If I could communicate with my sixth grade self, I would shake her and tell her that bangs are a terrible idea. I’d also tell her that having Guess jeans is not the most important thing in life.
I know this now, but at twelve years old, having the right pair of designer jeans was the end-all-be-all of junior high. Guess jeans were practically a fashion requirement, along with Generra Hypercolor t-shirts and scrunchies. Nothing said, “I’ve arrived, 1992!” like that little triangle on your back pocket. It was a status symbol that could be seen from an entire corridor away, a proud pronouncement of your total and complete coolness.
It was the little label that was the key to popularity, and people who didn’t have real Guess jeans went to great lengths to fake it. I knew classmates who would buy or inherit an old or ill-fitting pair, and they’d salvage the label and try to glue it to the back pockets of their non-designer jeans. (People did the same thing with Keds sneakers.) It rarely worked and kids would be drummed out of class in disgrace when that little triangle started peeling off.
I was fortunate enough to have a few pairs of Guess jeans, but at the end of the day, I was still a gangly, curly-haired kid who played the clarinet in the band and aced her spelling tests. Having the coveted jeans did not make me popular, contrary to what I thought were the immutable laws of nature. It was my first lesson that popularity was about something more than just having the right clothes, and whatever it was, I probably didn’t have it. But if I had to be a band geek, at least I was a well-dressed one.