The Return of 90s Fashion

The Return of 90s Fashion

The 90s was a time of boy bands, girl groups, tattoos, piercings, belly buttons, and the weird and wonderful world of 90s fashion. 90s fashion was defined by the shift to more minimalist designs following the flashy and elaborate era of the 80s. When the 90s hit, dresses became simpler and clothing generally became more casual and comfortable. Seeing as fashion is an ever-evolving world we have found ourselves landing back in back in the 90s some 3 decades later, and we’re loving it!

space girls 90s fashion
Image from Galoremag

Funnily enough, we seem to love going for the fashion trends from 20-30 years before and bringing them into the now with a modern twist: 90s fashion was influenced by 60s-70s simple “futuristic” designs, meaning clunky shoes and clean lines. Whereas in the 2010s we saw the revival of 80s fashion such as back-combed hairstyles, neon colours, and leg warmer, and now in the 2020s we’re picking up on the 90s vibe once again.

What Makes 90s Fashion?

90s fashion was greatly influenced by the 60s-70s combined with the popular music of the time. There were 3 distinct styles that made up the 90s: grunge, hip-hop, and preppy/pop, which gave people the opportunity to express themselves in a more varied way without a single popular style restricting that expression.

Grunge / Alternative

Grunge fashion took pointers from the punks of the 80s and was influenced by alternative rock music that had rocketed into the charts by the mid-90s through to the early 2000S. Grunge was defined by dark make-up, combat boots, fishnets, flannel, and dark clothing inspired by the likes of Nirvana and Hole.

Some may consider it a moment to be marked in fashion history as the 90s, coupled with alternative rock, introduced the mainstream fashion world to piercings and tattoos in a way they had never been considered before. Where historically they had been thought of as a taboo subject, or something only donned by hardcore rockers and criminals, tattoos and body piercing became almost commonplace, with even the most effeminate of pop stars could be seen with a bellybutton ring. With this in mind, we have the 90s to thank for the wide acceptance of tattoos that we see today – it is actually more common to see a person with at least one tattoo, than a person with none.

Hip-Hop / R&B

Hip-hop fashion hit the mainstream around 1992 around the time that the Beastie Boys, Twista and Ice Cube were hitting the charts. Consequently the hip-hip fashion was characterised by baggy jeans, bomber jackets, over-sized tees, tracksuits, and baseball caps, and the popular denim trend or “denim-on-denim” in 90s fashion was definitely heavily influenced by the hip-hop scene.

Original Image from Reddit

Television shows like “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” also bought hip-hop fashion to the forefront, making it more accessible for those who didn’t necessarily listen to the music. This can be considered similar to the use of an “Iron Maiden” T-shirt being worn for the metal-head aesthetic.


The clean, sophisticated option alongside the laid-back styling of grunge and hip-hop was the prep look. Preppy fashion was all about clean lines, sweaters over smart collared shirts, blouses, knee-high socks, cardigans, slacks, and boater shoes. As you would expect, the preppy look echoes the conservative vibe of prep-school students of the 1950s, as a way to give the impression of wealth. Rachel from friends is a fantastic example of the preppy style of the 1990s, coming from a rich household with a privileged upbringing, preppy was often her go-to look.

Original image from Pinterest

90s Fashion Now

Following the chart topper “1999” by Charlie XCX, and the advocation of the style by Dua Lipa, some of the old trends are making a big come-back! Bucket hats, blue eyeshadow, low-rise jeans, crop dops, sequins, strapless, pantsuits, and platforms are being seen all over the red carpet. This red carpet fashion is accessible and easy for the day-to-day wearer, making designer brands more wearable for the masses, and so we welcome 90s fashion back with open arms!

Why Do We Bring Old Fashion Back?

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I think I have it cracked why we end up reverting back to 20-30 year old fashion trends with every decade – nostalgia.

The children of the 90s are now in their late 20s – early 30s with influential jobs in the media, fashion industry, and radio, and at just the right age to start feeling nostalgic for the “good old days”. When nostalgia hits someone with the influence to make others believe a look is all the rage, and they have the power to make that trend a reality, all it takes is a like-minded A-list celebrity on the red carpet to get people’s attention.

Original photo from Hypebae

Where Will We Go Next After 90s Fashion?

Who knows! Logic would dictate that we should be heading in to the early 2000s for a pop-punk revival, or the favoured legging-under-dresses look, which I am absolutely sure we are all here for! the early 2000s continued on the casual comfort of the 90s, with ballet pumps and converse at the top of the fashion ladder, so another decade of comfortable fashion may be just what we need after the stilettos of the 2010s!

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Eloise is a lifelong gamer, a studier of Ancient History and Archaeology, a pet care journalist, a new mother of one, and film studies graduate with a desire to pass on her own knowledge so that others may benefit from it.

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