Most ICONIC 1990s Fashion Looks from Hip Hop to Nineties Grunge
With unique aesthetics, character, and style, the 90s fashion is often regarded as the golden decade of fashion.
The confluence of analog with digital, cell phones, portable CD players, and game consoles, granted the nineties fashion styles a very distinct look.
The 90s fashion decade was also influenced by the emergence of supermodels, TV celebrities, and A-listers who rocked the 90s latest looks on the red carpet, in the movies, and in music clips.
The 90s fashion history books remind us of headbands, scrunchies, tube tops, capri pants, spiky and dyed hair, and chained wallets, as worn by Lady Diana, Andre Agassi, La Toya Jackson, Run-DMC, and Spice Girls.
There was also The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Nirvana, Beavis and Butthead, Juice, MTV, SNICK, Power Rangers, TGIF, and Wayne’s World.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the 100+ MOST ICONIC 90s fashion looks, trends, and ideas.
Without further ado, these are the MAIN 90s fashion looks & styles.
90s Overalls – Straps Down
GUESS & TOMMY HILFIGER 90s OVERALLS
Overalls in the nineties were super popular, showcased in movies, music clips, and on stage by supermodels.
The classic 90s overalls style was rocked with one strap or both straps down, and even without a shirt underneath – Jodeci style.
Nineties Bike Shorts
GIORDANA, CASTELLI, DE MARCHI
Introduced by celebrities like Madonna and Jane Fonda, 90s spandex bike shorts were ideal for wearing in or out of the gym.
But, the most iconic moment of the 90s bike shorts style was reached when Princess Diana rocked an iconic pair of orange biker shorts from De Marchi.
The royal beautifully matched the orange bike shorts with an oversized sweatshirt in navy blue branded Virgin Atlantic, gifted to her by Sir Richard Branson.
The bike shorts of the 90s trend is now back, thanks to Kim Kardashian, Off-White, and Naomi Campbell.
NIKE, ADIDAS, SERGIO TACCHINI
Popularized by tennis stars, 90s thick headbands became a must-wear hair accessory that permeated the catwalk scene.
Headbands were seen everywhere, from colleges – paired with preppy clothes – to movies and music clips on MTV.
DOC MARTENS, SERGIO ROSSI, MONCLER
Initially introduced by the 80s post-punk fashion and grunge scene, the nineties-style combat boots were the footwear everyone wanted to have – in particular Dr. Martens brand.
In the 90s, the look was popularized by the ‘Tank Girl’ devotees, fictional characters like Daria Morgendorffer, and celebs like Mel B. from Spice Girls.
KANGOL, LACOSTE, BURBERRY
Popular in the late ’80s thanks to Jam Master Jay and LL Cool J, the bucket hat style continued into the nineties as a hip-hop style.
90s bucket hats were worn by Dennis Rodman, Ghostface Killah, and Rakim, just to name a few 1990s celebs that sported the style.
In 2022, we see bucket hats returning, worn by Rihanna, All Saints, Justin Bieber, and Naomi Campbell.
Cargo Pants in the 90s
DICKIES, CARHARTT, WRANGLER, SKIDZ
In the 90s, cargo pants and military-style khaki pants became a key part of mainstream fashion, thanks to hip-hop artists like Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, and movie stars like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
90s cargo pants had a multi-pocket construct and were ideal for carrying a large number of accessories teens used to have in those days, such as Gameboy consoles, pagers, cell phones, wallets, keys, and so on.
90s Tracksuits + Track Jackets
ADIDAS, FILA, UMBRO, TOMMY HILFIGER
The 90s tracksuits and jackets were bright, sporty, loud, and colorful, worn by everyone, from hip-hoppers to British footballers, and from basketballers to rockstars, movie celebrities, and even grandpas.
The trend of nineties tracksuits was so popular that the style permeated into the realm of high-end designer labels, topping the 90s fashion magazines and catwalks.
1990s Sheer Dresses
GUCCI, VERSACE, JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
Babydoll shaped, with thin spaghetti straps, the sheer dress style became a global fashion trend after Kate Moss’s iconic appearance in 1993 – pictured above – a trend etched in the fashion movies and books forever.
CARHARTT, WRANGLER, CROSS COLOURS
There is no discussion about 90s fashion without talking about the hip-hop style baggy jeans, as the baggier they were, the higher the prizes and respect.
