One of the best parts of watching Saved by the Bell in present day is getting to comment on the absolutely unbelievable 90s fashion that was paraded around on the show. Because the sitcom centered on a group of teens, they had to wear what the teens were wearing back in the day. Just like the video yearbook the gang left for the Class of 2003, the show itself leaves us with a time capsule of what it was like to be hip and cool in the early 90s. And as thankful as we are for the treasure trove of bad/good fashion, that doesn’t stop us from making our own commentary on it. Here are just a few select styles the Bayside bunch wore throughout their time on our TV screens.
T: Apparently at this photo shoot, Mario was the only one who was running hot because he clearly needed to unbutton his shirt for all to see. You don’t see Dustin complaining in his abstract painting shirt or Zack whining in his surprisingly normal outfit. Someone get a Beyonce fan on Lopez.
M: Something about the cut of Zack’s t-shirt makes him look like his torso is on backwards. Something we never talk about when we talk about 90s clothes: those big-ass sneakers everyone wore. Look at Slater and Zack. Those are some “me and my retiree church group are taking a bus tour of Germany” sneakers.
T: I remember watching SBTB as early as 1st grade, so I was a little younger than the teenagers at Bayside High. Therefore, the first impression I had of high school was that of these kids. Yeah, the ones you see up there. Is this what teens really wore back then? All I’m saying is that if I had to pick one of these people to be the “trendsetter” of the group, it definitely would NOT be Lisa. She’s the one who is super into shopping and fashion and even goes to college for it, but judging by this alone, one would think she’s practicing to become one of the ticket takers at a Broadway theater.
M: OH LORDY. Lisa is seriously in Playbill Yellow. She reminds me of Claudia Kishi, who was supposed to be “into fashion” as well, but that meant she’d wear Lisa’s outfit here with homemade clay bee earrings and a bracelet that encased her hand in an entire, active beehive. There’s a lot going on here, but I also want to take a moment for Mario’s jeans, which make him look like he’s rocking a full diaper.
T: Remember when aerobics were really popular in the 80s/90s? I blame Jane Fonda. For that fad and this look. No one wears these bright, spandex, outfits to the gym anymore, right? IDK I hate the gym.
M: Not sure, because everything I wear at the gym could also be worn by a child at PE class or field day. But I wish I had these outfits. If anyone wants to buy me a spandex crop-top workout suit, I will wear it to work out and post photos. I think this was the 90s version of wearing fun sneakers to go running so you hate it a little less. But what is the function of those belts? YOU ARE WEARING SPANDEX. It should hold itself up just fine.
T: Technically this is some kind of press tour the cast did to promote the show, but can we all just take a minute to admire what exactly is going on here. MPG and TAT (Mark Paul Gosselaar & Tiffani Amber Theissen, obvs) are being the heartthrobs that they are and smiling and looking directly into the camera with their fresh to death outfits, Mario Lopez is still getting the hang of this celebrity thing and Dustin Diamond is looking off into the distance and has spent the past hour trying to find the gum he put in his pants pocket.
M: I know I was like 5, but how did I miss that this show was just Zack, Kelly, then a bunch of garbage people? Dustin looks like all of the boys in junior high whose moms would buy their uniform pants a size too big to “grow into them.” You really gotta hand it to 1992, when a beautiful teenage girl could appear in a bra top (a bustier, according to Selena RIP), and still somehow look frumpy.
T: Ok, so I lied. Lisa clearly is a trendsetter. She was the inspiration behind Seinfeld’s Puffy Shirt, right?
M: Look at the solid four inches of lace at the bottom of her white shorts! Damn. That is a LOOK.
T: Looking back on all these pix, it’s clearly Zack and Kelly that have the most timeless looks of them all, no? #IShipIt
M: I want Kelly Kapowski’s entire wardrobe and I’m not even sorry. Meanwhile, Spano looks like a travel agent who can never quite amass enough frequent flyer miles to escape from her existential ennui. Now that I know about Lark Voorhies’ religious beliefs, I find myself looking at every one of her outfits and going “maybe it’s because she’s a Jehovah’s Witness?” But it’s not like they have special underwear or anything.
T: For some context, this was the episode where Mr. Belding’s cool yet unreliable brother Rod shows up and promises to take the class on a trip white water rafting. This explains why Lisa’s wearing an all-camo shirt/skirt combo and holding a Louis Vuitton caboodle, and why Slater looks like he’s practicing to become one of the Village People.
M: Are they all going white water rafting in entirely different climates? Zack has on a fleece vest and a denim tuxedo, that one extra with the flat-top is in a sweatshirt that looks like a design you’d see on a pool raft, and Slater is dressed like a nice young mom catching fire flies with her children in a detergent commercial.
T: Slater’s jeans look super uncomfortable, but all I can think is that I want to find Lisa’s outfit and wear it for Halloween. Like what even is the inspiration behind this? TEXAS FOREVER 21, AMIRITE LADIES??
M: Early 90s trend that hasn’t come back yet: those dresses with the bodice that ended in a crotch triangle with the flouncy layered skirt attached. They were the thing when we were in kindergarten or so.
Screech looks like a sad quirky boy from a Wes Anderson movie.
T: I think everyone’s pissed off in this picture because they all realized they would go down in history as one of the most ridiculously dressed casts in TV. Also, a lot of denim on denim.
M: Photos of groups of people in the late 80s/early 90s almost give you a stress headache because there’s so much happening at once. Really weird to think this was at the same time as Seinfeld, where everyone looked sort of earth toned and beigey. We mentioned in our live blog of The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story that the kids looked way too modern. Turns out we were right: the costume designers didn’t even try. This is why teens today have such a warped idea of what the 90s really looked like.
I’m getting more and more confused as to why Lisa and Screech are supposed to be such a mismatched pair. Look at those getups. They are made for each other.
T: Okay, but like, Slater’s wearing those jeans again. Did they really not have a budget to buy different pants? Speaking of pants, Screech is definitely wearing those Zumbas (Zumbas?) like it’s his job. Ok well technically it is. I feel like he came out of the womb wearing those.
M: I hope he has a provision in his will that he has to be buried in those pants.