’90s nostalgia, or, when good people make bad purchases.

I’m sort of annoyed with myself about this. Last night, I spent money I don’t have on this dress.

Why? Because it wasn’t too expensive and the site offered free shipping, sure. But mostly because it recalled the mid-’90s. It looks like a costume from “My So-Called Life,” or something that the lead singer of the Cranberries would have worn.

That’s ridiculous, because I didn’t even like “My So-Called Life” or the Cranberries in the ’90s. In fact, I didn’t really enjoy the mid-’90s at all.

I was in high school, and I was so very, very bad at high school. I was awkward,  I was sheltered, and I was just becoming aware that there was a world outside my own small life.

That world was both terrifying and intriguing. It was like Shakespeare’s Green World, a land of fairies, magic and danger  As a teen, I had no idea how to get out of my own world and into that one, and I was keenly aware that I was missing out. Things were happening out there. Things I would have enjoyed.

In short, I felt the way our poor neutered cat does when we don’t let him outside.

Yet I’m always drawn back to that era. I love the music. I love the flat hairstyles. I love the slouchy hobo-chic clothes. I love the ugly, ugly shoes. I remember, in 1993,  looking at an ad in Vogue Magazine. Featured was an anorexic-looking model wearing a shapeless gray dress and unlaced combat boots. Her only accessory was a plastic barrette, which was sliding out of her limp bob toward the floor. And my 15-year-old self thought, “That is so classic. It will never go out of style.”

Dear God. I just bought a dress that recalls that ad.

Chris Rock had a theory about this. He said that we all have a soft spot for the music (or fashion, or whatever) that emerged when we were first getting laid. That exact explanation doesn’t apply to me. I spent my high school years doing homework, chores, working at a vacuum shop and attending CCD. Still, Rock is onto something. Maybe people are always nostalgic for the era when they first became aware of the world.

Maybe when people try to bring back the fashions and music of their youth , they’re actually looking for a do-over of sorts. Maybe they are trying  – as adults – to get a taste of an era they couldn’t quite grasp when they were teenagers.

Maybe, on some level, I believe that this dress is my do-over.

It’s still ridiculous. I have no idea where I’m going to wear the thing. But maybe I’ll at least get some sweet combat boots to wear with it. I always wanted a pair of those.