Launched by stars and hip-hoppers of those times, the trend was quickly picked up by teenagers and worn at school, discos, and even at home.
Another important aspect of the baggy jeans that made them fashionable in the 1990s was the brand name – had to be recognized, to be appreciated by your peers.
High-Waist Mom Jeans
LEVIS 501, GUESS, GITANO, JOOP
1990s high-waist jeans became a fashionable wardrobe item, thanks to a smart campaign conducted by Levis – namely, the Spike Lee commercial.
Guess followed up the right way with high-waist jeans for women, and mum jeans became a 90s thing.
Three decades later, nineties mum jeans are still holding strong, as one of the most demanded casual denim streetwear styles in 2022.
1990s Slip Dresses
LA PERLA, EMANUEL UNGARO, ARMANI
The slip dress became popular towards the end of the nineties decade, initially as a garment part of the ‘underwear-as-outerwear’ so popular in the 90s fashion looks.
Made from layered chiffon, polyester satins, or charmeuse and trimmed with lace, 90s slip dresses exemplify the minimalist and relaxed vibe of those times.
CARHART, LEVI’S, WOOLRICH
With the help of grunge rockers – who wore flannel shirts as part of their trademarked low-key looks – flannel shirts reached peak popularity in the mid-90s.
From here, 90s flannel shirts spread like wildfire amongst rock and country music fans to become a mainstream fashion style, eventually becoming a fashion staple for many generations to come.
90s Velvet Looks
GIORGIO ARMANI, YVES SAINT LAURENT, NEW LOOK
In the 90s, anything made from velvet was a must-wear, by the fashion icons of those times – the best example is Gwyneth Paltrow’s red velvet suit and red shoes, making her fade away while walking on the red carpet.
Some of the coolest velvet clothes of the 90s comprised a blend of classic style and cool-girl vibe, a combo that many contemporary designers try to replicate, as their own fresh 90s looks.
From all 1990s velvet looks, it is Batsheva’s victorian necklines and YSL structured cuts with a gathered waist that stand out, as the epitome of 90s fashion styles.
1990s Tees Under Blazers
NO FEAR, FRUIT OF THE LOOM, MOSCHINO
Tees under blazers became a thing in the early 90s, thanks to movie stars promoting the look as a quick smart casual style to be worn at the office, going out, and even on a relaxed dinner date.
By the mid-90s, labels like Moschino, Versace, and Calvin Klein started to create high-end tees and blazers combos in various colors and styles.
However, the ’90s tees under blazers’ look were cemented by affordable streetwear labels like Fruit of the Loom and No Fear, with affordable tees that worked with blazers, suit jackets, and jeans.
Color-changing jewelry or mood rings first became popular in New York City in the 70s.
The 70s fashion was the flower-power times when people began to explore ways of showing their feelings.
However, it was the 90s when the mood rings gain peak popularity, as people wanted to show their peers how they feel, without words.
The classic 90s mood ring contained a temperature-sensitive liquid crystal encased in quartz that changed color according to one’s skin temperature – supposedly triggered by blood flow and emotions.
90s Skate Tees
NO FEAR, ALIEN WORKSHOP, TOY MACHINE, TRASHER, SPITFIRE
In the 90s, the global street skateboarding culture leads to an explosion of ‘mall rats,’ e.g. teenagers rocking hand-made graphic tees with skate logos and similar slogans.
The trend was quickly commercialized by brands like Alien Workshop, Hook-Ups, Toy Machine, Thrasher, No-Fear, and Spitfire, and the rest is skatewear history books.
90s Rollers Styles
ROLLERBLADE, POLLY POCKET, ROOKIE
In the 90s, skateboarding was slowly taken over by the youth culture and used ways to compete or protest.
In response, inline skating – initially seen as a close competitor but later seen as a form of alternative fitness and dance, gained adoption by the mature market.
The fitness and disco dancing aspect sought by rollers resulted in a different fashion vibe, similar to the 80s fashion fitness days with leg warmers, bike shorts, and neon tights.
90s Side-Stripe Jeans and Pants
PARASUCO, RICHMOND, GLORY, NIKE, ADIDAS
In the 90s, pants and jeans with two stripes from waist to ankle were designed to show you had the cash flow of the rappers who rocked them at the time.
This trend spilled over into the tracksuit pants of those times.
