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The Nostalgia of the Middle School Emo Kid Wardrobe

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

There’s nothing more cringeworthy than revisiting fashion choices you’ve since outgrown. Your favorite outfit six years ago is something you’d never consider putting on now. For me, the most questionable era of my style was in middle school. From 2015 to 2018, the resurgence of the popular subculture dubbed “emo” began to make waves again. I was a victim of the reawakening, which led to a wardrobe of black skinny jeans and band tees. Many of these T-shirts, which I would previously wear out all the time, have become pajama tops and lazy-day wear.  

Although the height of the phase for me was in 2017, it’s evident that the emo aesthetic that was popular around that time had a large resemblance to the original 2000s style. The growth of the alternative scene in the 2000s led to numerous different dark aesthetics, and they were usually accompanied by a particular style of music. The one that I seemed to effortlessly embody was the emo one.  

“Emo” can be identified through its music, which had pioneer bands such as My Chemical Romance and Pierce The Veil. These bands are often categorized with the rock genre due to their production style and lyrics but tend to have overarching emotional thematic contents. Many songs focus on the grief of failed relationships or inner angst. The early fans at the beginning of the 2000s followed many frontmen of the bands, who similarly dawned hair covering their face and the tightest jeans in existence. While anyone can fit into the subculture regardless of their emotional state, being “emo” was usually associated with very angsty teenagers sporting the look. I was no exception to this archetype when I was 13.  

One aspect of the outfits I enjoyed was always repping my interests through my tops. Now, I see it as a free promotion for the bands I wore on my clothes all the time, but in prior years, I felt it was more endearing. I remember feeling so strongly about bands and wearing their logo on a shirt proved my adoration towards their music. I spent any chance I could get browsing the graphic tees at Hot Topic to see if they had a new band or style for me to spend way too much money on.

For a while, it was very popular to see celebrities also wearing graphic band tees featuring bands like Nirvana. However, this has lessened in recent years. Celebrities also following suit in the graphic tee hype exemplifies how they’re a distinct remnant of the mid-2010s couture. It seems that most mainstream fashion in 2023 has begun to stray away from graphic band tees, which, in my opinion, might be for the best.  

What I don’t miss at all about my emo style is the extremely tight skinny jeans. I’m so relieved that beginning a few years back, society seems to have collectively agreed that more loose-fitting styles are more trendy. After religiously wearing skinny jeans for some time, I was completely taken aback by the comfort I was missing out on by wearing baggier pants. It felt so foreign to not have to jump into my jeans every morning before school anymore.  

The dark, smoky eye makeup was also an aspect of the subculture that was prominent. Being younger when I started dressing emo, I personally never participated in the overuse of black eyeliner pencils. Although it wasn’t a part of my experience, this makeup style is important to mention. Messy eyeliner that goes all around the span of the eyelid is a true emo staple. As makeup trends have evolved, alternative people have begun exchanging the raccoon-like look for thick and sharp eyeliner. Graphic eyeliner in patterns such as spider webs, which is more challenging, is also common nowadays for people with alternative styles.  

While it can be easy to dismiss your past self’s apparel preferences, remember: even the most awkward or unflattering outfits were once what many of us used as an outlet to express ourselves. I can admit that being emo in middle school has given me a deeper appreciation for an all-black outfit and heavy eye makeup.  

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Maya Shah is a staff writer at Her Campus at the FSU chapter. She is a Marketing major with a minor in Hispanic Marketing Communications.