Popcorn Shirts Have Made a Comeback and, Honestly, I'm Very Confused

But did I buy one? Yes, I did.

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popcorn shirt outfit
Photo: 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.

Magic Bubble Popcorn Shirts, Fergie 1999, Wild Orchid girl group
Barry King/WireImage

Just like Dooney & Bourke bags and bandage dresses, I'm starting to fall for popcorn shirts again. They've been resurfacing due to brands like Marine Serre and Fashion East, who included them in their 2022 collections, and I've spotted a bunch on resale sites like Etsy and Depop, with vintage lovers styling them in modern ways. 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 Grandma.

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 through 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.)

Anyway, the fashion icons of today are already working modern versions of this top into their outfits, proving this whimsical, size-less trend is really on the rise. Take a look at these cute popcorn shirt outfits, ahead, then shop one of your own from Marine Serre, Lisa Says Gah, a dress version from ASOS, or secondhand options from Etsy and Depop.

With Drawstring Pants

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

With Classic Jeans

Even Lisa from Blackpink approves of this comeback.

With Denim Shorts

There's something about the texture of this top and distressed denim bottoms that seem to mesh well together.

With Trousers

Black pants are no longer just workwear, but if you're hoping to take your popcorn shirt to the office, these bottoms will make it feel more formal.

With Overalls

Lean into the whimsical vibe and add a colorful hat and layers of beaded necklaces.

RELATED: Celebrities Can't Quit Dungarees — Here's How to Wear Them Without Looking Like a Toddler

With White Pants

Balance out a brighter colored bubble shirt with breezy, neutral bottoms.

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