The 1990s was a decade marked by laid-back free-spirited fashion. In many ways it’s often deemed the decade of ‘anti-fashion’, particularly due to the grunge-inspired looks of loose and carefree hair styles; backward caps; big boots; baggy jeans and tees; vintage jumpers and a general “couldn’t care less” attitude. It was a stark contrast to the previous decade of neon rainbow colors and tailored outfits. 90s fashion was more relaxed with subdued color schemes. The mode of this decade was heavily influenced by popular culture. Sportsmen like Michael Jordan, musicians and actors set the trends. This era was characterized by unpretentious and comfortable styles. Behold the fashion of the 90s.
Lead singer of music group Nirvana Kurt Cobain greatly inspired the grunge look which influenced much of the relaxed fashion mode of the 1990s.Trends like loose faded denims; loose hair and baggy T-shirts were all part of the cool and comfortable look. Many wore loose unbuttoned shirts over graphic T-shirts for men, while many women opted for tank tops or crop tops. Belly-bearing sweaters were also popular among young girls and women, along with belly-button piercings. Just a look back at some music videos from the 90s, particularly R n B (like TLC’s “Waterfalls” and other music videos) and hip hop, but also other genres, will reveal that this was a major fashion trend. Britney Spears also wore the style in her debut music hit video “Baby One More Time” in 1998.
Much of the unkempt grunge look was originally inspired from hippie trends of the 60s. So, the 90s also saw a lot of gypsy tops and floral dresses with lace blouses. The floral strappy dresses were often layered with white T-shirts underneath. Overalls (dungarees) were popular at the time, and even cooler if worn with one strap left undone (on purpose). Forget belts, many tied sweaters around the waist instead, and this was typically popular among teens and young adults.
Besides the grunge skate-boarding styles of many men, there existed the sporty look with tracksuit jackets (especially Adidas). Bomber jackets which resembled those that pilots wear were also popular and in alignment with the loose wear so typical of the 90s.
Michael Jordan was without a doubt one of the major sports icons of the 90s. So much so that he influenced sport shoe fashion, with the popular and deeply coveted Air Jordans. Many aspired to be like the Basketball pro and so these were a deeply coveted pair of sport shoes. Besides these, other sport shoes or trainers were in big fashion at the time, like trainers with lights or bouncy gel in the heel. As someone who grew up in this decade, the author can remember the playground filled with lights flashing as children ran around wearing such sneakers.
Dr. Martens were definitely the clumpy boots to wear in the 90s. They were very popular among the female population and were usually paired with a mid-length dress, as in Drew Barrymore’s role as Ivy in the 1992 movie “Poison Ivy”.
Jewelry and accessories
Will Smith and many others contributed to make wearing a baseball cap backwards the cool 90s trend. It was seen everywhere from actors in TV teenage sitcom “Saved by the Bell” to Tupac and many other artists.
When it came to jewelry there was a lot of large but lightweight items. Large hooped earrings, jelly bracelets were in. so were chokers; naval piercings; mood rings and yin yang jewelry could be seen everywhere. One of the more quirky types of accessory that was so typical of the 90s was the slap wrist bands. They also could be seen everywhere, and for some peculiar reason, slapping oneself with the flexible strap became a very popular activity.
The last decade of the 20th century was certainly a defining one with its own unpretentious and comfortable style. Fashions of the 90s were heavily influenced by the carefree and relaxed grunge-look as well as from popular culture. The 90s era was a rejection of recently passed fashions, and was characterized by an anti-conformist attitude. The above examples epitomize the most popular and widely-embraced fashions of the period.