The 90s are BACK, yo – here’s how to wear the decade’s key trends now
Originally posted on MSN UK, April 2014
Calling all 90s kids! Cast your minds back to a time when hair mascara, cargo pants and – if you were really lucky – a Sony Discman were the height of sophistication.
If you cringe at the thought of your in the 90s self – with specific reference to that borderline-obsessive crush on Peter Andre/Dean Cain/James Van Der Beek (delete as appropriate) – then take heart, because the decade is back.
In recent seasons lost trends from the 1990s have been celebrated on the runways, from Cara D’s grunge girl style to the return of clean-cut minimalism. Given the current appetite for all things 1990s, it seems only right that we pay homage to the women who pioneered the decade’s style in the first place.
Some still look achingly hip after all these years, others are a little jarring when viewed through today’s fashion lense, but all deserve a place in the 90s style canon.
But let’s face it – Spliffy jeans and Geri Halliwell’s union flag dress aren’t likely to become the last word in cool anytimethis decade. Which is why we’ve shown you how to reference these 90s fashion icons’ looks right now – without looking like a total LOSER.
Click through the images below to discover the cream of 90s style – and how to recreate their looks today.
Jennifer Aniston > Ridiculously bouncy hair and a penchant for mom jeans may not sound like the ingredients for iconic style, but hey, it was the 90s. Jennifer Aniston – who will forever remain Rachel Green to us – was one of the biggest fashion players of the decade, and her shaggy cut became the most copied haircut of the era, complete with questionable blond streaks at the front.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: your hair cut into ‘The Rachel’ – that style is best left in the 90s. DO WEAR: Rachel Green’s style staple – a little sundress paired with plimsols. Slip dress, £65, and skate shoes, £20, Topshop
Drew Barrymore > Where does one go after being an 80s child star? The answer, according to Drew, was to become a 90s grunge-girl-meets-flower-child. Drew’s wild girl look mixed boho daisy chains with tough grungy pieces for a style that was all her own.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a super washed-out complexion – pale may be in, but deathly white is not. DO WEAR: boho-beautiful daisies in your hair – perfect for festival season. Daisy hair clips, £4 for two, Claire’s
The Spice Girls > While we’re pretty sure La Beckham still winces at the thought of some of her Spice Girls ensembles, it’s hard to deny the impact this fivesome had on the latter part of the decade. The Spices epitomised 90s glitz and garishness, and for better or worse they presented wedge trainers, fun fur, leopard print, bra tops and Adidas tracksuits as viable style choices. And who can forget Geri Halliwell’s union flag dress from the 1996 Brit Awards, which came to be one of the most iconic dresses of the decade.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: really obvious lip liner or blond streaks – not the Spices’ finest looks. DO WEAR: this season’s flatforms – after all, the Spices were the original pioneers of fugly footwear. Flatforms, £35, ASOS
Julia Roberts > Julia Roberts owned the 1990s. The decade kicked off with Pretty Woman (1990) and ended with Notting Hill (1999), and somewhere in the middle there were was My Best Friend’s Wedding and Sleeping With the Enemy. With that kind of coverage it’s hard to pin down her style legacy to a single outfit. But in the early part of the decade she favoured Armani’s masculine tailoring, including the unforgettable suit she wore to pick up her 1990 Golden Globe.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: head-to-toe grey – fine back then, dull, dull, dull now. DO WEAR: a matching suit in a so-this-season punchy print or pattern – we love this checked trouser set from Marks & Spencer. Best of British jacket, £175, and matching trousers, £119, M&S
Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell > While we love Naomi’s fierce style, we’d like to concentrate on Kate here. This was the decade when she became the face of Calvin Klein, and the party girl who, along with her BFF Naomi, showed off an individual, thrown-together style that summed up the minimalist glamour of the early 90s. Unlike most models, Kate looks best when she’s just being Kate, rather than when she has been dressed and made up specially for the runway or a magazine spread.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a see-through dress with no bra – you’re not actually Kate Moss in the 90s. DO WEAR: this incredible silver look-a-like gown from Kate’s new collection for Topshop. Kate Moss for Topshop dress, price TBC, available 30 April
TLC > Gone are the days when bands had to co-ordinate their outfits within an inch of their lives, and frankly we feel the pop world is the poorer for it. Aside from TLC’s important life lessons about chasing waterfalls (don’t) and scrubs (again, don’t), their attitude to fashion was nothing if not revolutionary. They embellished their clothes with condoms and – as proven here – could even make ragged dishcloths look kind of amazing.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: anything that shows your entire stomach. DO WEAR: this season’s take on the crop top – the trick is to show only a slither of skin. Try pairing this Missguided crop with high-waisted trousers. Crop top, £19.99, Missguided
Katie Holmes > Before Tom and Suri, there was Dawson, Jen and Pacey. Alongside Dawson’s Creek’s overly emosh speeches and will-they-won’t-they storylines, Katie’s character Joey Potter showed 1998 just how to wear boot-cut denim, cropped tops and crew necks, and carved out an all-American girly style that she still rocks today.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a purer-than-pure dress à la the last picture. DO WEAR: a cami top. As Joey Potter, Katie was the queen of the cami – happily, River Island does a great line in them.
