1990s fashion: The trends we loved

Kat Lister

Which '90s style tribe were you?

The 90s - and 90s fashion - is officially back: It was last weekend that we finally realised it, standing in a crowded bar surrounded by ‘mom’ jeans, button-down florals and Dr Martens dancing ‘ironically’ to SWV. Indeed, nineties fashion isn’t just having a brief Renaissance: it’s here to stay and it’s even trying to persuade us that buffalo trainers are a good idea again.

Sure we had some fashion disasters in the '90s: who didn't? We're still haunted by the heat responsive T-shirts we actually paid money to wear and the flourescent slap bracelets that - along with our skip-its - actually got banned at school due to aggressive misuse. But, bearing in mind the latest dungarees craze on the high street, there's plenty of retro pieces we're all keen to revive in 2015.

Which has got us thinking about the decade that saw so many disparate styles shouting for our attention: from Britpop to grunge, neon rave to preppy power dressing. These are the style tribes and trends that made the 1990s the decade we still return to again and again. Which one were you? And which styles will you be giving another go?


Confused? We definitely were in the 90s, the decade when lingerie wasn’t just reserved for your bedroom, oh no: you styled it up with a pair of Converse and a velvet choker. Who didn’t want to channel their inner Courtney Love in a silk slip dress in 1994? Who didn’t fall in love with Kate Moss’ diaphanous slip at that Elite Model Agency Party in 1993? Yup, as we thought: Absolutely NO ONE. Let's move on...

Team Horowitz

She may have starred in a film called Clueless, but Alicia Silverstone’s (AKA, everyone’s favourite LA princess Cher Horowitz) wardrobe certainly wasn’t. In fact, 20 years later we’re still talking about it. In the 90s something strange happened: we became obsessed with a preppy-yet-sexy schoolgirl look. Think matchy tartan skirt-suits, over-the-knee socks and shirts so starched your grandma once asked you for ironing tips. Leading the class of ’95 was Cher: a woman who refused to risk damaging her Alaïa bodycon on car park tarmac – even at gunpoint - because, as you'll recall, he was 'like, a totally important designer'.

My So-Called Grunge

Has any other 90s TV show encapsulated teen-insecurity-in-an-oversized-flannel-shirt with quite so much accuracy as My So-Called Life? This cult 1994 teen show made awkward style icons out of each of its young stars. At its centre, however, was 15-year-old Angela Chase, whose awkward styling and bottle-red hair got us all reaching for the DM boots, oversized flannel and crushed velvet dresses (remember crushed velvet?) But who could forget everyone’s favourite wild child Rayanne, with her ripped tights, nightgowns, bowler hats and candied jewellery? AND THEN THERE WAS JORDAN. Oh Jordan. May we never forget the wonder that is Jared Leto in a Sherpa jacket.

The One Where Rachel Cut Her hair

Two words that caused global pandemonium in hair salons in 1994: “The Rachel”. As far as we’re aware, Jennifer Aniston is still trying to get over the trauma. What was – in Jen’s opinion “the ugliest haircut I’d even seen” – became an international phenomenon. How popular was it? Pretty popular. It inspired 11 million women to copy the dishevelled cut throughout the decade. We can’t even imagine 11 million shaggy-haired “Rachels” but we’re guessing Jennifer Aniston can and they haunt her in her nightmares.

Blur Vs Oasis

Are we still talking about this? Yes, yes we are. The 90s saw two indie rock titans battle it out for the No.1 spot while we all stampeded Millets to snap up army green parkas, teaming it up with Fred Perry polo shirts. That may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. Britpop defined 90s fashion in the UK – a decade when the Gallaghers reignited our love of the free-loving 1960s (and even got us looking to John Lennon for glasses style-tips).

Never Ever (Again)

Possibly one of the only 90s trends that hasn’t made it through the time tunnel yet. This one was a staple uniform for wannabe cool girls who listened to All Saints (sorry, Spice Girls) in order to achieve cool girl nirvana. Quite frankly you weren’t a teen in the 90s if you didn’t come of age buying oversized cargo trousers in the men's department at Gap. How did we wear them? Slouched on our hips with a pair of clunky Timberland boots and a strappy black vest. How did we style them? With our best ‘nonchalant’ face as we waited for our dad to pick us up outside the local Odeon* (*that might just be us).

Spice Up Your Life

Only a member of the Spice Girls would ask her sister to sew a Union Jack tea towel onto a black Gucci dress and actually wear it on stage at the 1997 BRIT Awards. It now has its own Wikipedia page. In the 90s “Cool Britannia” meant putting the Union Jack on pretty much everything. Decades later some of us may be regretting that late night trip to the tattoo parlour. Speaking of regrets, who’d have thought skyscraper-high platforms would make a comeback? We ditched our Buffalos after Emma Bunton broke her ankle in 1997 wearing platforms on Turkish TV (true story).

The Scrunchie Comeback

We’re not going back there. Not ever. And you can’t make us, high street retailers. 



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