90s Workout Clothes: 8 Ways to Get That Retro Fitness Look

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a woman wearing a 90s workout bra

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Last Updated on April 7, 2021

The current athleisure clothing trend goes way back.

In the early 90s, specifically beginning in 1991 onwards, workout clothes became a popular fashion trend within womenswear.

90s fitness fashion consisted of mother – daughter duos dressed in matching attires as well as famous style icons including Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor.

Workout garments were worn as every day, free streetstyle pieces.

Apparel included:

  • Sports bras
  • Sweatshirts
  • Leotards worn as bodysuits
  • Athletic socks
  • Leg warmers
  • Leggings
  • Sporty sneakers

These pieces mere mixed and matched with turtlenecks, skirts, jeans—the list goes on.

These activewear pieces were incorporated into everyday wear, worn both in and out of the gym.

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular pieces for the easiest ways to recreate the 90s workout girl fitness look. By wearing a piece or two, you can pay tribute to this forever iconic

The Scrunchie

The typical way to wear your hair up while exercising was with a thick, usually colorful scrunchie. While some people may swear to never wear a scrunchie, it’s no secret this accessory is coming back as a trend.

Many women wore scrunchies to match their outfits; either in the same color palettes, or sometimes even in the same prints. Scrunchies are fun to wear at times, and can be great for keeping your hair up without causing any damage to it since they are gentle. However, these are not the most stylish of accessories.

Retro versions such as these Harlow Designer Velvet Scrunchies are the perfect accessory to recreate the 90s gym clothes fitness look.

HARLOW Designer Velvet Scrunchies for hair, Big Scrunchies Velvet Packs for VSCO stuff, Hair Scrunchies - 6 Pack (Blush)
  • VIBRANT COLORS - The Blush pack includes neutral pink, light pink, dark pink, white, gray and light blue in our soft, luxurious velvet material to give you the ultimate aesthetic
  • YOUR NEW FAVORITE VELVET SCRUNCHIES - Rock them in a bun or in a ponytail. Our assorted scrunchie packs are trendy for all occasions
  • FOR ALL TYPES OF HAIR - You'll be in fashion whether you have fine or thick hair. Harlow hair ties compliment any hairstyle or outfit, for any season
  • NO TANGLES - Our scrunchies are extra large and made from high quality velvet that stays in place all day and won't tangle or pull on your hair. These scrunchies velvet are of the highest quality fabric
  • QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - Premium, elastic scrunchies for hair designed with YOU in mind. Our carefully selected styles ensure there's one for every occasion. Makes for a great gift, especially for girls who like vsco stuff

Chunky ‘Dad’ Sneakers

Yes, you read that right. The so called ‘dad’ sneaker refers to oversized, chunky usually white sneakers that were worn by everyone throughout the 90s.

These are highly comfortable, and have no doubt made a massive comeback. The most popular sneaker brands included Nike, Fila, Adidas, among many others.

‘Dad’ sneakers can be found in all sports shoe brand selections, but the most iconic are the classic Fila’s. These Fila Disruptor II Applique sneakers are the modern version of the classic 90s sports shoes.

While this modern version is slightly different, the overall aesthetic is the same. These shoes are sure to remind everyone of the good old days.

Fila Disruptor-II-Applique Sneakers White/Metallic Silver Women's Shoes Sz: 6
  • Be bold and provocative. Remain vintage, but never conventional.
  • Radiate sophistication and style without sacrificing performance.
  • Inspired by vintage athletic wear. Retro looks, with classic stylings.

Check Out: Nostalgia Alert: These 90s Shoes Trends Were So Cool Beans

Classic Leotards

Leotards became huge in the 80s as a popular workout attire. In the 90s, they were incorporated into everyday fashion. Leotards where usually solid colored, featured a plunging rounded neckline, and an opened back.

The trend featured pairing a leotard with high waisted jeans and a pair of ‘dad’ sneakers.

Nowadays leotards are worn exclusively for outerwear, since bodysuits have taken over the streetwear staple. Consider switching up your go to bodysuit for a leotard the next time you’re going out. This will be sure to cause an impression.

The Capezio tank nylon leotard in black is identical to the one’s worn during the 90s. Top with a sweatshirt and you will be all set.

Sale
Capezio Women's Tank Leotard,Black,X-Small
  • 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex
  • Soft, breathable, quick-drying
  • Fabric has excellent stretch
  • Machine wash cold, no bleach hang to dry
  • Imported

Statement Leggings

During the late 80s and 90s, colorful leggings were a huge workout trend style. Prints were a fun way to add character to any outfit. Leggings are highly versatile, comfortable garments that can substitute pants and joggers for almost any occasions.

Do note: Leggings is casual attire, and can be out of place within more elegant settings.

Leggings have never really gone out of style—but they are now more popularized than ever because of the health and workout trends that have taken over societies, and therefore, the fashion industry. These Nike All-In Tight Leggings are the perfect addition to any wardrobe seeking to reminisce the 90s.

