When I think of the 90s, I think fashion liberated us in part. You could go out wearing anything from a plaid shirt and jeans, or hot pants and biker boots, or a pencil skirt and kitten heels. I remember it being a time of “anything goes” without the stringent expectations that venues, peers and media put on us now. You could basically wear whatever the hell you wanted.
Even shoes were comfy – anything from Dr Martens to biker boots to platforms. Even high heels weren’t like torture as you had a built up sole and a decent wedge heel. You never felt like your feet were about to snap off at the ankle. No searing pain on the soles of your feet at 2am. Any era that allows you to go out and enjoy a night of dancing without leaving your feet in shreds wins in my book.
Perhaps this was down to the lack of internet and smart phones. The internet didn’t really kick off until the late nineties, not in the commonplace way it does now. I didn’t get an internet connection at home until the mid nineties and then it was dial up. Smart phones hadn’t really evolved in the same way. There was no immediacy of sharing images. It meant you could wear the same outfit and never worry about what people thing. I’m told this is an issue for young people now. Not me of course, I don’t go out in that way and I’m still clinging on to my “don’t give two hoots to what people think” approach that served me well in the past.The internet not being the place to go for information, also meant our expectations were lower of what we should look like. here wasn’t an endless array of videos and pictures to tell us how to look or apply make up. It was easy, foundation, blusher, lipstick or gloss, and a brown eyeshadow.
Drinks were also more honest and considerably cheaper. In part we can thank the rise of the Ladettes for this. I don’t advocate binge drinking, but at least you could go out as a woman then and have a pint of real ale without someone looking at you like a freak. Of course we also saw the rise of the alcopop during the nineties, sugar and alcohol loaded beverages that made your teeth feel like they were melting. I was partial to one called Cuban Fire which nobody else seems to have heard of, but was apparently a limited edition range. It was rum, vodka and some sort of fruit mix. Now it’s all cosmos and cocktails which you have to pay for by the bucket, or come in at £8 each in some places. No wonder city centre pubs and venues are closing! It also means that it’s easy to drink a lot more than you should.
On the subject of drinks, the local pub was still in its hay-day. As a young woman I felt completely comfortable going to the pub on my own, waiting for friends. It was a local place for local people. You could nurse a couple of drinks all evening, even grab some snacks or your tea. You’d know everyone – women, men, all ages. I never felt leered at or uncomfortable. You could also go early without fear or missing out, unlike now when everyone seems to go out after midnight and still be partying at 3am. It meant you could get the last bus home and feel safe. And it was cheaper – don’t get me started on the price of taxis.
I know it’s easy to look back at our twenties and see them as halcyon days. After all for many of us we had few commitments, if any. We could part three nights a week and have the energy to get up and go to work. Everything was cheaper. People were kinder. The world was safer. You get the picture. But in my mind, the nineties really were great… and I haven’t even touched on the music yet.
What do you think? Were the nineties nice or naughty?