Fashion is the industry that just keeps on giving – not only does it give you an excuse to go out shopping every time there’s a change of season, it also gives you the fun of looking back at last season’s wardrobe and laughing at just how bad it was. Because that’s the nature of fashion – we all get caught up in a “look” and, for a short period of time, think it’s OK. But time passes and fashion moves on, leaving only a stream of embarrassing photos in its wake. So, join us as we celebrate the Top 10 Worst Fashion Trends Ever.


10. Harem Pants

If there was ever a trend that deserved to stay dead, it was harem pants. Pioneered by MC Hammer, the defining characteristic of the harem pant is the excess material in the crotch, giving it a saggy look. This is neatly counterbalanced by the tightness of the ankle. If anyone can tell me why this is cool, I’ll give you some kind of prize.

But these things happened in the heady days of the 80s/90s crossover so that’s forgiveable, right? No! Because harem pants came back a few years ago and they are still here, giving that unflattering toddler look to grown women around the world. They are available on Forever 21 right now, where some ironically-minded buyer has named the line “Forever Cool”. They really aren’t. But they sure are practical if you don’t like your trousers dragging in puddles when it rains…


9. Puffball Skirts

Another trend that got briefly revived but mercifully didn’t stay the course. Wildly popular in the 1980s, they returned in that screechingly inevitable way that trends always do – when 20 years has elapsed, it seems that it doesn’t matter how bad a trend was, it still gets a second shot. But the puffballs on ASOS are retailing at just a quarter of what they started at, signposting the end for this deliciously ridiculous garment again.

For anyone not familiar with the puffball, it’s essentially a skirt that’s been volumised by gathering the material up at the hem and sewing it back up to the top. You can easily recreate the look by accidentally tucking your skirt into your underpants when coming out of the bathroom. Some people may laugh at you, but real fashionistas will probably sign you up to design a range.


8. Scrunchies

Kind of the puffball of the hair, scrunchies are another trend that has had an attempted revival in recent years. The offenders were American Apparel (see above) and the attempt was widely mocked. Apparently not everything that was cool in the 80s needs to come back into fashion.

But there’s no denying it – back in the day, scrunchies were pretty cool, with all the 80s and early 90s icons wearing them, including the girls of cult TV show Blossom. They even made an appearance in early episodes of Friends, along with dungarees and other trends the stars would probably like to forget. So, they were cool then. It doesn’t mean that we need the statement hairpiece back in our lives or on our catwalks (and yes, they have been spotted there once or twice). Are you listening, world?


7. Spandex

In the 2000 “X-Men” movie, there’s a moment where Wolverine is mocking everyone’s black leather uniforms and is asked by Cyclops “What would you prefer, yellow spandex?” (a reference to Wolverine’s costume in the comics). The answer to this is clearly “no” because Wolverine, like most people, understand that spandex is the kind of trend that needs to be left well, well alone. Its plastic-y nature may well be strong enough to withstand adamantium claws, and it’s useful when exercising but as a fashion statement? No. It’s mostly associated with the 70s trends of disco and glamrock, although 21st century bands like The Darkness (pictured above) have done their best to revive it. Something so tight-fitting and shiny is never going to be flattering though, is it? Best left for the gym and fighting crime.


6. Mullets

Another trend that found a natural home among glamrockers like David Bowie, the mullet soon slipped out of favour and now is largely seen as the preserve of rednecks and Germans. The distinctive “short at the front, long at the back” look certainly deserves to be shunned as one of the most ridiculous hair trends ever. And I say this as the mother of a small girl who sports one of these neckwarmers through no fault of her own (it’s just the way that baby hair grows…we’re waiting it out).

As with all the worst trends, it’s coming back. There have been recent sightings of the “new mullet” on the likes of Sandra Bullock and Rihanna and it’s even been sighted on the catwalks. Presumably held back with a scrunchie….when will this madness end?

5. Tiny Backpacks

Some trends appear to come from nowhere while others have a very specific source. And tiny backpacks can be pinned down to the 1995-teen-girl classic movie “Clueless”. It rewrote Austen, launched Alicia Silverstone as a star and made trends of two things – tartan mini-skirt suits, and tiny backpacks. The first is just too bizarre and short-lived to make the list, but the second one was both durable and annoying. Has there ever been a less practical handbag than one which is both minuscule and out of reach? Clutch purses are annoying, space-wise but at least they are in your hand when you want anything. Want the one piece of make-up you’ve managed to squeeze into your backpack without breaking the zip? Tough, you can’t get it without taking the whole thing off and spoiling the look. And consider that this was also the era of the giant mobile phone, also a must-have accessory for any It-girl wannabe. How were you supposed to fit one of those in? A cruel trend indeed.


4. Shellsuits

Also known as windbreaker suits, these shiny pieces of leisurewear were briefly popular in the early 90s. A kind of mutation of a tracksuit, they were super lightweight, highly flammable and decorated in tasteless, 80s-inspired patterns. Still, they were all the rage for a few years having been inspired by the hip-hop movement in New York. In the UK they were quickly adapted by uncredible celebrities like Jimmy Saville (who has posthumously been exposed as a child abuser) and it was this image that eventually caused the shellsuit to fall out of favour. Let’s hope they never make the comeback they keep threatening to.


3. Platform Trainers

A late 90s phenomenon now, and one that managed to be both ugly and impractical. If there’s one type of footwear that should be relied upon to support your feet and ankles, it’s the sports shoe, right? (Known as a trainer in the UK). So, how would you make that supportive, well-engineered shoe a complete hazard? How about sticking a huge platform sole on the bottom of it? It was a look pioneered by the girl group The Spice Girls, putting their own “Girl Power” twist on everything they wore. Still, Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) probably regretted her choice of footwear when she fell off her platform trainers and broke her ankle while filming a show for Turkish TV. Not pretty shoes and the consequences aren’t pretty either…


2. Tie-dye

Now, this is a look which runs and runs, despite not having been mainstream since its birth in the 1960s. The idea is that you create psychedelic patterns on clothes, using fabric that’s been tied in strategic places with string. The actual idea isn’t that bad, but those who love tie-dye also tend to love color, which results in eye-hurting creations like the one above.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this ultra-organic, hippy look had no place in high fashion and you’d be right. But designers can do whatever the heck they like, it seems, and as recently as 2012, tie-dye creations were stalking the catwalks of London Fashion Week, courtesy of designer Ashish. Is it some kind of throwback to a more innocent, happier age? Or is fashion really just running out of ideas, so they’re stealing from the guy who runs the vegan food tent at Glastonbury? Who knows…


1. Adult Onesies

Talking about throwbacks to a more innocent age, why not go all the way and just pretend you’re actually a baby still? I can only assume that’s the appeal of the adult onesie – a garment which has less in common with fashion than it does with the contents of a newborn’s closet. They are soft, made of cuddly fabric and cover you from head to toe. Perfect for quiet nights in on your own where no-one will ever see you, right? Maybe. But the worrying trend is for adults to wear these things outdoors in lieu of getting dressed. You may not believe it, but it’s true. I saw a woman in Peckham High St wearing one just the other day, in a tasteful leopard print, accessorized only with a belt. It’s a bizarre trend that shows no sign of stopping but hey, at least it’s a comfy one!