1990s in fashion

Costume and fashion of the 1990s

Several mid and late 1990s men's and women's fashions in 1994.

Saffron, 1996) As part of minimalism, hairstyles such as bob cuts were favored by women. (

Fashion in the 1990s was defined by a return to minimalist fashion,[1] in contrast to the more elaborate and flashy trends of the 1980s. One notable shift was the mainstream adoption of tattoos,[2] body piercings aside from ear piercing[3] and, to a much lesser extent, other forms of body modification such as branding.

In the early 1990s, several late 1980s fashions remained very stylish among both sexes. However, the popularity of grunge and alternative rock music helped bring the simple, unkempt grunge look to the mainstream by 1994.[citation needed] The anti-conformist approach to fashion led to the popularization of the casual chic look that included T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and sneakers, a trend which continued into the 2000s. Additionally, fashion trends throughout the decade recycled styles from previous decades,[4] notably the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Due to increased availability of the Internet[5] and satellite television outside the United States, plus the reduction of import tariffs under NAFTA, fashion became more globalized[6] and homogeneous in the late 1990s[7] and early 2000s.[8][9]

Women's fashion [ edit ]

Early 1990s (1990–1992) [ edit ]

Actress Paula Abdul wearing semi-transparent black dress, curled hair and smoky eye makeup, 1990.

Young woman standing on sidewalk, Uptown New Orleans, 1992.

Supermodels and high fashion [ edit ]

Neon colors [ edit ]

Leggings and exercise-wear [ edit ]

Grunge [ edit ]

Mid 1990s (1993–1996) [ edit ]

Glamour wear [ edit ]

Work wear [ edit ]

Late 1990s (1997–1999) [ edit ]

Asian influences [ edit ]

Red and cream Indian woman's saree, late 1990s

1970s revival [ edit ]

Casual chic [ edit ]

Model wearing a midriff shirt, a silver necklace, low ponytail and straight-leg leggings, circa 1999.

Men's fashion [ edit ]

Early 1990s (1990–1992) [ edit ]

Casual clothing [ edit ]

Grunge look [ edit ]

Mid 1990s (1993–1996) [ edit ]

Cool Britannia and 1970s revival [ edit ]

Trio in 1995 wearing neutral-colored tops and relaxed-fit, slim-leg pants and jeans.

Modern preppy [ edit ]

Late 1990s (1997–1999) [ edit ]

African fashion [ edit ]

Streetwear [ edit ]

By the late 1990s, the grunge look became unfashionable, and there was a revival of interest in more stylish clothes, with name brand designers such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren making a comeback. [22] In Europe, jeans were more popular than ever before. [63] From 1997 to 1998 brighter colors came into style, including plum, charcoal, olive, wine, [60] [95] and shades such as "camillia rose", "blazing orange", "whisper pink", "hot coral", and a light-grayish blue called "wind chime". [61]

In Europe, jeans were more popular than ever before. From 1997 to 1998 brighter colors came into style, including plum, charcoal, olive, wine, and shades such as "camillia rose", "blazing orange", "whisper pink", "hot coral", and a light-grayish blue called "wind chime". Much of men's fashion in 1997 was inspired by the 1996 film Swingers,[60] leading to the popularization of the "dressy casual" look. Such apparel included blazers, black or red leather jackets and bowling shirts in either a variety of prints or a solid color, and loose-fitting flat-front or pleated khaki chinos or jeans. Around this time it became fashionable to leave shirts untucked.

Business wear [ edit ]

Youth fashion [ edit ]

General trends [ edit ]

Cargo pants

Subcultures of the 1990s [ edit ]

Grunge [ edit ]

Acid washed jean shorts with grunge and hippie inspired DIY slogans and pictures.

Psychobilly, punk and skater [ edit ]

Rave culture and clubwear [ edit ]

Crowd of rave-goers, 1995.

