An ode to the scrunchie

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I have a horrible sense of fashion. Do people have even have senses of fashion anymore? Maybe I'm old for using that phrase, considering I mostly wear whatever I see other people on the Internet wearing. Anyway, I dress like a sixteen-year-old girl. A really trashy one. A trashy teenager who thinks those baby t-shirts that say stuff like "99% Angel" or "I dig your boyfriend" are funny. I also rep the scrunchie.

I know, I know. American Apparel tried to bring the scrunchie back a few years ago, but I just don't think they got it. I mean, a scrunchie isn't sexy, and if you're going to wear something from American Apparel, the idea -- at least what I gather from the company's ads over the last decade -- is to look as fuckable or as just-got-fucked as possible. A scrunchie does not make one fuckable.

But in my own mind, I am a trendsetter. I think that if I do or say or (in this case) wear something enough, other people will start doing it too. This was my thinking behind bringing back the scrunchie. A couple of months ago, as my hair began to grow out of its Scarface-era Michelle Pfeiffer bob, I was suddenly hit with an achy nostalgia. I didn't just want to wear a regular Goody rubber band to hold up my ponytail. I wanted my old scrunchies back. I wanted to bring the scrunchie back.

Like everything else I've acquired over the last few years, I utilized Facebook to see if I could round up some scrunchies. Mine were all long gone, thrown away or given to Goodwill by my mother (who is, herself, a master at cleaning and disposing of her children's things and then vehemently denying the act or even the existence of said belongings). Within a month, five scrunchies arrived on my doorstep in a padded envelope, sent to me by my friend Karen who I met at Southglenn Mall in 1995. This is what Facebook rules at -- keeping you connected with your old mall friends, long after the mall itself has been demolished. I was elated. I hadn't seen an actual scrunchie since Catholic school. Immediately, I utilized my new-old scrunchie, knowing now that when I took my my hair down later, there be no dreaded "ponytail crimp" line across the back of my head. This, ladies (and maybe gentleman) is the scrunchie's greatest function: It holds one's hair back without leaving a mark. Plus, they look good on your wrist (or your gear shift in your car) when you don't need it. And, of course, scrunchies are so big and colorful that they don't fall to the usual fate of being lost in the hair clip abyss, the uncharted space in the universe where bobby pins, barrettes and rubberbands inevitably disappear into forever.

So far, the scrunchie has been an excellent addition to my wardrobe. Other than the one pair of "dress" pants and a standard-issue little black dress I own, I have no grown-up clothes. My closet looks like the '90s threw up in it, a a garment collection built from band t-shirts, kitschy polyester vintage things and dresses from my favorite store, Forever 27. (That's what I call it because I don't think being forever twenty-one years old would be awesome at all. Twenty-seven was a good year for me, though.) Along with a shit load of yoga pants (those didn't exist in the '90s, just FYI) and my Uggs, you're hard pressed to find anything one would wear to a place of employment. Scrunchies continue to set the tone for my suspended adolescence.

Luckily, I don't really have to be a grown-up. Westword is fine with me wearing ponchos and stretch pants to editorial meetings, along with tawdry accoutrements like the hickey I accidentally wore on my neck to the office last week. (For the record, I was not flaunting this piece of neck flesh jewelry -- I had no idea it was there.) Scrunchies just seem to fit right in. It's like they were never gone. Dear scrunchie, you and I are gonna live forever.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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