1996 Fashion Trends: Girl Power, Witch-Goth and Calvin Klein

1996 fashion trends of 3 different styles of women's outfits
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Last Updated on July 5, 2023

Sweet 1996… I remember it quite fondly as the year in which witchy goth became a thing thanks to the Craft, and girls started dressing like the Spice Girls.

I mean, what’s not to love, right?

Big chunky platform shoes and super short skirts totally clashing with black prairie dresses and catholic uniforms gone bad decorated with spikes, pentagrams, and inverted crosses.

But, there were a few more 1996 fashion trends worth noting!


Continue reading to get all the juicy details. You never know when your next costume party will be…It might come in handy!

Claire Danes’ Angel Wings and Leo’s Hawaiian shirt in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was excellent (coming from a Shakespeare geek!). Not only did it present The Bard in an approachable, accessible way, but it gave us Leonardo DiCaprio in chainmail.

However, it was Leo’s blue and red Hawaiian shirt, cigarette, and floppy hair that etched its way into our memories. Yes, the Hawaiian shirt was all the rage in the 90s, and not just for Dads on vacation. 

Claire Danes as a perfect Juliet made young 90s girls long for their own set of wings as she floated in a simple white pleated dress and feathered angel wings. Claire was the picture of sweetness with a simple half-up-half-down do, flushed cheeks, and silver necklace. Oh, and Leo, in chainmail, gazing at her through a fish tank. Be still, my heart. 

Try it: 

  • Pick Romeo/Leo and Juliet/Claire for your 90s party and recreate the iconic knight-and-angel look if you can get your hands on armor and wings
  • Otherwise, take inspiration for daily life by pairing a fitted white blouse with a high-waisted pleated skirt, soft makeup, and white feather earrings
  • Find a blue and red short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and tuck it into blue jeans, with the top buttons undone. Smoke-out your eyes with deep brown kohl and press red rouge onto your lips for that lush, Romeo-after-a-crying-session sultriness 


Witchy-Goth schoolgirls in ‘The Craft’

‘The Craft’ used to scare the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. The teen horror movie (witches, seances, snakes, all kinds of sinister activities) was a fashion treasure trove. 

There were pleated mini skirts worn with sheer black tops and layered cross necklaces. There were slip dresses layered with long-sleeved tops, with tiny blue-lense sunglasses.

The hair was thick, bouncy, and sometimes clipped with those 90s-centric tortoiseshell claw clips, and the makeup was matte and brown. Whew. A lot to unpack. 

Try it: 

  • Pair a fitted cardigan with a high-waisted, pleated skirt with stockings and ankle boots. For a less “schoolgirl” aesthetic, swap the pleated skirt for a bias-cut midi skirt with layered chain belts 
  • Pair over-the-knee socks with brogues, a shift dress, and longline blazer. Accessorize with small, colored sunglasses and necklaces of various lengths 
  • Smudge black kohl thickly over the top lash line and lid, but keep the lower lashline clean to avoid the panda-eye look


Take Your Pick of These 90s Sunglasses

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Get that 90s Punk Look – For Women


Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein at the Oscars

Gwyneth Paltrow’s look at the 1996 Academy Awards was more 90s than the 90s itself. It beautifully demonstrates the clean, minimal, waif-like, cool-girl style of the decade. Natural beauties like Kate Moss and Gwynny sauntered in pale, sheeny slip dresses, no bras, untouched hair, and natural makeup. 

Gwyneth Paltrow wore Calvin Klein (hence the clean minimalism), a pearl-colored, fully-beaded slip gown with spaghetti straps, V-neckline, and gauzy shawl.

Her hair had a slight side-part but was otherwise unstyled (but stunning), and her lips were 90s-brown. Oh, and she had Brad Pitt on her arm, with tiny sunglasses and floppy blonde locks. Gwyneth’s look was one-third great styling, one-third a great makeup artist, and one-third excellent genetics. 

