Being young in the 90s was confusing. Our political leaders were engaging in unspeakable sex acts. Sports heroes were murdering people and attacking one another. A nutty rich guy tried to become president to the delight of populists everywhere. OK, I suppose being young in the 90s wasn’t much different than existing in 2015, which is good, because here we are 20 years later trying to derive style advice from Montell Jordan: 1995‘s Frat Guy Most Likely to Succeed. If you're thinking—what the heck happened to Montell / how are the youth of today supposed to know how to do it? Worry not! A cursory Google search has revealed he's become a born-again Christian and currently serves as a Worship Minister at Victory World Church. Of course. (Don't act surprised—leadership and morality were always at play. Please refer to lyrics such as "So I reach for my 40 and I turn it up / Designated driver take the keys to my truck.")
Anyway, everyone knows “This Is How We Do It.” EVERYONE. I know this as cold hard fact because I was a DJ for a bunch of years and witnessed its power in settings as diverse as bars and dive bars. Weddings, too. What everyone might not know is that the video for “This Is How We Do It” is a cornucopia of practical party fashion, and HELLO. It's New Year's Eve tomorrow, so you have 24 hours to decide what sort of party sitch you wanna populate and what you need to wear to get your bell rung.
Montell Jordan and his Party People do a great job differentiating between Levels of House Party. This is relevant now and in many years to come no doubt, because in these-times-of-financial-hardship (and also, untz-untz clubs), house parties are pretty much your best bet for a good time. According to Monty there are two key levels: the Red Cup situation and the Champagne Room scenario. The former lends itself to far more sartorial creativity, so let’s start there.
THE RED CUP PARTY SITUATION
The key to a Red Cup Party is not giving a fuck. It’s basically a freak flag parade. I mean, you follow the host’s lead, of course, and in this case, the host threw a house party and didn’t even bother to hide the fact that he or she uses bar soap, so…
When it comes to picking an outfit for a house party, comfort is important. Chances are you’ll be on your feet a lot, or possibly end up sitting in a bathtub. That said, you shouldn’t sacrifice style for comfort. There’s definitely a balance to be found. This girl gets it. I don’t know who we have to thank for the resurgence of crop tops (no really, whoever you are, stand up—you’ve got a LOT to answer for), but they seem to be here to stay. Sad news for people with subpar midriffs, and even sadder for those who live in places with you know, seasons (although hey, global warming…). This girl though—she’s killing the crop top layering. And you can copy her look for less by just taking an old hoodie and snipping off the bottom. Crucially though, she’s saying, “Don’t let Big Bad Fashion shame you with their crop top push; slap a bodysuit under there and you’ve got yourself a bonafide invite to a Montell Jordan party and maybe a spot on a dance crew!” (Catchy.)
Now listen, while old people sit around moaning about how naked today’s pop stars are, let’s examine this Red Cup warrior princess. THIS is how you do naked-ish. Show a lot of skin, but be sure to wear a “jacket.” Whose dog-tags are those? Are they her boyfriend’s? Girlfriend’s? Who knows? Maybe they have an open relationship. Maybe she got them at Urban Outfitters. It’s worth an ask, and gives you an excuse to look at her boob region. Everybody pervs, but the knack is in how you do it. And speaking of her boob region—see that white bra? That means “nice.”
She's demonstrating a concept known as "naughty". Tattoos, sideways cap, nose ring—there's a reason these accessory choices have always found favor at crunk parties.
Guys at Red Cup parties have it pretty easy. Props to these ones for their vertical stripe coordination.
In modern times, guys have to suffer quite a few indignities to get attention - beard implants, butt waxing, cargo shorts. Montell Jordan and his Party People want you to know that in the world of Red Cups, all you really need is a beanie and a Slinky.
Here’s another option for you, dudes. Beanie man (not Beenie Man) models a new hat and suspenders (OG Hick Chic). The towel means he’s about to get wet.
See, another important thing to bear in mind at house parties is that you HAVE to seem busy. You want people to wonder what you’re up to. Towel guy? Obvs looking for a good time somewhere. And check out this girl's body language? She clearly wants her couch buddy to notice her. And not only notice her, but notice her ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU OR THIS DUMB PARTY. (Please note the plastic covered couch.)
Side note: Why do you think people started congregating in the kitchen at house parties? Sure there are plenty of ways to look busy in the kitchen, but everybody knows (or should know, anyway) that the best place to get busy is the bathroom. It has a lock. It has a faucet for hydration. It has towels.
THE CHAMPAGNE ROOM SITUATION
Champagne Room parties are a very different vibe. They're a lot more subdued. Ladies - you automatically earn the title of capital L "Lady" when attending a Champagne Room party - you can wear obnoxiously bulbous jewelry and photo-ready updos without the slightest fear of losing anything (apart from maybe your dignity after a few too many glasses, AMIRITE?). Men smoke cigars instead of e-cigs (wait were e-cigs around in the 90s?), and they wear suits, either with a dress shirt or mock turtleneck, depending on their level of chill.
See these girls? See that matte lip-liner? Who's innovative NOW, Kylie Jenner? (At least we know which sort of party the Jenners and Hadids and Tay-Tays wanna fit in at).
See, girl-gangs and #squadgoals aren't a new thing. But it's worth noting that a surefire way to have no guys near you at a party is to sit around with a few of your friends looking bored of everything apart from resting bitch face.
Does sitting around with a bunch of lettuce leaves and halved papayas look like fun to you? No, no it does not. Or at least, it shouldn't. Instead of getting your mini-backpack entangled with a dude's Slinky, you're faced with the prospect of boring conversation and collarless blazers. I know where I'd rather be.
One style tip I recommend you don't try to emulate this festive season, or in the frigid few months of next year, or like, ever, is the heavily stitched, oversized vest situation, worn en masse with your crew. Some grudging respect may be dished out (maybe) by your fellow party people if you and your friends suddenly bust out some sick choreogrpahy, but not if you do so in those vests. Trust me.
Chances are you’ll find yourself at a house party sometime soon (tomorrow). And it seems highly likely that it’ll either be a Red Cup or Champagne Room scenario. While you might’ve known that a vast majority of fellow party people would be up for booty bumps if “This Is How We Do It” made an appearance on the playlist, you might not have realized that the 1995 video serves as such a relevant-to-now party style tutorial. You’re welcome. See you in the bathroom.
Karen Ruttner will be drinking champagne in red cups this NYE. Bango! She's on Twitter.