90s Jean Trends (Notorious Styles that are Making a Comeback)

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Last Updated on September 19, 2023

No fashion trend is as circular as denim styles. I mean, designers always talk about fashion going in circles, which is why it makes so much sense to hold on to special items here and there because, in a few decades, chances are that you’ll be wearing them again with glee. But, when it comes to 90s jeans this is even more notorious. 

It makes sense, considering that there is only so much that you can do to jeans without them not being the same style of jeans anymore. So, modernization usually comes in the form of visual add-ons like washes, fringes, threads, and so on, while the basic qualities of a style remain unchanged. In this way, modern trends when it comes to jeans closely resemble the originals, making it possible to bring our much-loved old clothing back into the spotlight. 

Another great point of contention that makes 90s jeans super durable is that they used great quality cotton to make the denim and little spandex. So, their threads can withstand the passage of time, unlike other cheaper modern products. This is why renowned brands like Levi’s make so much sense when you are investing in products that will hold for the long run. 

In case you are wondering which styles from the 90s you should be investing in, here are all the basic styles from the 90s that have governed the denim world for a long time. Read on to find out which 90s jean style is for you!

Low-Rise Flared Jeans

This is one of the most nostalgic and expressive styles of jeans. It hit its maximum popularity around the late 90s, particularly in 1997. It is perhaps, even the most recognized 90s trend of them all because of its wide-leg silhouette and low waist.

Whenever I think of flared jeans I remember how my favorite pairs forced you to be looking for showing undies when you sat down. There were also the retro flared jeans that we got on flea markets (probably from the 70s) that were high-waisted and looked amazing with crop tops. Those were not easy to find!

We owe this style in big part to Alexander McQueen and to Madonna, both huge lovers of showing the hip bone and a little derriere. JNCO jeans also contributed by making the style accessible to the masses. Later on, Christina Aguilera and Britney took flared jeans to the next level during the 2000s, but that is another story!

Bootcut Jeans

This is arguably one of the most functional denim styles and it only made a comeback in 1995-96. Originally, the bootcut style came about to make wearing boots more comfortable, which is why this style still is heavily associated with the cowboy aesthetic. But during the 90s, it became popular with teens and young adults in a massive way (together with cowboy boots, I might add!). 

A particular pair of jeans that I remember super fondly was these darker bootcut jeans from Tommy Hilfiger that had an American flag logo. Feels like such a long time ago! Makes me super nostalgic!

The Straight Leg or Mom Jeans

Despite being more of a late-80s kinda model, the straight-leg jeans were certainly popular in the early years of the 90s and until 1993. They are still super popular, especially with older generations. My mom swears by her worn-out almost white straight Levi’s jeans. She still adores them to this day!

The main qualities of straight jeans are a high, accentuated waist, a straight untapered leg with a relaxed fit that is not too loose, and a clean aesthetic or light wash. Think Brooke Shields in that famous Calvin Klein ad.

I think that out of all the trendy jeans styles, this is one of the top go-to styles for women around the world. It’s one of those wardrobe staples that is always mentioned in capsule wardrobes and with good reason. It favors almost all types of bodies, it is everlasting, a classic icon that always looks right no matter the occasion and place. It is also super flattering!

The secret behind why straight legs jeans are preferred by middle-aged women and have gained the “mom jeans” moniker is mainly because they accentuate the waist without overemphasizing the leg. They make women feel comfortable and don’t over-accentuate none of the body areas that aging women tend to have problems with. 

Check out: 25 Mom Jeans Outfit Ideas

Boyfriend Jeans

There is some general confusion regarding the difference between boyfriend jeans and mom jeans. I mean, they are pretty similar, I get it. The difference is small but it makes all the difference in how they fit different types of bodies. If you have ever really stolen your boyfriend’s jeans you know what I mean. 

Since men’s bodies are different, their jeans are designed to fit different proportions. This translates to a loser and slouchier pair of jeans when worn by a woman. The fit on the waist is also quite different, whereas mom jeans are tight around the waist and emphasize it, boyfriend jeans tend to ride low and require a belt! They have a loose fit through the waist and most importantly the thighs. They end up creating a baggy silhouette without being baggy per se. 

In my personal opinion, boyfriend jeans look great and make your waist appear thinner, particularly paired with tight long-sleeved shirts or cropped cardigans.  

Baggy Jeans

With the rise of grunge, hip-hop, and rap to fame, and the popularization of athletic styles during the 90s, figures like MC Hammer and Eminem made baggy pants of all kinds an easily identifiable must-have for kids that loved their music. They were also preferred by skateboarders and breakdancers due to the freedom of movement they allowed.

Prioritizing comfort and wearability, baggy jeans are one of my favorite jeans ever. Why? As I get older I tend to go for looser fits that have a relaxed silhouette and allow me to pair them up with literally anything in my closet. Of course, my long-lasting love for baggy jeans dates back to the 90s, when they were all the rage. The 90s effortless and relaxed shape is a classic that will never go out of style. Modern designers have continuously reinterpreted it to “revamp” it somehow to prompt sales, but let’s be real… The ultimate baggy jeans don’t need any of that! 

Baggy jeans are somewhat similar to the straight jeans, but they have taken things one step further, making more room for your legs to move freely while tapering the ankle making the sagging silhouette more noticeable. Their main characteristics are: dressed down style, faded washes, wide legs, tapered ankles, and low waistlines. 

Recent styles have kept all this but moved the waistline up, favoring mid to high waistlines. Out of which, mid-waistlines hid a little belly much better, while high styles slim down the butt and thighs. Despite having a low point of unpopularity during the 2000s, baggy styles never truly fell into anonymity, in big part thanks to skaters and rollers that kept on using them against other more fashionable styles. 

Cargo Pants, but keeping it denim

Sure thing, they weren’t the most common type of cargo pants out there, since most people favored the casual flannel or cotton type. But, sure thing, denim cargo was the 90s do for teens!

My favorite thing about cargo pants is definitely the pockets. I mean, after having tight jeans for most of my adult life, let’s be real. You can’t usually fit a thing on your front pocket and the back pockets are a hazard for your cellphone’s safety! So with cargo pants, you can forgo the purse and have your hands free!

My favorite pairing is denim cargo in green or desert camo prints. There is something so very grunge about wearing them with a strap top and a little bling to make them more feminine. A winning look, for sure!

Overalls

Denim overalls were a huge hit back in the day when we followed Larissa Oleynick and the Olsen twins on TV. I mean, even Phoebe from Friends was a huge fan of overalls. In fact, I Binge Watched all 10 Seasons of Friends, Here’s my Favourite Outfits for Each Character. Their wearability and cuteness were recognized by all! 

They were featured regularly on great shows like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Will Smith outfit ideas here) and finally lost any farming or field-working concept that they had still attached to them thanks to their Hollywood representation. They became super trending in pop culture around 1991, and together with bucket hats and scrunchies made for the cute outfit of many lovable tv heroines.