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The day I threw out my Juicy Couture tracksuit

News that Juicy Couture, the seminal noughties brand known for their pink velour tracksuits, is unveiling a sophisticated new line this autumn will be met by many with more than a small side order of surprise. After all, this is the label that foisted velour track suits in sickly sweet colours on to women across the globe.

Juicy Couture’s autumn/winter 2015 campaign. Photograph: Mert Alas Marcus Piggott/Juicy Couture

Ten years ago, it was almost impossible to avoid gaggles of girls in matching velvet zip-up hoodies and slightly too-tight jogging bottoms on your local high street. And I know of what I speak, for I was one of those initiated into the synthetic tribe early on.

My first Juicy Couture tracksuit was a tasteful navy blue hoodie. Without the funds for the complete outfit, I wore it everywhere – with jeans, with skirts, on nights out, to uni. I later saved up to buy a complete set, opting for a pale green towelling suit (shut up, it was in the sale), which I overheard someone at university say made me look like Kermit the frog. Flattering they were not. But they were everywhere.

Paris Hilton in 2005. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

Celebrities wore them, reality stars wore them, rich women tottering down the Kings Road wore them. Perhaps the Juicy Tracksuit had its crowning moment of glory when it was immortalised in the classic film Mean Girls, where they were worn by Regina George and her desperately try-hard mother. I personally preferred to wear mine with that other mid-noughties horror, the Ugg boot (my phone just corrected this to the ugh boot; everyone’s a critic) and diamanté-encrusted sunglasses.

Juice Couture tracksuits were comfortable, versatile and men hated them, which is always a sure sign that something is the height of fashion. I looked ridiculous, it cannot be denied. A grownup in the eyes of the law, I was going about my life wearing an outfit that the likes of Paris Hilton deemed acceptable. I didn’t live in LA, I went to college in Archway, and boy did people let me know it.

Charlotte Church in 2002. Photograph: Huw John/Rex Shutterstock

Eventually, I came to understand that having rhinestones encrusted across your derriere was perhaps not a message that Sylvia Pankhurst would have appreciated. That, and seeing the von Dutch hat, small dog and tracksuit combo reach its peak. And just like that, I threw in the towel(ling). Skinny jeans were on the march, and I was fed up with looking like an extra on The Simple Life.

The tracksuits went to a charity shop, where no doubt they were deemed too flammable for resale, and that was the end of that. And yet I cherish my years of terrible towelling. We all have hideous fashion traumas that we attempt to block from our minds. But few of us can say that those mistakes made them look like the world’s most famous amphibian. I don’t think the new Juicy Couture campaign, however stylish, can ever hope to make that kind of impact.

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