Britpop [ edit ]

Goth [ edit ]

Preppy [ edit ]

Hairstyles of the 1990s [ edit ]

Women's hairstyles [ edit ]

Women's hair in the early 1990s continued in the big, curly style of the 1980s. High and High sided ponytails continued through most of the decade, especially when playing sports and at the gym. These were worn with a scrunchie until the mid-1990s when hair ties began to replace scrunchies. Scrunchies became popular once again in the late 2010s. Bangs remained big throughout the decade, especially the "mall bangs" poofy style associated with the early 1990s. From 1994 and through 2000s they got smaller and somewhat flatter and less poofy and laid closer to the forehead.[citation needed]

The pixie cut and Rachel haircut, based on the hairstyles of Jennifer Aniston in Friends and Marlo Thomas in That Girl, were popular in America from 1995 onwards.[119] Around the same time red hair also became a desirable color for women, as well as feathered bangs,[30] and mini hair-buns.[120] From 1995 until 2008, dark-haired women tended to dye their hair a lighter color with blonde highlights (popularized by Jennifer Aniston).

In the late 1990s, the Bob cut was well-desired, popularized and rejuvenated by Victoria Beckham of the Spice Girls. This late 90s-style bob cut featured a center, side, or zig-zag parting, as opposed to the thick bangs of the early 1990s. The Farrah Fawcett hairstyle made a comeback, with highlights going hand-in-hand with this revival.[121] Other late 1990s haircuts included "Felicity curls" (popularized by Keri Russell in the hit TV show Felicity), the Fishtail Half-Up, and pigtails,[120] as well as the continuation of mid 1990s hairdos.

Children's and teenager's hairstyles [ edit ]

For teenage boys longer hair was popular in the early to mid-1990s, including collar-length curtained hair, Long, unkempt grunge hair, blond surfer hair popular among some Britpop fans, and dreadlocks. During the mid-1990s, the much-ridiculed bowl cut became a fad among skaters, while hip-hop fans wore a variant of the flattop known as the hi-top fade. In the late 1990s, hair was usually buzzed very short for an athletic look, although a few grunge fans grew their hair long in reaction to this.

For teenage girls and younger children, hair was worn long with heavily teased bangs called "mall bangs" which were long fringes covering the forehead. From 1994 and through 2000s they got smaller and somewhat flatter and less poofy and laid closer to the forehead. Alice bands, headbands and scrunchies of various styles and colors (especially red, navy blue polka dot, plaid and neon) were popular with American girls throughout the early and mid 1990s, and they frequently wore them with twin pigtails, or high or high side ponytails and bangs. Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing into the 2010s, straightened hair and variants of the French braid became popular in Europe.

Men's hairstyles [ edit ]

Young man in 1995, sporting a short undercut hairstyle.

The 1990s generally saw the continued popularity of longer hair on men, especially in the United States, Scandinavia and Canada. In the early 1990s, curtained hair, mullets, and ponytails were popular. Other trends included flattops, hi-top fades, and cornrows.[122]

In the mid-1990s, men's hairstyle trends went in several different directions. Younger men who were more amenable had adopted the Caesar cut,[123] either natural or dyed. This style was popularized by George Clooney[124] on the hit TV show ER in season two, which premiered in mid 1995. More rebellious young men went for longer, unkempt "grunge" hair,[122] often with a center parting. The curtained hairstyle was at its peak in popularity, and sideburns went out of style.[125] Meanwhile, most professional men over 30 had conservative 1950s style bouffant haircuts, regular haircuts, or the Caesar cut.[122]

By 1999 it was considered unstylish and unattractive for men and boys to have longer hair. As a result, short hair completely took over. From 1999 onwards, aside from curtained hair (which was popular throughout the decade), spiky hair,[122] bleached hair,[122] crew cuts, and variants of the quiff became popular among younger men. Dark haired men dyed their spikes blonde or added wavy blonde streaks, a trend which continued into the early 2000s (decade). Variants of the surfer hair was popular among rock musicians during that time period. For African-American men, the cornrows (popularized by former NBA player Allen Iverson) and buzz cut were a popular trend that continued into the early 2000s.

Makeup and cosmetic trends [ edit ]

Jocelyn Enriquez, 1997) Nude and darker shades of lipstick seemed popular among women throughout the decade. (

Women's makeup in the early 1990s primarily consisted of dark red lipstick and neutral eyes.[126] Around 1992 the "grunge look" came into style among younger women and the look was based on dark red lipstick and smudged eyeliner and eyeshadow. Both styles of makeup continued into 1994,[127] but went out of style the next year.

