6 Trends we’ve inherited from the 1990’s (and 2 we’re thankful didn’t make the cut!)
By Lucy Shanahan
Just when we think those trends of our formative years are about to disappear into the dark abyss of regret and self-loathing, they come roaring back faster than you can say ‘jelly sandals’. A little sprinkling of hindsight and those style moments we thought painfully passé are now nostalgic and loveable. Then there are those which cause involuntary *facepalms*, because how did I EVER think that khaki board shorts with Roxy scribbled on the butt were ok?
20 years is the general rule of thumb for trends to resurface. It’s the magic stretch of time it takes for us to convince ourselves that certain looks can be cool again. If each decade tries to do the opposite of what came before, it makes sense that the double decades have some aesthetic similarities. That’s why we see hints of 70s boho and disco in 90s fashion (gold lamé skirts never went too far astray) , and why 2015 looks like season 3 of Friends if they had been glued to their iPhones. Let’s take a look at which trends stood the test of time, and which ones rightfully stayed dead and buried.
The most googled and overused term of 2014, Normcore is the ‘I just rolled out of bed’ approach to fashion. Effortlessly cool and understated, Normcore advocates are all about blending in. Birkenstocks, boyfriend jeans and basic tees line the closets of hipsters, glowing new mums and middle aged tourists. Think Bassike, Jac and Jack and Levi’s 501s. Winona Ryder’s stripes and denim combo in Girl, Interrupted is the ultimate style inspiration for when we can’t be bothered to decide what to wear, and Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Dad bod’ has us feeling better about that bowl of pasta we inhaled last night. Thank you, Larry David.
Deep bordeaux lips and Doc Martins are still the greatest accessories for anyone fighting the man. Kurt and Courtney did it best. Nirvana said ‘fuck you’ and everyone listened. Marc Jacobs became the grunge guru, inspired by Yves Saint Laurant’s avant grade artistry and his interest in the beatniks (the anti-establishment arts kids in the 1950s, including cool cats Jack Kerouac and Ned Flanders’ parents). Before long, grunge trickled down into the department stores. These days, we find grunge in little pockets – from Lorde’s untamed locks and broody vibes to Miley’s leather bondage. Distressed jeans and a flannel around the waist are obligatory staples for the budding blogger. If you loved Drew Barrymore’s wild child with daisy chains look, look no further than One Teaspoon’s Awesome Baggies and your dad’s cupboard for an old shirt.
For want of a better name, the Clueless look is the preppy meets glam vibe found in Cher Horowitz’s revolving closet. Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX recreated the cult classic in their clip Fancy and reminded us all that anyone with a nose for negotiation and a yellow blazer can talk there way out of a C in debate. Tartan skirts, tube socks, shearling jackets and chokers are today’s garments of choice and Princess Highway, Alannah Hill and Ralph Lauren are havens for anyone with a faux-fur fetish. Josh, on the other hand, would probably be sporting a ‘Fuck Abbott’ t-shirt.
4. Raver Babes
Girls in bubblegum pink wigs were scattered through the rave circuit, all in the name of peace and love. Imagine today’s obsession with EDM exploding in fashion form. Electrifying colours and monster furry boots made their way through exposed brick warehouses. Raver babes today can be found in secret location house parties, local renegade music festivals and bush doofs. And don’t think that their every outfit won’t be documented on Facebook by a semi-pro photographer. The neon bum bag, too, has made a comeback. It went from ‘unflattering coin purse for elderly women’ to ‘festival must’. Romance Was Born is a whimsical take on rave culture, with collections like Mushroom Magic and Bush Magic heralding quirky and vibrant pieces for our inner raver.
5. Sneaker Town
Are you desperately trying to get your hands on a pair of Adidas Superstars? Well get in line. They’re sold out almost everywhere. You can thank the greatest hip-hop/R&B artists of the 90s for this craze. Hip-hop was going through its own transition; jazz, soul, funk and Motown were transported out of the studio and back onto the streets. Biggie, Wu Tang, MC Hammer; they all had sick street wear, and soon enough, everyone had a pair of Jordans in their cupboard. Pop stars of the moment all seem to have a finger in the sports luxe honey pot, with Pharrell Williams and Rita Ora inspiring creative collabs with Adidas. Miranda Kerr modelled for Reebok and made it cool again. And let me tell you, my feet couldn’t be happier.
6. The Virgin Suicides
How could we talk about 90s fashion moments without mentioning Sofia Coppola’s iconic film? Suicides is one of Coppola’s slow-cooker movies, where nothing happens, but everything changes. There’s something about watching it that emulates what I imagine it’s like to take Ambien. The Lisbon sisters’ middle parts and waif figures underpinned the Kate Moss look that burgeoned at the time.
Wooden platforms, floaty white dresses and dreamy floral skirts intended by their mother to divert the male gaze serve as minimalist style inspiration. There’s a hint of Stevie Knicks, Kate Bush and Picnic At Hanging Rock that imbues the film with dark romance and lilting melancholy. Today we see it in Johnny Was and Free People catalogues as well as Coachella pics and local fashion markets.
And now for those that didn’t make the cut…
7. The Pop Princess
Yes I know we’ve got Ariana, Selena, and Madonna still kicking on somewhere. But I’m talking about girls in super low-rider jeans with chunky belts or sparkly scarves that looked adorable on baby Britney but were corrupted by the g-string poking out the top. *shudder*. Then there was Mariah’s take on the need for a waistband – why need one at all? Again, Mariah could pull off pretty much anything, it was everyone else’s interpretation that gives me nightmares to this day.
Go and find your mum’s old home-aerobics videos and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Floral windbreakers and polyester leotards with skinny crotch areas, terry cloth wristbands and headgear. Imagine the cast of Full House playing tennis in Disneyland. Although exercise gear like The Upside or Lulu Lemon is more sartorial than ever, Jazzercise corrupted some already questionable choices of the 1990s. Luckily, this look came right out of the 1980s and fizzled out during the 90s. Good to know our favourite decade isn’t to blame for this one.