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Kate-Colored Glasses

11 Fashions the Kids Were Wearing Back in 1993

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Kate-Colored Glasses

In the fall of 1993: Tupac Shakur was charged in the shooting of two off-duty police officers; Pearl Jam released their sophomore effort Vs.; Nirvana performed an “Unplugged” concert for MTV; Dazed and Confused was connecting with kids at the box office; future teen idols Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera joined the cast of The New Mickey Mouse Club; Boy Meets World met the world; Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place continued to fascinate teens, and all of it was influencing the way they thought, talked, and dressed. Here’s a look at what the kids were wearing in the early '90s. 

1. PLAID, PLAID & MORE PLAID

Image courtesy of LOTHIAN

The grunge movement continued to gain momentum in the first half of the 1990s and its defining item of clothing—for both genders—was the plaid flannel shirt. But it didn’t take long for the checkered print to crawl its way onto other items, including mini-skirts, dresses, pants and sweaters. There’s just one rule: reds, browns, blues, and greens rule; bright colors were the immediate mark of a poseur.

2. BABYDOLL DRESSES

Image courtesy Cherry Bomb Magazine

Grunge style went beyond flannel everything: the idea was to take a formerly standard item of clothing, like an intact pair of jeans, and give it a grungy makeover. Few celebrities understood this fashion mantra better than Courtney Love, lead singer and guitarist for Hole and wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Among her most copied fashion statements was the super-short babydoll dress, which was most often paired with a pair of black tights and combat boots. Solid colors were Love’s trademark, but floral prints were just as in. 

3. DOC MARTENS

Image courtesy Dr. Martens

Speaking of combat boots: While there were plenty of brands to choose from in a variety of price ranges, Dr. Martens was the first choice of 1990s fashionistas, with their signature yellow-threaded soles being somewhat of a status symbol. High-top or low-top, black or brown, worn with a girly dress or destroyed jeans, Doc Martens could be paired with any outfit.

4. SKIN-TIGHT DRESSES

Image courtesy Cineplex/TriStar

Blame (or thank) Sharon Stone for the skin-tight dresses that ladies of varying ages and body types were wearing well into the mid-1990s, following her infamous turn as murderess Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct. Yes, even teenage girls were rocking the “body conscious”—a.k.a. body-con—trend.

5. BODYSUITS

Image courtesy Totally Awesome Teen Pinups and Magazines

The second-skin style was available in a bodysuit version, too—a skintight, leotard-like top that may or may not snap at the bottom and was typically worn with a skirt or pair of high-waisted jeans … which were then cinched with a thick leather belt (yes, we’re cringing). 

6. MOM JEANS

Photo courtesy Kate-colored Glasses

Every generation has its of-the-moment style of denim. Unfortunately for teens in the 1990s, that style was high-waisted, unnecessarily bunchy in the front, tight in the backend and unflattering in every way. It wasn’t until a decade later that Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch famously dubbed the style “Mom Jeans” on SNL. But in the 1990s it was the kids who were wearing them—guys and girls—as evidenced in this photo of the entire trend-setting cast of Beverly Hills, 90210.

7. OVERALLS

Photo courtesy Etsy

The fascination with too much denim didn’t end with Mom Jeans. Overalls were a huge hit with teenagers in the early 1990s, with traditional, farmer-like styles for the colder months and a shorter version—known as shortalls—to be worn during summer vacation. Extra style points were awarded for leaving one strap hanging!

8. THE JEAN SUIT

Photo courtesy Starcrush

Think we’re done with denim? Hardly. For those opposed to a jean one-piece, there was another option: the jean suit, a (usually) monochromatic denim-on-denim fashion catastrophe where a pair of jeans were topped with either a denim button-down, vest or jacket. Even the usually-fashionable Britney Spears rocked the look as a kid. Yes, that is Ryan Gosling sitting next to Brit, who would actually come to resurrect a dark-washed version of the jean suit in 2011’s Drive and somehow make it look good.

9. CARHARTT JACKETS

Photo courtesy Old Bailey

Introduced in 1889, Carhartt jackets were designed as a sort of uniform for hunters and farmers, their heavy-duty, wind-resistant construction being a perfect match for keeping warm while spending hours outdoors. In the 1990s, a new brand of businessmen caught on to Carhartt’s many charms: crack dealers. “They needed to keep warm and they needed to carry a lot of stuff,” Steven J. Rapiel, the brand’s New York City salesman told The New York Times Style section in late 1992. “Then the kids saw these guys on the street, and it became the hip thing to wear.”

10. HIGH-PRICED KICKS

Photo courtesy CounterKicks

Sneakers were big business in the 1990s, with Air Jordans ruling the jock market and Converse All Stars catering to the grunge crowd. But sensible young ladies got their own pair of custom kicks when ever-reliable Keds debuted a sporty pair of sneakers dressed up to look like a baseball. The sneakers even managed to make a comeback in 2011, when design house Opening Ceremony re-released a limited number of them, newly constructed to replicate the 1993 version.  

11. SKORTS

Photo courtesy Etsy

Is it a skirt or a pair of shorts? No one could tell… at least not until you turned around and made it clear that you were wearing a pair of shorts with a flap in the front for some reason. If you want to make it look like you’re wearing a skirt, why not just wear a skirt? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. We’re not going to put too much thought into this short-lived trend because the designers who attempted to move this womenswear hybrid from the tennis court to the classroom didn’t waste a lot of brain power on its logic either.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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