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The year 1997 was a rollercoaster. The world lost the beloved Princess Diana, with deep grief and shock felt across the globe. The death of Gianni Versace was another devastating loss to the fashion community.
On a lighter note, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was released (get ready, J.K, your life is about to transform).
The cinemas were about to be packed with audiences flocking to see one of the biggest movies of all time, ‘Titanic’. This over the top, luscious, tragic, and achingly romantic film catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into the stardom stratosphere. Safe to say, it was one of the biggest popular culture frenzies we had experienced at the time.
Record-making movies aside, let’s explore the fashion of 1997, with our top picks for the best looks, moments, and trends.
Mary-Kate and Ashley’s floral satin red carpet outfits
On a 1997 red carpet, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turned up in what’s quite possibly the most quintessential young 90s girl outfit ever. They wore floral satin two-pieces, tiny, dark sunglasses, and a fresher version of “The Rachel” haircut.
I swear I remember wishing to the high heavens that I had an outfit like that. Interestingly, this pyjama-style look came back around in recent years, with the pyjama suit reaching the red carpets and the bodies of some of the biggest stars such as Selena Gomez, Zendaya, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Looking at the twin’s get-up now, it’s interesting how demure and even old-fashioned the floral prints were for such young girls. Then again, the 90s were populated with muted florals whether it was grungy or girly.
- Look for a satin cowl-neck tee in a floral print and pair with a simple black midi sheath skirt and flats
- Pair a satin spaghetti-strap tank with blue kick-flare jeans, an embroidered duster coat, and Doc Martens
Nicole Kidman at the Oscars
When it comes to the most beloved Oscar dresses of all time, Nicole Kidman’s 1997 John Galliano for Christian Dior dress is a sure hit. On paper, the dress may not be so great. But in reality…it’s stunning, with shiny chartreuse-green satin, colorful floral embroidery, a high neckline, and thigh splits trimmed with fur.
Nicole accessorized with dangling earrings and a deep, brick-red lip. As an unexpected pop of contrasting color, she wore satin heels in a pale eggshell blue satin. Nicole’s incredible, statuesque figure and creamy ivory skin made the look all the more breathtaking.
We learned from this look that colors needn’t be predictable, less isn’t always more, and the perfect fit is key.
- Embrace the satin and embroidery in the form of an elaborately-detailed coat or blazer. Wear with everything from torn black jeans to a sleek midi sheath dress
- Look for a rich, jewel-tone satin shirt, tank, or dress and contrast it with a bold lip color. For example, a deep emerald green blouse with a magenta lip, or a burnt-orange satin shift with a milky-pink matte lip
- See how far you can push a look with accessorizing and details. What are your limits? Can you make fur, embroidery, statement jewelry, and clashing tones work? Your wardrobe is your playroom, there are no rules, just fun
Claire Danes at the 1997 Oscars
We’re turning to the Oscars red carpet once more, as we have to talk about Claire Danes. Claire wore an icy-blue paneled satin dress with a fishtail hemline. The top was a fitted knit tee with a high neck and capped sleeves.
The skirt sits low on the hip, elongating the torso and giving a laid-back attitude to an otherwise sleek look. In authentic 90s style, Claire wore a matching necklace and earring set with crystal flowers in blue and silver. The makeup was a 90s masterclass, with pale blue shadow, frosty brown lips, and short, side-swept hair.
- Look for a soft-knit tee in a pale blue, perhaps shot with fine metallic thread. A ribbed tee-style sweater with a high neckline is also a great staple piece for work layering
- Wear a satin bias-cut skirt (there’s no shortage of them on the market at the moment!) over a fitted graphic tee for weekend wear. Swap the tee for a fully-beaded tank for going out
- For a near-perfect dupe for Claire’s lipstick, try ‘Heather Shimmer’ by Rimmel
Jennifer Love Hewitt in ‘I know what you did last summer’
I’m pretty sure you can guess what look I’m going to spotlight here. Are you picturing brown pants, a bare midriff, layered chokers, and a pale blue tank and cardigan set? You nailed it. This look worn by Jennifer Love Hewitt was a typical portrayal of the American teen-on-screen, with a little extra skin to garner interest (sorry, it’s a Hollywood fact).
The low-slung trousers were a departure from the high-waisted jeans of the early 90s and foreshadowed the too-low waistbands of the 00s. A small detail that holds a lot of reminiscence for me is JLH’s necklaces, particularly those little silver charms on dark chains. I had many of those, particularly dolphins, suns, moons, peace signs, and daisies.
(Note to self: trawl through storage to see if I still have my 90s jewelry).
- Hike up that waistband if you’re not prepared to get “midriffy”. Pick a pair of 1970s-style flared trousers with a high-waist. Try an earthy tone such as brick, chocolate, or rust
- Pair your trousers with a ribbed or pattern-knit tank and matching cardigan, or a denim jacket if you’re not into the matching set
- Tuck a plain white tank or tee into your trousers, add a pair of tan wedges or heeled boots, and a collection of layered necklaces (preferably with tiny dolphin pendants)