1990s in fashion
The fashion in the 1990s was the genesis of a sweeping shift in the western world: the beginning of the adoption of tattoos, body piercings aside from ear piercing  and to a lesser extent, other forms of body modification such as branding. This started the indifferent, anti-conformist approach to fashion which was popular throughout the 1990s, leading to the popularisation of the casual chic look, including T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and trainers, a trend which continued into the 2000s.
In the early 1990s, several mid and late 1980s fashions remained very stylish among both sexes. However, the popularity of grunge and alternative rock music helped bring the simple, unkempt grunge look into the mainstream by 1994. Overall, the 1990s saw a return to the minimalist fashion of the 1950s and 1970s, contrasted to the more elaborate and flashy trends of the 1980s. Additionally, fashion trends throughout the decade recycled styles from previous decades, notably the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, a trend which would continue into the 2000s and 2010s.
- 1 Women's fashion
- 2 Men's fashion
- 3 Youth Fashion
- 4 1990s Beauty Trends
- 5 Gallery
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Early 1990s (1990-1993)
Supermodels and High Fashion
- Throughout the 1990s, supermodels dominated the fashion industry. The top models of the 1990s were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Nadja Auermann, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, Tatiana Sorokko, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer, Karen Mulder, Nadège, Yasmeen Ghauri, Stephanie Seymour, Carolyn Murphy, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, and Tyra Banks. Photographers like Peter Lindbergh loved photographing Evangelista, because he considered her to be both contemporary and elegant.
- Kate Moss, who often modeled for Calvin Klein, sparked controversy with her very thin, waif-like figure. Due to Kate’s extremely skinny heroin chic frame, many criticized her for allegedly promoting eating disorders in her shots. Reportedly, posters of Kate Moss were often defaced with graffiti that read “feed me”.
- The early 1990s saw a continuation of mid and late 1980s fashion: women wore denim button down shirts, leggings, drainpipe jeans, colored tights, bike shorts, and tartan skirts. Popular accessories included court shoes, cowboy boots, headscarves, leggings, and penny loafers (associated with the preppy look).
Leggings and Exercise-Wear
- Leotards made worn as tops with jeans were popular. A common outfit was to wear a skirt, dress shorts, babydoll or minidress with black opaque tights, white slouch socks and white sneakers. It was not uncommon to see mothers dressed right along with their daughters in white slouch socks worn over black leggings or sweatpants, oversized T-shirt or sweater, and athletic sneakers like Keds or Converse.
- The mid 1990s saw a revival of the late 1960s/early 1970s hippie influenced fashion from 1994 onwards, including floral maxi dresses, turtleneck shirts, lace blouses, Gypsy tops, and tie dye T-shirts made at home.
- Women in the mid 1990s generally had less of an interest in provocative clothing, with comfort and freedom being the most important when it came to fashion. Both long and short skirts were favored, and women wore what they wanted instead of listening to what fashion designers say was "in". However, the push-up bra was quite popular among those who did want to enhance their appearance.
- In America, Britain and Australia, long floral skirts, olive green dresses, black shoes, Paisley scarfs, black Lycra leggings, and yellow or blue denim shortalls were very popular. The most popular pant style was mid-rise slim cut, but not tight fitting. To celebrate 40 years in the fashion industry, Mariuccia Mandelli revived the hot pants in 1995, which she had made fashionable in the early 1970s.
- Around 1996, fashion started to take cues from the disco fashion of the mid-late 1970s. This included pleather pants, yoga pants, metallic clothing, sequin dresses, crop tops, tube tops, maxi coats, maxi skirts, and boot-cut jeans and trousers. Popular colors inclued plum, chocolate, and navy, all of which replaced black, which had become ubiquitous. This continued into the 2000s.
Preppy and Conservative Chic
- In 1995, the film Clueless inspired a rejuvenation of women's preppy clothing. The lead character Cher Horowitz had a profound influence on women's fashions, and she is considered a fashion icon of the 1990s. The film and character popularized knee-high socks, thigh-high socks, blazers and skirts in matching plaid patterns, collared shirts, and microskirts.
- Almost simultaneously with Clueless, 1950s ladylike fashions made a comeback in the United States. This included pencil skirts, cardigans, girdles, and fitted suits. Popular accessories that went hand-in-hand with this revival included brooches, white gloves, sheer stockings, diamonds, sequins, and red lipstick.
- Around this time in Europe (especially Italy), it was also fashionable to dress entirely in black or wear designer clothing displaying Italian or French labels (such as Lacoste, Yves Saint-Laurent, Armani, Gucci, or Chanel) as a way of demonstrating one's apparent social status and wealth.
