1994 Fashion: Grunge Got Sweeter and Rachel Green Set the Scene

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1994 fashion showing three women with different 1994 styles

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1994 was a huge, history-making year when it comes to popular culture, TV, films, and fashion.

The tragic death of Kurt Cobain rocked the music world, adding yet another name to the eerie and saddening “27 Club”. The sporting world was all a-flutter as Tonya Harding allegedly violently sabotaged Nancy Kerrigan before the U.S Figure Skating Championship. 

On the TV

Turn to the TV world and boy, oh boy, our lives are about to change, my friend (pun intended). Underrated (yet newly re-emerging) show ‘My So-Called Life’ debuted, as did ‘Party of Five’, ‘E.R’, and ‘Sister, Sister’. 

But it was the debut of iconic sitcom ‘Friends’ that really rocked the pop culture landscape. Not only did ‘Friends’ bring us 10 years of killer fashion (well, there were a few misses circa 2000 but hey) but it gave us Jennifer Aniston, legendary modern love stories, and a whole lot of laughs (some of which have not aged well, but that’s another story). 

On the big screen

In movie world, history-making classics were being pumped out, such as ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Forrest Gump’, and ‘The Lion King’. While Jim Carrey enjoyed his hey-day with hits like ‘The Mask’ and ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’. 

Here are my favorite fashion looks and moments from 1994, complete with high-fashion runways and treasures from the silver screen. 

Sweet grunge in ‘My So-Called Life’

Even though ‘My So-Called Life’ was canceled after only 19 episodes, it was one of the best teen shows in the 1990s. The show was relatable, poignant, heartbreaking, and one of the most accurate portrayals of teenage angst ever shown on TV, thanks to Claire Danes’s depth of emotion. 

But we’re here for the fashion!

The soft grunge style featured plaid shirts, baggy denim overalls, muted florals dresses layered with knit cardigans, shearling jackets, and crochet waistcoats. The style exemplified the 90s way of bravely layering soft fabrics, faded patterns, and “just picked it up off the floor” miss-matched garments. It was a youthful rebellion mixed with youthful innocence and fun. 

Try it: 

  • Tuck a soft plaid shirt into a mini wrap skirt over opaque stockings with Doc Martens or black Chelsea boots
  • Layer bright stockings (like Rayanne) with a floral shift dress and a denim jacket 
  • For a 90s party, layer a spaghetti-strap bias-cut dress with a short-sleeved tee, tights, and a plaid shirt tied around your waist 

Rachel Green’s Sexy-Cool style in ‘Friends’

In recent times, Rachel Green’s style has become somewhat of a reference point for the 90s revival. In the first season of ‘Friends’ in 1994, Rachel wore some quintessential 90s staples such as plaid shirts layered with t-shirts, denim overalls, and even a garish, beaded wedding dress for a moment.

Rachel’s style had a slight hint of grunge, a wee bit of prep, and a shadow of sexiness without giving too much away. Rachel’s style was never overcrowded with accessories, instead, it was clean and fresh, with bouncy hair and effortlessness. 

Try it: 

  • Find a denim mini dress with a halter-neck and layer with a cap-sleeved white tee, sheer tights, and black court shoes 
  • Pair a simple back a-line high-waisted mini skirt with a turtleneck t-shirt, sheer black stockings, and low-rise heeled booties 

Colored fur and minis on the Chanel Fall 1994 Ready-to-Wear Runway 

We can’t talk about 1994 fashion without looking toward the runways, and the Chanel Fall 1994 Read-to-Wear runway show really caught my eye. Mini skirts and matching cropped jackets in thick, fluffy fur came slinking down the runway. 

Kate Moss rocked a tight black mini, stockings, metallic silver jacket, and pink-and-yellow fur jacket and hat. The look had a sense of humor, space-age flair, and reminds me very much of Fran Fine from ‘The Nanny’.

 

Of course, there were classic Chanel tweed jackets and sets with fur trim, matching bags, and goggles. I love this look Helena Christensen wore flawlessly: a red and black tweed mini-skirt and jacket with fur trim, black and gold belt, and grungy black boots. 

Try it: 

  • Start with black opaque stockings and add an A-line high-waisted mini skirt in a textured fabric, add a gold chain belt. Layer a black fitted turtleneck under the skirt and add a cropped leather jacket
  • Accessorize for winter with a faux-fur hat, black lace-up boots, and cross-body bag with gold chain strap 

Holly Hunter’s glimmering black column dress and relaxed hair at the Academy Awards 

Holly Hunter won the Oscar for ‘Best Actress’ for ‘The Piano’ at the 1994 Academy Awards. She wore an understated Vera Wang dress that encompassed the 90s in more ways than one. It had a straight skirt with delicate embellishments, a sleeveless top with a high neck, and a sheer panel at the midriff. 

The dress demonstrated the slip-style minimalism of 90s cool girls, with a touch of grunge in black, with a subtle, sophisticated sparkle. Holly wore her hair out and straight, with fresh, minimal makeup and dangling earrings. The look was refreshing, simple, and attainable. 

Try it: 

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