90's Fashion... More Than Just a Trend
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90's Fashion... More Than Just a Trend

Beauty & Style

April 15, 2020

MTV is playing, and you are getting ready to go out and meet your friends on a cool summer evening. You head towards your room, open your closet doors, and at that moment the life-changing question comes out to play, What am I gonna wear today?


In the ’90s this question represented more than just your personality, but your social status, likes, dislikes, values, beliefs, sexuality, age, etc. We still see this kind of behavior in today’s vestments. Global influences such as Versace, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Dolce Gabbana, etc. all have recently used “The 90’s”  as an inspiration to their most recent collections. But, what is it about “The 90’s” that makes it such a utopian time in fashion, that makes us all want to go back?


“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression- there are hints about who you are in what you wear,'' said the iconic designer Marc Jacobs. People in the 90’s lived by this rule, showing every aspect of their unique selves, through their wardrobe. The interesting thing about the nineties is that everyone was being themselves, by also being united with a certain “cliche” or “social group.”   

Diversity, a synonym for the decade. Much of this diversity was owed to all the different styles of clothing, and accessories developing at the time. This diverse audience would jolt the fashion industry, by giving uniqueness to each piece, but bringing them together created something magical. There were four different styles known for representing the 90’s, all of these expressed their distinctiveness, but were also acclaimed for their unison. 

"We have School Tomorrow" 

“Where’s my white collarless shirt from Fred Segal? It’s my most capable outfit!” said Alicia Silverstone in her iconic role as Cher Horowitz in 1995 classic “Clueless”. This movie was the start of “The Preppy School Girl Chic” style.

Girls across the world were trying to imitate Cher’s wardrobe. The apparel consisted of plaid skirts and blazers, knee-high socks, faux fur accessories, and headbands. But the preppiness this style brought to the fashion industry extended beyond women.

Men started developing a preppy style themselves. Their attire consisted of turtleneck sweaters, thick cashmere jumpers, navy blazers, letterman jackets, and leather boat shoes. All of it debuted by the icon itself, Carlton Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. The preppy style gave a classy feel to the ’90s, it established what is now known as semi-formal chic. 

"Crying in the Club" 

Leather jackets, black and red everything, bandanas, chains as necklaces, dark eye-liner, ripped skirts and jeans, were all part of the punk-emo ensemble. This was the type of aesthetic that went against the rules, the rebels of the crowd, the loners. Bands such as Greenday My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 were used as inspiration.

The modern rock look of Blink-182 was an echo of the 80’s rock era. While the gothic, but the extravagant style of Green Day was a fresh new emo era. Both had the fashion industry challenged, creating a look that goes against fashion but is still fashionable. 

"Blasting Music on a Boombox" 

“Now this is a story all about how” the fashion industry went upside down. I am sure we all know the first line of that sentence. It’s the first line of the popular theme song  “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” sung by Will Smith in 1996.

This popular 90’s sitcom became a statement in fashion by the creative, and colorful ensembles. As well as iconic pop female group "TLC". The vestment consisted of neon-colored clothing, bomber jackets, oversized jeans, crazy and colorful patterns, snapback hats, colored glasses, bulky shoes, and gold chains. Apart from expressing uniqueness and confidence in the fashion world, it definitely went way beyond. This style was adopted by not only the Hip-Hop culture but by the black culture as well, this outrageous explosion of creativity became part of their story and their identity.  

"I Woke Up Like This"

Combat boots, graphic shirts, ripped and oversized jeans, dirty converse, oversized flannel shirts, jeans, and leather jackets, were all part of a style called Grunge. This style was similar to the punk-emo style, only that this style wasn’t really trying to become a fashion statement, or even worse put itself out there.

This style was the epitome of relaxation, but it had some taste to it.

I like to describe Grunge, as an echo of Bruce Springsteen style with a touch of modernism. A lot of teens, especially skaters started using grunge as their signature look, and in no time, “Grunge” made it to the red carpet, being used by bands like Nirvana, Silverchair, and Pearl Jam. The fashion industry had encountered a new challenge, make an effortless outfit look put-together, and convert it into a trend.


Bright lights flash in your eyes, you spot the MTV logo across the club, you make your way towards the night. A plaid skirt, a flannel shirt, neon shoes, a leather jacket, and ripped jeans, all enter the scene. “Step by Step” by New Kids on the Block starts playing, and everyone heads towards the dance floor. “Welcome to the nineties”, you whisper to yourself. Diversity, Statements, Unison, Fashion, all make up the exorbitant vibe the ’90s carried.

Now in 2020, we can realize how much impact Fashion can make, how it can transform a generation, represent a belief or an idea, and now more than ever we need that. In the end, “The ’90s” is more than just a trend.

Isabella Maldonado
5,000+ pageviews

Writer since Apr, 2020 · 4 published articles

“An entrepreneur and creative. Currently pursuing a major in Fashion Business at L’Institut Marangoni in Paris. Isabella is the actual founder of Der Nier Cri fashion styling services, writer at the Teen Magazine, and Creative Director at Flovso. With a rigorous academic background, receiving certifications from SCAD, LIM College and the New York Times, she utilizes the world around her as constant inspiration; developing innovative and empowering social media-oriented projects in business, media, and fashion.”