The trends in makeup shifted in the mid-1990s. In 1995, nude shades became desirable and women had a broader color palette in brown. Another makeup trend that emerged was matte lipsticks, with deep shades of red and dark wine colors worn as part of night makeup.[128] Blue-frosted eye shadow became fashionable,[30] and was eventually integrated into the Y2K makeup of the late 1990s/early 2000s (decade). Gothic makeup had broken into the mainstream, having been made up of vamp lipstick (or even black lipstick), heavy mascara and eyeliner, often purple-tinted eye shadow (or else very dark blue), and extremely pale foundation. The Gothic makeup remained relevant in the later years of the decade.

By 1999, glittery, sparkling makeup had come into style.[129] This was called "Y2K makeup", consisting of facial glitter and lip gloss. Blue-frosted eye shadow remained a staple of late 1990s makeup, although silver was ideal look. Dark eyeliner was considered bodacious. Pale, shiny lips became desirable, as lip gloss largely replaced lipstick.[126] An alternative for those who did not like metallics were purples and browns.[129] Goth makeup and Y2K makeup continued into the early 2000s.

Gallery [ edit ]

A selection of images related to the period.

See also [ edit ]

'90s Fashion Trends Only Cool Kids Will Remember

Timberlands that never once graced a construction site. Surf shorts that never saw a beach. Boat shoes that never set foot on a dock. The '90s were, if nothing else, a perplexing time for fashion. From the ankle-bearing allure of capri pants to the ease of throwing your hair up with a brightly-colored scrunchie, you probably have some regrets. But at the time, some seriously '90s fashion trends were only worn by the coolest of the cool. Read on for the definitive list of the phattest, flyest style moments from this defining decade, and don't be surprise if you end up shopping vintage clothing on style when you're done. For more from this multi-faceted era, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

1 Bomber jackets

Military-inspired style proved to be immensely popular in the '90s. And leading the charge was the iconic bomber jacket. Designer Raf Simons spearheaded the trend that got an added boost from Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional.

To see how the movies that spoke to you back then stack up against each other, check out Ranking Every '90s Teen Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.

2 Slip dresses

Supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss catapulted the slip dress to new levels of infamy in the '90s. It's no secret that the last decade of the 20th century was all about minimalism in every sense of the word. But this '90s fashion trend proved just how minimal style could truly go. Slip dresses left little to the imagination, hugging every curve.

3 Fanny packs

At one point, they were just reserved for tourists to keep a watchful eye on their belongings. But fanny packs found a captive and even fashionable audience in the '90s. The late Karl Lagerfeld himself created his very own fanny pack for Chanel, which premiered on the brand's runway in 1994. From that point on, the decade witnessed the debut of countless other designer and mass-produced fanny pack styles that would eventually epitomize an entire decade of fashion.

For the artists you were obsessed with in high school, check out 13 Huge Concerts Every '90s Kid Was Dying to See.

4 Plaid flannel shirts

Nothing epitomizes the grunge look of the '90s like plaid flannel shirts. Rockers like Kurt Cobain, heartthrobs like Jonathan Brandis, and "it" girls like Claire Danes alike wore them, whether slouched over their shoulders or tied around their waists.

5 Timberlands

Timberlands go much further back than the '90s. Nathan Swartz initially designed the boots with blue collar workers in mind. But in the '90s, they became a status symbol in hip-hop. Everyone from Nas to Notorious B.I.G. wore them—and rapper and producer Timbaland even named himself after the construction boots.

Think you remember everything about the decade? Can You Answer These Trivia Questions About the '90s?

6 Baby tees

You can thank stars like Jennifer Aniston and Tyra Banks for this trend, which kept in line with the minimalism that dominated '90s fashion trends. In their own way, baby tees reinforced the "less is more" approach. And they were the precursor for the crop tops that took over in the early 2000s.

7 Scrunchies

It's safe to say that the biggest hair accessory of the '90s was the scrunchie, available in a whole host of colors, sizes, and fabrics. They adorned the high ponytails of almost every teen girl on Full House and Saved By the Bell and even made their way to the big screen.