One Leg Rolled-Up Pants
THE ‘GHETTO LEG’ STYLE
The “ghetto leg” style consisted of rolling up a pant’s leg to prevent it from getting stuck in the bike’s chain during life-threatening ‘ghetto activities.’
This was a functional approach that later translated into hip-hop music and beyond as a means of saying: “don’t mess with me.”
1990s Bleached Hairstyle
‘SUICIDE BLONDE’ HAIR COLOR
INXS introduced the term “suicide blonde” as a way to describe a misunderstood, complex person that’s on the verge of collapsing.
Thanks to celebrities like Eminem, Drew Barrymore, and Gwen Stefany, the bleached blonde hairstyle became representative of the 90s fashion decade.
Pedal Pushers & Capri Pants in the 90s
90s CALF-LENGTH TROUSERS
The name ‘pedal pushers’ recalls pants worn by cyclists who avoid long pants that can catch in bicycle chains.
The style was the female reflection of the ‘Ghetto Leg’ style – part of the teenage clothing looks of the 90s
Not to confuse ‘Capri pants’ and ‘pedal pushers’ with shorts or cropped kick flares.
Pedal pushers follow the calf-length trousers style of the 50s fashion and 60s fashion.
Often cuffed and worn tight to the skin, the style is sometimes referred to as ‘clam diggers.’
Nineties Chain Wallets
DICKIES, HARLEY DAVIDSON, LEVIS
Wallet chains were used in the 50s by bikers performing exhibitions on motorcycles as a way to secure their wallets.
The trend resurfaced in the 90s as a trifold or bifold leather wallet anchored at the fold with a sturdy chain (single or double) that hangs out on the side of the leg.
OCEAN PACIFIC, REEBOK, NIKE
The brighter, the better, the ‘Neon Windbreaker’ style was hot among kids and parents alike.
The Neon Windbreakers style emerged in the 80s and reached full maturity in the 90s, thanks to the TV shows and school culture worn by the coolest kids ‘on the block.’
90s Stripes Sweaters
GUESS, MOSCHINO, HUGO BOSS, ICEBERG
From Kurt Cobain to Freddie Krueger, stripes sweaters were a prevalent 90s fashion style, powered by an era of grunge fashion, Friends, and Nightmare on Elm Street.
1990s Bandanna Style
LEVIS, ELEPHANT, CAROLINA MFG
Seen as a very trendy head accessory of the 90s, bandanas were tied around the head to showcase which rapper you were siding with.
Later on, wearing bandannas shifted from being a gang-related accessory to signaling sexual inclusivity – see the Handkerchief Code for more info.
PEPE JEANS, LEVIS, CALVIN KLEIN
Seen as a political statement, ripped jeans were trendy in the 90s to showcase one’s anger towards society.
Kurt Cobain and Madonna are two of the many celebrities that popularised the trend, shifting it from a form of protest into a fashion trend that still reigns supreme.
Unbuttoned Shirts in the 1990s
CALVIN KLEIN, TOMMY HILFIGER, LEVIS, GUESS
Unbuttoned shirts were the antidote to the 90s fashion styles pushing toward tailored men’s looks via high-end designer labels’ advertising.
Shirts and ties were seen as a trend for older people, where showing skin was all about subverting or breaking the idea of tailoring conformity.
Hypercolor was a line of clothing manufactured by Generra Sportswear and marketed as Generra Hypercolor, Generra Hypergrafix, or Global Hypercolor.
The line comprised mainly T-shirts and shorts that changed color via a thermochromic pigment made by Matsui Shikiso Chemical of Japan, one color when cold and one when warm.
Nineties Man Tanks
MOSCHINO, VERSACE, CALVIN KLEIN, MUJI
Worn by action hero men of the 90s, man tanks become popular among women thanks to music and movie by female celebrities.
Supertight man tanks were all the rage on the bodies of stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Big, muscly bodies were the standard physiques of the 90s heroes, and no garment was more suitable for showing off their six-packs and overinflated pecs.
A status symbol of the 90s fashion trends, Discman was Sony’s brand name for portable CD players.
With the 1st Discman device launched by Sony in 1984 as D-50 or D-5, Discman was the perfect example of the love-hate relationship every music lover had in the 90s.
While the tracks would always skip, the looks you got from having a $100+ player on your belt were worth all the stress.
FROM RAVE TO POP CULTURE
From rave outfits to pop and skater cultures, piercings were the must-haves of the 90s fashion trends.
