic tees were a big deal, and it was even better when you had matching shorts. Sweat clothes fit quite differently than we like to wear them now, but they were very comfortable for us.
Bulky Walkmans Made You Cool
Long before iPods and Sirius XM existed, we had a little something called a Sony Walkman. Those things taught us patience, didn’t they? We had two choices: rewind and fast forward until we found our favorite song or let the whole tape play.
Everybody Had a Mix Tape
In the ‘90s, we "downloaded" songs onto cassette tapes. Remember listening to the radio for hours, waiting on our favorite songs to come on so we could record them? Sometimes, kids would leave cassettes recording while they were other places.
Movie Night Was a Treat
A trip to the legendary Blockbuster Video was like a trip to Disney World in the ‘90s. Sure, Netflix and Redbox are comprehensive and convenient, but Blockbuster was something special. We could go in and browse, hoping to find that latest Ninja Turtle or horror movie. We did not have to rush like you often do at a Redbox kiosk.
Tied to Your Phone — Literally
Most home phones in the ‘90s were corded and usually located in one of the common rooms of the house. This made private conversations nearly impossible, so we had to come up with code words to talk to friends without parents or pesky siblings knowing what we said.
Crafty Fashion Queens
Let’s just be honest: Both ‘80s and ‘90s fashions included some really fresh looks and some not so fresh looks. We had the M.C. Hammer pants, overalls, tube socks, bright spandex, combat boots, baggy jeans, windbreakers and baggy suits with a tucked-in crewneck underneath.
Hit Me Up on My Pager
Once upon a time, cell phones were nonexistent. (Let that sink in for a minute, Gen Z!) In the early ‘90s, some people had them, but they were rare. If we needed to make a phone call away from home, we had to drive around to find a payphone. Then we paid a quarter for a few minutes of talk time.
A Portable Bestie
The original Nintendo game system was awesome, but a lot of kids got even more excited when the handheld Game Boy came out. A pocket-size game system that you could carry with you everywhere you went? Yes, please! A portable way to keep yourself occupied at the doctor's office or on road trips? Amazing!
Best Afternoon TV Shows
After-school TV was all that and a bag of chips back in the day. Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Doug, The Power Rangers, All That and Clarissa Explains It All were just a few of the popular options. Nickelodeon had kids all over America wanting to get slimed or even dig in the giant nose.
Get Off the Phone! I Need the Internet!
Today, almost half of all internet users will move on if a website page doesn’t load in about two seconds. Virtually no one waits longer than 10 seconds. In the ‘90s, connecting to the internet was never that fast.
Casual Female Fashion Statements
Denim was a big part of fashion in the ‘90s, but these ladies are showing off a few others as well. Patterned sweaters were extremely popular, as was wearing a turtleneck underneath those sweaters. This is how many people dressed during cold weather.
Denim was a huge part of the ‘90s — denim jeans, denim jackets, two-toned denim, button-ups with denim patches and even denim purses. There were also denim dresses, denim overalls, ripped denim, denim hats and denim shirts. Some people even wore a denim jacket over a denim shirt.
Passing notes in class or in the hall between classes was the ‘90s way of texting. We would write to a friend in one class and pass the note in the hall. Then, he or she would read it in the next class and write back, and the cycle would continue. Sometimes, we would have five or six notes in play at a time.
The ‘90s saw the rise of (creepy) troll dolls. Everybody loved them. They were the cutest yet ugliest toys. The hair was colorful and awesome, and they had some cool outfits. The jewels in some of their bellies were pretty fun too.
Ugh, As If!
One ‘90s movie had everyone "totally buggin'," especially teen and tween girls. Clueless came into our lives sporting the ever-fashionable plaid craze, slip dresses and a long list of popular hairstyles. Every girl wanted to be rich-girl Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone, but the awesome cast didn’t stop there.
Saturdays Were the Best
We all looked forward to Saturday mornings, and not because we got to sleep in. Saturdays were actually the one morning that we looked forward to waking up early because that’s when the best cartoons were on TV.
Awesome Lunch Sets and Snacks
Everybody knew that a lunchbox with a matching thermos was absolutely necessary for a kid in the ‘90s. You just couldn’t be cool without a set. Some of the common ones were The Little Mermaid, Barbie, Snow White, The Muppet Show, Beauty and the Beast, My Little Pony, Ninja Turtles and Fraggle Rock.
A Fresh Taste of Horror
If you were a middle school kid in the ‘90s, you read Goosebumps. It’s just what you did. A few years ago, a movie based on the author and series was produced, but '90's kids got the first taste of this delightfully creepy storytelling. It was certainly a different type of series than anything we currently have.
I Know My Future — Want to Know Yours?
Every '90s kid had psychic abilities — or so we thought. We would play silly things like MASH, where you could easily predict things like who your future spouse would be, where you would live, how much money you would have, the type of job you would have, and, of course, how many kids you would have.
The Prince Was Here
Everybody in the '90s knew the intro to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, whether they wanted to or not. First of all, it was a hilarious show, and Will Smith’s frequent inability to hold back his smile made it even better.
Fruit Stripes Gum, a.k.a. "zebra gum," was absolutely delicious — for about 10 seconds, anyway until the flavor was gone. You could chew the whole pack of 17 pieces in an hour or less if you were so inclined, just to keep the flavor going.
Growing with the Stars
Long before they were the acting successes they are today, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio were like all newcomers trying to make it in Hollywood. They all started acting in the ‘80s, so kids who were born in the early ‘80s and grew up in the '90s have been with these boys from the start.
Just Rewind the Tape, Please
When we rented movies from the video store, they were on videotapes. Just like cassette tapes, you had to manually rewind them. Imagine the disappointment when after waiting patiently for weeks to rent a movie, we put the video in and discovered it was at the end of the tape.
Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animals!
If you did not grow up watching Home Alone, you really missed out on something special. This was one of the greatest movies as a kid. It was funny and heartwarming, but also hilariously awesome watching Kevin take down those burglars.
I Really Like You!
Dream Phone was a game introduced by Milton Bradley in the early '90s, and every girl either wanted it or had it. Truthfully, it was a lot easier playing the game than dealing with real boys at the time.
Oh, That's Just My Beeper
For those kids who weren’t old enough or lucky enough to have a real beeper in the '90s, we had the "Bubble Beeper" — gum in a container that was shaped like a beeper. Everyone knew what they were, but that didn’t stop us from trying to play them off as real beepers.
Are You Listed?
Remember when the only "Contact List" was the one you wrote down on a sheet of paper? Well, '90's kids definitely do. There was no "Hey, text me, so I can get your number." Nope. You either memorized it or kept up with that slip of paper.
90s kids did not have digital cameras or smartphones with cameras. We had disposable cameras that came with a certain number of shots, usually around 24 or 27. We would snap away at everything, including ourselves — no, the modern generation did not invent selfies.