From Thelma & Louise to the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (RIP Luke Perry), you just couldn't escape the scrunchie in the '90s. A certain red one was even used as a metaphor for power in Heathers.

For the most impactful celeb who shares your birth year, check out The Biggest Star Who's the Same Age as You.

8 Chain wallets

This relic of the '90s was more about fashion than function. Chain wallets were a mainstay in the punk and grunge scenes at the time, even though they're now considered the "Nickelback of accessories."

9 Platform sneakers

After every member of the Spice Girls sported chunky sneakers in the "Wannabe" music video, it wasn't long before women everywhere started to covet them. If you fell for this '90s fashion trend, chances are you got yours from an Alloy or Delia's catalog.

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10 Board shorts

Board shorts, of course, were typically worn by surfers. But that didn't stop young people in the '90s from wearing Roxy, Billabong, or O'Neill shorts when they were nowhere near the ocean. The guys' version was super long and the girls' was extra short. But they were pretty practical—instead of buttons and zippers, the fly was typically made of velcro.

11 Combat boots

Your '90s grunge look wasn't complete without a pair of combat boots. They reigned supreme, but Doc Martens specifically were the kings of the shoe market. Whether you wanted floral ones, a crushed velvet look, metallic material, or yes, even plaid, there was truly a Doc Marten for everyone.

12 Penny loafers

Penny loafers, a shoe once largely associated with school uniforms, took a turn for the trendy in the '90s. While the classic brown styles were still popular, these shoes were also transformed by designers in this decade, with the addition of buckles and chunky platform heels. They were frequently paired with babydoll dresses, that is, if you were super cool.

13 Overalls


While overalls have been the uniform of farmers since time immemorial, the '90s made them a must-have fashion trend for adults. Whether long, short, patterned, or plain, there was no wrong way to wear your overalls in the '90s. But if you wanted to prove just how cool you were, you'd definitely leave one side undone.

14 Babydoll dresses

Throughout the '90s, babydoll dresses became a fashion staple for goths, punks, and Lilith Fair attendees alike. The trend's popularity surged, thanks in no small part to Hole front woman Courtney Love, who frequently wore micro-mini versions of the style on stage, complete with bows and lace.

15 Chinos

They may have been the go-to pants of Gap employees, accountants, and pretty much everyone's dad in decades prior, but in the '90s, chinos had their moment in the sun. Whether worn baggy or fitted and cuffed, these former hallmarks of square style were suddenly cool in the '90s. Presumably, we have James Van Der Beek and the rest of the cast of Dawson's Creek to thank for that.

16 Boat shoes

Much like chinos, the rise of the docksider among younger people was undeniably perplexing to those who'd known them as decidedly uncool dad shoes in the decades prior. That said, if you wanted to make it clear you were a trendsetter in the '90s, it was time to head to your local mall to check out their Sperry selection.

17 Horizontally-striped sweaters

Clearly, in the '90s, it cool for adults to dress like overgrown toddlers. Case in point: The popularity of the horizontally-striped sweater, a trend that became synonymous with grunge style, courtesy of Kurt Cobain and Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life.

18 Chokers

If it didn't look like your head was being held on by your necklace in the '90s, you couldn't call yourself cool. Instead of traditional drop chains, '90s trendsetters were all about the choker, whether wearing them in lace, leather, or stretchy plastic "tattoo" form.

19 G-Shock watches

Long before the advent of the smartwatch, there was the G-Shock. The chunky watches, which came in a range of colors, from all-black to pastels, were about as technologically-advanced as timepieces got back then. You could even store phone numbers and load games on them. Truly, they were all that and a bag of chips.

20 Capri pants

Not quite pants, not quite shorts, capri pants were all the rage among cool kids in the '90s. If you wanted to really push the look into trendsetter territory, they were best accompanied by platform flip-flops (Rocket Dog, of course) and a midriff-bearing tank with very thin straps.

21 Spaghetti strap tank tops

While tank tops have long been a summer staple, the '90s saw the rise of the spaghetti strap. They didn't typically show much more than a collarbone, but they were deemed so scandalous that many schools had outright bans on them.

