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Published: 2023-04-03

Fashion of the 1990s

While the eighties were still characterized by bright colors and large shoulder pads, the nineties saw a gradual shift to something more minimalist. At the same time, the nineties are considered the decade of supermodels such as Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks or even Kate Moss, who introduced a whole new style to the world with her heroin chic. Eventually, haute couture was replaced by urban casual wear labels, which brought the trends of actors and pop stars to the streets as mass-produced goods.

Early Nineties Fashion Trends (1990-1992)

At the beginning of the 90s, many trends from the 80s continued. Fitness fashion is still en vogue, while the first models become superstars, known far beyond the catwalks of haute couture.

The Big Five of High Fashion - Most Wanted Supermodels

At the beginning of the 90s, five women dominated the world of haute couture: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz. Whether booked as a quintet or individually, these supermodels are the center of attention, and not just on the runway. Whether as the first black woman in Vogue, as the highest-paid model in the world, or through their particularly versatile abilities as "chameleons," these women are breaking records and are omnipresent. Especially when Claudia Schiffer replaces Tatjana Patitz as the world's most successful supermodel. And of course, Kate Moss, the sixth member of the illustrious five, embodies heroin chic like no other.

Neon colors and sportswear - continuation of the eighties

Jane Fonda was instrumental in the global aerobics trend of the '80s, which included leggings, spats and bodysuits. And the combination of spandex leggings with an XXL V-neck sweatshirt worn over a turtleneck is absolutely en vogue in the Nineties. Large geometric patterns - triangles, diamonds, zigzags or intricate grids - in bright colors and leopard prints are as popular as they were in the eighties. They can be found especially on tracksuit tops and windbreakers, which are experiencing an absolute retro trend in the 90s.

Crop-tops and spaghetti shirts - as long as it's belly-free

In addition to fitness fashion, there is a trend for sports bras to be worn as belly-free tops and paired with shorts, jeans, sweatpants or a casual hoodie for street style. Belly-free spaghetti straps, bandeaus and top-tops are not only popular with celebrities, but also reveal the tummy for millions of teens and young adults worldwide.

Long Dresses - Trend from the Fifties

In the early 90s, clothing is inspired by the 50s. Long dresses with wide belts come back into fashion. The collar is high and the sleeves are either longer or shorter - these simple dresses never show too much skin. Floral patterns on dresses around 1992 are an extravagant eye-catcher.

Flannel Shirts - From Grunge to the Mainstream

Around 1991, the big plaid flannel shirts worn by grunge bands like Nirvana were all the rage. Unlike the seventies, these styles were cut as loose as possible to keep warm. The used look was often part of the outfit to stand out from the crowd.

Turtleneck Sweaters - Ideal Under the Sweater

Turtlenecks are an absolute must-have of the 90s. Usually worn under a sweatshirt or a wool sweater, they are almost inseparable from that garment. But even under some blazers and suits, the turtleneck often peeps out instead of the classic shirt.

Blazers and Western Jackets - Casual with a T-Shirt

The blazer is a relic of the '80s that made it into the early '90s. The bright colors are often paired with a plain, simple shirt, and the hip-length blazer is casually worn open or closed with a single button. Western jackets, often in velour leather, are also in vogue in the same casual cut, distinguished by their numerous fringes on the sleeves.

Neon colors Crop tops Long dresses Flanell shirts Turtle neck Blazer

Fashion of the Mid-Nineties (1993-1996)

In the mid-90s, fashion becomes more diverse. On the one hand, there is a trend towards glitz and glamour, while girls and young women are flirting as sexy schoolgirls and denim seems to be everywhere.

Mom Jeans & Co. - Jeans all over

While pants were often loose-fitting in the early 90s, the trend in the mid-90s was toward a tighter fit and a more feminine style. Pantsuits, short skirts and dresses, hot pants and high-waisted, ankle-length mom jeans are in. In the nineties, any cut is welcome - as long as the material is denim. Ideally, the pants are even combined with waistcoats, jackets and shirts made of - mostly blue - denim. Denim is everywhere.

Glitz and Glamor - Metallic Look in Disco & Co.