- Popular accessories during the mid-1990s in Europe and North America included conch shell necklaces, berets, straw hats, floppy hats, black shoes, knee high boots, Go-go boots, and dolly shoes. Navel piercings had started to gain popularity around this time.
Late 1990s (1997-1999)
- In the late 1990s, British and American women and girls wore pastel colors like pink or baby blue, fleeces, tank tops revealing the midriff (crop top), Union jack motifs inspired by the Cool Britannia movement, and from 1998 onwards, military inspired clothing, such as cargo pants and flak jackets with camouflage patterns. This continued into the 2000s.
- In the late 1990s, many early and mid 1990s fashion trends continued late into the decade. This included high-waisted miniskirts, over-sized tee shirts, turtleneck sweaters, yoga pants, tube tops, capri pants, maxi dresses, tartan skirts, cardigans, and denim button-down shirts.
- In 1997, some of the newer trends that emerged included tight shirts, flared pants, platform shoes, thong underwear, lower-waisted jeans inspired by the designs of Alexander McQueen, pantsuits, and the little black dress, with or without subtle embroidery. This continued into the 2000s.
- In the US and Britain, popular accessories included large hoop earrings, shoes with rounded toes, flip flops, jelly shoes, alice bands, pashminas, fascinators, gold jewelry, running shoes, jelly bracelets, bandanas, and novelty wellington boots with patterns like leopard print or zebra stripes.
Early 1990s (1990-1993)
- In 1992, flannel became very popular and lasted until the late 1990s. Unlike the fitted Western shirts of the 1970s which fastened with pearl snaps, the flannel shirts of the 1990s were padded and loose-fitting for optimum warmth. Men also wore Acid wash denim jackets, wool sweaters, black leather jackets, sheepskin coats, corduroy, anoraks, and polo shirts.
- The drainpipe jeans popular among metalheads and fans of new wave music went out of fashion in favor of straight-leg jeans like Levi 501s and baggy carpenter pants popularised by rappers and skaters. Surfers favored baggies, colorful swim trunks, and cut-off jean shorts.
- In Britain and the US, popular accessories included Converse All Stars, trapper hats, tuques, combat boots, Doc Martens Boots, Aviator sunglasses popularized by rock star Freddie Mercury, and neon-colored trainers (sometimes incorporating flashing lights and elastic self-tying laces).
- Preppy clothing was popular in the US, where wealthy young men wore khaki slacks, canvas boat shoes, and navy blue blazers with breast-pocket monogram or gold buttons bearing a family crest. In general, 1990s preppy was more casual than the almost dandified look of the 1980s as young men abandoned ascots and Oxford shoes in favor of Nantucket Reds, nautical-striped T shirts, loafers, and madras cloth or gingham short-sleeved shirts.
Mid 1990s (1994-1996)
- In the mid-1990s, 1960s mod clothing and longer hair were popular in Britain due to the success of Britpop. Men also wore Aloha shirts, brown leather jackets, paisley shirts, throwback pullover baseball jerseys, and graphic-print t-shirts (often featuring dragons, athletic logos or numbers).
- In Europe, Australasia, and East Asia, men's fashion was lively but unusual, with a large emphasis on colors and textures. Seemingly casual clothes such as trousers, sweaters, and denim jackets were made of satin, PVC, and terry cloth. Both pastel colors and strong colors were popular.
- Desirable accessories during the mid-1990s included loafers, desert boots, chelsea boots, gold jewellery, boat shoes, chunky digital watches, Doc Martens, and black/neon colored high-top trainers.
Hip-Hop and 1970s Revival
- In America, hip-hop fashion went mainstream in 1995, with oversized baseball jackets, bomber jackets, Baja Jackets, and tracksuits popular among young men as casual wear. Simultaneously, industrial and military styles crept into mainstream fashion, with machinery pieces becoming accessories.
- Southern hip hop provided a platform for Fashion designers and musical artists to collaborate forming an influential subculture of anti fashion and alternative fashion designs, especially the popular recycled clothing worn by Arrested Development and Goodie Mob.
- The 1970s became a dominant theme for inspiration on men's apparel in 1996. Among these clothing styles were coats with fur- or faux fur-trimmings, jackets with bold shoulders and wide lapels, and boot-cut trousers. This continued into the 2000s.
- From 1995 onwards, American men wore overalls, straight leg jeans, plaid pants, flat-front chinos and khaki pants, and camouflage pants worn ironically by anti-war protesters.
