Mood Rings. Babydoll dresses. MC Hammer parachute pants. Butterfly hair clips. When you think “90s fashion”, these are probably some of the first few things that come to mind. The 90s were an interesting time in fashion, with an even larger variety of styles to choose from than any generation prior. There was grunge music and the explosion of east and west coast hip hop heavily influencing much of the look of the early and mid 90s. The pop music-loving women who donned shiny, puffy-sleeved dresses in the 80s were still rocking similar looks the following decade while out on dates, though perhaps with a bit less shimmer and hairspray. And just about everyone had at least one pair of overalls and a pager.
Movies and television also had large impacts on 90s fashion trends—especially when it came to women’s wardrobes. Large, funky hats—like on the show Blossom—were definitely a hit. Countercultures came into the spotlight, including the witchy goth looks donned by the girls from The Craft. The rave scene came about and reminded folks to add plenty of color and wide-legged pants into the mix. Skatergear, like oversized cargo shorts, Thrasher tees, and Airwalk shoes were worn both by skateboarders and those who happened to enjoy alternative rock. We also can’t stress enough the importance of the Rachel (from Friends) medium layered haircut, worn by just about every woman from about 1994-1999.
Our daily wear has definitely become quieter, more subdued since the 80s and 90s. Colorful pantsuits and mixed floral print separates could still be easily found in the workforce, while we seem to be more selective of our prints and go for more minimalistic styles these days. And while t-shirts and jeans continue to be a casual go-to look, these have also changed stylistically over the past 25 years. A Tommy or Fila shirt from back in the day might get traded off for a new t-shirt with a retro-inspired image. And while straight legs were the default of the 90s, we’ve since adopted the skinny jean as our preferred pant (though none of us are sure why). If you’re wondering what other 90s fashion trends you might be able to recreate with your current wardrobe, or need help in knowing which pieces to add to your next outfit, keep reading our list.
Flannels have existed for decades, but in the early 90s, they became something of the de-facto uniform of grunge rock musicians (and their fans). Own the look by adding this red, white, and blue top to your closet, and wear open with a t-shirt underneath.
Women of the 90s were bold with their dress options, opting to strip down to their slip dresses as a major fashion statement. While you needn’t go that far, you can always purchase a somewhat thicker style slip dress that still maintains a respectable hemline. You could pair this with a shrug-style sweater for the full 90s fashion effect.
Generally speaking, combat boots like Dr. Martens can often be extremely rough on the feet, requiring lots of strategic breaking in before even attempting to walk with them. Lucky for you, we now have many more options to choose from—including soft leather combat boots, so your feet stay comfortable even in brand new boots.
Nearly everyone had a pair of these iconic slide sandals by Adidas. Worn both with and without socks, and more often than not as a casual house slipper, these slides can even be stylish if outfitted properly. Try wearing them to the beach, with some khaki shorts, a plain tee, and a hat for a simple, youthful, laid-back look.
Vests aren’t often a common staple in anyone’s closet. And when they are, they’re generally utilitarian in style. That is to say, they are usually meant to keep you warm. But in the 90s, they were often added for no reason other than fashion. While one could keep some small items in the pockets of this black denim vest, overall it’s more of a statement piece than anything else—and we kinda like that about it.
Quirky hats were a definite trend when Gen X was still growing up, and one such style was the fiddler cap. Also known as a mariner’s cap, a fisherman’s cap, and other names, this became a pretty common hat to see women wear. We find this one by Brixton to be especially flattering.
JNCO and other companies of the 90s specialized in wide-legged jeans for the masses. The width of these jeans could go from a bit of flare, to pant legs that could hold about 3 or 4 pairs of legs in them. With the 90s making a comeback, you can go for a medium wide-leg jean, complete with frayed hems (another true 90s standard).
Alright, these might not always be the most flattering hats, but they were definitely a major contender of the 1990s. There’s an age range at which this type of hat fails to be “cool,” but once you’ve passed that line, you’re free to enjoy the joys of bucket hats without fear (plus they keep your skin and hair shaded from the sun, so what’s not to like?)
When you get fed up with jeans but don’t feel quite like wearing the more formal slacks or entirely informal leggings, there’s always corduroy. This soft fabric makes for a more comfortable pant than any made of denim, and can also keep you a touch warmer in the colder seasons. We like this wide-legged pair seen here in a mustard hue.
We did mention how quirky headgear was fairly common in the 90s, didn’t we? Well, we can see this trend continue by way of a charm-laden beret. The beret is perfectly of the era, but the removable charms add an additional bit of 90s charm, bringing the entire look together.
Before we somehow made Crocs a thing, there were clogs. These easy-to-wear slip-on shoes could be seen on every woman’s shoe rack during the 90s and we can’t say that we blame them. Not only are they comfortable (and allow for simple and quick removal), they can also easily be worn with all kinds of outfits, from skirts to jeans to jumpsuits.
Whereas Ray Bans were the definitive 80s sunglass brand, the 90s were all about Oakleys. These shades, which seemed to be heavily preferred by outdoorsy types (snowboarders and skiers, surfers and skaters alike), were embraced by everyone at the time. You could opt for a standard pair of black shades, but shouldn’t we jump at the chance to wear rose-colored glasses after 50?
These warm and snug tops could be seen on just about every ‘It’ girl of the mid-to-late 90s. We can see how, when worn simply (as seen here paired with some blue jeans and small gold hoops), this top can be flattering. Plus, you can add a touch of flirtiness to your look depending on how high or low you decide to button it up.
Gianni Versace was at the height of his game in the 1990s. More than two decades after his murder in 1997, Versace’s legacy continues to live on. Here, mature fashionistas can pay homage to the late Italian designer. We should always have a few t-shirts in our wardrobes, but we think adding a distinct look to each (such as with this rhinestone logo) is paramount to staying stylish.
Few fashion trends have ever been so hated only to come back into the light than hair scrunchies. Though they are still less chic than a slim, near-invisible hair tie, the scrunchie has its place. Additionally, some claim that scrunchies are a bit easier on the hair (especially if you’re prone to breakage), so they might be worth investing in even if they aren’t your cup of tea.
Fanny packs were pretty popular in the 90s, but more beloved than those were the mini backpacks of the day. And what other brand would you want your mini backpack to be than Tommy Hilfiger—one of the more recognizable brands of the decade. This backpack, in a glossy, red polyester material, would have totally been on trend circa 1995.
90s women were all about floral dresses, especially on darker backgrounds, like this number in black. Daisies were also quite popular—just ask 90s screen queen Drew Barrymore, who could often be seen wearing daisy prints in magazine spreads. This cute, airy dress by Madewell makes use of both of these stylistic choices, and could be accompanied by those Dr Martens we recommended for an ideal 90s-inspired look.
Bell bottoms were to the 70s what straight legged jeans were to the 90s. Everyone had a pair of these high-waisted pants, and very often in a faded denim. This pair by Anine Bing also feature some distressed areas, which you know were common in the grunge look.
Right around the mid and late 90s, tops featuring raised stripes really became all the rage. Mock necks, such as the one this Madewell shirt features, were also quite popular. You can wear a top like this with a jacket or potentially even a blazer, so you can bring this retro trend into the modern era.
We hope these items help you plan out your next, 90s-inspired outfit! Before you go, please know that Livingly may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.