90s Fashion Trends: a roundup

90s fashion trends in Blossom

Way back in the mists of time, we wrote a roundup of 80s fashion trends, with the intention of following it up with a similar roundup of 90s fashion trends a short time later.

And then we forgot all about it, and that was that.

Until now, that is. For today, The Fashion Police are proud to present to you our list of 90s fashion trends. This list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own memories of the  fashion trends of the 90s, starting with…

90s Fashion Trend # 1: GRUNGE

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love


Flannel shirts, ripped up jeans and a generally dishevelled, “couldn’t care less” kind of look characterised the 90s grunge trend, which started with the Seattle music scene, and bands like Nirvana, and Peal Jam, and then moved into the mainstream, as fashion trends are wont to do. For women, long skirts worn with heavy workboots or Chuck Taylors, band t-shirts, long, centre-parted hair and the ubiquitous flannel shirt tied around the waist were de rigueur.

90s Fashion Trend # 2: CLUELESS

Clueless girls in their 90s fashion gear

If you were in your teens or early 20s in the 90s, chances are you watched Clueless and lusted after Cher’s amazing revolving closet – and possibly the clothes it it, too. Think plaid mini skirts, over-the-knee socks and preppy little blazers and hair bands for daytime (Cher was working this look long before Blair Waldorf came on the scene), giving way to tight little bodycon dresses (Calvin Klein or Alaia, who’s “like, a totally important designer!”) for night. Don’t forget the feather boa.

90s Fashion Trend # 3: The Spice Girls

90s fashion trends by the spice girls
The Spice Girls were single-handedly responsible for the popularity of huge, clumpy platform shoes and platform sneakers during the 90s. These were dark days for fashion: a time when it suddenly became acceptable to wear a Union Jack Flag as a dress (“Cool Britannia” was also a 90s thing…)  or wear your hair in pigtails, even although you were in your twenties. The sportswear look favoured by Mel B and the “posh” mini dresses and heels worn by Victoria Beckham formed other branches of this 90s fashion trend, but whichever Spice Girl you chose to be (We always preferred Victoria, just FYI), it was almost guaranteed to be bad.

90s Fashion Trend # 4: 90210

90210 cast in the 90s with denim jeans
The original 90210 (or Beverly Hills 90210, to give it its full title) exemplifies everything that was wrong with 90s fashion, as you can see from the shot above. Are you getting that high-waisted jeans were big? And that they were tapered? And were possibly the least flattering things EVER, other than the platform boots mentioned above? Body suits, hair scrunchies (still going strong after the 80s), fringes (bangs) which stood straight up from the forehead and were held there by hairspray, and little boxy jackets worn with mini skirts also all made appearances on the show, and in the closets of women everywhere.

Some other 90s fashion trends, in no particular order:

  • Hats with flowers, a la Blossom
  • Velvet or lace chokers, often with embellishments
  • Crop tops
  • Babydoll dresses
  • Mini backpacks
  • Denim overalls
  • Hammer pants
  • Strappy floral dresses, worn over white t-shirts
What did we miss? What do you think were the best and worst fashion trends of the 90s?



  • July 25, 2011


    I remember having a photo of myself in the early nineties wearing bicycle pants in fluorescent colours paired with a shell suit jacket.

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  • July 25, 2011


    Everything I remember about 90s fashion-wise is horrible, horrible horror. Maybe except the grunge thing, cause that’s what’s pretty much going in my wardrobe today, so…

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    • August 2, 2011

      Rock Hyrax

      Ditto. And I did like the chokers too (thought not so much the lace ones).

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  • July 25, 2011


    I was only a little kid throughout the nineties, but I remember being forced to wear this horrible pair of stirrup pants which I hated even then. That might’ve been something dragged on from the eighties, though.

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    • July 25, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      Oh yes, I had those too as a kid – think I was forced into them in the 80s, but they could’ve carried over into the 90s too!

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  • July 25, 2011


    Oooh I HATE mini backpacks, hate them! This stems from having had one when I was younger. I also had a penchant for Blossom style hats, but Six was always my style icon from Blossom 🙂

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  • July 25, 2011


    The ruffled shirts werehorrible, ruffles on the collar and sleeves and you wear them with velvet chokers and velvet pants or skirt.

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  • July 25, 2011


    Wow, let me think (I was just a teenager in the nineties). Leggings, slouchy socks, slouchy sweaters (preferably in beige, my mom loved to dress me up in beige). Crests and shoulder long hair (very Rachel goes 90210). Shorts with Doc Martens. Bare midriffs and baggy pants.