Anything that glitters is fashionable in the workplace as well as in clubwear - satin, silk, vinyl, microfiber and other fabrics can be found almost everywhere. The metallic look is especially eye-catching in the sunshine and at the disco, when clothes reflect the light and create glittering effects. The glam of 1972 is back!

Britney Spears embodies the sexy schoolgirl like no other in her hit "Baby one more time". The skirt of her school uniform is short and tight, the shirt is knotted so that only her belly is visible. Youthful innocence meets sex appeal. The same effect is created by the baby doll look, which has been around since the 80s.

Knee Socks - Loosely Worn

Knee socks are the perfect complement to leggings and sneakers. They are usually not tightly pulled up, but deliberately cut so that the wearer can pull them loosely over the ankles - similar to the aerobics stirrups of the eighties.

Spaghetti Straps over Shirts

In addition to the belly-baring spaghetti straps, the 90s also saw the birth of the casual spaghetti strap dress, usually worn over a simple shirt. Made of breezy fabrics like satin, they sometimes look more like nightgowns, but are also popular for clubbing. Even without a shirt, spaghetti-strap dresses look good - legendary is the appearance of Kate Moss in 1993, whose dress revealed more than it concealed.

Casual Friday instead of business attire - Discovery of plain Casual Wear

Around 1995, the strict separation between business and casual clothing almost completely disappears. Not only do more and more companies introduce casual Fridays, but jeans are also increasingly seen in the office on other days. A trend initiated by none other than Bill Gates. Leather jackets in the classic blazer cut replace the bulky power suits of the eighties. Instead, the combination of black shirt, black tie and black suit is becoming more common. And in everyday life, the trend is toward simple, unadorned basics: Everyone in the nineties has at least one white T-shirt that can be combined with almost any outfit.

Mom jeans Glitz and glamour Sexy schoolgirl Knee socks Spaghetti straps Casual friday

The late nineties in the fashion world (1997-1999)

The end of the decade is dominated by pop culture. Hip-hop and rave set their own fashion trends for the younger generation, and haute couture was once again influenced by Asian and African chic.

Net shirts - revealing body consciousness

Net shirts are experiencing a huge boom, especially in rave culture. Since the Love Parade at the latest, these transparent shirts have become indispensable at every techno party. Not infrequently, wearers go without underwear, so the transparent mesh fabrics are not only absolutely revealing, but also a statement of a generation that celebrates body awareness and fitness.

Baggy Pants - XXL pants for men and women

These XXL pants are popular with skaters and hip-hop fans alike. Women also wear very wide baggy pants that often go well below the waistline, revealing underwear and covering an otherwise bare bottom. The pants are not only comfortable, but also practical, especially when combined with extra wide cargo pants with extra leg pockets.

Overalls - of course only one-sided closed

Dungarees are clearly part of the casual look of the 90s. As so often in this period, denim dominates the trend materials. Will Smith and bands like NSYNC make one-sided open straps an absolute cult. If you don't have overalls, grab a colorful jumpsuit. They're also trendy in the nineties.

Asian and African Influences in High Fashion

From around 1997, Asian and Indian influences began to find their way into Western fashion, not least through the media. Inspired by Indian designers adapting elements from the 70s, British and American designers picked up on these influences and traditional batik shirts became a new hype and found their way into the mass market. At the same time, African fashion influences can be seen on the catwalks of haute couture, often combined with denim jackets and fur collars.

Revival of the Seventies - Disco and Mods

Not only the Indian fashion of the 70s, but also the disco look experiences a retro trend in the 90s. Along with this comes the rebirth of bright colors, which at the same time represents a departure from the dark tones of grunge and skate culture. High-cut miniskirts, plastic chokers and knee-high socks, tights, turtlenecks and capri pants are all back in style.

In men's fashion, the revival began a little earlier. From 1995/96, with the rise of Britpop, fashion culture became popular again. Coats with (faux) fur collars, suits with wide shoulders or bootcut pants, denim jackets, parkas and Ben Sherman shirts are increasingly seen on the streets.

Net shirts Baggy pants Overalls Asian style Revival of disco and mods

Beauty Trends in the Nineties

Each decade in the fashion world has its own beauty trends. Not only the hairstyle, but also the makeup and accessories have to match the look perfectly.