The ’90s were the prime time for piercings; nose, lips, tongues, ears, belly buttons, nipples, piercings were conquering places suitable enough to poke a needle through.
RAVE SMILEY FACE, TOM CORBETT, PLANET OF THE APES
Popularized by grunge, rave, goth, metal, and hardcore alternative celebrities like Marilyn Manson and Gwar, the lunchbox was a top handle bag ideal for stowing essentials and signaling your tribe affiliation.
Tops & Tees with Stripes
POLO RALPH, TOMMY HILFIGER, MOSCHINO
Striped tops were made by every 90s fashion brand from Tommy Hilfiger, Eddie Bauer, and Polo.
Ill-fitting horizontal or vertical block stripe tops were the rage of 90s fashion trends, rocked by celebs everywhere, from holidays to the red carpets.
White Pump Sneakers
Basketball pump sneakers hit the 90s fashion scene on the feet of royals and athletes like Lady D., Dominique Wilkins, and Michael Chang.
Made by Nike and Reebok, ‘Pump sneakers’ were mesmerizing and versatile, pointing to streetwear clothing styles we only now begin to understand.
POLO RALPH, TOMMY HILFIGER, TRIPLE FIVE SOUL
Turtlenecks were a staple of the 90s fashion styles.
Suitable for the wintertime, 90s turtlenecks came in two varieties: extra-thick for sensitive souls, and close-cut, ribbed for the badass ones.
VERSACE, GAP, FIORUCCI
A byproduct of 19th-century bomb-making, rayon shirts were one of the most fly things of the 90s trends.
The soft, light and spongy materials made it very popular in hot countries.
Initially adopted by South American drug dealers, the rayon shirts style made it into Holywood and the LA casual-wealthy pop culture.
Color Blocks (With A Message)
Carl Jones and T.J. Walker set to create the “Clothing Without Prejudice” label to boost social awareness of AIDS and racial discrimination.
Infused with African motifs and colors, the American label has become a beacon of inspiration for good, sported by celebs like Arsenio Hall, Kriss Kross, and Jamie Foxx.
NOMINATION, MICHAEL KORS, VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
The vials are made of glass comprising a grain of rice as glass makes the rice look bigger, and the writing can be read more easily.
Most inscriptions contain a name, date, a rose, or a short text like “I love you.”
Rice writing originated in ancient Anatolia, Turkey, and India.
Many rituals and rites use rice as a medium with the idea that those who receive them would become luckier and wealthier.
In the 90s fashion, rice necklaces with your lover’s name were the ideal accessory to make a cult-ish, religious almost, statement of love.
MOTOROLA, NEC, PANASONIC, PHILIPS
There were not many smartphones in the 90s, but pagers were the norm.
Pagers could receive messages, were lightweight, had long battery life, and were very cheap.
There was no transmitter inside the pager, and there was no physical possibility to send any response.
Pinned & Tagged Backpacks
ELLESSE, HEAD, NIKE, ADIDAS
Emerged as a way to rep your crew or fav bands, the trend continues to the current times as laptop decals and smartphone covers.
Inspired by the backpack carried by the American soldiers in the Vietnam war, the 90s backpack tags were initially symbols of power and love that quickly transitioned into ways of showcasing one’s musical affiliations and taste.
Curtain & Middle-Parted Hairstyles
90s HOLLYWOOD HAIRCUTS
The curtain haircut is characterized by a long fringe parted in the middle or side.
The hairstyle was introduced by ’90s grunge bands such as Nirvana and popularised by Hollywood heartthrobs like Brad Pitt and Leonardo Dicaprio.
1990s Earrings Styles – Large Hoops
BVLGARI, CARTIER, CHOPARD
Emerging from Africa (notably Egypt and Sudan), hoop earrings symbolize cultural identity, rank, and protection.
The style made its way to Rome via pirates, and in the 90s fashion times, hoop earrings returned as a symbol of style and rebellion over the status quo.
90s Flat Top Haircut
HAIRCUTS AS A FASHION TREND
A “flattop” is a short haircut where the hair on the top of the head is usually standing upright and cut to form a flat-appearing deck.
The flattop was popular in 1950s fashion but faded in popularity with the emergence of longer hairstyles in the late 70s, resurfacing in the early 1990s thanks to popular TV shows, music, and basketball celebrities.
COLNAGO, BILLABONG, BROOKLYN
A casquette (from French’ cap’) is a peaked cotton cap traditionally worn by road cyclists.
