A Fashionable History: ’90s Edition

The ultimate guide to 90s fashion — and how to copy it today.

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*Only ’90s kids will remember this!*

Just kidding! I’m sure pretty much all of you are familiar with ’90s fashion in some way, since it made a huge comeback last year. 

The ’90s are among the most interesting fashion eras as they encompassed so many trends and so much progression in the fashion world. And of course, that’s when most of us were born, so there’s a special nostalgia for those years among our generation.

During the ’90s, the lingering neons of the ’80s gave way to stark minimalism and later the anti-fashion movement, followed by trends influenced by grungepunk, and hip-hop and even more preppy styles. In addition to all of that, the ’90s saw a return of trends from the ’60s and ’70s (hi, bellbottoms!), the introduction of the first supermodels, and the rise of fashion icons we still adore today.

{RELATED POST: Top 9 Fashion Icons of the 90s}

So where do you start if you want a ’90s look? Below are three ’90s fashion outfits, in order of intensity: If you want just a taste of ’90s style, Look 1 is for you. If you think the ’90s are all that and a bag of chips, scroll down to Look 3.

Look #1: Less Is More

90s fashion: Outfit with leopard dress, eyeliner, black leather jacket

Products: Dress – H&M, Jacket – H&M, Lipstick – MAC, Eyeliner – MAC, Earrings – Hudson’s Bay Company, Converse – Amazon

Winona Ryder was pretty much the poster girl for ’90s minimalist fashion, and this outfit is heavily inspired by her looks from that time. 

Slip dresses were all the rage on the ’90s red carpets. I know the form-fitting look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so for this look I picked a slip dress that’s more reminiscent of the festival dresses that were everywhere this summer. 

For a true ’90s minimalist look, you could leave it at that and add a pair of delicate strappy heels, but for those of us who are cursed to live in colder climates, an oversized leather jacket and beat up high-tops will keep you more comfortable. (Add shredded tights if desired.)

Accessories should be minimal – just a simple pair of stud earrings – but there’s no reason you can’t take a page from Winona’s book and add red lipstick as a fierce pop of color. 

Look #2: Not-So Clueless

'90s fashion - outfit with plaid pants, off shoulder sweater, docs, choker

Products: Pants – H&M, Sweater – Boohoo, Boots – Zappos, Bag – Walmart, Choker – Amazon

Clueless might be one of the most popular movies from the ’90s. Most articles inspired from the iconic looks favor the plaid mini skirt, the cultural touchstone of media fashion trends for the decade.

But, it’s cold out. Now that it’s November, the mini skirt has become a risk, which is why I’m favoring some classic plaid printed trousers, paired with a dark cropped sweater. This ensemble instantly dresses up the Clueless traditional look, while adding a hint of ’90s grunge.

Look #3: Grunge Girl

90s fashion: Outfit with striped tee, mom jeans, plaid shirt

Products: Plaid Shirt – GAP, Jeans – American Eagle, Shirt – J. Crew, Beanie – GAP, Boots – Zappos

The biggest – and most enduring – trend that the ’90s gifted to us was grunge fashion. For this look, I’ve included links to items you can buy new, but for an authentic ’90s vibe, don’t be afraid to do a little thrift store digging.

Start with a pair of distressed jeans, preferably high waisted, or even ‘mom jeans’. While you can totally use a distressed t-shirt instead of this striped one, I wanted to pay homage to the rampant pattern mixing of ’90s TV stars. Layer an oversized flannel on top and accessorize with a beanie, a pair of combat boots and another black choker.

For a truly ’90s look, finish off with dark lipstick and bold brows.

What do you think?

What’s your opinion on ’90s fashion? Are you planning to incorporate it into your look this year? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2016; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 with new photos and information.

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