11 Fashion Trends That Never Should Have Happened

Maybe you've never personally made the "worst dressed list" but these regrettable fashion trends have definitely made an appearance.

Why would denim EVER need pleats?

Denim is a glorious, beautiful thing, but even the most glorious beautiful things can be thrown into fires of betrayal, and that’s exactly what happened when someone decided to invent the fashion trend of pleated jeans. These are inappropriate on every level, and we’re still shocked when they make tiny cultural resurgences every few years. Not OK, humans of good taste, and if you own them you probably need to read this guide to jeans mistakes.


Those uncomfortable Chinese slippers

How did this ever become a fashion trend? They weren’t comfortable, flattering, sturdy, or cute, and those are all the benchmarks an item needs to hit to actually qualify for purchase. If they never served a purpose, why were millions of women wearing them? We can’t seem to figure it out, but we’re glad these fashion travesties are hardly available anymore. Do you remember some of the craziest toy fads in history? Try them out again for nostalgia’s sake.

Bedazzled clothes

Remember a few years ago when just about every girl in the world looked like she was the hybrid lovechild of a regular human and a disco ball? That was because bedazzled, rhinestone-encrusted everything was an acceptable (and encouraged) fashion trend! People thought they were being modest when they just wore a diamond-dazzled logo tee. Sometimes less is more.


Wearing Crocs to work (or just about anywhere else)

Crocs are great for little kids, nurses, and people who work long hours on their feet—but is there really any reason to wear giant rubber shoes to go to the bank, a concert, your kid’s back-to-school night, or anywhere else? That’s a choice people of a few years ago still have to live with, because millions really did choose to wear them. And, yes, this is definitely not one of the fashion rules you can break—or bend unless your career demands it.


Heeled sneakers

This fashion trend was almost criminal. Sneakers were invented so the good people of Earth could move more easily, swiftly, and comfortably—but adding a rubber heel to an athletic shoe is the worst type of fashion rebellion anyone could ever think of. Why? Didn’t we suffer enough through so many other eras? Was this some kind of mass-produced social test to see if we were worthy of being delivered from the depths of fashion’s worst dungeons? Seriously, we want to know.

Rompers for men

We take issue with rompers for adults in general—sure, they look cute, but the idea of having to get basically naked in a public bathroom just to pee? That makes rompers a terrible fashion choice, because no fabric should ever touch a public bathroom floor. One of the major advantages of being born male is the ability to urinate just about anywhere with ease and a total lack of physical contact with public toilets. We simply cannot imagine why any human male would give this up just for a romper. It makes no sense.


Bra strap headbands

Here’s what kills us about these hair accessories—they didn’t rise to popularity at a time when the economy was at an all-time low. We would understand their existence if these were Great Depression times, but bra strap headbands rose to fame and power at a time when the average American was able to pop over to a local dollar store for a 3-pack of normal, fully functioning headbands. We know what bra choices say about our personalities, but we wonder what it says when we wear them on our faces. If you ask us, there was no reason lingerie parts needed to ever become a part of our head game. Let’s promise to never go there again, OK?


Huge shoulder pads

Why? Did you do this? Are YOU guilty of this one? Be honest. Cleanse yourself here and now. Unless you’re a retired army general or football star we cannot think of any reason you needed shoulder pads in your life. Fashion magazines in the 1980s and early 90s used to write crazy stuff about how the shoulder pads would help make your waist proportions more “thin-seeming” but that was garbage. Your waist is beautiful, and you’re more beautiful than ever when you don’t look like you’re trying to be Delta Burke in Designing Women. We cannot understand why they’re back in stores now. Is it all just a practical joke first told by Rihanna? May we all look to a bright and shoulder pad-free future.


Shorts with Ugg boots

Everyone loves a good comfy boot, and shorts weather is the best, but this is split-personality syndrome manifesting as a fashion choice. It’s either hot enough to wear shorts or cold enough to wear fur-lined boots, and never both. That’s impossible unless you’re enjoying a sun-filled summer day with the top half of your body while the rest of your (your feet and lower legs) are for some strange reason resting inside a freezer.



Again, you need to pick one. Jeans or leggings, but never both. If you like a little stretch in your denim, that’s cool—join the club. The idea that denim needs more than 2 percent Spandex or Lycra though? That means you’re wearing the wrong size. Treat yourself to a larger size and let your lungs fully inflate for a change.


Super wide leg skater jeans

What were these even about? They had the look of a maxi skirt with less appeal, almost no practical use, and the bottoms would almost always end up torn, tattered, and filthy. They were called “skater jeans” but we can’t recall seeing any skaters perform better as a result of wearing them. Good riddance.


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Bryce Gruber
As Home Editor, Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at Reader's Digest. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.