15 Cringe-Worthy Trends We Totally Regret

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

At R29, trends are our bread and butter. We debate them, write about them, and sometimes, we even fall for them. But, for every trend we’re happy to see the second time around (see: crop tops, jelly shoes), there are some highly regrettable fads that we prefer — no, demand — remain conscripted to the dustbin of history. Forever.

Simply put, some trends should never have been. What mass hallucination convinced us that tiny, tinted sunglasses were cool? Why would anyone who wasn’t losing their grip Avril Lavigne wear knee-high Chucks? Were mustache accessories ever funny?

Sure, we might have liked some of these the first time around — but we’re undergoing hypnotherapy to forget those dark days. And if they ever make their way around the retro curve again, you best believe we’re packing our (timeless, minimalist) bags and heading for the hills.

Scroll through to see the most hideous, heinous, and downright reprehensible trends the fashion world’s ever coughed up. But be forewarned — what follows cannot be unseen.


Kitten-Heel Flip-Flops — Why be five foot four when you can be…five foot four and a quarter? The answer to a sartorial question no one asked, kitten-heel flip-flops are short, sassy, and totally make you look like a Carrie (in 2001. When bedazzled belt buckles were also in style). Wear ‘em with your best toe rings!

Blumarine Sandals, $195, available at Yoox.


Clear Bra Straps — Worn under a sleeveless or sheer top, these are great at minimizing the “hey guys, check out my bra” effect (so ladylike!). Worn under a tube top, with an extreme tan and D&G shield shades, suddenly it’s a very Courtney Stodden-style statement. Psst, you guys: These things aren’t actually invisible!

The Natural Clear Bra Straps, $3.65, available at Debenhams.


Color-Changing Tees — In the ’80s, Hypercolor was the last word in color-changing tees. They were baggy, vaguely surfer-y, and we all had a hoot making handprints on each other’s shirts. These days, heat-sensitive tees are made of performance fabrics, and are the province of super-ripped dudes who want you to know exactly which body parts get sweaty during their P90X Ab Ripper workouts.

Radiate Athletics Star Series Shirt Long Sleeve, $44.99, available at Radiate Athletics.


All-Over Ruched Dresses — A little ruching is a lovely way to accentuate your figure. A lot of ruching, and suddenly you’re a lumpy bridesmaid in the saddest, most puckery schmatte in town — which is totally cool if that’s what you’re going for.

Cachet Halter Neck Ruched Satin Cocktail Dress, $99.98, available at Forever Elegant.


Tiny, Tinted Sunglasses — I know what you’re thinking: Surely no one ever actually wore these ocular abominations? Oh, but they did. They reallyreally,really did. Luckily, if you missed your calling as a late ’90s Mickey Mouse Club moppet, cheapie costume shops are filled with similar shades each Halloween — Ultrasuede fringed vest sadly not included.

Pink Tree Parties Feelin Groovy Oval Hippy Glasses, $3.03, available at Pink Tree Parties.


Furry Boots — You know your fashion choices are legit when they’re immortalized in a Flo Rida song! In 2004, we all fell in love with “them boots with the fur,” and walked around looking like Yetis from the knee down. Two years later, we awoke from our mass delusion, stripped the mythical forest beasts from our lower calves, and bought Bean boots. Of course,Snookie still wears hers. Because Snookie is where trends go to die.

Liksa Goat Fur Boot, $1160.36, available at Farfetch.


Shutter Shades — Wait, you mean we shouldn’t take fashion advice from Kanye and Max Headroom?

Sunglass Shack Shutter Shades Sunglasses, $19.99, available at Sunglass Shack.


The Double Dress — “You know what this dress needs? A WHOLE OTHER DRESS,” said — lots of people, apparently. These days, double dresses mostly come in the freakum variety, but (full disclosure) in 1997, we were way into ’em — we blame Delia’s. And while we respect our teenage attempts to marry the sweetness of a summer frock with the angsty allure of Hot Topic-y black lace, in retrospect, the overall effect was a bitLilith Fair. So, um, guys, if you have a sec, this next song is about dolphins and our ex-boyfriend.

Donna Mizani Passion Lace Multi Strap Dress, $218, available at Donna Mizani.


Fedoras With A Very Tiny Brim — Look dudes, just because I’m pounding Jagerbombs with my totally crazy bros in Account Management doesn’t mean I am not a classy gentleman. See? I put a blazer on over my Ed Hardy tee (a.k.a, The Ryan Seacrest). See? My tiny hat has chalk stripes.

Target Men’s Pinstripe Fedora, $16.99, Target.


Knee-High Sneakers — Myspace profile photo checklist: spiky bangs, black-and-pink striped arm-warmers, “I See Stupid People” T-shirt, your totally sweet A.F.I. poster, and these horrendous, zip-up sneaker-boots (snoots? beakers?).

Converse Chuck Taylor XX Hi Knee High Sneaker, $60, Zappos.


Skinny Drop-Crotch Pants — Oh god. We’re sorry for every bad thing we ever said about harem pants. These are somuch worse.

G-Star Draper Chino Loose Tapered, $160, G-Star.


Vibram Five Fingers — So, you REALLY love those ’70s rainbow-colored toe socks, but they don’t fit in with your Crossfit-training, caveman-eating, drum-circling lifestyle. The solution? These heinous foot gloves. Granted, there’s some science here — Vibrams are meant to simulate barefoot running, which may indeed be better for the body. But no matter how much you say that our over-cushioned sneakers are, “like, foot coffins,maaan,” you are wearing big, dumb Gorilla feet over your regular feet, and we are laughing at you.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO Minimalist Women’s Running Shoe, $85, available at Vibram.


Gold Lurex — Picture it: New York, 2007. Thousands of 20-somethings from Ohio meet at Misshapes to pound PBR and hopefully get snapped by The Face Hunter (OMG, is the Cory Kennedy?). Oh yeah, and hear DJs spin, we guess. Their official uniform? Shiny, gold bodysuits by American Apparel. Thankfully, the cool kids have moved on, and gold lurex once again belongs to tipsy college juniors at ’80s night.

American Apparel Shiny Suspender Swimsuit, $14, available at American Apparel.


Mustache Accessories — Mustaches on pint glasses, mustaches on iPhone cases, mustaches on knuckle duster rings… If you spent 2008 getting into the pinot grigio and shopping Etsy, you may have a secret drawer of shame dedicated to these tchotchkes, and you may be wondering if they were ever amusing in the first place. Let us ask you this — consider the other types of facial hair out there…would you ever wear a shirt covered in eyebrows? That’s what we thought.

Lori’s Shoes Mustache Necklace, $14.95, available at Lori’s Shoes.


Tapestry Anything — In medieval times, tapestries were used to depict mythical beasts and scenes of upper-class leisure. Nowadays, rocking a tapestry print tells the world that you enjoy the ancient craft of needlepoint arts…or that you still receive the Signals catalog.

Modcloth True To Platform Bootie in Tapestry, $56.99, available at ModCloth.

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