Top 10 Cringiest Things About the 90s



Top 10 Cringiest Things About the 90s

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
We're happy these trends stayed in the 90s. For this list, we'll be looking at the most regrettable and embarrassing trends and popular products from this influential decade. Our countdown includes Waterbeds, The Macarena, Y2K, and more!

Top 10 Cringiest Things About the ‘90s

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 cringiest things about the ‘90s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most regrettable and embarrassing trends and popular products from this influential decade.

Do you have fond memories of the ‘90s? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Overplucked Eyebrows

Fashion is a nebulous thing that always changes with the times. And in the ‘90s, it was apparently time for over-plucked eyebrows. Celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Ginger Spice and Drew Barrymore, who is perhaps the most famous example, made this trend essential. This inspired many of us back then to grab the tweezers and get to work. But like many out-of-date fashion trends, some have grown to regret it in retrospect. That’s not to say that people can’t pull off the look or that there’s something inherently wrong with having thin eyebrows. But in a time where it seemed like everyone was doing it, many people just didn’t do it right. The ‘90s certainly have a distinctive “look”, and that definitely includes overplucked eyebrows.

#9: Waterbeds

These were the cornerstone of many children's bedrooms through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. There was just nothing better than excitedly running into a room, jumping onto the bed, and experiencing the sensation of being sloshed around by the water. Waterbeds have actually been around since the 1830s, when they were used in a medical capacity. The waterbed we know today was created in 1968 and became incredibly popular throughout the ‘80s. They earned 22% of the bed market share in 1987 and remained quite popular into the ‘90s. But the novelty eventually wore off, and the waterbed became a cultural relic. In 2013, waterbeds accounted for just 5% of the market.

#8: Short Sleeves Over Long Sleeves

Another quintessential ‘90s look was wearing short sleeve shirts over long sleeve shirts. This trend originally got its start back in the late ‘70s, before gaining traction throughout the ‘80s. However, it peaked in the early ‘90s around the time Kurt Cobain rocked the look in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video, and quickly became one of the defining looks of the time. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it’s more rare to see much of this double-layered look these days. It’s one of the many relics of the once popular grunge era, and it’s now mostly the stuff of nostalgia and jokes.

#7: Spray Butter

There are many substitutes for butter out there, and one of the most famous is [SB “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”] This still-existent low-cost alternative was first marketed to the American public in 1981. However, it received a significant expansion in the late ‘80s after the company was acquired by Unilever. Afterwards, particularly in the ‘90s, it quickly became trendy and a go-to butter substitute, with the company making a spray version. This concoction of vegetable oil, water, and artificial butter flavoring may have been cheaper, but let’s not fool ourselves, we can indeed believe this spray is not butter.

#6: Bowl/Mushroom Cut

Few looks scream ‘90s as much as the bowl cut. This simple haircut has strong connotations with the 1960s, owing in large part to The Beatles. But it enjoyed a big comeback throughout the ‘90s, with popular celebrities of the time such as Nick Carter and James Van Der Beek rocking variations of the ‘do. It was even made into a joke in “Dumb and Dumber”, with Jim Carrey sporting a particularly heinous and hilarious bowl cut. Just take one look inside a yearbook from the ‘90s and chances are very high that you’ll see at least one kid with those instantly recognizable bangs.

#5: A Lot of Body Glitter

People loved glitter in the ‘90s. Every form of makeup came in some type of glitter variety, whether gels, sprays, powders… you name it. Celebrities and everyday people alike just adored the stuff. Simply walking down a busy city street could sometimes be like watching a fancy light show. This trend was primarily led by pop artists like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, who often came across as walking disco balls. It certainly looked unique, but it proved an incredible pain in nearly every other regard. Body glitter was messy, hard to clean up, got absolutely everywhere, and was borderline impossible to get off your skin.

#4: The Macarena

Did people genuinely enjoy the Macarena, or was everyone just doing it ironically? Regardless, the Macarena was the dance of the ‘90s, and looking back on it is a little cringey. The dance comes from the song of the same name by Los del Río. The Bayside Boys remix spent fourteen weeks at #1 in 1996, and even made its way into that year’s Democratic National Convention. Although everyone knows the words and the moves to the dance, no one should necessarily be doing it in the 2020s (okay, maybe at weddings). Let’s leave this in 1996 where it belongs.

#3: Popcorn Shirts

Few turn-of-the-millennium fashion trends are as confusing as the popcorn shirt. Sometimes referred to as magic bubble shirts or scrunchie shirts, these things appeared very tiny until you actually put them on. At that point, they would magically expand to fit your torso. Aside from saving on closet space, there is little to fondly remember about popcorn shirts. They were uncomfortable, and felt weird. They also… didn’t look great, at least from our modern perspective. We guess some people can pull them off. Fortunately, the trend didn’t last very long, and popcorn shirts quickly flooded thrift store aisles as people got rid of them.

#2: Crop Tops & Low-Rise Jeans

If one female fashion trend dominated the late ‘90s and early 2000s, it was the famous crop top and low rise jean combo. The pants were notable for their low waist cut that allowed hip bones to be exposed. So the combination of short crop tops and low rise jeans resulted in a sharp uptick of visible midriffs, and the look was everywhere on the verge of the new millennium. But while this combo looked good, it wasn’t without its flaws. Many people found low rise jeans to be uncomfortable, and generally impractical as a piece of clothing.

#1: Y2K

If Y2K proved anything, it’s that humans are susceptible to media influence and fearful of technology they don’t understand. The famous Y2K scare largely stemmed from the belief that, essentially, the world’s computer systems would fail because of the numeric date “2000.” This would somehow result in a major glitch that would crash the world’s technological ecosystem. Planes would fall from the sky, the stock market would collapse and city infrastructures would be destroyed. Essentially, the world was going back to the Dark Ages and an impending apocalypse was coming. It turns out programmers had long before prevented the problem— mostly, anyway. When the world’s calendars flipped to 2000...nothing much happened. The Y2K scare quickly became a punchline.