If you’ve looked at TikTok or Instagram (or flipped through a fashion magazine) lately, you’ve probably noticed that the 90s are back. More than 20 years after the decade ended, many of its most iconic fashions (think scrunchies and Mom jeans) that were once mocked are now embraced by Gen Z.
Such is the cyclical nature of fashion, and with looks – from grunge to goth to hip-hop, and more – throughout the decade, there’s sure to be plenty of inspiration to draw from. Here are just a few of the many 90s trends that have re-entered the culture lately. Don’t wear them all at once!
Once famous mocked in a 2003 episode of sex and the city, this humble and stretchy fabric hair tie has since become popular again. More comfortable and forgiving on sensitive manes than the typical elastic, the scrunchie has been rediscovered for its versatility, ease of wear, and ability to add an extra touch of style to a casual outfit.
These comfortable sandals, easily recognizable by their cork soles and buckles, were a 90s staple hippie wardrobe, but today you’re more likely to see them worn by a more fashion-forward crowd. Birkenstocks fit right in with the so-called “normcore” concept of unassuming, comforting 90s clothing, in fact subversively styled. While classic Birkenstocks come in dull earth tones, today you can buy them in a wide variety of colors and styles.
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Platform shoes, which were once all the rage in the 70s, reached new heights (pun intended entirely) in the 90s. Platforms were seen everywhere, from grunge children’s Doc Martens to sneakers dizzying ravers (and the Spice Girls!), and even the Mary Janes and moccasins of fashionable teenage girls. Given the popularity of spindly designer stilettos of the 2000s, it only makes sense that the more fashion-forward and comfortable clumsy shoe is finally coming back into fashion. And unlike the 90s, you can now get Docs in vegan leather, as the brand has offered it as an option since 2011.
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These alluring, often gothic-looking necklaces were all the rage in the 90s. tattoo choker in particular – a looped plastic variation, cheaply made on the theme – was particularly ubiquitous later in the decade. These chokers, as well as the more traditional ones in velvet and rhinestones, have once again become popularprimarily worn by teenage girls and young women looking to add an edgy accessory to their respective outfits.
mom jeans (or as they were called in the 90s, simply “jeans”) have gone from objects of derision (most memorably derided in the 2004 Saturday Night Live sketch seen above) to a must-have cool-girl. Previously, jeans were high waisted and stiff by default, but as stretchier fabrics came along, tight skinny jeans became popular, and in the 2000s, they were essential. Low rises were also the norm at the time, and the high rises of so-called Mom jeans have proven to be more flattering and comfortable for many, and can have a surprisingly timeless feel.
These stretchy, form-fitting shorts were the pinnacle of athleisure before that word even existed. Often paired with oversized t-shirts or sweatshirts, bike shorts are comfortable and relaxed, with a hint of sexiness in their fitted silhouette. Many people have discovered the benefits of bike shorts during the pandemic, as they are a good alternative to being pantsless on Zoom calls. They can also have an understated, chic quality outside the home, as evidenced by the many photos of ’90s style icon Princess Diana in bike shorts that often circulate on Instagram.
Adored by ’90s “it girls” like Courtney Love and Drew Barrymore, the slip dress is underwear-as-outerwear at its best. The silky fabrics and spaghetti straps of these dresses have a flirty vibe without much effort, and they are easy to put on and dress with some accessories. The slip dress can look Old Hollywood or riot grrrldepending on how it’s styled, and its versatile sexiness and association with 90s rebels has led to a new appreciation for the style.
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Plaid has always been around, but in the 90s it was everywherefrom flannel shirts grunge musicians in yellow skirt suit worn by Alicia Silverstone in clueless. Donning a plaid piece is an easy shortcut to edgy ’90s style, as evidenced by the pop star and Gen Z fashion expert Olivia Rodrigo’s penchant for plaid dresses and miniskirts.
Frequently associated with the aforementioned high-waisted jeans in the 90s, the bodysuit gave casual outfits a more polished look. While some may scoff at the drawbacks of a bodysuit when it comes to using the bathroom, these body-conscious pieces (which can be minimalist, athletic, or boudoir-ready) are come back via celebrity-backed brands like Kim Kardarshian’s SKIMS and others.