22 Oakley sunglasses

Though the Oakley brand was founded in the 1970s, it wasn't until the '90s that the glasses became iconic. They may have made '90s cool kids look like low-budget versions of The Terminator—sorry, Justin Timberlake—but the glasses were popular enough that Oakley had brought in $230 million when the company went public in 1995.

23 Slap bracelets

Were they dangerous? Yes. Were they little more than a colorfully-wrapped ruler? Sure. Were they an essential piece of jewelry for any cool kid in the '90s? Most definitely. And after being banned in numerous schools, these illicit accessories only got cooler.

24 Cross Colours

Following the brand's launch in 1989, Cross Colours clothing became a hot-ticket item. The brand was known for its color-blocked apparel (typically made in green, red, yellow, and black), as well as the inspirational messages affixed to its garments, like "Stop D Violence." In the '90s, they were everywhere in hip hop in particular, with rappers like Will Smith and Salt N Pepa frequently wearing the brand.

25 Track pants

Whether worn with a sports bra (a la Britney Spears in the "Baby One More Time" video) or with a matching jacket for the full tracksuit look that dominated the '80s, this '90s trend was everywhere.

26 Y-Necklaces

You can still find classy, lariat-style necklaces at jewelry stores today. But in the '90s, we called them "y-necklaces," and they were usually made out of metal or plastic and sold at Claire's. Extra points for layering your y's with some other necklaces.

27 Velvet blazers

Velvet blazers, like this one Drew Barrymore wore to a premiere in 1996, added some luxe texture for whenever cool '90s gals were feeling fancy.

28 Super-wide jeans

The pendulum would swing the other way in the late '00s, when it was the skinner the better for denim for all genders. But in the late '90s, brands like JNCO made the widest of wide leg jeans for anyone who wanted to prove that they could walk in them without tripping.

The Best 90s Fashion Trends For Men (And The Ones You Should Wear)

Whether you look back on the 1990s fondly or cringe at their mere mention, there’s no denying the decade fostered some iconic looks. Grunge was good. The sportswear too. That said, it also played host to some truly awful trends – from boyband haircuts to baggy, well, everything. So with ‘90s fashion still in the spotlight, we’re looking back at the good, the bad and the ugly.

Below is our pick of the biggest ‘90s fashion trends. Some have proven their staying power while others have fallen by the wayside. From centre partings to bum bags, these are the ‘90s looks to know, and the reasons why you should (or, quite possibly, shouldn’t) welcome them back into your life.

Baggy Jeans

They swallowed shoes, they trailed on the floor and they absorbed rainwater like big denim sponges. Yet, despite their shortcomings, baggy jeans were everywhere in the 1990s. It was this way for most of the decade, until eventually the leg openings got so wide and the back pockets got so low that some young hip-hop artists were swallowed whole, never to be seen again.

In the years that followed, skinny jeans began to take over. Today, baggy jeans are making inroads into men’s wardrobes again, becoming a key denim trend. Granted, they’re not quite as severe as they were back in the day, but they’re not slim by any stretch of the imagination. To get the balance right, we believe a classic relaxed-fit jean is the way to go – the perfect way to keep this ‘90s staple alive without going full Limp Bizkit.

Long Hair

For the last decade, short and mid-length cuts have reigned supreme, but there was a time when longer styles were the haircuts du jour. Nineties icons like Kurt Cobain, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio made long flowing hair for men look good, while the mullets and Flock of Seagulls weirdness of the previous decade faded (thankfully) into obscurity.

Today, longer trims are very much back on the barbershop menu. Short and mid-length styles still rule the roost, usually accompanied by some sort of fade, but A-list style icons like Jason Momoa to Jared Leto are proving that long hair can still work three decades later.

Bucket Hats

We could sit and debate the pros and cons of bucket hats all day, but not unlike Liam Gallagher himself, you either love them or hate them. Either way, they’re bigger now that they were at Knebworth in 1996.

A staple of the ‘90s rave scene as well as Britpop, these simple brimmed hats have become a symbol of hedonism, securing their place as festival uniform along the way. You don’t have to buy one, you don’t even have to like them, but you do have to admit that the bucket hat has earned its place in menswear history.