However, Colnago and Brooklyn’s pieces were tweaked by the 90s hip-hop celebrities who flipped up the brim to create a unique look that took over the pop culture of those times.
Coogi Style Knitwear
VERSACE, MOSCHINO, JENNY KEE, COOGIE
In the 90s, rappers started endorsing designers in their songs, and fans followed the brands.
Notorious B.I.G. began peppering brands like Coogi in his lyrics – see “One More Chance – Stay with Me (Remix)” launched in the summer of 1995.
Nineties Spiky Haircuts
FROM PUNK TO POP CULTURE
In times of rising hard-rock bands, post-cold war fashion styles, and rebellious punk hairstyles, all blending and forming the 90s pop culture, the spiky haircut was a ‘must-have.’
By the end of the 90s decade, spiky haircuts began to morph with bleached hair and piercings, into a unique and characteristic style of the nineties decade.
The crepe-soled shoes were equally cool in urban and prep circles, the hallmark of a good ’90s fashion trend.
Thanks to Wu associations, Clark’s Wallabees enjoyed renewed popularity during the 1990s.
Wu-Tang rapper Ghostface was the undisputed champion of Clark’s Wallabees, explaining the current collab between the two brands to release the classic Wallabee in three exclusive colorways.
FRUIT OF THE LOOM, OM CLOTHING, GILDAN
Wrist slapping bracelets were fun in the 90s, coming in all the craziest prints.
Slap bracelets (or snap bracelets) were invented by Wisconsin teacher Stuart Anders in 1983, sold originally under the brand name “Slap Wrap.”
Made from a flexible stainless steel spring band covered with printed silicone or plastic, these bracelets were an affordable means to showcase one’s tastes in movies, music, and so on.
NEW ERA, STETSON, FUBU
The trend to wear hats backward started with Ken Griffey Jr., a famous baseball player in the 1990s.
Backward hats were quickly adopted by Dr. Dre, Will Smith, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., NAS, and even Janet Jackson.
The backward hats trend spread like fire throughout the 90s hip-hop community and beyond, as a trend worth the 90s fashion history books.
The Starter Jacket
Starter Jackets were the apex of 90s clothing styles, from athletes to movie stars.
Created by a Starter, a premium athletic brand established in 1971, this jacket style pioneered the fusion of sports clothing with popular culture by forging partnerships.
The jacket was designed to represent your favorite team with the brightest and shiniest colors.
90s Basketball Kicks
AIR JORDAN, CONVERSE, REEBOK, BRITISH KNIGHTS
From Air Jordan to Rebook and BK, basketball sneakers are one of the most representative moments of the 90s fashion trends.
With the understanding that Michael Jordan won SIX championships in the ’90s, everyone felt that wearing a pair of Air Jordans bestowed them with magic powers.
Each pair of Jordans kicks released during this decade was an absolute banger, and every pop culture icon of the ’90s rocked a pair of basketball kicks.
1990s Preppy Cardigans
OLD NAVY, MICHAEL KORS, MARNI
90s fashion cardigan style appeared everywhere, from TV shows like Jawbreaker, Fresh Prince, & Friends, to the Cameron Diaz iconic 90s fashion moment on ‘There’s Something About Mary.’
There was nothing more stylish than a cardigan to throw over your shoulders if your spaghetti straps or slip dress got a little chilly, and the updated cardi version looked equally chic worn as a top.
The 90s school-girl knee socks look made famous by Cher Horowitz’s (Alicia Silverstone) appearance in the ‘Clueless’ TV show.
High-fashion brands like Prada quickly picked up the style, and the sheer socks with loafers style were born, a look that resurfaces time and time again.
H.SAMUEL, URBAN OUTFITTERS, HOT TOPIC
Chunky leather and chain chokers were the ideal forms of punk expression during the 90s fashion styles.
There were also more sophisticated versions with crosses, skulls, flowers, and hearts.
Platform sneakers were trendy in the 90s, with many brands (Skechers) making skate shoes, Air Max 95-like trainers, and the half-dressy, half-sneaker hybrids.
Some other popular platform shoes of the 90s were ‘Flatforms,’ ‘Lace-Up Platforms,’ ‘Sneaker Platforms, ‘ and ‘Foam Flip-Flop Platforms.’
BIRKENSTOCK, H&M, STEVE MADDEN
With the platform shoe style taking over the 90s women’s footwear, platform variations emerged, from platform sneakers to more relaxed styles such as the Slide platform.
