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

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

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Last Updated on July 29, 2021

Bye-bye 80s, let the 90s begin!

There was nothing that set the tone of the year as Madonna’s hit Vogue… It was all about striking your pose and letting your inner surfer shine on.

The year’s star fashion items went from Julia Roberts’ thigh-high boots, big blazers, and waistcoats in Pretty Woman to 90210’s sunny Californian styles.

Kind of like now actually…

So if you want to go straight to the source for some inspiration, check out our 1990s fashion trends ahead!

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