For many of us, school had its ups and downs. Sure there was the fun social side, but when we weren’t stressing about upcoming exams, we were getting into trouble for talking in class and seemingly spending all our free time on those tricky homework assignments.
School was hard, but we made the best of it by taking every opportunity to express ourselves. When non-uniform day felt too far away, the next best thing was accessorising. From bags to book decoration, setting out your stuff with pride before each lesson began was the best way to show your true colours.
Anyone who was at school in the 1990s will still remember how cool school stationery was, along with all the other trends and tools that passed through. Here are some of our favourites from the decade.
Gul pencil cases
Gul is a British company that makes wetsuits and other watersport-based merchandise – so naturally the classroom was their next target! Their branded pencil cases are made from neoprene, the same material they use to make their surfing outfits – remember how stretchy they were? Clearly the best solution for budding artists who needed to pack their pens, pencils and erasers.
Football shirt pencil toppers
Since you weren’t allowed to wear your favourite team’s shirt to school, sports fans were able to do the next best thing by subtly displaying their footballing pride on the end of their pencils with a small plastic topper in the shape and style of their shirt of choice. Good for some sporting rivalries in the classroom; not so good when the teacher prefers rugby.
Those funny-looking creatures with huge swathes of day-glo hair were all the rage back then. However, Trolls had actually been in and out of style since the 1960s! These cute little toys came in lots of different sizes – you could put them on pencils, sit them on your desk or even have them as a backpack.
Panini football stickers
The new term comes hot on the heels of the new football season, which is always a good time to start collecting the stickers. Before school we carefully spent time organising stickers into swap piles, ready for a tough day’s negotiating over who had the spare shiny ones.
At first glance, the calculator watch looked really cool and handy, but it took a very light touch and steady hand to operate one properly, thanks to the impossibly tiny buttons.
One of the biggest school crazes near the end of the decade, Pokémon cards became the must-have collectible. With the cartoon providing some much-valued after-school entertainment, and the video games being the scourge of many a parent’s plea to go outside at the weekends, Pokémon cards ensured that not even school was safe from Poke-fever.
10-in-1 multicolour pens
These ingenious contraptions brought lashings of colour to any art and design project. And science. And Maths. And even English, if you could find the right excuse. Sadly some colours would run out sooner than others, leaving us with the least appropriate choices for homework – no teacher was pleased to see biology in pink and geology in brown.
Before the internet really took hold – if you can remember back that far – Encarta was the go-to PC program for all research topics. It was an extremely useful source for background on history and science, but it will have caused some controversy at school. Did you ever see kids turning in the exact same essays based on what they’d copied from Encarta? Awkward!
These little gadgets were a cute way to spend a lunchtime, feeding and caring for your virtual pets. If they were feeling neglected though, everyone would know about it as your Tamagotchi would start crying in the middle of a lesson! We reckon teachers had drawers full of these toys, which led to a lot of confusion when handing them back out at the end of a lesson.
With all the terabytes and gigabytes flying around, not to mention the all-powerful Cloud storage, kids these days wouldn’t believe you if you told them what schoolkids relied on to save work. A floppy disk held only 1.44 MB of information – back then it was more than
Tastes have changed since the 1990s, and while we were happy with our quirky pens and calculator watches, kids these days are most likely to have One Direction or Take That stationery – although in Take That’s case, we’re sure they were adorning many a pencil case 20 years ago as well!