High-Top Sneakers

Thanks to Air Jordan and Reebok, the ‘90s were filled with sky-high sneakers. Ankle-hugging basketball and aerobic footwear was ubiquitous and everyone, from kids to celebrities, was in on the action.

Usually, when a trend takes hold with such gusto, it fades pretty quickly, but high-top sneakers are bigger now than they were in the ‘90s. These are sneaks with staying power and many of the styles that were popular back then are every bit as relevant today.


Windbreakers have been around since the 1970s, but they were particularly rampant in the ‘90s. Adorned with colourful prints and day-glo patterns, they were the decade’s casual outerwear of choice. Geography field trips? Check. Bank holiday days out? Check. Pub? Check.

For us, the windbreaker still holds relevance today, although we’d be inclined to stay away from the headache-inducing colourways. Instead, stick to classic two-tone designs and keep this ‘90s icon alive the right way.

Frosted Tips

Nineties boy bands have a lot to answer for. Beyond terrible music, frosted tips might just be their worst offence. For the uninitiated, this quintessentially ‘90s hairdo involved bleaching only the very tips of the hair, which was usually cut short and spiked up vertically with wet-look gel.

Should you consider bringing it back? Absolutely not.

Bum Bags

Back in the ’90s, when wallets were the size of bricks and we also had Game Boys, Walkmen and Tamagotchi to carry around, people needed some on-hip storage for their various accessories. That storage was the bum bag, aka the fanny pack. The ridiculous names were bad enough, but these hideous micro-bags also came in lurid neon colours and drew attention to everybody’s groins.

Surely they wouldn’t make a comeback? Well, yes and no. Reimagined as the cross-body bag, in tasteful designs and colours, the bum bag cleaned up like a rockstar in rehab. Louis Vuitton are now among the luxury brands selling them hard.


Is there any image more ‘90s than Fresh Prince-era Will Smith shrugging jovially at the camera in a billowing batik-print shirt, dungarees hanging jauntily off one shoulder? If there is, we haven’t seen it. These denim overalls were a staple of ‘90s wardrobes and although not every man had the cajones to pull them off, when they worked, they really worked.

These days, dungarees are primarily reserved for edgier dressers. While we can’t see them making a full-scale comeback, hats off to anyone with the styling chops required to get it right.

Popper Pants

Those of us who were there at the time remember the strange but not unpleasant breeze that crept in at the sides of these highly impractical track pants. We’re still not sure what the design was actually for. Instead of an outseam, these shiny joggers had a strip of poppers running all the way up to the upper thigh. An all-too-inviting target for bullies and pranksters.

They’re back but only the most hardcore ’90s revivalists need apply.


Not every style championed by ‘90s boy bands was destined for the cultural scrapheap. Case in point: curtains. Sure, until very recently it would have been hard to imagine this antiquated style being reborn, but here we are, all marching to the barbershop in unison with pictures of Timothée Chalamet clutched to our chests.

Today, the centre parting is much the same but the execution has changed. Back in the ‘90s, it was all about straight lines and smooth hair. This time, however, it’s all about messiness, texture and asymmetry.

Wraparound Shades

Fashion is cyclical and grimly predictable. No matter how much you want to believe a trend won’t resurface 20 years down the line, it invariably will. Wraparound shades are one such item. They were huge in the 1990s, but looking back from the 2010s, their comeback was less likely than Lance Armstrong’s.

Wraparound shades are back though, whether you like it or not. Aerodynamic-looking Oakley specs have been getting plenty of runway time over the last couple of years and they don’t look to be going anywhere soon. As to whether you should get involved or not, it’s very much down to personal taste and style. What we will say, though, is that they don’t lend themselves particularly well to more traditional menswear pieces.

Cargo Pants

Comfortable, practical and (depending on who you ask) stylish. What’s not to like? Sure, they took on some doomsday prepper vibes for a while and disappeared into fashion’s nuclear bunker, but thanks to the ongoing obsession with functionality and the great outdoors, cargo pants are very much back.

If you’re yet to be converted to the wonders of cargo pants, why not check out some of the more premium options on offer. Brands like Brunello Cucinelli and Monitaly are making some truly luxurious versions that are well worth a look.

  • 90's fashion
  • Maryan Barbara
    Maryan Barbara

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