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10 Most awkward fashion trends of the 20th century

Following the whims of fashion can be as frustrating as it is fun. After all, not every must-have trend fits every body type, every style or even every budget. But it sure is entertaining to look back at some of the kooky garments people were wearing during the last decade of the last century. Fitted, flirty 1950s dresses? Yes, please! Oversized bell-bottoms? Ugh. Those in the know say everything eventually comes back into style (hence the horrific resurgence of that ’90s staple, the fanny pack), but here are 10 fashion trends that we hope never ever make a reappearance in our closets.




Photo credit: Lia Toby/

I’m sorry, I just don’t get the appeal of the jumpsuit, which was super-popular in the ’70s (but whose reign of terror continued well into the ’80s and even the early ’90s). Not only are they incredibly awkward-looking, but I mean… how do you even pee while wearing one of them?


Low-rise jeans

Low-rise jeans

Photo credit: KMazur /WireImage/Getty image

Why, oh, why did anyone ever think this was flattering? No matter how taut your tummy, the cut-down-to-there jeans of the latter part of the 20th century left too little up to the imagination (and perhaps too much up to your friendly local bikini waxer).


Shoulder pads

Shoulder pads

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I get that the whole ’80s power suit thing was supposed to project the worth of the working woman, but I can’t help but think that our moms looked like linebackers in those heinous, bulky shoulder pads.


Platform sneakers

Platform sneakers

Photo credit: John Stanton/WireImage/Getty images

The Spice Girls will always hold a place in my heart (Viva Forever!), but that spot certainly doesn’t extend to their footwear. The huge, hulking sneaker-shoes that the pop stars wore are so ’90s it hurts.



Creeper shoes

Photo credit: invisible_helicopter via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

We understand the value of comfortable footwear, but we definitely don’t get why this brand of butt-ugly shoes gained any popularity… ever. The ska-punk-rockabilly vibe is one thing, but I can’t help thinking that these look like shoes for some really hip dinosaurs, not human beings. For comfy, cozy and actually stylish footwear, we recommend Sanuk shoes.




Photo credit: bjones27/iStock /360/Getty images

Yes, there is a time and a place for tie-dye. And it’s in children’s art classes or at music festivals full of people dancing in fields. Hippies in the ’60s brought this bright style into the mainstream, and although we really love some of the fashion from the mod era (Hello, Mad Men), tie-dye is a relic best left back at Woodstock.


Hammer pants

MC Hammer
Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

I guess it’s not a coincidence that so many of the trends here on this list are from the ’90s. Because ’90s fashion was altogether heinous. But I think Hammer pants (sometimes called Aladdin pants or drop-crotch pants) have to take the cake in terms of sheer ugliness. After all, they rate pretty high on the scale of “clothing that reminds us of diapers” and that’s really never good.


Leather pants

Alicia Silverstone wearing leather pants
Photo credit: SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

The popularity of leather pants will, in all probability, never die. Regardless, these shiny, sweat-inducing garments have to rank as one of the most awkward articles of clothing you can put on your body. Yes, they have a certain air of devil-may-care, rocker chic, but they’re hard to move in, expensive and might ultimately make you look more foolish than bada**. Remember the episode of Friends where Ross wears leather pants and gets stuck in a date’s bathroom? ‘Nuff said.


Cone bras

Jane Mansfield wearing a cone bra
Photo credit: Hulton Archive/
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Our grandmothers thought they looked amazingly stylish with cone-shaped brassieres, but to us they just look seriously uncomfortable. The super-feminine silhouettes of the 1950s imitated the social mores of the time, but I’m seriously wondering what torpedo boobs had to do with the post-WWII U.S.



Photo credit: Jacqueline Veissid/
Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images

If you’re not in dance class, why are you wearing bulky items to keep your legs warm? Ladies of the ’80s may have thought these knitted accessories were the height of style, but they’re as puzzling as they are almost routinely ugly.

This post was sponsored by Sanuk.

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