A New Decade, a New Style: Our Fashion Trend Picks of 1990

fashion trends of 1990 including fresh prince of bel air, pretty woman and blossom

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Let’s take a trip in our cultural time machine to a wonderful time…the year 1990. And what a year it was. The year 1990 was huge when it comes to TV, with ‘Twin Peaks’, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’, ‘Blossom’, and ‘Captain Planet’ all making their debut.

Little did they know at the time, but these shows would become firm favorites in the 90s and beyond, their fashion and cultural references rippling through to today (complete with remakes). 

The big screen also saw some iconic film releases, with ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘Ghost’, and family classic ‘Home Alone’. The celebrity drama train was alive and well, with high-profile events such as the (doomed) marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. However, it’s fashion, not divorce we’re concerned with here! 

Before we get started, we wanted to share with you the most incredible resource. This video shows live footage of 1990s runway shows in all their glory. Check out the phenomenal sequin skirt and embroidered jacket at 4:49 minutes, or the sweeping candy pink coat at 38:06 minutes. Major thanks to the creator of this video! 

These are our favorite fashion moments, trends, and garments of the year 1990.

Madonna at the 1990 MTV Music Awards: Marie Antoinette chic 

The 80s and 90s could always trust Madonna to serve an iconic look, and the 1990 MTV Music Awards took the cake (so to speak). 

Madonna performed ‘Vogue’ in a full French Neoclassical setting, complete with the most extravagant costumes. Madonna channelled Marie Antoinette with a creamy satin dress and ultra-wide pannier (wide-hipped petticoats), pearls, matte skin, and a beauty mark. It was over-the-top, luscious, excessive, and downright camp. 

Try it:

  • Pair a pale, creamy-toned satin bustier top with ripped blue jeans and heels or heeled booties
  • Try pairing a ruffle-sleeved blouse with a pale satin or brocade blazer or jacket 
  • Accessorize with plenty of faux pearls 
  • For your beauty look, try a matte base with shimmery lids, sharp brows, and deep browny-red matte lips 

Julia Roberts’ Streetwalker-to-glamazon journey in ‘Pretty Woman’

‘Pretty Woman’ is a treasure trove of 1990 fashion. We had the white tank top fused with a tight blue mini and thigh-high boots worn with a silvery-blond wig, (peak working girl attire). There was the red Bermuda short and blazer suit worn with a fresh white blouse (important-business-mogul-on-vacation-style).

And most iconically, the red off-the-shoulder gown and white gloves (pour me another Dom Perignon, please). However, what we love (and envy) most about Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’ is her abundant red curls, plump, youthful skin, and silver hoop earrings. 

Try it:

  • Fuse the key Pretty Woman looks by tying a menswear shirt at the waist, with high-waisted culottes, large hoops, and smart court shoes
  • Take inspiration from that chic little black lace cocktail dress (the one that snakes around the neck): pair an off-the-shoulder black lace bodysuit with high-waisted black cigarette trousers, stilettos, and the reddest red lipstick 
  • Pair over-the-knee leather boots with stockings, a leather mini, tucked-in white shirt, and oversized blazer. It’s a fusion, that’s for sure, but a chic one at that 

Fitted, jewel-toned velvet jackets at Karl Largerfeld 

If you ever want to be cheered up, just sit and gaze at old runway footage of 1990s fashion shows. One particular gem was Karl Largerfeld’s ready-to-wear Fall 1990 collection. 

Supermodels wore jewel-toned jackets with velvet detailing, gold buttons, nipped waists, and strong shoulders worn with mini skirts. The looks were ultra sophisticated with a dash of experimentation, youth, and fun. This look was true to the 80s and 90s sophisticated-lady look, complete with sheer stockings, gloves, and dangly earrings. 

Try it:

  • Revamp a thrifted blazer with two rows of gold buttons and have it tailored to cinch the waist
  • Pair a cinched blazer in a rich berry color (or any other saturated jewel tone) with stockings and a simple shift dress, and heeled booties 

Sweaters and taffeta maxi-skirts at Christian LaCroix

Sure this may be a more obscure reference, but that’s what it’s all about! Finding old gems to uncover and recreate today. A Christian LaCroix runway featured models in metallic ribbed sweaters tucked into outrageously-voluminous taffeta skirts with oversized bows.

Some sweaters featured gold buttons and oversized shirt collars layered over the top. Casual-smart daywear was fused with extravagant evening wear, creating a contemporary style. (Check out 6:30 minutes on the magical 1990s video to see for yourself!).

Try it:

  • Go ultra understated on top with a marle grey mock-neck long-sleeved top with a high-waisted bias-cut skirt in satin or silk 
  • Find a high-waisted wrap skirt in thick silk or taffeta worn over a fitted cardigan with the buttons done all the way up. Pair with stockings and chunky heeled boots to channel mid-90s grunge 
  • Accessorize the look with layered gold and pearl bracelets worn over the sweater cuffs  

Roomy denim, sunflower print, big blazers, and waistcoats: 90210 season 1 

“My goodness gracious” is all I can say when poring over photos of the ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ season 1 pics from the year 1990. There’s plenty of dark-wash denim in baggy fits, little floral dresses (off-the-shoulder), roomy blazers, waistcoats over shirts, bare midriffs, and big fluffy bangs. Everyone looks sunny, bronzed, fresh and ready for drama.

This look is youthful, ever-so-slightly preppy, and smacks of a wealthy young California teen out for the weekend. This look endured throughout the 90s (on the streets and the screens), evolving and intensifying to incorporate more grunge, more prep, and more cute eclecticism. 


Try it:

  • Find a sunflower-print bodysuit and layer under high-waisted denim shorts with a black leather belt and espadrille wedges
  • Pair your go-to black skinny jeans with an oversized blazer in a rich block color with a turtleneck, black Chelsea boots, and pearl drop earrings 
  • Guys, tuck a jewel-toned shirt into baggy blue jeans with a black leather belt and roll your shirt sleeves up above the elbow 
  • Slick on a matte red lipstick and use a barrel brush and hairdryer to get those bangs nice and round