Chances are, at least one of your outfits from the past month pays homage to the 90s fashion trends of yesteryear — whether you intended for it to or not. Throwback style has a sneaky way of sliding into closets, not fully taking over with ‘fits that scream “vintage!” but element by element. An earring here, a velvet choker there, a few romps in a pair of combat boots. Before you know it, you’ll have strangers stopping you on the street and telling you that your outfit has major Cindy Crawford vibes (we can only dream).
Like with any other decade in fashion, some trends come and others go, never to be relived again. But the ‘90s were an especially vibrant time for micro style, bold accessories, and lots of pockets. We pulled together some of the most iconic 90s style elements ahead, ripe for the repurposing.
We can’t talk about 90s fashion and not mention the iconic bucket hat. Today you can find them in various styles, fabrics, colors, and designs. Style influencers have also been spotted styling them with all types of outfits, including chic summer sundresses, casual denim jumpsuits, and sporty athleisure.
Midriffs were all the rage when it comes to ‘90s fashion trends. Not quite crop tops, baby tees just look like a smaller version of a regular-length t-shirt. Sometimes that have colorful cuffs on the sleeves and neckline, sometimes they don’t. But they’re painfully adorable and have made a comeback.
You can’t go to a wedding reception or a club without spotting at least one slip dress on the dance floor. They come in all colors, they’re sexy and comfortable (a hard combo to nail), and you can find them in all price ranges and sizes. Slip dresses are characterized by their spaghetti straps (usually adjustable!), and under-the-knee hem. You can find shorter slip dresses, but the classics skim right at the shin.
Headbands in general were a favorite when it comes to the ‘90s outfits, but there’s something about the thick style — usually braided — that has the stylish masses in its grip again. We might also be able to thank Blair Waldorf for the resurgence, but either way, they’re back. Set atop long or short hair, thick headbands are a romantic cherry on top of whatever outfit you’ve got on.
They aren’t just for the gym anymore. Bike shorts are surprisingly versatile, whether you pair them with a sports bra and a blazer or toss on a crew-neck sweatshirt, Princess Diana style. And while black bike shorts may be the most popular pick nowadays, they still come in all colors of the rainbow. Though, you will see fewer neon pairs walking on the sidewalk than you would in a rack of ‘90s clothes.
Combat boots have been a mainstay in fashion for decades, but ‘90s grunge fashion was built off of the footwear. Doc Martens may be the most popular brand, beloved for its varied collection of boot styles, but there are so many different styles on the market. Classic combat boots are secured with laces, but there are designs with zippers available. Either way, the heavy design is inspired by the military boots worn by soldiers in combat.
When a simple hair band won’t do the trick, consider taking a step back in time and collecting all of those strands with a hair claw for a perfect ‘90s look. Available in a range of sizes and designs, it’s a straightforward plastic design that traps locks in place. In the ‘90s, they were used in casual outfits, a way to quickly get hair out of the face. Today, you’ll see them in every situation, from strolls to the farmers market to wedding day hairstyles.
Velvet, in general, was a big part of 1990s fashion. Today, it’s used more intentionally—especially in suiting. Whether it’s a velvet collar or a full-on example of how velvet can completely cover a body, the texture is a playful touch on formalwear.
Plaid Flannel Shirts
When we think about it, it’s possible that plaid flannel never left the trend train. There aren’t many (casual) situations where flannel isn’t a good choice: it’s perfect for hikes, grocery store visit, lounging at home, or going out with friends.
There’s a big different in how fanny packs are worn today, compared to the 1990s. Instead of looping them around the waist as they were designed to be worn, but cross-body like a little easy-to-access pouch that’s even easier to take on and off. JanSport was the leading fanny pack provider in the ‘90s, but you’ll find plenty of other options today — including luxe leather fanny packs.
This one is a bit divisive, but flare jeans are out there again. The flare may not be as big in size as it was 30 years ago, but we’re ok with the slight kick of the silhouette.
Large, thick hoop earrings were the anchor of many jewelry boxes in the 1990s. Today, you can find plenty of vintage options, as well as braided designs, thin hoops, massive hoops, and squiggly hoops. It’s a wonderful world of hoops.
Much like hair claws, scrunchies were a fun way to liven up a simple hairstyle. More often than not, they were colorful and made with excess fabric so it fans out around the ponytail (or ballerina-style bun). Today, they’re bringing the same playful vibe to heads around the world.
Unlike baby tops, crop tops look like they’re missing a bit of, well, shirt at the bottom — and we mean that in a fun, stylish way. Paired with high-waisted pants, a crop top can serve a powerful look.
Whether it was a mesh dress with bold appliques peppered in the important areas or see-through tops paired with a tube top, sheer clothing saw a big moment in the 1990s. It’s still a super fun fabric to play with, especially when there are small, peek-a-boo moments of mesh hidden in your fit.
Bonus points if you can find a colored pair of cat eye lenses — and even more points if the sunglasses don’t actually cover the entirety of your optical region. From rose and orange to blue and green, there are all kinds of directions to take this everlasting trend.
Pair a pair of combat boots with some cargo pants, and you could have dropped yourself into any ‘90s music venue with a mosh pit. Some designs had drawstrings at the ankles for a parachute-y vibe, while others were boot cut. You can find both of these — and many, many more — in stores today.
Late fashion designer Thierry Mugler had a big hand in popularizing the corset top in the early ‘90s, and if you can find an original you are in for a real treat. Available in patterns and colors of all kinds, a truly throwback design detail is the lace-up front — a feminine touch for any pair of jeans… or cargo pants.