Nike Women's All-in Tight, Black/White, Small
  • 24/7 STYLE & COMFORT: The Nike One Tights are designed for all-day wear, not just your workout. The leggings for women are soft and comfortable whether you're hanging from a pull-up bar or running your first marathon.
  • Dri-FIT TECHNOLOGY: These women's leggings are made of Dri-FIT fabric that help you stay dry and comfortable during even the toughest workouts.
  • FLATTERING FEEL: The workout leggings for women have a wide, mid-rise waistband that offers a snug, flattering feel. The thick, buttery soft fabric feels comfortable against the skin. Tight fit for a body-hugging feel.
  • DOUBLE POCKETS: The waistband of the leggings has a back slip-in pocket that is big enough to hold your phone, while an additional small pocket hidden in the front can hold keys or cards.
  • WOMEN'S LEGGINGS WITH POCKETS: Machine wash, imported, lined gusset, heather fabric: 83% polyester/17% spandex, solid fabric: 83% recycled polyester/17% spandex.

Iconic Track Jackets

Track jackets became big in the 90s, and are today a celebrity favorite with the likes of Kris Jenner and Jennifer Lopez. These jackets are timeless—forever iconic, highly functional, comfortable, and give any outfit a sporty edge.

While they were worn in pastel shades and color blocking tonalities during the 90s, variations today tend to be more subtle. They usually include blacks, greys, whites, reds, and navy blues—a more traditional color palette. These are similar to windbreaker jackets, and can double as a more wearable version.

This Adidas Essential Track Jacket is and always will be the most iconic track jacket within the fashion industry. It’s unmissable, pairs well with everything, and is easily recognizable by the three straight-down the arm lines on each sleeve.

While the most popular color choice is black, this garment is also available in a variation of pinks, blues, greys, and reds.

This will be the outfit you need to motivate yourself to kick that fitness regime up a notch! Wear with a crop top or a sports bra top underneath for a cool and modern finish. Finish with matching track pants to achieve that complete tracksuit outfit.

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adidas Women's Essentials 3-Stripe Track Jacket, Black/White, XX-Small
  • Slim-fit track jacket with front pockets
  • Slim fit is snug through the body and arms
  • Full zip lets you adjust your temperature
  • Ribbed stand-up collar for coverage; Ribbed cuffs and hem for a snug fit

Read: 10 Things You Should Never Do With Tracksuits

Fanny Packs

While they may be commonly referred to as ‘belt bags’ (or in the UK ‘bum bags’) —most people know it another way, fanny packs. This 90s trend is back and apparently, it’s here to stay.

Fanny packs are highly versatile and extremely comfortable, not just for excising but for the everyday. You can fit your essentials into a small pouch tied around your waist and be unbothered, on the go.

This Adidas unisex fanny pack will recreate the 90s retro fitness look without making you look too crazy; the black fabric is perfect for a modest take on this classic 90s trend. This will fit all your resistance band gear, your gym pass, phone, wallet, and keys; perfect for the gym and to run any errands.

adidas Originals National Waist Fanny Pack-Travel Bag
  • Branding in front.
  • Zippered main compartment and small front pocket.
  • Key fob in front pocket.
  • Clip-lock closure.
  • Metal pullers.

Leg Warmers

Traditionally, leg warmers are worn for warmth and protecting the lower leg muscles from possible damage during exercise. However, they became more of a fashion statement than a protective garment during the 90s.

Leg warmers are typically toeless and act as a ‘sock’ wrapped around the lower leg. If worn correctly, these can look very stylish within the idea of everyday athleisure.

Choose the softest and coziest you can find, so that you can wear them to your pilates or yoga class. These are especially recommended in locations with colder climates, since muscles do need the extra heat for proper care and recovery. These grey training leg warmers at Amazon are ideal to recreate the look through a more minimalistic manner.

Yoga Socks for Women Girls Workout Socks Toeless Training Dance Leg Warmers
  • ❀ Made of a very Fine Material, high quality guarantee and cozy
  • ❀ Size: One size fit for all, length: 43CM, long enought to warm your calf
  • ❀ Knit Leg Warmers, absorbent, breathable, comfortable, warm, anti-slips
  • ❀ Fit for Dance warm up, Yoga, Pilates, Ballet and the other indoor workout
  • ❀ Also, it is good Protective Gear to protect you ankle and calf

Slides

Slides are a version of slippers that are worn before and after athletic performance, or in the case of the 90s retro fitness trend—as a streetstyle staple. They’re usually made of rubber, are comfortable, and will dress down any outfit your pair them with.

These were sometimes worn with socks, or barefoot. During the 90s, these became a replacement for flip flops, and were worn as a casual accessory out and about.

These Champion Women’s IPO Slide featuring the brand logo are very reminiscent of the popular 90s trend. Shop and pair these with a tee shirt, your favorite jeans and a pair of sunglasses. You’ll look like you just stepped out from the 90s.

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Champion IPO Red 5
  • Keep your look clean and comfortable with the Champion® IPO slide.
  • Padded man-made upper with embossed logo detail.
  • Slip-on construction.
  • Open toe.
  • Contoured footbed. Man-made outsole. Imported. Measurements: Weight: 5.6 oz Product measurements were taken using size 9, width M. Please note that measurements may vary by size. Weight of footwear is based on a single item, not a pair.

These are not just iconic, but cushy and comfortable, making them a favorite of many. Some people purchase them solely as house slippers to lounge around; we believe; these can be used on the day to day if styled correctly.