Hair Styling - more versatile than ever before

To go with the aerobic style, women often wear their hair in a ponytail or with a headband. The grunge look is complemented by straggly, unwashed hair or dreadlocks, while stars such as Björk and Gwen Stefani are making a fashion statement with pithy, experimental hairstyles made of twisted strands that are fastened to the head like knots. In addition, bob hairstyles, colored (backcombed) strands or simple short cuts are increasingly seen on the streets. Not to forget, of course, the palm hairstyles, draped with scrunchies - fabric-covered hair bands.

Men are also discovering dreadlocks and shoulder-length strands in the grunge look. In addition, the bowl cut and center parting are all the rage for ear-length hair. The same goes for cornrows, which originated in African cultures. Fine braids can also be seen on stars like the young Justin Timberlake.

Not to be forgotten are the sharp short haircuts, styled with lots of gel and hairspray - and made even more eye-catching with bleaching. Among the PoC, the so-called flat tops - once an absolute trend of the 50s - are absolutely in vogue, where the uppermost hair stands up and is simply cut flat.

Make-up - subtle look, hard contrasts

While in the 80's makeup was used equally by men and women and was very colorful, in the 90's it was mainly reserved for women. In particular, the two very different trends of natural looks and very eye-catching styles with hard contrasts can be observed. Dark matte lipstick and opulent eye makeup in blue shades stand out. Toward the end of the decade, lip gloss replaces lipstick and glitter on the face is also part of the styling.

Jewelry and accessories - trends of pop culture

Hip-hop and its stars set many fashion trends in the 90s, including headwear. Fisherman and floppy hats are popular, as are backwards baseball caps. Otherwise, hats are less popular in this decade. At least the bandana, whether as a headband, scarf or complete headgear, is still accepted as a fashionable accessory.

The sunglasses of the 90s are very narrow and stand out with their colored lenses in red, blue or pink. Lip gloss is popular, as are plastic tattoo chains or subtle necklaces with small pendants. Large hoop earrings are the best choice - the bigger, the better.

A Casio G-Shock watch can be found on almost every wrist, male or female, in the 90s. For narrower wrists there is the smaller version of this extremely robust watch, the Baby-G. A thick chain on your pants is the best way to secure your wallet in your back pocket.

But there are also questionable accessories of the 90s. For example, the trend for pacifier chains, which not only adorned children's necks but were also widely available in bright colors as necklaces or bracelets, is hard to justify.

In addition to classic jewelry, tattoos and piercings slowly but surely infiltrated the mainstream. Many still bear witness to this trend of the 90s.

Shoes - Comfort is Key

Pumps and ballerinas were as popular in the 80s as penny loafers or boat shoes, associated with the preppy look. The cowboy boot, once a trend of the American West, has now reached the European fashion world. Grunge not only makes sneakers, but also Doc Martens and combat boots suitable for everyday wear, while the return to a feminine style revives high heels. Especially at the end of the 90s, leather shoes with foam soles became more and more fashionable, replacing the canvas models with their rubber soles.

White sneakers by Keds or Skechers are an absolute eye-catcher, especially when paired with white socks, which can be accentuated by rolling up your pants or wearing them over black tights. Alternatively, running shoes by Reebok, Nike Airs or All Stars are suitable for expressing your fashion consciousness in the 90s.

... And then there are the Buffalo shoes with their oversized platform soles, which are popular with both men and women, and not just in rave culture.

Fashion Icons of the Nineties - Stars and Celebrities

In the nineties, actors and pop stars in particular shaped the fashion consciousness of the masses. After all, television is omnipresent and provides numerous role models for the younger generation with sitcoms and MTV. The list could go on and on, but this is just a small selection:

The Most Popular Designers of the Nineties

The fashion world of the decade was dominated by labels such as Champion, GAP, or sports brands such as Adidas, Reebok, and Nike, which produce comparatively inexpensive mass-produced goods and yet are absolutely in vogue. But there are also a few designers who make their mark in the nineties.

