Every decade has its own fashion statements. Whether it’s the shoulder pads of the 80s or the hippie look of the 70s, these statements are a large part of life as we know it during different eras. While the fashion trends must have overlapped at the beginning and end of each decade, there are some that simply scream 90s for us today.
The iconic fashion trends from the 90s are not limited to just one style or look, but vary for different groups and phases during the decade. If you’re thinking of having a 90s-themed party, here are some fashion trends that can help you revisit this decade:
Stream or download any 90s sitcom, and you’d probably be treated to a wide variety of outfits in a rainbow of fluorescent colors. This was a trend that the 90s inherited from the latter part of the 1980s. As a result, you could find bright and bold colors for just about any item of clothing; sweatpants, jackets, parachute pants, T-shirts, and accessories such as headbands or bracelets.
The most popular colors for such clothing included eye-catching yellows, pinks, oranges, greens, and blues. these were also combined in a fun and unique manner, probably inspired by the pop art and comic book illustrations that were so popular in the 90s.
The clothing itself included babydoll dresses, leggings, crop tops, and colored jeans for the ladies. Also in vogue were black leather jackets complete with shoulder pads, embroidered jeans, slouch socks, ballet flats, or Keds.
For the men, a common 90s outfit would also include colored jeans with striped sweaters, bright T-shirts, leather jackets, letterman jackets, sneakers, denim overalls, and slouch socks. They might not be to everyone’s taste now, but the wardrobes back then sure were certainly memorable. However, these were far from the only strange and unusual fads from history.
By the time 1994 rolled around, 90s fashion had evolved into a somewhat more polished style. Those who preferred more casual trends like grunge were an exception, but the tailored look was more in vogue by then. This included pantsuits and fitted skirts for women, along with slip dresses and skirts. However, the look was far from boring, as the fabrics included sequined, satin, metallic, and vinyl options.
The mid-90s were also the time when bright colors and animal prints were still quite common. These were fashion statements that carried over from the initial part of the 90s and the late 80s. You could have animal prints in shorts, jackets, pants, and all kinds of accessories. Some of these might even be in style today.
Along with animal prints, the 90s were also a time when bold prints were trending for men’s clothing. Hawaiian shirts, graphic T-shirts, velvet blazers, sports jerseys, and paisley patterns were the norm in the middle of the decade.
Around the latter part of the 90s, there was a revival of the fashion we saw in the 1970s. The bell bottom was making a comeback, as were flared sleeves and several other clothing items plus accessories. The two main categories that were most affected by this revival were women’s clothing and men’s business casual.
For women’s clothing, disco looks were coming back in style. These including leather or pleather pants in black or red, halter tops, fitted shorts, flared jeans, platform shoes, and cropped tanks. The colors were bright and arresting, including several shades of navys, reds, and purples.
On the other hand, there was also the dot-com boom to think about. Men (and some women) in that industry had to dress a bit more seriously, so their wardrobe changed accordingly. This included long-sleeved shirts that buttoned up, sober sweaters, dress shoes, neutral socks, khakis, chinos, dress slacks, sensible belts, and even a tie on occasion. For a more formal look, men would don sensible shirts and the quintessential black suit with a tie.
The history of grunge music is worth reading up on, even if you’re only interested in the look. The early 90s saw the grunge look being very popular, even becoming a part of mainstream fashion by 1992. This was probably because of the advent of several grunge bands, including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana.
You can replicate the grunge look to some extent by donning ripped jeans, stonewashed denim (jeans and jackets), Doc Martens, Birkenstocks, high top sneakers, flannel shirts made from dark-colored plaid, an combat boots. Any combination of these should have you harking back to the grunge 90s in no time!
One can get an even better idea of grunge-themed outfits by checking out movies from that era in the 90s. These include ‘Reality Bites’ and ‘Singles’. If you’d like an extended experience of grunge fashion in the 90s pop culture, the show named ‘My So-Called Life’ is a good place to start.
The Preppy Look
The classic 90s preppy look is characterized by plaid and tartan skirts for girls, along with slip dresses, knee-high boots, fitted sweaters, and perhaps a cardigan tied around the waist or shoulders. For the males, the preppy look included khakis, striped T-shirts, sweaters, button-up shirts, navy blazers, etc.
If you need some inspiration about specific outfits, it might be worth revisiting 90s shows such as ‘Saved By the Bell’. The movie ‘Clueless’ is also a great reference for the preppy look and a fun watch to boot.
Overall, this look is quite simple and might even be popular these days among high school seniors. It all depends on what kind of taste you have and what kind of image you want to portray.
The punk style became quite popular around the middle of the late 90s. Interestingly, the look was especially trendy for skaters. You had your red tartan, black tartan, dark-colored T-shirts, leather jackets, hoodies, and boots. If you were a skater, your skate shoes completed the punk look.
This look was characterized by bands such as Sum 41, Blink-182, Green Day, and the like. Their music was also in the punk genre, so it wasn’t just about the clothing. Characters such as Drusilla or Spike from the iconic 90s show ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is also a great source of inspiration if you’re looking for punk styling ideas.
One might think of hip hop as simply a kind of music, but it had its own fashions and fads just like grunge did (and still does). Look to artists such as Tupac, Public Enemy, and MC Hammer in order to see how they influenced fashion in the 1990s. The resulting ensembles were known as portraying the hip-hop lifestyle.
You can copy this style and make it your own by going for clothing such as jeans with wide legs, bomber jackets, tracksuits, snapback hats, and gold chains. Check out bands like Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society for even more inspiration.
A lot of the fashion trends in the 90s are linked to certain preferences such as music, philosophy, sports, etc. The styles have varied from 1990 to 1999, so make sure you know just what you’re representing when you don an outfit that could be from the 90s. Even putting on a 90s concert T-shirt might be enough to fulfill your nostalgic needs, so have a look around before deciding on a final ensemble.