In the ’90s, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t own at least one style of platform slides, from Thong Sandal Platform to Strappy Platform Sandal and even Platform Flip Flop.
BARRETTE HAIR CLIPS
Claw clips were, in the ’90s, the ultimate chic hair accessory, promoted by Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Greene in ‘Friends over and over again.’
LE SPECS, LINDA FARROW, SAINT LAURENT, GUCCI
Cat-eye sunglasses and oversized cat-eye style glasses frames peaked in the ’90s as excellent accessories for girls who wanted to have fun.
Modern throw-back cat-eye frames are often associated with the celebrities and royals of those days.
TOMMY HILFIGER, RALPH LAUREN, CHANEL
Here’s another 90s fashion trend attributed to Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and her iconic yellow plaid blazer and skirt set from the Clueless TV show.
The plaid set outfit sees a resurgence in 2022, worn as a plaid cardigan and tank combo by the dark and light academia aesthetics lovers.
FILA, CARHARTT, LONGCHAMP
Fanny packs bore the brunt of many fashion jokes, but in the ’90s, they were revered as a brilliant way to carry all your stuff hands-free.
Nowadays, waist belt bags are back with a vengeance, spotted on everyone from fashion influencers to Kendall Jenner.
90s Digital Watches
Digital watches were the 90s attempt at wearable tech and the smartwatches we have today.
Techy watches were all the rage in those days and CASIO’s watches – from classic to G-Shock line – catered to all, from office to techwear fashion lovers.
Extra Wide-Leg Pants
ECKO ULTD., LEVIS, DIESEL
As a successor of the booming 70s fashion trend sparked by Palazzo Pants, the wide-legged pant style caught attention thanks to denim houses reinventing the look.
Palazzo Pants also drew inspiration from the wide-legged cuffed pants worn by avant-garde fashionistas in the 30s and 40s, such as Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich.
BURBERRY, TED BAKER, CHAMPION
Neomi Campbell, Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Paula Abdul
In 90s fashion, hair scrunchies hold the synonym of getting ready for elementary school.
Wearing scrunchies in the 90s felt fresh and ready for a fitness session; nowadays, it feels romantic and luxurious.
Spaghetti-Strap Tops & Dresses
REISS, MISS ANTOINETTE, AMERICA TODAY
Most 90s spaghetti-strap tops and dresses were worn to elegant soirees – see Gwyneth Paltrow’s 1999 Oscars outfit.
But, there was another more casual version of the dinner spaghetti straps, with branded prints and matched with denim, ideal for going out with friends.
Animal Print Styles
90s LEOPARD PRINTS
Started by catwalk models like Naomi Cambel and taken to stardom by celebs on MTV like Spice Girl’s Mel B, in the 90s, animal prints were everywhere.
You’d see them on midi lengths in snakeskin fabric and on full-body outfits printed in leopard patterns, animal print styles where definite signs of luxury taste.
Blush Pink Takeover
JUICY COUTURE, CHANEL, GUCCI
In the 90s fashion world, the blush pink and red carpet combo has created some of the most iconic looks.
Soft-pink gowns and dresses were worn with cowboy boots and white heels, in perfect contrast to the red carpet.
PACO RABANNE, VALENTINO, VERSACE
The chainmail style fabric was brought back to life after Gianni Versace created a wearable dress that took the 90s fashion trends by storm.
Chainmail is a type of flexible armor made of metal rings linked together in a well-defined pattern to form a mesh, also used as a military robe between the 3rd century BC and the 16th century AD in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER, AGENT PROVOCATEUR
Owning and wearing lots of corsets was a thing of the 90s fashion.
Available in various styles and constructs, such as corset bodice, ribbon corsets, pipesets, front laced corsets, waspies, and Guepiere corsets, the 90s corsets went great with fancy skirts.
90s Printed Leggings
NAUTICA, NIKE, REEBOK
The trend of printed leggings started in the 80s, with the help of Olivia Newton-John and her ‘Let’s get physical’ clip and workout outfits, and went well into late 90s fashion days.
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN, JIMMY CHOO, GIVENCHY
Once the go-to red-carpet shoe for 90s It-girls, from Jennifer Aniston to Kate Moss, the strappy heels are no longer reserved solely for evening engagements.
