I own a Juicy suit.
You’re like, “OK, Kara, cool! So do I! It’s been buried in my closet for like five years.” Or maybe, “I clean the house in mine now and it’s all bleach-stained and nasty.”
Yeah, no. I’m not talking about a Juicy Couture suit that I’m saving from middle school or one that I wear when I’m hungover.
I bought my hot-pink Juicy suit in March. I am 26 years old.
I was an impressionable teenager at the height of the Juicy craze, when celebrities like Paris Hilton and Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears and … well … everyone … were wearing the velour and terry-cloth tracksuits both in their daily lives and in their music videos. They became instantly iconic. The jackets were cut slim to hug curves and show off your boobs. The pants were slung low as was the fashion at the time and bootcut. When your Juicy suit fit you just right, you looked like an hourglass. It was kind of hot.
It was obnoxious, of course. The shirts with “Dude, Where’s My Couture?” or “PEACE LOVE JUICY” emblazoned across the front worn in tandem with the jewel-colored suits wasn’t a good look. It was tailor-made, though, for the new crop of celebrities who were emerging, the ones who embraced the light of a tabloid flash instead of shying away from it. You had Paris and Nicky and Nicole, who fit the Juicy image to a T: rich, flashy California girls who liked bright colors and pretty things and lived a frivolous life of parties and champagne. You have to admit it sounded alluring. There were gossip blogs like Perez Hilton that kept us updated on all their exploits. They were all doing such glamorous things, surrounded by paparazzi just to get their nails done, and they were doing it in Juicy.
For me, a teenage girl in the smallest of small towns in the Midwest, this whole “moneymoneymoneypartyJUICY” scene was completely foreign. I had a farmer dad, no inheritance and definitely couldn’t save up enough babysitting money to buy a $200 sweatsuit. No way. That would take me 10 weekends, even babysitting for the best-paying families. But I WANTED in to that lifestyle simply because it seemed like such a fantasy to me. I liked the way Juicy founders Pam and Gela looked and how their whole life seemed to be this fun California-meets-Versailles party. I also liked that they were chicks who built a massively successful company by themselves.
Juicy Couture was the coolest of the cool for a few years, and then there was the inevitable backlash. No one wanted to be caught dead in Ugg boots and pants with JUICY across the ass. They got dumped in the backs of closets, shameful, or sent to thrift stores.
But I still wanted one! I kept an eye on the company, even when it was sold to Liz Claiborne for millions of dollars. I wore the original Juicy perfume. I even wore Viva La Juicy, as popular and ubiquitous as it is now, for a short period of time. Even my most chic and fashionable friend asked me what I was wearing when I wore VLJ, which I considered a personal triumph. It was cute, flirty and fun and unabashedly feminine, which is what I loved about Juicy in the first place.
Much in the same way as I’ve always felt akin to the Guess Girl, I always wanted to be a Juicy Girl. Their most recent campaign with the slim-cut suits in hot pink and bright blue, the models with tousled, sexy hair hanging in a convertible – well, it spoke to me. It reignited my passion for a Juicy suit. I was going to bring that shit back. Would I wear my new Juicy suit together? Probably not. But I was getting one.
I know they’re the opposite of popular nowadays and that Juicy and all it stood for has become such a joke: the tacky extensions, the True Religions, the candy-colored Louis Vuittons. But if we’re being honest here, Juicy Couture was the first brand whose message I really, truly bought into. I could lie and say I first fell in love with Chanel couture, but I didn’t. That wasn’t me; that girl wasn’t ever gonna be me. But I COULD be a Juicy girl, all smiles and bright colors and optimism, and so I was GONNA be one.
I marched into the cheery Mall of America Juicy store – heavily scented with Viva La Juicy, of course, and found My Suit. Hot pink, with skinny pants and a matching hoodie. I put it on and felt complete and utter joy. My friends were laughing at me, but I didn’t care. I felt like a Malibu princess, like Pam Anderson at her hottest or Britney Spears at her hottest and baddest. It was awesome. When I posted it on my Instagram, so many of my girlfriends reminisced fondly about their Juicy suits. I bought that shit – 30% off! – and delighted in it. I was a big girl with my own money and I was getting what I wanted. That was the Juicy way, after all.