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Everything to Raid From Your Childhood Closet While You’re Home for Thanksgiving

This year, be thankful for cyclical fashion.

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A woman in a green puffer coat, jeans, and a crossbody bag.
This down coat could be straight out of 2002.
Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

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A surprisingly cold day during a recent trip home to my parents’ house led to an epic score: my older sister Ali’s perfectly faded navy blue puffer coat from Abercrombie & Fitch circa 2002, somehow still in great condition. Stealing my sister’s clothes has been a pleasure for about as long as I can remember, but only recently have our discards from the early aughts been so tempting.

You know the “20 years and it’s vintage” rule? I used to think that also meant “20 years and then maybe it will be back in fashion,” but lately trends have been cycling through at a faster pace. I’ve been out of high school for a little over a decade, and tons of trends I grew up with are back in a big way — and selling at mainstream retailers like Urban Outfitters and Zara, not just vintage stores.

If your shopping budget is a little tight this year (you’re not the only one), I’ve got an idea for you: Consider raiding the attic and whatever’s left of your teenage bedroom closet this Black Friday instead of hitting up the online sales. Knowing my mother, the majority of our belongings have been parceled off to church rummage sales over the years. But if you’ve got deep closets to explore, consider this your shopping list. (Even if none of it is wearable or fits, I promise it will be pretty fun.)


Puffer Jackets

The inspiration for this post, puffer jackets (like my sister’s) are everywhere at the moment. They were everywhere in the late ‘90s and early aughts as well, which means if you’re between the ages of 25 and 35, chances are high that you’ll find one.

Bootcut Jeans

Ok, so maybe not the hip-baring, super-flare Mudd Jeans or L.E.I.’s, but definitely look out for other pre-skinny jean styles, like bootcut. You can cut those babies off at the ankle for a very modern kick flare.

Concert Tees

I attended way more shows in high school and the early years of college than I do now, and the dresser stuffed with weird T-shirts and pajamas in the “guest room” — a.k.a. my little brother’s childhood bedroom — proves it. If you’ve got a similar situation, grab a few (especially if you can still stomach the music. Sorry Dave Matthews, but you’re not coming).

Slip Dresses

This applies more to those of us who went to high school in the ‘90s, but if you’ve got any slip dresses hanging around, you’ve hit the jackpot. (How I wish I still had those Contempo Casuals spaghetti strap dresses and tank tops!) Wear them layered over T-shirts or under cozy sweaters for a look that’s very 2016.

Cropped Sweaters

I think most of mine were from American Eagle (I’m from suburbia, we didn’t even have an H&M), but there were many and they were cute. They still are cute. Throw one on over high-waisted jeans or your newly reclaimed slip dress and call it a day.

Sweats and PJ Pants

This isn’t so much of a style tip as it is a life tip: It’s sweatpants season. You definitely had sweats or pajama pants as a teen. If they still fit, snag a pair.

Goth-Phase Accoutrements

Somehow the goth thing missed me, but if I had worn combat boots in high school, I would for sure take them back now.

Barettes

The bathroom closet (and probably a Caboodle buried somewhere in the basement) is worth a look in the case of hair accessories. I’m currently growing out a pixie cut, so I’ll have my eyes open for everything from the big bows of grade school to the glitter clips my friends stole from Limited Too in middle school. Maybe you’ll get really lucky and find a hair beader or a crimping iron.

Baby Rib Scoop Necks

This possibly was/is a micro-trend, but do you remember how flattering those ever-so-slightly-ribbed tees from Gap and Express were? Or at least how flattering you thought they were at the time? (Do they still make those?)

Dad-Sized Sweaters

If your parents already threw away everything you owned as a teenager, there’s always dad’s closet. I go straight for the vintage L.L.Bean.