Strappy heels of the 90s fashion days were paired with dinner dresses or office trousers, nowadays with jeans and blazers.
EMILIO PUCCI, ZIMMERMANN, JIL SANDER
Introduced as a new sleeveless style, similar to tank tops but with straps tied behind the neck, halter necks became the official tops of the 90s trends, usually paired with boot-cut jeans.
Vests As Tops
PACO RABANNE, VALENTINO, BALMAIN
Made from a wide range of materials – from leather to velour and silk, 90s vests were worn as independent pieces rather than as a suit combo and matched with skirts and jeans.
Nineties Oval Sunglasses
While fashionable women of the 90s rocked the cat-eye sunglasses style, men went for the oval glass frame – such as that Kurt Cobain wore at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1993.
The shape was more suitable for the general grunge aesthetic vibe, and we see the form returning to the latest sunglasses trends of 2022.
90s Tube Tops
TOMMY HILFIGER, LOEWE, WOLFORD
Tobe tops were the ultimate fashion and comfort pieces in the 90s, seen as a must-have for any respectable wardrobe girl.
Usually accessorized with an oversize necklace, the strapless tops came in colors and materials.
POLO RALPH, MONCLER, STETSON, GUCCI
While the name sounds strange, beanies are nothing but a knit cap of simple, tapering constructions.
Worn by the movie stars, athletes, and rappers of the 90s, beanies came in various styles, materials, and materials.
Branded Baseball Caps
NEW ERA, DICKIES, STUSSY
The baseball cap is so ubiquitous in American culture that it could be called America’s national hat.
Made of a soft cap and stiff visor, it is typically adjustable at the back thanks to velcro, plastic, or elastic band.
But what made the baseball cap so famous was Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996, where he appeared on the cover hidden under a fedora and scarf fit for a mafia don.
Oversized Bottoms & Tops
FUBU, KARL KANI, ROCAWEAR, WU-WEAR
The 90s fashion style also stands out thanks to a unique blend of street, skater, and hip-hop cultures, reflected in a wide array of oversized jackets, cargo shorts, hoodies, and T-shirts, in a style that carries to modern days as the streetwear trend.
VANS, FRUIT OF THE LOOM
In the 90s, everyone had a tie-dye T-shirt, sweater, or jacket.
Tie-dyeing was simple, often done at home, and consisted of folding and twisting the fabric of a garment, binding it with strings or rubber bands, and immersing in various dyes to achieve unique patterns of colors.
90s Oversized Knits
Coming in all colors, materials, and styles, 90s perfection knits had one thing in common: oversize.
Worn everywhere, from school to the gym and TV, the knits paired with skinny joggers were ‘the bomb’!
TOMMY HILFIGER, BILLABONG, JUICY COUTURE
After Tommy Hilfiger launched an aggressive campaign promoting cropped tops, every stylish girl wanted to wear one and look like Aaliyah.
There were even models for guys who wanted to be like Grand Puba or Puff Daddy.
JANSPORT, TUMI, DAKINE, NIKE
The 90s were also the years when the trend of branded school bags started to rise, with labels like JanSport holding the top spot.
CALVIN KLEIN, TOMMY HILFIGER
Androgynous chic was not just a look but a lifestyle.
The unisex fragrances CK1’s unisex fragrance made you think you, too, belonged in the androgynous Calvin Klein ad campaigns.
GAP, ABERCROMBIE & FITCH, MARKS & SPENCER
The idea of ‘Cool Basisc’ originates in the 90s, after A&F and Gap launched lines of affordable pocket tees, anoraks, chinos; you name it, they had it, in every color and style you hoped for.
Jorts – Short Jeans
GUESS JEANS, VERSACE, MOSCHINO, CALVIN KLEIN
In the 90s, denim shorts (also called ‘jorts,’ a ‘portmanteau of jeans,’ ‘shorts,’ or ‘short jeans’ were worn by both genders.
The most popular style of the 90s fashion was above-knee, with the ends rolled up twice or styled with a high-rise straight fit and long fray hem.
90s Preppy Look
NAUTICA, BENNETON, POLO, EDDIE BAUER
The uniforms of old private Northeastern colleges and preparatory schools reached peak popularity in the 90s fashion stage, commercially driven by the advent of Polo and Hilfigers’ stylish looks.
With prep jackets, shirts, shorts in bright colors, and equestrian aesthetics, the style was embraced by urban culture and put the brand in the same lane as Polo and Tommy Hilfiger.