Late 1990s (1997-1999)
Rave Culture and Streetwear
- By the late 1990s, the grunge look that was popular the years before had gone out of style. The emergence of the rave subculture had sparked a revival of interest in more stylish clothes, with name brand designers such as Calvin Klein and Vera Wang making a comeback. The most popular trainers were white or black and manufactured by Adidas, Reebok, Hitec and Nike. Shoes with built in air pumps were popular among both sexes. Leather had largely replaced canvas, and soles were made of foam rather than solid rubber. This continued into the 2000s.
- Young men favored preppy brands like Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch. Sportswear such as casual jackets, tee shirts, sweaters, and tennis shoes became more acceptable to wear in public during the late 90s, even to the point of the clothes being considered fashionable. Other popular trends included hoodies, jean shorts, khaki cargo pants, baggy basketball shorts, and chinos. Other popular items of clothing included tracksuits and black bomber jackets with orange linings. Around this time it became fashionable to leave shirts untucked. This continued into the 2000s.
- In Europe, single-breasted three and four button suits in grey or navy blue, together with leather jackets based on the same cut as blazers, began to replace the 1980s power suits. Tweed cloth and houndstooth sportcoats went out of fashion due to their association with older men.
- In America, an increasing number of men began to dress smart-casual and business casual, a trend kickstarted by Bill Gates of Microsoft.
- The dominant youth clothing fad at the beginning of the 1990s was fluorescent clothing in blue, green, orange, pink, and yellow. Hoop earrings were also a popular accessory for teenaged girls and women in the first years of the 1990s. Plaid shirts were also popular. Popular colors for girls included coral, hot pink, and turquoise. In Britain and the USA, girls wore oversized tee shirts, sweat shirts, sweaters, slouch socks worn over sweatpants or leggings, black or white lace trimmed bike shorts with babydoll dresses, belts worn with dresses, sweaters, and t-shirts, flats, Keds, Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, shortalls, leotards worn as tops with jeans, and athletic shorts. Boys wore soccer shorts, jean jackets, tartan shirts, tapered acid wash jeans, and sweatpants. For example, in the Southern Suburbs of Chicago during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Z Cavericci pants and IOU sweatshirts were worn by members of the middle/upper-middle class.
- For much of the 1990s, particularly the middle years, teenage boys and girls bought and wore very basic clothes, such as overalls, flannel shirts, and backpacks. Popular stores selling these items included Gap and Urban Outfitters.
- For younger children, the mid-late 1990s was the Golden Age of Disney films with T-shirts and sweaters featuring characters like Simba, Mickey Mouse, Aladdin, and Winnie the Pooh. Tartan trousers, striped shirts, long sleeved polo shirts, and sweaters were worn by young boys in the UK and the USA. Blue denim and railroad stripe overalls were also popular for females, as seen on television and commercials throughout the decade, and for teenagers, who would leave either strap hanging loose. A common outfit for all girls, especially tweens and teens, was to wear a skirt, dress shorts, baby doll dress or short dress with black opaque tights, white slouch socks and Converse shoes.
- The new wave and heavy metal fashion of the 1980s lasted until early 1992, when Grunge and hip hop fashion took over in popularity. By the mid-1990s the grunge style had gone mainstream in Britain and the US, resulting in a decline in bright colors from 1995 until the late 2000s, and was dominated by tartan flannel shirts, stonewashed blue jeans, and dark colors like maroon, forest green, indigo, brown, white and black.
- Grunge fashion remained popular among the British skater subculture until the late 1990s as the hard-wearing, loose-fitting clothing was cheap and provided good protection. Members of the subculture were nicknamed grebos or moshers and included those who did not skate.
- The early 1990s saw widespread interest in hip hop and gangsta rap due to the influence of artists like MC Hammer, Tupac Shakur, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, N.W.A., Wu Tang Clan, and Public Enemy. The sagging trend began in the early 1990s and continued until the 2010s. Wide leg jeans, Plaid, Khakis, Locs glasses, bomber jackets, tracksuits and baseball caps and snapback hats worn backwards became popular among hip hop fans together with gold chains, sovereign rings, and FUBU T-shirts.
- The late 1990s saw the rise of the British chav subculture, an offshoot of the casuals, a football fan subculture of the 1980s. Common items of clothing included tracksuits, baseball caps, gold jewellery, diamond earrings, and white Adidas trainers. Hair was heavily gelled, often bleached blonde, and either spiky or shaped into a quiff. Girls wore large hoop earrings and pulled their hair into a tight ponytail known as a croydon facelift.
- In the mid-1990s, indie rock, Madchester, and Britpop bands like Blur, Stone Roses, and Oasis resulted in a revival of 1970s fashions, including Mod haircuts, aviator sunglasses, denim jackets, green parkas, harrington jackets, velvet sportcoats, striped shirts, Ben Sherman polo shirts, T-shirts bearing the RAF roundel, and Union Jack motifs like the dress worn by the Spice Girls' Geri Halliwell.
