A throwback to the late ’90’s would be dreadfully uninspiring. During my senior year of high school in 1996, I saw floral dresses, earth-tone shirts tucked into plain denim mom jeans, and crisp clean canvas shoes. Our ’90’s days had a few fringe styles. We had grunge kids and Goth kids, but the mainstream style of those rebellious teen years was not inspired by radical musical trends or by revolutionary movements. We mostly copied the fashion sense of the cast of Seinfeld.
The Early Nineties Had Some Dazzle
The early nineties fashion statements begged more attention than the styles of the late nineties. That’s the era when entering a women’s bathroom was like entering an Aqua-Net sauna. We teased our bangs into rooster combs and teased the sides of our hair into fish fins. We painted our faces with several layers of make-up and wore giant hoop or dangling earrings. I half believe that the weight of our earrings inspired the next generation’s voyage into ear gauging –you know, those giant holes in the ears?
The most memorable early nineties fashion trend was the deployment of parachute pants. Some people credit the ’80’s for the popularity of parachute pants, but those gigantic pants gained popularity following the success of MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This,” and “Too Legit to Quit,” to which MC Hammer sported the shiny parachute pants in 1990 and 1991. Vanilla Ice also wore parachute pants. The song, “Ice Ice Baby,” topped the music charts in 1990. We wore parachute pants and patent leather shoes with big chiffon laces because that attire looked really awesome while dancing “the running man.”
The Late Nineties Fell Flat
I think the late nineties fashion trends were a reaction to the loud styles of the eighties and early nineties. Maybe we just needed a rest. The tie-dyed fluorescent shirts of the late ’80’s and the sparkle-splattered parachute pants of the early nineties–and don’t forget the hairspray clouds–made us a bit dizzy. We tried going back to the seventies for bit of a spell at the dawn of the mid-nineties, but we must have been too tired to stick with it or to come up with something new. So we settled on pulling our bangs into big barrette clips, skimping on the make-up, and wearing floral one-piece dresses.
My daughter asked, “What was the style like in the ’90’s?” I said, “Nothing.” I told her about goth and ska and grunge and heavy metal, but those were the creative, rebellious kids’ styles. Those styles were not the norm. We did not have bell-bottoms and Afros or beehives and pencil skirts. We didn’t have big glasses and bright blue eye shadow.
We had plain jeans with belts. We had straight hair or curly hair pulled back in a big clip. We had long skirts, solid color shirts or collared shirts, and neutral lip colors. We wore navy blue or forest green or melancholy maroon. We wore slip-on dress shoes, or canvas tennis shoes paired with clean white socks. Cool stuff like jelly shoes, slap on bracelets, and miss-matched slough socks came from the ’80’s, not the ’90’s.