1. American Girl Dolls
The line-up of American Girl dolls in the ’90s was all about different historical eras. There was Felicity, a Colonial-era girl; Samantha of the early 1900s; the WWII-era Molly; Kirsten, an 1854 pioneer; and Addy, who lived during the Civil War.
2. A Little Princess
This tale of an early-1900s girl living in a luxurious New York boarding school made us long for the days of drop-waist dresses and rag curls.
3. Rag Curls
Largely influenced by movies like the one above. But they never turned out as perfect as Sara Crewe’s.
4. Anne of Green Gables
This classic piece of children’s literature about an orphan in the early 1900s was widely read by young girls — probably because she looked so cute on the cover. There was also a 1985 movie adaptation which ran on TV frequently enough.
5. Laura Ashley
Ahh, Laura Ashley. The designer who told women of the 1980s that dressing like a woman of the 1880s was the thing to do. Were you also obsessed with the clothes in this catalog? That you were maybe too small to wear?
6. Little House on the Prairie
These iconic books only made you want a Laura Ashley dress even more. Floral smocks: GIMME!
7. Victoria Magazine
The point of Victoria was to teach women how to decorate their house like the set of The Age of Innocence and inspire them with courtesan fashions.
8. Little Women
This 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel was pure brilliance. Because: balls, quills and ink, lovely hairstyles, huge dresses, and of course Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, and Winona Ryder.
9. The Secret Garden
This 1993 movie (also an adaptation of a classic children’s book) told the story of a surly orphan living in an enormous English manor. It was like Downton Abbey: The Tweenage Years.
10. Cat’s Cradle
So many a ’90s girl’s favorite playground activity. This string game has been around for ages (perhaps better recognized as a pastime of the 1800s and early 1900s). Can you even remember the days of being entertained by a mere piece of string?
This 1993 Disney adaptation had two old-fashioned worlds: the rugged country mountains and the fancy house of Clara, a rich invalid. Plus those braiiiiiddds.
12. Paper Dolls
It was especially good to collect books of paper dolls with fashions from different time periods. You could dress up your girl in a stately gown of the 1800s. And then change her into another stately gown of the 1800s.
13. Catherine, Called Birdy
This young reader book told the story of a girl living in medieval England, just trying to avoid being wed off to some middle-aged suitor (because: ew!). Yet another tale of fantasy on ye olde manor.
Obviously. You’d gladly travel to any era — even to an ill-fated day in 1912 — to be with Leonardo in so elegant a fashion.