The Return of 90s Fashion: A Cultural Crossroads

While primping for Friday night’s Chocolate Jungle 90s party, I watched Poetic Justice, listened to Mary J. Blige and reminisced about Doc Martens, Timberlands and my sneaker collection. I also have to admit that a few months ago when I saw FKA Twigs’ slicked and finger-waved baby hairs, my heart skipped a beat—it’s official; the 90s are back!

My attempt to slick my baby hairs on Friday night.

There has been a lot of talk about the 1990s lately, and it seems people are more nostalgic about the 90s than they have been for other decades. The 90s is having its moment right now. The reason might be that every decade has its moment roughly 25 years after it begins, but I doubt it. The 90s is where it all started for this generation.

The dot-com bubble, the grunge movement, Middle East foreign policy, Tupac and mainstream hip-hop, as well as the capitalist revolution are all part of the 90s’ legacy. The era is also marred by violence, scandal, and a rise in racial tension. However, we had supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. We had shows like Jerry Springer, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and 90210. We had music from Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Spice Girls. I could go on forever about all the things that happened to us in the 90s. The question is, why has our jaunt through normcore turned into the full-blown return of 90s swag?

Fashion from the 90s is ubiquitous: it’s on the streets and on the runway. There are four major fashion trends from that era, and most designers are cutting, pasting and creating a mélange of all four.

Retro: Hippie Chic

This trend is a take on 60s and 70’s fashion. We’re talking about floral prints, hot pants, low-rise bell-bottoms or boot-cut pants, faux-fur, chunky watches and gold.





Just think of the Clueless movie: Short skirts, plaid, argyle, pantsuits, blazers, red lipstick, the Amish hat, long hair, oxfords and thick heels.





Hip Hop Fashion

Hip Hop fashion was all about oversized clothes. Baseball jerseys, bomber jackets, tracksuits, timberlands, sneakers, overalls, khakis, plaid and fatigue were all characteristic of the time. Think of designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Also, there’s no forgetting the large hoop earrings, baseball caps, bandanas and as much gold as possible.






This musical and fashion movement meant tartan, flannel shirts, Doc Martens, combat boots, jeans, all-black, dark lipstick, black leather jackets, acid wash denim, Converses, and don’t forget the beanie hat.





Fashion in the 90s is often refered to as the anti-fashion era, a movement against the extravagance of the 80s. Every decade is marked by momentous events, but the 90s speak to our now. If we were to divide our history into two parts, the divide would be ‘life before the internet’ and life ‘after the internet’. The 90s is a crossroads in modern history. Does the return of its fashion suggest that we’re at a crossroads now?

Chanel protest

  • Brett

    One of your best articles, what a fun read!

  • Ayanna

    Love it!