I’m sure you will agree with me when I say:
The 90s was all about clubbing.
Music genres such as house, techno and electronica were on the rise. Many iconic clubs opened across America and Europe. Some of the big ones included:
Clubbing was more than just a night of partying; it became a way of life. Clubbing was a highly symbolic act that meant something different for everyone.
It was a place to forget your troubles, to fall in love, to make lifelong friendships, and business-wise – a place to make connections.
The celebrity party scene during the 90s became infamous for the heavy consumption of alcohol and the constant use of illegal substances. LA’s The Viper Room was a prime example of how heady the heights could get in the early 90s.
Style also formed a big part of both 90s US and Europe club fashion. Certain styles and trends were born from these clubs. A place where everyone dressed up and could be whoever they wanted, even if just for that night.
You might be wondering:
What exactly were the most popular clubwear fashion trends and outfits of the 90s?
In this article, I’ll shine a light on these styles, some outfit ideas and where to buy them.
Club Culture in the 90s
People have been clubbing since the 1800s, with the first known clubs opened between 1840 and 1850.
Clubs became a place of prostitution, unlicensed liquor selling and consumption, and gambling. Throughout history, during WWII and other historical events, the meaning of club culture shifted.
The first night clubs, as they are known today, opened in the 1960s. The 1970s are known as the ‘disco decade’, where all were welcome; especially marginalized groups within society such as LGBTQ+ individuals, African Americans, Latin Americans, among others.
Throughout the 80s, contemporary club music made its first appearance. Genres like wave, post-punk, rave, and acid house music became very popular. Clubbing was developed all around the world, with cities like New York and London being famous for their eccentric nightclubs.
During the 90s, techno music became prominent. Clubs like Tresor in Berlin, The Hacienda in Manchester, The Cross in London, and The Villa Underground in New York became iconic.
The Fashion Industry and Clubbing
Throughout the 90s, the fashion industry and those who worked in it were known for their lavish lifestyles. Runway during the day, clubbing during the night.
Fashion is built on establishing social connections, and brands and magazines were constantly throwing parties or hosting events where designers, editors, photographers, and models all came together to socialize. Many of these events took place at night clubs that would be rented to host these private, VIP only events.
Supermodels dominated the night scene and were often photographed partying in locations like the Tunnel Club in New York, or Les Bains Douches in Paris. They mixed and mingled with DJs and famous musicians like Boy George and David Bowie.
Supermodels such as Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington were the influencers of the time. They were considered the 90s club kids. What they wore, everyone wanted to wear. They became huge trendsetters with everything they did, including what they wore to go clubbing.
Trends & Outfits
#1. The More Cleavage, The Better
During the 90s, a huge trend when clubbing or going out for night events were garments that exposed tons of cleavage. These included the use of corsets, skin tight dresses, and push up undergarments.
The parameters of dressing to go clubbing have remained the same throughout the years; a place to look your sexiest, and be more daring than you would usually be, with no judgment whatsoever.
Supermodels and celebrities were often seen exposing their shoulders and wearing push up bras to give the appearance of bigger and fuller breasts. Exposing your cleavage to the fullest was one of the most common 90s trends, and was considered the easiest way to look sexy, no matter what you were wearing.
Shown here is model Iman with David Bowie, wearing a typical going out outfit.
Her slender body is accentuated by the tight dress and cleavage, as her dress includes a corset top.
This stunning Dion Lee Black Ribbed Jersey Corset Top is the perfect garment to wear to boost your cleavage. Pair with black leather pants or a mini skirt. You will be transported back to the 90s.
#2. The Mini Dress
Mini dresses were all the rage throughout the 90s dance club scene. They came in all shapes and styles. They were worn through all seasons, whether it was hot or cold, and were effortlessly styled.
Mini dresses became a staple for supermodels and celebrities alike, and could be either dressed up or down. A mini dress was a staple in every woman’s closet and still is today; they can be worn by themselves with some elegant jewelry, or with a heavy coat during the winter. They can be paired with heels, boots, or sneakers. With a mini dress, the styling possibilities are endless.
Here are Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford dolled up, both wearing mini dresses at a night time event.
Mini dresses were often worn to elegant events and later reused to go clubbing at the after party.
This ever so feminine De La Vali Frisco Fuchsia Satin Mini Dress at Harvey Nichols will have you feeling very nostalgic of 90s club fashion. It looks just like something a supermodel from that decade would wear.
#3. Statement Furs
Clubbing was a never-ending activity. Through the Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring – clubs were open the whole year. This meant that while the stereotypical way of dressing to the club was to show as much skin as possible, during the colder months, women had to adapt to the climate and change the way they dress.
Fur coats, scarfs, and overall accessories were all the rage. They were the perfect addition to any outfit to keep warm. No matter how skimpy the outfit underneath, a fur coat was sure to keep you cozy.
Here is Kate Moss with best friend Naomi Campbell, wearing a cream fur coat atop a mini skirt and black tights combo.
Fur coats became the ‘it girl’ winter accessory of 90s British club fashion. Especially since in London the weather could get unbearably cold in the Winter months.
They were stylish, elegant, and most of all – kept you warm. Even though fur coats are not skimpy, they can be incredibly sexy if properly styled. They are a status symbol of high class and elegance, and can elevate any outfit they are paired with.
I’m all for faux fur or sheepskin and this Doom Goor Grey Sheepskin Scarf at Harvey Nichols is a subtle statement accessory that is very 90s, and can be easily styled with multiple outfits today. It is not as heavy as a fur coat, but will keep your neck warm and is ideal to be paired with a blazer and mini dress combo.
#4. The Slip Dress
Similar in style to the mini dress, the slip dress is a slight variation of an equally as sexy garment. Slip dresses were worn both short and long, and many times sheer. They were a subtle way to make a statement.
Often composed of sheer fabrics, and worn with visible undergarments beneath. Slip dresses are one of the most iconic garments of the 90s. Do note, it’s different to its cousin the mini dress. Slip dresses are not skin tight, but instead fall loosely to shape the body.
Here is Christy Turlington wearing a beautiful, wine colored slip dress.
The garment is equal parts elegant and sexy. The exposed décolletage, knee length dress, and sheerness of the fabric are elements that balance each other out. It represents effortless sexiness, without trying too hard.
This Vince Black Hammered Satin Slip Dress at Harvey Nichols is a great, below the knee length option that can worn for clubbing. It has elements of elegance and prestige, and is the ideal, subtle way to look incredibly sexy.
#5. High Heeled Sandals
My final choice, and a huge trend of the 90s club scene was pairing all outfits with a pair of open toed heels. High heels were a 90s must. They made women look taller, appear thinner, and to have longer legs.
Strappy heeled sandals were the perfect accessory to complete any clubbing outfit, and usually had a metallic finish. Heeled sandals were the most elegant shoe of choice, and could be re-worn consistently.
Sitting in a club here are Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, with Naomi wearing a classic design of strappy black heels with her silver mini dress. Kate also wears strappy heels, but a closed toe alternative.
Very on trend at the moment, these Aquazzura So Nude 105 Gold Leather Sandals at Harvey Nichols are the perfect accessory for any clubbing outfit. They are very reminiscent of 90s clubwear.
There you have it. My 5 top picks. Did you grow up in the 90s? What did you wear? Please do let me know in the comments below!