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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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

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). 

Read: We Binge Watched all 10 Seasons of Friends, Here’s Our Favourite Outfits for Each Character

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. Read more about soft grunge here.

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: 

Read: Your Go To Slip Dress Outfit Style Guide

Versace’s 1994 Campaign with Metallic Minis and Cropped Sweaters 

Versace’s sexy style was all the rage in the 90s, with one of the most memorable images being the 1994 campaign. Five supermodels wore teeny metallic mini skirts, cropped turtleneck sweaters, heels with socks, tanned skin, and 90s “neutral sexy” makeup. It was tacky (in the best way), raunchy, playful, and clearly demonstrated the power of the 90s supermodel

Try it:

  • Emulate the shine-finish texture of the skirt with a leather or faux leather high-waisted mini matched with a cropped sweater, stockings, and ankle boots

Bohemian Fashion In 1994

Casual boho styles were starting to become popular too in 1994. Whether you wore low-slung jeans or mini crop stops, fashion was getting more laidback than it was in the previous decade.

The boho looks from the 90s weren’t as hippy-influenced as the popular outfits from the 70s, but they shared a similar influence. Popular boho styles were mixed with grunge influences and bands such as Nirvana, Hole, and The Smashing Pumpkins. This led to a darker look than the well-known “flower power” bohemian style, but it suited the decade well!

Try it:

  • Find long draped skirts made from mesh or thin materials. Midi-length skirts work well for a bohemian grunge look too. Pair these with a chunky pair of Doc Marten boots for a completed look!
  • You could also play around with small crop tops or shortened band tees. Pair these with baggy jeans to get the 90s bohemian grunge style too. Platform shoes always work well with baggy jeans, giving you a great chance to play with proportion.

Versace Fall/Winter Ready-To-Wear Collection 1994

Nothing gives us fashion inspiration like a good runway show! In 1994 we were treated to a Gianna Versace special as models sauntered down the catwalk in slinky, tech-inspired dresses. This show embraced the 1960s silhouette but used alternative materials like PVC and other plastics.

Key colors from this collection were red, yellow, black, and purple. Many of the outfits were monochrome and accessorized with matching plastic thigh-high boots. This collection feels futuristic and nods to the fashion of 60s mods – a strong contrast from grunge subcultures appearing in 1994.

Try it:

  • Find a mini dress with an A-line shape and pair it with some matching thigh-high boots. Make sure they’re both the same color for the full effect. An added coat is optional, but practical for cooler weather!

Karl Lagerfeld For Chanel Fashion Week 1994

Karl is well-known for his prowess as a designer, especially when he was at the helm of the iconic fashion house, Chanel. In 1994 he treated the world to a fur-filled collection, this wouldn’t fly in the present day, but for the moment in time, it was perfect.

Models served decadent luxury in black and white ensembles, some with stripes and come with patterns. Colored fur was also featured and supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell made these exaggerated outfits look chicer than ever.

Try it:

  • Find a black and white faux fur coat and pair it with other black and white garments. If you can find one, add a fur skirt too if you want to be daring!
  • Gloves, belts, and fur hats were also used in this collection so if you like accessories – go big!

Milan Fashion Week

Milan is known for its minimalist fashion and glamorous looks – while these two concepts seem to oppose each other the Italians prove they work together every year. In 1994 Milan saw shows from Prada, Moschino, and other Italian designers who are still relevant to this day. Fashion week also boasts some superior street styles, proving that the fashion isn’t just on the runway.

Try it:

  • To adopt a classic Italian look, invest in expensive neutral garments. This could be a crisp linen shirt or true cotton jeans, just make sure the fiber content is natural and not synthetic!
  • Italians also love to accessorize, so focus on obtaining a classic neutral purse that isn’t too flashy. Quality over bling always.

1994 Hip Hop Fashion

Hip hop has always had an effect on the way we dress. From bucket hats to oversized shirts, this culture permeates through street style and gives us some great fashion.

In 1994 Snoop Dogg appeared on the popular show Saturday Night Live in a branded Tommy Hilfiger jersey, sparking interest in the brand. This appearance caused a boost in Tommy Hilfiger sales and popularity within the hip-hop scene.

Try it:

  • Pair traditional baggy jeans and tees with branded Tommy Hilfiger jackets and shirts for this 1994 style.
  • If you don’t want to buy any branded Tommy Hilfiger items, just replicate their signature style with red, blue, and white colors.

Read: Why Tommy Hilfiger is a Must-Know 90s Brand

The Peak Popularity Of Flannel

Flannel is synonymous with the 90s and grunge culture. From Kurt Cobain to Winona Ryder, all the popular celebrities were embracing this slouchy look.

This grunge-style pairs well with casual mom jeans and tees, or even with feminine baby doll dresses and mary jane shoes too. It truly is a versatile piece to style, allowing different subcultures to embrace the style. Even Princess Diana was spotted in a flannel shirt or two going to the gym!

Try it:

  • Popular ways to wear flannel shirts include over a t-shirt, tied around the wearer’s waist, and as a shirt dress.

1994 Male Pop Fashion

When we think of 1990s pop stars Britney Spears comes to mind, but who were the male pop stars of the time? Prince was one of the most popular selling artists of the year and his style was always popular on the street. Though he featured androgynous looks, they were always copied by fans. Elton John and Take That were other popular male pop acts.

Try it:

  • Try wearing high-waisted trousers and fitted/tailored jackets to embody Prince’s Androgynous style.
  • Loose-fitting white jeans with white shirts were also common for pop acts in the 90s.

Pulp Fiction Fashion

Pulp Fiction is a classic film to this day. Quentin Tarantino’s smash hit features stellar performances from Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L Jackson, but it’s worth watching for the fashion references too!

Try it:

  • Copy Mia Wallace’s style with chic straight-leg black pants and a fitted white shirt. The blunt black bob haircut is optional but recommended!
  • Loose trench coats are also popular, as seen on Mia and Vincent Vega. Don’t go for a fitted style when embracing this jacket!