Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at a decade defined by its extremes. Rap versus grunge; mullets versus pixies; Saved by the Bell versus NYPD Blue – the 1990s had it all, and then some. Every other week I’ll be reminiscing about some facet of the 1990s, potentially drowning in some ill-forgotten nostalgia despite my best efforts otherwise. Serving as inspiration is an utterly ridiculous but nonetheless intriguing list created by Huffington Post — 1990 Things from the 90s to End the Nostalgia Once and for All – and I’ll be using a random number generator to pick each week’s “topic.” So don’t have a cow, man, if I ask you to talk to the hand while take this sweet ride through the 90s. Word to your mother.
Week 6: HuffPost list #704 – Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
Is Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion Clueless‘s older sister? It certainly could be. After all, they both feature “pretend to be who you’re not” stories. They both showcase the ridiculousness of high school, each from different vantage points. And they both include the most 90s of fashion trends. So yeah, I’d say the sibling link is pretty solid.
Then again, I’ve only see Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion once, so look at me talking like I know anything.
Though you know what I do know? Lamé. Well, let’s call it “lamé,” because that’s how I knew it colloquially. My god, what the fuck was up with using “lamé” for Absolutely. Every. Article. Of. Clothing. in the 90s? Oh yes, I wore the crap out of some “lamé” in outer wear and under…there…and it was, and still remains, quite possibly the dumbest fabric ever produced.
Lemme back up. You see those dresses in the movie poster worm by the highly-coiffed, platform-mule-toting duo of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino? That’s “lamé.” It’s fabric that was, historically speaking, often seen in shades of gold and silver, and it was sometime used to depict a “futuristic” feeling in terms of costume design. (Chances are decent that any shiny costumes seen in those old black-and-white 1950s sci-fi flicks were made from lamé.) Now, real lamé consists of real metal woven around choice stuff, like silk or cotton. But eventually folks figured out how to make it something like it using man-made fabrics — rayon, nylon, and especially polyester. The super-shiny stuff that went mainstream was just cheap shit. The popularity of “lamé” in clothing exploded in the 1970s (thanks, disco!) and the 1990s. And in the 90s, at least, with the explosion came “lamé” in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. By 1997, they year Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion debuted, about 1/3rd of my own closet consists of clothing made out of “lamé.” I am not proud of this, but it did happen.
At the time, I’d have said that “lamé” clothing was pretty damn awesome. Because it looked cool, draped nicely, and was shiny. (What the hell else was I supposed to wear with my pleather patent skirt, huh?!) And because it was form-fitting and comfortable. But “lamé” came with two big wearability problems. (There were soooo many other problems with it too, but I’m talking about wearing the clothing itself.) The first was, I suppose, and inherent one, seeing as how the stuff was essentially plastic.
Wash that shit all you like, “lamé” clothing held onto smells like it was the fucking devil. And that smell could range from the department store it came from to the funk of that drunk fuck who “accidentally” rubbed up against you on the dance floor that one time to…let’s face it…one’s own natural odoriferous-ness. I’ll admit that I can work up a a sweat, and unfortunately, my “lamé” clothing could to attest to that very fact. Of course, nose-blind as I was, I didn’t think much about that fact while wearing my swanky “lamé” shirts in history class. If I smelled like wine coolers and desperation, so what? At least I looked damn good.
Well, for a short while, anyway. Because “lamé” had a bigger second problem.
It didn’t last.
This second issue came in two parts. One was that “lamé” was prone to distortion. Stretch it out too much any in one way, especially along a seam, and the fabric developed “runs,” almost like a pair of pantyhose. The second was that it would degrade over time and become…um…sticky. Yeah, all it’s own, with no help from, um, y’know…sticky stuff. It’s a little hard to explain, because I can’t think of another fabric to which this happens, but…think of a plastic-covered raincoat. Specifically, an old plastic-covered raincoat that’s been shoved into the back of a closet for awhile. Pull it out, and you’d likely see that part of it have stuck to itself. And when you try to pull it apart, maybe swaths of plastic come off in the process. The situation with “lamé” wasn’t quite as dire, but without proper care, like when you threw your stank shirt into the bottom of your closet after returning from clubbing and flopped into bed, the fabric could stick to itself. Try to unstick it, and sometime you’d be left with a dull patch where the fabric met. Besides just looking terrible, the whole thing was also kind of gross, and permanent. No amount of washing or care after that could fix the problem.
So you just went out and bought a shit load more of cheap “lamé” shirts, and the cycle of life continued.
Hm. So, ummmm….huh. I think I’ll have to call this post Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.*
*This post may not actually cover Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. It’s a movie. I saw it once. It was okay.