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  • July 25, 2011


    – Strap dresses over tight white t-shirts (loved)
    – Jumpsuits. (hated)
    – Body-style tops (hated)
    – Tommy hillfiger-mania. (hated)
    – Goth look. (hated)
    – Velvet t-shirts/ pants. (HATED)
    – Lacy shirts/ tops ( loved sometimes)
    – Butterfly hairpins. (loved)
    – Plastic micro hair claws… a head full of these. (so-so)
    – Clunky , high heeled loafers (HATED).

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    • July 26, 2011


      i had forgotten about the butterfly hairpins, i had so many of those!

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  • July 25, 2011


    Oh god, I was a teenager during the 90s, so I’m guilty of a LOT of these…
    And just look at that My So-Called Life photo… I love this show so much, even after all these years. I had a dress just like one of the ones Angela wore on the show, and everyone at my school thought it was the coolest thing ever! Of course, I wore it with Doc Martens, other heavy boots, or Chucks. It looked a bit like this one, but no sleeves and no ruffles:

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  • July 25, 2011


    Ugh, i had forgotten about the stirrup leggings and bicycle shorts! Although I was a kid at the time so the blame falls with my mother, haha. Anyone remember those trouser skirts or whatever they were called? They were trousers with the mini skirts attached. Thankfully I never wore it.

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  • July 25, 2011


    How, HOW could you leave out what seemed to be the most ubiquitous look of the nineties – Rachel Green’s hair?!!!

    (Also Bjork’s hair, Gwen Stefani’s bhindi, and combat pants.)

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  • July 26, 2011


    and everyone calls the 80s “the decade that fashion forgot!” Thankfully I was a little kid during the 90s and could therefore get away with dressing horrendously. However, I’m not sure if being a preteen during the early 2000s was any better?

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    • July 26, 2011


      That’s a good topic sugestion for TFP: An early 2000’s Fashion roundup. Pitching:

      – The Christina-Aguilera look (the pelvic pants + multi-coloured, big hair)
      – The Matrix look (the long leather trenches).
      – The total camo-look.
      – The irregular hem tops and skirts, especially when combined with beads and native-american decor motifs.
      – The white knee boots + miniskirts combo (who the heck started this ?)


      – The linen-mania.
      – The Sex and the City combo (cute dress +, Manolos+ great purse).
      – Tops and shoes with embellished details.
      – Skinny jeans.
      – Cargo bottoms.
      – Empire waisted tops & dresses.
      – The return of ballet flats.

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      • July 28, 2011


        That would be a great write-up. How could you forget about the camo obsession? And those awful pleated/tiered skirts. I believe I had one that looked almost exactly like this:

        Also, the obsession with “bedazzling” everything with rhinestones and beads. T-shirts with big words on them like “BRAT” and “PRINCESS” and “90% ANGEL 10% DEVIL.”

        And when showing your bra straps was “cool.” I actually had a tank top that had fake bra straps sewn in so they could stick out.

        Von Dutch hats, “trucker” hats in general. Ugg boots. I could go on forever!

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    • July 26, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      It’s weird – I remember during the 90s I thought the 80s must’ve been as bad as it would get, fashion-wise, and wondering what on earth people would look back on from the 90s, because everything just seemed so ordinary, and totally stylish. And now that I DO look back on it, it seems almost as bad as the 80s, which makes me wonder if we’ll one day look back on the this decade and feel the same!

      Great suggestions, Rubee, I’ll get on it 🙂

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  • July 27, 2011


    Funny, I actually had to consult my old photo albums… and then I wish I hadn’t. Obviously the 90s were my non-fashion decade. Apparently I didn’t care much about fashion and my personal appearance, because all the clothes I wore were boring, unflattering and much too big for me. I seem to have had a phase during which I wore a lot of blouses (in garish colours and patterns) with jeans in the 90s. My sister on the other hand wore wide cotton trousers with rolled-up legs and shirts with tie-dye patterns in the early 90s before she embraced Grunge and later turned to Gothic.
    I don’t remember much of what other people wore, though. There was the “rave-couture” with loud colours and metallics and very baggy pants, and the “girlies” with short pleated skirts and tight fitting T-shirts, if I’m correct.

