Sometimes I feel like Gen X is becoming the forgotten generation. Aging baby-boomers and upstart millennials get all the attention, while the jaded, cynical 30-to-40-year-olds are more and more invisible (aside from this season of Survivor).
It’s a shame, because the '90s truly were the best years to come of age. Look at popular culture today and you’ll find a resurgence of things discovered in the 90s: Pokémon, Robyn, Hillary Clinton. If your university doesn’t do an ironic 90s-themed party, the next best place to get jiggy with it is Halloween. Bonus: if any of these trends come back (which, if overalls are back, why not), then you can simply transfer them from your costume closet to your regular one. So hit up Value Village, find some JNCOS and party like it’s 1999.
Before she was the poster child of teary eyed, wine drinking bipolar disorder, Claire Danes was the face of 90s angst. Ask any Gen-Xer and they will most likely tell you the biggest travesty of their youth was the premature cancellation of My So-Called Life. Her struggles were our struggles. She pined over Jordan Catalano the way we pined over pre-Joker Jared Leto. All you need is a flannel button-down, babydoll dress, leggings and some chunky heeled boots. To achieve Angela’s signature Crimson Glow hair, see if your older sister’s friend Heather has a bottle of Manic Panic laying around.
No moment captured the “very special episode” trope more than the Saved by the Bell where Jessie Spano gets addicted to caffeine pills in order to pass her geometry test. Every true '90s kid should react the second some tearily exclaims “I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I’m so...scared!” While this costume is easy to pull off—curly wig, leggings, giant bow, and heather gray sweater—it’s really the desperation and fear while trying to sing to the Pointer Sisters’ classic that makes this ensemble work.
Next to the Power Rangers, the biggest Japanese export of the early '90s was Sailor Moon. This now-classic manga and anime series featured a well-endowed blond Japanese teenager who is, obviously, the reincarnation of the princess of the moon kingdom. At one point she's competing for the affections of her future husband with her own daughter, who traveled to the past to save her future, as one does. Sailor Moon is still popular today and relatively easy to emulate. Just google “sexy sailor costume” along with a diadem and some tennis balls to puff up your pigtails.
When Katy Perry brought out Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott at the 2015 Super Bowl, there was hope that it would usher in a new generation of fans for the rapper, producer, and Aaliyah-mourner. Her iconic sound helped define the mid-90s and early aughts hip hop and her music videos are something to experience to this day. The Hype Williams-directed “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” features her most famous look—the inflated trash bag. If you can find some black plastic, duct tape, and a portable air pump, you will own Halloween.
The quintessential 90s it-girl was Friends’ Rachel Green. We followed her transition from spoiled daddy’s girl to hapless waitress to personal shopper to Ralph Lauren executive. We witnessed her off and on and off and for the love of Christ just get it over with relationship with Ross. Perhaps her most iconic look was the miniskirt-wearing waitress with the ubiquitous Rachel 'do. Complete the look with a cute apron and giant sized cup of coffee. Guenther sold separately.
Selena or (sign of the cross) SELENA doesn't just represent the 90s, she represents a generation, a culture, and an entire musical genre. Even people who hate Tejano music cannot deny the power this woman has over Latinos across the world. She’s the Virgin of Guadalupe through the lens of Madonna, Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe. She’s been gone for 20 years yet she still has a Beyoncé-like hold on her fandom. There are so many looks that you can wear: a cowhide bolero, the sparkly purple jumpsuit, or the quintessential Selena bedazzled cap and bustier. With a new MAC collection named after her, there's no better year that to honor our reina.