Try it: 

  • To be honest, if you’ve got a wedding coming up (as the bride, I mean) this look is a perfect reference for women with minimal, beachy-glam styling 
  • For every day, pair a beaded spaghetti-strap tank with high-waisted, wide-leg jeans and pumps 
  • Layer a white or cream satin slip dress (they’re everywhere these days!) with a denim jacket, flat sandals, and bed-head hair for Gwyneth-meets-Jennifer (Aniston) style 

Read: The Insatiable List: “Big Six” 90s Supermodels

Platforms, girl power, and color a la The Spice Girls 

The Spice Girls burst onto the scene in 1996 with fun, color, friendship, and an attitude for young girls to look up to. They weren’t sexualized, nor were they sweet or demure, they were outrageous and knew how to have a bloody good time. The Spice Girls’ style can be enjoyed on a daily basis, not just for 90s costume parties. All it takes is a little deconstruction. 

Try it: 

  • Take a dash of Scary Spice with some bright yellow denim or cord trousers with a boot cut
  • Add a pinch of Posh Spice with a black cropped bandeau and leather jacket
  • Pop your hair into an ultra-high ponytail a-la Sporty 
  • Buff pale blue frosted shadow onto your eyelids like Baby, and slick a shiny red gloss onto the lips like Ginger 
  • Add a pair of jewel-toned platforms, an armband, and for goodness’ sake, have fun

Read: 3 Ways to Wear Spice Girls Approved Platform Shoes

Halle Berry’s Lilac Dream at the 1996 Oscars 

Halle Berry turned up to the 1996 Academy Awards in one of the prettiest gowns of the decade. The lavender Valentino gown was made from shimmering velvet with a cowl neckline, softly ruched bodice, and 3D floral straps.

An asymmetrical satin overlay added extra light-catching textural contrast. The look was completed with a gauzy lavender shawl around Halle’s neck. 

Make it yours: 

  • Find a velvet cowl-neck top and pair with a satin or silk bias-cut midi-skirt in lilac or lavender 
  • Try a 90s-inspired makeup look with a dark plum lip liner with a slightly paler mauve lipstick, smoky kohl-rimmed eyes, and matte-satin skin 


Bjork is a cultural icon and style legend too. If you want a new fashion inspiration that marches to the beat of her own drum, check out Bjork and her many iconic outfits. Whether she’s wearing a swan or standard clothes, Bjork always rocks the look and takes it to a new level. In 1996 Bjork’s music video for Hyperballad was released which focuses on Bjork looking whimsical with a short blunt fringe. This haircut is a must-try for any Bjork fans!

Try it:

  • To get Bjork’s 90s look, you could try her short bangs style, however, if you want a fashion focus to try these tips!
  • Bjork arrived at the 96 European Music Awards in a see-through red dress, this could be easily replicated with a red mesh dress but remember to add a red bra too!
  • Pair any outfit with chunky black heels for the ultimate Bjork 90s touch.

Tori Amos

Tori Amos is a classically trained musician that won our hearts in the 90s with her unique style and amazing vocals. This legendary artist also had her own 90s style going on, especially when she appeared on MTV Unplugged in 1996! With her hair in loose curls and a minimalist black outfit, Tori was the definition of cool.

Try it:

  • If you have long hair try softly curling it so it appears wavy with loose curls. Die-hard fans may want to dye their hair ginger, but this isn’t a requirement!
  • Tori wore a sleek off-the-shoulder top in black, this is a great style to copy as it suits everyone. The off-the-shoulder style gives everyone a feminine silhouette and black also suits everyone so this outfit is a win-win!

Prada Summer 1996

Prada is and always will be one of the top fashion houses in the world. With a clean silhouette and an eye for detail, this brand always produces the best catwalks. In Spring/Summer 1996 Prada unleashed their womenswear show and what a success this season was!

Models embraced cornflower blue, burnt orange, and white tones for their summer wardrobe. Square-toed mary-janes were seen alongside a-line skirts and geometric abstract prints. Belted jackets and suit dresses also appeared, adding a focus on structure and uniform styles.

Try it:

  • If you want to recreate this Prada hit, make sure you add light blue, orange, brown and white to your wardrobe. Wear these colors in single monotone looks or pair them together in blocks for the best result.
  • Square-toe heels are a must-buy, especially in the 90s mary-jane style. This is a great way to embrace a preppy look without going full traditional style too.

Read: Prada: The Good, The Gorgeous, and the Iconic

Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 1996

Fashion designer Giorgio Armarni released a spring-summer womenswear collection in 1996 that embraced femininity. With luxurious fabrics and intricate details, this collection celebrated what it is to be a woman and it resulted in some amazing fashion photography too.