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  • July 28, 2011


    I was in a store earlier this summer, where much to my horror, there hung every floral print babydoll dress I ever wore in high school. At least girls now wear them with leggings, which we were never clever enough to do.

    Also you left out:
    • Granny dresses
    • Long skirts made of denim, corduroy, or suede
    • Tapestry vests
    • Mohair sweaters to be worn with leather or vinyl pants
    • Juncos
    • Backpacks made of innocent stuffed animals to wear with your Juncos
    • And EVERYTHING was hunter green and burgundy

    To say I was a fashion victim in the 90’s would be the understatement of the year. BTW, Amber love your sites! They make me happy!

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    • August 1, 2011


      Excuse my ignorance but I was pre-teen in the 90s. What are juncos?

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      • September 26, 2011


        I think it’s Jnco’s, the really really baggy pants. I had a pair that were awesome at the time with a bright orange stripe going down the side. I wore them with a little cutoff T shirt and tiny backpack that was hunter green and burgundy of all colors with a brown suede flap.

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  • July 28, 2011


    I’m guilty of owning a pair of shiny baby blue platforms a la Spice Girls. 😛 I was more of a hoodie and jeans type of girl, particularly if the hoodie had the logo of our local board shop on it. It was all the rage when I was growing up.

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  • August 11, 2011


    I was a teenager in the 90’s I was obsessed with butterfly hair clips.

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  • October 1, 2011


    I was a teenager towards the latter half of the 90s, but I loved a lot of things about the fashion. Grunge was definitely my fave especially wearing dresses with converse or military boots, followed by a lot of what Gwen Stefani was doing. I was also super into the skater/rave look (but not the fuzzy pants, pacifier rave look) extreme wide-leg jeans and cargos were a staple back then paired with tiny tees. But we also saw the intergration of the 70s in the 90s lol. A lot of the 90s, as well as most eras from the 60s up, had some pretty terrible ideas though. Remember the Looney Tunes as rappers craze? Oh and people wearing their pants backwards still makes me cringe! 🙂

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  • July 25, 2012


    I loved much of the 90’s fashion, especially Clueless and the later part of the decade before they made all the pants low-rise and started wearing thongs.
    I loved the slip dresses and the tops being sized for real people, not the large tents I keep seeing. I even liked the rhinestone, bedazzled jean jackets. Clothes weren’t weirdly shaped or trying to be edgy; they were just fun.

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  • August 11, 2012

    Caitlin S

    I was born in the 90s, but I remember well what I wore in elementary school. It was leggings and track pants quite often. I also had these little outfits comprised of a t-shirt with a ruffle and leggings in the same fabric as the ruffle. Frequently they were Disney items. I seem to recall a lot of Winnie the Pooh.

    I also had plenty of Disney Princess t-shirts!

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  • August 13, 2012


    I went to University in 1991 so my formative adult years were spent in these clothes!

    I recall the “Goth” look came in big in the nineties, definitely in response to punk and the mad neons of the 80’s….?

    Floaty skirts with Doc Martens or Timberlands
    Massively baggy T shirts with belts round and pictures of, like, wolves or fairies on.
    Leggings everywhere
    Tight jeans

    Grateful for
    low rise and boot cut jeans
    Knee boots (not white!)
    Tea dresses
    Smock tops
    Pretty embellished tops (like vest tops) with jeans to go out in

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  • August 14, 2012


    Oh, what was making us girls trying to be trendy soo cool back then (and what I’ve almost chokingly been hating later on up till now) is the freaking side plackets (or what do you call em, they were like, everywhere, from shirts to skirts, often complimented by those HUGE military-ish pockets). The thing I even now agree to consider tolerable is those knee-high boots with slightly (well) slutty short buttoned trapezium skirts or tiny floral dresses. Denim (every piece of it) was awfull big time. Tiny backpacks or those bigger, leather patchwork type, were pure evil. And those leggings, noone bothered to, like, cover their leggingsed ass with as much as at least something. I recall wearing pair of those with short but volumed mohair sweater (well, I was still a schoolgirl back then). Of hair, well, butterfly pins were hugely mentioned here already, but we’ve had our local (?) trend of so-called twisters (thing you, erm, twist your hair in hard little bun with).
    It’s overwhelming.)

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  • […] collection. I was worried Doc Martens wouldn’t feel like ‘me’ anymore. But when Amber wrote about 90s fashion, I just had to bite the bullet. It was now or never. Ironically, I have felt more like myself today […]

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