Out of all the questionable things I wore during my late-'90s and early-'00s youth, popcorn shirts — aka magic bubble shirts, or scrunchie shirts, as they're called on occasion — were definitely among the most confusing. A shirt that's initially tiny enough to fit a doll, but expands large enough to fit your dad? Kind of strange, but apparently appealing to my middle school self, who proudly wore a floral printed one purchased from Limited Too. After this trend died down, these shirts slowly made their way to drugstore clothing aisles, and then to the verge of extinction. At the same time, I added this stretchy top to my 'never again' fashion list — but now, I'm reconsidering that choice.
Just like khaki pants and Mary-Jane shoes, I'm starting to fall for popcorn shirts again. I've seen a bunch on resale sites, such as Etsy and Depop, and vintage lovers have begun styling them in modern. Admittedly, I bought a tank top version for myself. The bubbled texture adds a little something extra to a simple shorts outfit, and I'm confident that with a satin skirt and sparkly pair of earrings, this style could even come off as fancy.
One thing that does confuse me, however, is who influenced me to wear these shirts in the first place, all those years ago. I've spent days combing though photos from every kid and teen awards show from 1998 to 2002, looking at outfits worn by Hilary Duff, Amanda Bynes, Alexa PenaVega, Melissa Joan Hart, and...nothing. The closest I could find was this photo above of the girl group Wild Orchid from 1999. (And, yes, that is indeed Fergie.)
Related video: 10 of Fergie’s best Instagrams
Anyway, I'm sure the fashion icons of today will catch on sooner or later, and once this size-less trend explodes (again), you should be prepared. Take a look at these cute popcorn shirt outfits, ahead, then shop one of your own via Etsy. or on Depop.
With Drawstring Pants and a Scarf
A post shared by 𝙏𝙞𝙣𝙖 𝙈𝙤𝙧𝙖 | Vintage Wear (@tinamora.nyc) on May 7, 2020 at 7:28pm PDT
Did I mention this style isn't constricting, so therefore it's very comfy?
Vintage Shop/Image: Tina Mora
With Classic Jeans
A post shared by @reignayanna (@reignayanna.depop) on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:59pm PST
And yes, there are button-up popcorn shirts, too.
Vintage Shop/Image: Reign Ayanna
With Denim Shorts
A post shared by 𝕋ℍℝ𝔼𝔸𝔻𝕊 𝕋𝕆𝔻𝕀𝕊ℂ𝕆 (@threadstodisco) on Jun 21, 2020 at 1:13pm PDT
Vintage Shop/Image: Threads Todisco
With Khaki Pants
Instagram has been a minefield lately. Those talking all of a sudden about racism were sometimes labeled as opportunistics or hypocrites, while those choosing to be silent were accused they were racists themselves. It was a movement that not just united, but also divided and it's a shame. And as weird as it might feel to get back to business now, it is my duty to promote my work here.
A post shared by Vintage fashion d'autrefois (@d.autrefois) on Jun 5, 2020 at 2:42am PDT
Vintage Shop/Image: Dautrefois
With a Pleated Skirt
If I told you how old this top is, I think you’d laugh... any guesses? #outfitoftheday #fashionable #mylook #ootd #fashionblog #currentlywearing #fashiondiaries #fashiondesign #fashionstyle #fashiondaily #fashiongram #todaysoutfit #styleblogger #whatiworetoday #styleoftheday #fashionaddict #styleinspiration #modelinmymind #model #asos #naturalista #black #beauty #popcornshirt #midiskirt #tbt
A post shared by Blake Pascal (@chateaux_de_pascal) on Sep 20, 2018 at 4:54pm PDT
As a Bathing Suit Cover-Up
Vintage Shop/Image: Snake Cake Vintage
🍿 Porpcorn obsession 🍿 Long sleeve blue tie & dye popcorn shirt: $35 + shipping SOLD Shortsleeved ivory popcorn t-shirt: $28 + shipping SOLD * both are one size fits most * The best of the Y2K, nothing less. . . . . #popcornshirt #y2k #vintage #vintagestyle #y2kfashion #90sfashion #90sstyle #tieanddye #vintageclothing #vintageoutfit
A post shared by Vintage Stories (@vintagestories.boutique) on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:15pm PDT
Vintage Shop/Image: Vintage Stories
With Leather Pants and a Hat
A post shared by Revival of the Stitches (@revivalofthestitches) on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:39am PDT
Vintage Shop/Image: Revival of the Stitches
With White Pants
A post shared by dressed by danielle (@dressed.by.danielle) on May 18, 2019 at 11:32am PDT