Models posing effortlessly in black and white images wearing expensive clothing inspired a generation of women to embrace their feminine sides.

Try it:

  • This look is easy to achieve as the colors are so simple. It’s the details that are harder to replicate! Find any black or white midi dress and tailor it to your figure, you can twist the straps or add extra straps to re-create the intricate back straps seen in the collection.
  • The collection also featured tailored black high-waisted trousers, sleeveless vests, white blazers, and white sports bra tops too.

Diesel 1996

In 1996 the brand Diesel opened up their first flagship stores in fashion capitals of the world. London, Rome, and New York were the first to receive Diesel stores, proving how popular the brand was becoming.

Also, in 1996 Diesel released a fashion book showcasing photography, phrases, and words for travelers and tourists. This set them up as an international brand and increased their image as a luxury fashion house.

Try it:

  • While their 1996 book is slightly vague in terms of looks, you can’t go wrong with a vintage pair of Diesel jeans!

Read: 5 Brands Like Diesel You Will Love

VH1 Fashion Awards

The VH1 Fashion Awards was a TV special that included a star-studded list of celebs and lots of fashion inspiration. Amongst the big names in attendance were David Bowie, Toni Braxton, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Linda Evangelista, and more.

Try it:

  • Embrace the designers who attended by finding Tom Ford or Tommy Hilfiger clothing. You can’t ever go wrong with true vintage!
  • You could even take inspiration from attendee David Bowie’s style and add some glam androgyny to your wardrobe. Complete this style with over-the-top makeup and quiffed hair.

1996 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny the influence of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Though this gala is now canceled, it has had some historic moments. In 1996 the show featured its first fantasy bra worn by top model Claudia Schiffer. This bra cost a mere $1,000,000, an eye-watering amount for a bra!

Try it:

  • While you may not want to start walking around in underwear, you can embrace this lingerie fashion show in other ways! For example, red, white, and black were common colors from the 1996 collection. You could create flirty outfits in this palette instead!
  • You could also buy vintage babydoll slip dresses and pair them with tights, jackets, and belts to modernize the underwear and style it for streetwear use.
  • Big fluffy hair was also popular in this show, so make sure you get a salon blowout to mimic this glamorous style.

Read: 8 Decade Defining Lingerie Trends of the Nineties

Dolce & Gabbana 1996

The Dolce & Gabbana fall show of 1996 saw a complete range of looks. From mid-length body-tight dresses to cropped jackets, this show was full of ready-to-wear delights. Florals were reinterpreted in pink and red styles and neutral block colors complimented them. The models wore sleek black tights to finish the looks as they strutted down the runway with chic up-dos.

Try it:

  • Any A-line or body con midi dress will capture the silhouette of this 1996 show. If you can find a dress of this style in a floral fabric, pair it with a purse, black tights, and black heels for the full look.
  • Sweep your hair back into a low chignon bun and keep your face clear of any bangs. Minimal makeup with red lips will finish the beauty look too!

Men’s Fashion Style of Year

One of the main names of men’s fashion week in 1996 was Calvin Klein. This clean-cut U.S brand always offers a modern silhouette for men, so it’s no surprise they’re still a big name today. Other big trends for men included colorful leather jackets, as seen on stars like David Schwimmer. As always, denim jeans and denim jackets were popular too!

Try it:

  • Try pairing a baby blue leather jacket with blue jeans for a complete celebrity-style-inspired outfit. This is very 1996 and can work with a range of shirts and t-shirts too.
  • If you’d rather take the designer route, pair a crisp Calvin Klein shirt with some rugged Diesel jeans and trainers for a smart-casual outfit.


5 Brands That Look A Lot Like Calvin Klein

Undeniable Proof that Men’s 90s Jeans are Here to Stay

Marilyn Manson 1996 Style

In 1996 Marylin Manson released his second record Antichrist Superstar, which funnily enough included a song called 1996. This alternative artist is well known for his gothic style and scary face makeup. His style may not be for everyone, but those who like it always embrace it completely.

Try it:

  • If you want to try Marylin’s signature 1990s style, grab some thick eyeliner and white face powder and go to town. Make yourself look as creepy as possible and dress in all black or simply go shirtless. It’s not conventional, sure, but if you like it go for it!