The revival of 90s fashion has produced a truly mixed bag of emotions. While the ’90s are responsible for now-popular slip dresses and kitten heels, there are several trends we’d like to see a return.
90s Fashion Trends
We reminisced with the rest of the Who What Wear team about all the pieces we used to be so proud to own but can’t imagine ever wearing again (we think), as well as celebrity looks, we’d happily revisit time and time again.
Just when you think you’ve seen every possible forgotten look from the 1990s, another one appears. How much do you want something really small right now? How much better would it be if it had tiny handles and was made of silk satin (as seen on Kate Beckinsale)? What about those Kate Moss images from the ’90s that you keep coming back to for outfit ideas on a night out? We’ve also recently rediscovered a fondness for vintage SJP and combat pants. People, the revivals are coming in thick and fast. Thick and quick.
Continue reading for our guide to the 90s fashion items, trends, and combinations we wore to death and then promptly forgot about.
1. Dresses with Animal Prints
Style Notes: From the midi length to the snakeskin fabric, we can totally see someone wearing this Cindy Crawford dress on Instagram this season. It may have taken a hit in the intervening years, but animal print is officially back in style.
Style Notes: One of the most iconic red carpet looks of all time is this stunning blush pink gown. We’ve seen a lot of Scandi influencers wearing soft-pink gowns with cowboy boots. Gwyneth Paltrow was so forward-thinking.
2. Pink Blush
3. Transparent Fabrics
Helena Bonham-Carter looked gothic in this sheer-sleeved red carpet gown, which she accessorized with a gold chain necklace (also very on-trend right now). This season, there are plenty of knockoff sheer dresses and tops available, which we’ll pair with our favorite denim and strappy sandals for a night out.
Style Notes: Velvet was the fabric of the ’90s, and this Sarah Michelle Gellar look exemplifies the decade’s slinky styles. Fast forward to the party season, and the fabric is making a big comeback, with both affordable and high-end brands creating dramatic midis and wrap dresses in jewel-tone velvet.
Style Notes: She will be remembered for her Versace safety-pin dress, but don’t forget Elizabeth Hurley’s stunning chainmail number. The fabric gained popularity after Gianni Versace created a more wearable version, and the idea has resurfaced, with chainmail tops appearing on the high street.
Style Notes: If your top in the ’90s wasn’t A) a vest or B) a corset (forget grunge and athleisure for a moment), you were living in a bubble! SJP favored boned and bodice bandeaus, which she wore with everything from short suits to fancy red carpet skirts. In 2020, the look feels a little confining, so opt for the milkmaid-style bustier-top trend instead.
7. Skirts and slip dresses
Style Notes: Slip dresses will always be popular, but there’s something about the slinky bias cut that feels so now. Kate Moss has long been a supporter of the simple look, but she was a particularly powerful figurehead for it in the 1990s.
8. Being a Little Hippy
If you weren’t grunge or super polished, you probably spent the ’90s trying to replicate Lisa Bonet’s artfully thrown-together NYC hippy look. Mini sunglasses and sneakers are still popular today, and we all know how much celebrities adore a “naked” dress.
9. Leggings with Prints
Style Notes: Printed leggings were popular in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s not a look we see very often these days, but Naomi Campbell looks stunning in this matching ensemble.
10. Teeny-weeny bags
Notes on Fashion: Tell us straight: you want a mini bag again, right? Kate Beckinsale’s little fabric bag (and pink skirt) are so on trend right now. We’re curious if she still has the outfits, she wore to the film premiere. Also, Claire Danes look great in her tiger-print top.
11. Strappy Heels
Style Notes: One glance at Zara’s new shoe collection and we’re transported back to 1995, when strappy heels were the only option. Jennifer Lopez pulls off an excellent “business casual” look in hers.
12. Bucket Hats
Style Notes: While this look may have originated in the grunge music scene, celebrities such as All Saints and Naomi Campbell have been seen wearing it. Justin Bieber recently attempted to resurrect it. Opinions are divided.
13. Blazers in Leather
Style Notes: The popularity of this item is likely since The Matrix was such a huge hit—everyone wanted to wear Neo’s long leather coat. However, because the maxi silhouette isn’t very practical (and is more associated with goth kids), it evolved into this shorter form, as seen in Winona Ryder and Kate Moss. Today, a cool girl in a leather blazer is uncommon—all it’s about is the classic biker.
14. Combat Pants
Style Notes: Seriously, who doesn’t own a pair of combat pants? The baggy “dad” trousers from AllSaints looked sassy when paired with a crop top.
15. Vests (As Tops)
We’ve tried numerous times to block this one out. During the 1990s, the vest was frequently worn as a standalone piece rather than as part of a suit. It should be styled like Drew Barrymore with a denim skirt and a bum bag.
16. Oval Sunglasses
Kurt Cobain was a style icon for a variety of reasons. His baggy cardigans and general love of the grunge look influenced a whole generation of fashion. But we still adore the oversize red sunnies he wore on the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet in 1993. We’d forgotten about them for so long, and they’ve only recently begun to resurface.
17. Tube Skirts
Style Notes: Liv Tyler never fails to remind us of our youth. The strapless top was a must-have item in any 1990s wardrobe. Ideally accessorized with a large necklace.
18. Beanies and baggy clothes
There are numerous reasons to adore the Gwyneth-and-Brad era. For starters, they always managed to pull off the couples-dressing thing without looking tacky. But they also dressed casually like no one else.
Style Notes: Were you alive in the 90s Fashion if you didn’t own a tie-dye T-shirt like the original Destiny’s Child lineup? These were truly ubiquitous, with even grunge icons like Kurt Cobain participating.
90s Fashion Conclusion
Fashion trends change over time, but most of them make a comeback. Trends evolve in the same way that fashion does. Just as polka dots from the 1950s and 1960s continue to be popular, we have a few fashion staples from the 1990s that are currently popular. From oversized sweaters to mom jeans, there are a variety of outfits that have received fashion industry approval and are making their way back into our closets. These outfits do not have to be worn in the same way they were in the 1990s. These 90s fashion trends are here to stay with some creative styling.