pure nostalgia

What Your Child’s Nineties-Inspired Back-To-School Accessories Reveal About You As A Parent

Are our kids reliving the ’90s through all of our cool stuff? Let’s explore.

Originally Published: 
Emma Chao/Fatherly; Stocksy
The Back To School Issue 2023

Remember the ’90s? Of course, you do. If you have a child who’s school-aged now, there’s a very good chance your back-to-school years were all about self-transformation ’90s-style. Personally, I remember that time well. I loved fantasizing about my first-day-of-school look — it was an opportunity to reinvent myself because I now knew what a French Kiss was and wore eyeliner and had press-on nails.

Unfortunately, as the youngest of six kids, in a family with little money to spare, my clothing choices were outdated hand-me-downs or outfits my mom had sewed for me. I was so embarrassed to wear the lemon-yellow overalls and matching striped shirt my mother made me for the first day of school, while all the other kids sported fast-fashion from Delia*s. Looking back, it was unbelievably cool that my mom was such a skilled seamstress. If only the other kids agreed.

Thankfully the ’90s are back — and now I have a kid going back to school, which means I can give my child all the ’90s stuff that I only dreamed of back then. Like all parents everywhere, my child has to deal with my nostalgia and will be subjected, in part, to living out my unfulfilled back-to-school dreams. Are our kids little mini-mes? Of course not! Then again, because the ’90s are so back, it’s possible to infer a lot about ourselves, as parents, based only on the ’90s accessories our kids are rocking.

If your kid is rocking any of the ’90s-inspired looks below, here’s what it might reveal about you.

High-Top Converse

You like to play basketball with a few other neighborhood dads, but because of your “bad knee,” the games are short and morph into drinking beer on old couches in the garage while reminiscing about your favorite Ween show.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Getty Images

Garbage Pail Kids Skateboard

You are a management consultant who spent $6,000 for a Tony Hawk cameo at your son’s 10th birthday. You brew your own beer — you tell people it’s because of the relaxing process, but it’s actually because you are allergic to gluten.

Super Mario Backpack

You were raised in a manner now called neglectful parenting. You never had a bedtime, curfews, or rules. As long as you showed up for dinner, no one asked questions. Because of this, you learned how to roll a joint when you were 12. Now, your youngest is the only kindergartener with an iPhone.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Image Courtesy of Ebay/cxs261

Hubble Telescope Sweatshirt

You’re not the breadwinner and will never feel OK about it. That being said, your first-edition Charizard card is now worth $75,000, so you bring that up whenever your partner gets a bonus at their job. Both you and your kid won’t eat food that touches other food.

A Murphy Brown Retro Lunchbox

You voted for Elizabeth Warren and have a Coexist sticker on your Subaru Outback. When your kid grows up, they want to be “anything that will make me a millionaire.” You just discovered that Grandpa secretly gifted your 6-year-old a switchblade at Christmas.

Vintage Northern Exposure T-Shirt

When all the other kids in Louisville went to sports camp, you went to journalism camp. You lost your virginity to someone who’s now the science editor at the New York Times. You talk about them a lot. After working as an editorial assistant at a variety of magazines that have all since folded, you have a podcast where you and an ex do a deep dive on one Tarantino movie at a time.

Rugrats Croc Gem

You had your children very young. Most of the other parents avoid hanging out with you because your skin is annoyingly glowy, and you remind them of their own mortality.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Image Courtesy of House of Glitters

Mickey Mouse Club Varsity Jacket

You were a latchkey kid in a wealthy suburb that could afford the Disney Channel. You know how to fence, and you’ve never been camping. Recently, you found out your partner cheated on you via the baby monitor, so you’re taking the family to Disney World again.

Bucket Hat and Baggy Denim

Your wife was into Nirvana and wore lots of flannels. Thus, she has superior self-confidence because, as a young woman in the age of Grunge, she didn’t give a s**t about showing off her body. Now her “I don’t give a f**k” attitude sucks because she doesn’t believe in the capitalist ruse of holiday cards or gifts and, even worse, thinks your kid can pull off a bucket hat and baggy denim.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Getty Images

The “Samantha American Girl” look

This means pink frilly dress, red ribbon belt, matching hair bow, white tights, black patent Mary Janes. You were raised to be a basic b**ch from a wealthy suburb. Now you’ve got a nose piercing, e-bike, and buy organic baby formula from Sweden for your newborn.

Luscious Jackson Concert Tee

You had the original concert tee from 1995 but were so hungover the day after college graduation you forgot to empty your dorm room dresser before you left. Lucky for you, Luscious Jackson has a new album out described as “mom funk,” so you and your kid wore matching concert tees on the first day of school. Your kid never took off their windbreaker.

Thrasher Hoodie

Your mom wanted to be punk, but it wouldn’t go over in her house, so instead, she dated an older guy in a local hard-core band and wrote many depressing first-person essays. Oh, wait — that mom was me.

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