Nicole Kidman > Another ex of Mr Cruise, but with a totally different style DNA. Nicole expertly teamed those wild red curls with impeccable 90s minimalism for a look that was supremely tailored and just a little rock and roll.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: low heels; Nicole reportedly couldn’t wear high heels during her marriage to 5ft 7in Tom Cruise. Boo. DO WEAR: sunglasses – but you need a certain style to nail Nicole’s brand of 90s cool: slightly rounded, dark yet see-through lenses and thin wire rims. Bingo. Ray-Ban sunglasses, £125, ASOS
Winona Ryder > Back in the day, this girl had cool indie sensibility and Johnny Depp as a boyfriend. Gamine and tomboyish with a porcelain complexion, Winona was the poster girl for Generation X with her thrift-shop dresses, oversized T-shirts and preppy sunglasses – perfectly exhibited in her 1994 show Reality Bites. Watch it and treat it like a fashion history lesson.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a prim, princess-y dress à la Kim Boggs, her Edward Scissorhands character – that so wasn’t Winona’s style IRL. DO WEAR: anything – as long as it’s black.
Courtney Love > The undisputed queen of Seattle grunge, Courtney was one half of the most influential couple of 1990s fashion. The Hole frontwoman pioneered the delightfully named “kinderwhore” trend, which was epitomised by dark, smeared make-up, ripped up vintage slip dresses and babydoll nighties paired with Dr Martens or Mary-Janes.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: your make-up for a week without washing – it may have been Courtney’s signature grunge-girl look, but, y’know, it’s bad for your complexion. DO WEAR: a sexy-as-hell figure-hugging dress and a smudge of red lipstick. White cami dress, £14, ASOS, and Smashbox lipstick in Be Legendary, £15.50, Boots
Claire Danes > The short-lived My So-Called Life burst on to TV screens in 1994 with its heady mix of teenage angst, Jared Leto, Dr Martens, vintage florals and flannel shirts. Grunge lite, if you will. Claire’s bobbed ‘do inspired millions of girls to chop their hair, and experiment with henna dye.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a head-to-toe Angela Chase look – oversized plaid shirt + grunge dress + Dr Martens = emo teen, not style queen. DO WEAR: a moody floral dress gives a perfect nod to Angela’s iconic look without veering into teenage territory. Pins and Needles slip dress, £38, Urban Outfitters
Alicia Silverstone > When we say Alicia, we really mean her Clueless alter ego, Cher Horowitz. Finding a 90s teenage girl who didn’t cajole her parents into buying them a tartan kilt, knee socks and patent Mary-Janes is harder than finding a 90s teenage girl who didn’t regularly practise their “Mrs DiCaprio” signature.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: over-the-knee socks. DO WEAR: Do wear: a bright checked miniskirt for instant Betty status. Check miniskirt, £34, Topshop
The Sex and the City ladies > When SATC first aired in 1998, it brought us the world of endless brunches, casual sex and Mr Big. It also created a feverish desire for Choos, Manolos and gold name necklaces. Under the wardrobe direction of Patricia Field, Carrie Bradshaw’s designer-thrift aesthetic brought labels such as Prada and Fendi into common parlance and made vintage shopping cool again.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: co-ordinating coloured shift dresses like you and your friends are some sort of 90s girl band. DO WEAR: strappy sandals, AKA the mainstay of Carrie and co’s shoe collections – keep the look modern by going for a block (and not kitten) heel. Light blue patent block heel ankle strap heels, £19.99, New Look
All Saints > After the Spice Girls came the All Saints, with their unique brand of understated cool and super-wide Maharishi trousers. Natalie, Nicole, Melanie and Shaznay made us covet the unthinkable, with specific reference to dad trainers, chokers and (invariably incorrect) Chinese symbol tattoos.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: baggy combats – we think you know why. DO WEAR: a beanie hat – totally having a moment right now. Obey beanie hat, £25, ASOS
Gwen Stefani > Once upon a time in the 90s Gwen was the undisputed queen of kooky cool. The passage of time makes it a little hard to understand why space buns, a Tommy Hilfiger windcheater, oversized camo cargo pants and a bindi were hipster must-haves, so we’ll just have to take Gwen’s word for it.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a bindi – they’re the subject of a cultural appropriation debate at the mo, after festival-goers (including Selena Gomez) wore them en masse at Coachella last weekend. DO WEAR: your hair in Miley-via-Gwen-esque buns. Floral bun set, £7.24, Nasty Gal
Cindy Crawford > Versace-clad Crawford defined the early 1990s supermodel era, and she dominated the runways, glossies and even the fitness video section at Blockbuster. With her famous beauty spot, bombshell looks and statuesque figure, no one could wear Gianni Versace’s curve-skimming creations quite like Cindy.
Get the look… DON’T WEAR: a fake Cindy-a-like beauty mark. DO WEAR: a hot, hot, hot red dress – the ultimate 90s supermodel style statement. Motel off-the-shoulder dress, £38, Topshop