Nineties Hip-hop Boots
TIMBERLAND, LUGZ, KARL KANI
Hip-hop boots matched with sagged, baggy jeans and chains – Notorious BIG and Tupac.
Nothing was fresher than sporting a fresh pair of 6-inch Timberlands or Lugs, and you were a pro if you cleaned them with your pencil eraser.
While Timberland was already popular in the 90s, it was Lugz that made the connection to the hip-hop world.
DC, CSC, AIRWALK, MUSKA
There was a silent battle in the 90s grade schools between Airwalks and Vans’ skate sneakers.
Skaters were fiercely loyal to their brands, as the ultimate supremacy of skate shoes was at stake, a war eventually won by Vans.
Nowadays known as sweatpants, Wild Pants were introduced to the 90s fashion scene by rappers like Hammer and Vanilla Ice.
Made of soft, breathable fabrics suitable for dancing, these loose-fitting pants came in various colors and prints and had a drawstring closure and taper at the leg.
90s Leather Jackets
PELLE PELLE, AVIREX, 8-BALL
The strong influence of the first generation of supermodels turned the classic leather jacket into a fashion trend in the 90s.
From mid-length to waist-cropped jackets in snakeskin prints and preppy tag-on, leather jackets became the uniform of the ’90s style icons such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Cindy Crawford.
Short-lived but making 90s fashion history, the Lit Up Sneakers were a unique pair of high-tech smart kicks with lights in the heel.
Lites were awesome for stunting around with your friends in middle school but horrible when trying to escape the cops at night.
This compilation of 90s fashion moments is a gold mine for the 1990s nostalgic ones and those seeking some 90s outfit inspo.
From the rare-fashion moments of the 1990s to the most-wanted looks of the nineties decade – that endures today – and from cropped cardigans and kitten heels to slip dresses, these are the best.
The nineties fashion shaped the way we understand and wear fashion, from backward baseball caps to bucket hats, and knee socks, fanny packs, spaghetti straps, to celebrity footwear collabs, so relevant right now.
These iconic 90s fashion looks continue to resurface decades later, inspiring fashion designers, style celebrities, and customers alike.
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Now it’s your turn…
Which one of these 90s fashion looks is your favorite and why?
Are there any other ICONIC 90s fashion ideas you know and want to add to this list?
Comments below, please!
With a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) focused in Journalism with a Concentration in Marketing from the University of Florida, Ana Escalante is an award-winning journalist with powerful reporting in fashion, beauty, pop-culture, and the current editor-in-chief Rowdy Magazine. Ana's articles covering fashion, media, and digital culture, focusing on emerging communities, have been published on Glamour Magazine, The VOU, Harper's Bazaar, PAPER Magazine, StyleCaster, Teen Vogue, ELLE UK, CR Fashion Book, and more.
Great coverage of the 90s fashion days, can you recommend an article that covers how to dress like 90s, or 90s Party Outfit Ideas to re-create with clothes we all have in our wardrobes?
I grew up in the 90s, and this article brings back so many beautiful memories.
Oh headbands bring back a lot of memories, my mom used to wear them all the time and I have a whole album of pictures of her wearing them.
Great list! You forgot ultra low jeans and the whale tail lol. And the most 90s facial hair trend for men: goatees !
Yes I agree about the low jeans. As far as I remember the high waisted jeans ‘rolled over from the 80’s but nineties brought in the low waisted and ultra low jeans, which of course were also in the seventies, correct? In my opinion a lot of the hippie style and way of life from the seventies was brought back in the nineties, i.e w
as low pants/jeans and very grungy – like the nineties. Also the scrunchies were more 80’s, I think. Started to fade early 90s. . That’s how I remember it anyway. Loved the headbands in the nineties.
And over plucked super skinny eyebrows on women- mine are still trying to grow back lol
I think the most obvious fashion trends for the 90’s in the UK was the crop top worn with combat trousers or ripped jeans, with maybe a beanie hat, bandana or cap on backwards, for both men & women. Skimpy clubbing & raving clothes for women were made of hunza or maybe neon padded gilet over a boob tube with pvc mini skirt, or a satin slip worn as a dress, also as said the leopard print dress. Guys were also in baggy jeans or multi coloured trackies with key chains & a tight fitting vest, or opted for the smart casual tee under a box jacket Don Johnson look in pastel colours. Hope this helps as a summery for the UK.