Psychobilly and Punk
- Hardcore Punk fashion, which began in the 1970s, was very popular in the 1990s, and Goth fashion reached its peak. Common items for pop punk and nu metal fans included spiky hair, black hoodies, and baggy pants in black or red Royal Stewart tartan.
- In the US, Psychobilly bands like Reverend Horton Heat and Rocket from the Crypt popularised brothel creepers, gas station shirts and dark-colored bowling shirts during the late 1990s.
- The conservative preppy look of the 1980s remained popular among wealthy teenagers in the Northeastern USA until the late 1990s, when many members of the subculture began adopting elements of hip hop fashion. Typical clothing for preppies of the 1990s included khaki chinos, navy blue blazers, oxford shirts, brogues, and neat, well-groomed hairstyles.
1990s Beauty Trends
Women's hair in the early 1990s continued in the big, curly style of the 1980s.
The pixie cut and Rachel haircut, based on the hairstyles of Jennifer Aniston in Friends and Marlo Thomas in That Girl, were popular in America from 1995 onwards. Around the same time it became fashionable to center-part one's hair again for both men and women, reminiscent of the 1970s. From 1995 onwards, dark-haired women tended to dye their hair a lighter color with blonde highlights (popularized by Jennifer Aniston) until about 2008.
Bangs remained popular throughout most of the decade. The Bob cut was also well-desired, popularized by Posh Spice. The Farrah Fawcett hairstyle made a comeback in 1997, with highlights going hand-in-hand with this revival.
In the mid 1990s, younger men's hair was mostly long and unkempt with a center-parting as they became stylish again, while men over 30 had conservative 1950s style haircuts.
By 1997, it was considered unstylish and unattractive for men and boys to have longer hair, and as a result short hair made a comeback in the mainstream. From 1997 onwards, aside from curtained hair (which was popular throughout the decade), spiky hair, bleached hair, crew cuts, and variants of the quiff became popular among younger men. Dark haired men dyed their spikes blonde or added wavy blonde streaks, a trend which continued into the early and mid 2000s. For African-American men, the cornrows and buzz cut were a popular trend that continued into the early 2000s.
Children's and Teenager's Hairstyles
For teenage boys longer hair was popular in the early to mid-1990s, including collar-length curtained hair, shaggy surfer hair popular among some Britpop fans, and dreadlocks. During the mid-1990s, the much-ridiculed bowl cut became a fad among skaters, while hip-hop fans wore a variant of the flattop known as the Hi-top fade. In the late 1990s, hair was usually buzzed very short for an athletic look, although a few grunge fans grew their hair long in reaction to this.
For teenage girls and younger children, hair was worn long with heavily teased bangs called "mall bangs" which were long fringes covering the forehead. Headbands and scrunchies of various styles and colors were popular with girls throughout the early and mid 1990s, and they frequently wore them with side ponytails and bangs.
Makeup and Cosmetic Trends
Women's makeup in the early 1990s primarily consisted of dark red lipstick and heavy eyeliner and mascara. Around 1992 the "grunge look" came in to style among younger women and the look was based on dark red lipstick and smudged eyeliner and eyeshadow. Both styles of makeup continued into 1994, but went out of style the next year.
The trends in makeup shifted in the mid 1990s. In 1995, nude shades became desirable and women had a broader color palette in brown. Another makeup trend that emerged was matte lipsticks, with deep shades of red and dark wine colors worn as part of night makeup. Gothic makeup had broken into the mainstream, having been made up of vamp lipstick (or even black lipstick), heavy mascara and eyeliner, often purple-tinted eye-shadow (or else very dark blue), and extremely pale foundation. This remained common until the late 2000s.
By 1997, glittery, sparkling makeup had come into style. This was called "Y2K makeup", consisting of facial glitter and lip gloss. Eyeshadow became less obvious by this point in time, with the most popular color being baby blue. Brown lipsticks remained relevant, although they lost their grip in favor of lip gloss.
A selection of images related to the period.
Grunge clothing, popular from 1992-1998. (Kurt Cobain, 1992)
Dancers at America's Snoqualmie Moondance Festival in 1992
African-American teenager with Hitop fade, popular from the early-mid-1990s.
Slap bracelet worn by young girls in the early-1990s
Baseball jacket was popular among hip-hop fans in the mid-1990s
Undercut hairstyle popular in the early and mid 90s.
Bomber jacket with orange lining, popular from the mid-late 1990s
Woman with Rachel haircut, late 1990s.
Two women wearing bandanas, 1999.
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