Marc Jacobs - Grunge on the Catwalk

Marc Jacobs brings grunge fashion to the runway in his collection for Perry Ellis, shortly after being named womenswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The scandal that leads to his dismissal is predictable. But his men's collection impressed the fashion world, and in 1997 he was named head designer for the prestigious Louis Vuitton label.

Alexander McQueen - L'enfant terrible of the fashion world

The British designer's first public fashion shows earned him the nickname "l'enfant terrible" of the fashion world and the title "hooligan of English fashion". At Nihilism, models walked down the catwalk in transparent clothing, and even titles like Highland Rape caused outrage. Nevertheless, the designer made his international breakthrough in 1995.

Calvin Klein - The Most Famous Boxer Shorts in the World

Together with Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein creates a sporty look that is not only popular with college students and the wealthy upper class, but also spreads to the mass market through international pop stars. Launched in 1992, the boxer shorts, first promoted by Mark Wahlberg and soon by Kate Moss and many other icons, quickly became a wardrobe must-have.

Helmut Lang - Minimalist Fashion

Helmut Lang is known for his minimalist fashion with clean lines that still look elegant. The designer often uses high-tech materials and is often compared to Yohji Yamamoto for his unusual and almost intellectual designs. He was one of the first designers to present his collection internationally via an Internet stream before the actual presentation in New York in 1998.

Jean-Paul Gaultier - Iconic Bras for Madonna

Jean-Paul Gaultier is also known in the pop world, at least since he designed the cone-shaped corset for Madonna in 1990, which she wore on her Blonde Ambition World Tour. He has also made history with his fragrances. Le Male is the most famous, with its stylized torso and stripes reminiscent of his signature nautical style.

Fashion Styles of the Nineties - Pop is Everywhere

Almost all fashion styles of the 90s are influenced by music. Hip-hop conquered the world, but the anti-fashion of grunge also became popular among the younger generation, especially at the beginning of the decade. Finally, techno left its mark on the fashion world.

Grunge Look - Anti-Fashion for the Mainstream

From around 1992, the grunge look spread as a response to the conformist fashion of the 90s. T-shirts, ripped jeans, hoodies and sneakers laid the foundation for a trend that lasted until the end of the 90s. Doc Martens, flannel shirts, band shirts and oversized cardigans, long skirts and hiking boots are also part of the outfit that bands like Nirvana and actress Winona Ryder helped to define for teenagers and young adults around the world. Fingerless gloves and heavy olive-colored parkas are also common.

Rave Culture - Techno and Plastic

Rave culture, which emerged from the underground of subculture in the mid-90s to become a mass phenomenon, is characterized by the use of large amounts of plastic. PVC and nylon are the materials of choice, along with retro sportswear, 70s vintage, batik shirts or flokati on bags and shoes - always combined with bare skin and the wearer's sex appeal: The colors are bright and vibrant, the shoes often have high platform soles. Tattoos and piercings are also a trademark of the young partygoers.

Hip-Hop Style - Casual and Comfortable

In the '90s, hip-hop fashion conquered the mainstream. The look is characterized by baggy pants, sneakers or basketball shoes, XXL shirts and, of course, baseball caps worn with the brim facing forward, backward or casually to the side. Or a simple fisherman's hat worn with a colorful tracksuit and rolled-up pants. Towards the end of the 90s, ski goggles finally became an iconic accessory of the hip-hop scene.

Modern Prepper Look - Conservative Chic

The prepper look is especially popular among wealthy young men. Boat shoes, navy blazers with monograms on the breast pocket and gold buttons are all part of it. However, the nineties prepper look is less dandy-like than the original eighties look. Chino pants, baseball jackets, mom jeans, and oversized casual sweatshirts with turtlenecks are popular.


The 90s is a decade of fashion diversity. The main influences came from pop culture, which was taken up by fashion brands such as GAP, Champion and Adidas and marketed as a global trend. At the beginning of the decade, the eighties were still very much in evidence, but by the middle of the decade a change had taken place that made fashion from previous decades, such as the fashion of the seventies, attractive again. It becomes clear that the fashion world is increasingly being shaped by music and television stars rather than high fashion designers. And even the Internet is slowly but surely announcing its entry into the global fashion scene.


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