But did I buy one? Yes, I did.

By Samantha Sutton
Jul 10, 2020 @ 9:00 am
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Credit: Samantha Sutton

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 of the girl group Wild Orchid from 1999. (And, yes, that is indeed Fergie.)

Barry King/WireImage

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

Did I mention this style isn't constricting, so therefore it's very comfy?

Vintage Shop/Image: Tina Mora

With Classic Jeans

And yes, there are button-up popcorn shirts, too.

Vintage Shop/Image: Reign Ayanna

With Denim Shorts

Vintage Shop/Image: Threads Todisco

With Khaki Pants

Vintage Shop/Image: Dautrefois

With a Pleated Skirt

As a Bathing Suit Cover-Up

Vintage Shop/Image: Snake Cake Vintage

With Slacks

Vintage Shop/Image: Vintage Stories

With Leather Pants and a Hat

Vintage Shop/Image: Revival of the Stitches

With White Pants