Dancehall Styles and Outfit Combos You Can Wear Everyday

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Last Updated on August 1, 2022

Dancehall, reggae, and reggaeton music are integral to the roots of Caribbean history. 

Jamaica-born artists such as Buju Banton, Mr. Vegas, Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel, Shabba Ranks, and Nadine Sutherland shaped the Jamaican music scene in the 90s, with songs pounding through Dance halls, clubs, and streets. 

Dancehall style was (and is) defined by sensuality, sexiness, skin, and celebrating the female body.

Here are some of our favorite dancehall fashion looks and how to style them.

Booty shorts and crop tops 

Dancehall moves celebrate the female figure, especially the hips, legs, waistline, and booty. If you’ve ever taken a whining class or whined in your room, you’ll be well aware! 

Tight hot pants or booty shorts paired with a skimpy crop top showed the beauty of the movement and kept the dancer cool in the heat of the club. The modern Caribbean queen Rihanna has worn this combo many times, (our favourite was her outfit at the 2011 V Festival). 

How-to: 

  • Add an extra layer of coverage and comfort with stockings under your short-shorts when hitting the town
  • If showing leg and tummy is a little out of your comfort zone, try a fitted, short, denim playsuit and unbutton (or unzip) to create a customizable V-neckline 

Full spandex bodysuits 

Full spandex bodysuits in bright colours and crazy patterns were a dancehall favourite, showing the movement of the body while hugging the curves. Bodysuits often featured large cut-outs to show skin and were worn with boots and bright wigs. 

How-to: 

  • Look for a pair of bright, patterned spandex leggings with a high-shine finish, and pair with a breathable cotton crop top and shirt knotted at the waist 
  • Layer a full bodysuit with a leather jacket or long-line plaid shirt to fuse 90s dancehall and 90s grunge 

Read:

Some Cool Grunge Accessories to Add To Your Outfit

African American Style Trends of the 1990s

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Bright wigs 

Bright or platinum blonde wigs were popular among Dancehall beauties in the 90s, a further sign of the fun and performative nature of Dancehall. Some wigs were glitzy, with tinsel-style strands and an array of color. Other hairstyles featured teased hair piled atop the head, or various textures such as crimps, braids, curls, or short, angular cuts. 

How-to: 

  • Play with colour by experimenting with temporary colored hair-dye and sprays at home
  • Volumize the hair by backcombing the roots, and finish off with a high-gloss serum or spray to lacquer-up those lengths 
  • For dance parties and clubs, go all out with a metallic tinsel or glitter wig in a pastel or bright hue 

Check out: 15 Essential 90s Dance Moves (And How to Pull Them Off)

Leather and fishnets 

90s dancehall style often consisted of fishnet stockings worn under teeny tiny leather booty shorts or mini-dresses with knee-high leather boots or stilettos. Leather bustiers, leather pants with bikini tops, tight jackets, and corset-style bodysuits brought an edgy sexiness to the dancefloor, and a contrast to the glitzy and bright styles also common to Dancehall fashion. 

How-to: 

  • Look for a black leather or faux leather mini dress with a front zip closure or wrap style, and layer with sheer tights and fishnets 
  • Try a leather wrap mini skirt and fishnets paired with a denim shirt knotted at the waist (a la Rihanna at the V Festival previously mentioned)

Read: How to Wear Knee High Boots

Metallic, glitz, boots, and lots of skin 

We turn to the utter legend Carlene Smith, the Dancehall Queen. Carlene’s 90s looks were over the top, with metallic fabrics, sequins, transparent mesh, and thigh-high boots.

For example, a black mesh bodysuit trimmed with black sequins barely covering the nipples, or a ruffle-trimmed white leotard with high-shine gold metallic thigh boots. The looks celebrated the curves of a womanly body while shining bright under party lights. 

How-to: 

  • Lucky for us, sequins are back big time, so there are plenty of high-quality and affordable sequin pieces on the market. Find a glitzy mini skirt and pair with fishnets, knee-high boots, and a slouchy cropped sweater that falls off the shoulder 
  • Try a metallic mini-dress with a draped cowl neckline and low back. Pair with high stilettos and matching metallic eyeshadow. It’s Vegas, it’s camp, it’s fun, it’s worthy of a night out 

90s Jamaican Fashion

Jamaican fashion in the 1990s was heavily inspired by the dancehall culture of the era. From baggy jeans and combat boots to oversized hip-hop shirts, this style is relaxed and fun at the same time. For girls, there were mini dresses in loud prints and colors, and you can’t forget the leopard print! Leather hot pants, platform shoes, and backless tops were also a must for this vibrant style.

Neon Dancehall Styles

When it comes to dancehall outfits, neon is a must! This style is colorful so neon is always embraced. Whether you go for a bright shade of pink, yellow, orange, or green – make sure you go bold and bright. It’s popular to wear an outfit in one color, making sure accessories and shoes are all in the same hue too. You can also play with pops of neon, for example, a bright pair of shoes or a bright purse. 

What To Wear To A Reggae Club?

Are you off to a reggae club? Embrace the true 90s dance hall culture and follow these style tips!

Play With Color Palettes

Whether you opt for a black outfit or a neon style, make sure you think about your outfit palette. Dancehall style calls for fun colors and patterns, so go big! This could include extra metallic fabrics and sequins too, perfect for adding some eye-catching glitz to your style. 

Mix Fabrics And Texture

It’s important to also consider what texture fabrics you’re wearing. In the 1990s dancehall culture saw women mixing sleek and shiny synthetic garments with fluffy feather trims and fishnets too. The mix of different fabrics added to the intricate look and was perfect for the playful scene. 

Pick The Right Shoes!

If you want to make your debut in a reggae club noticeable, you have to pick some iconic shoes! Key picks for reggae clubs include thigh-high vinyl boots and sky-high platform heels. Each pair will emphasize your legs and should be paired with a fun pair of tights!

Reggae Outfits

If you’re a lady and you’re off to a reggae or dancehall event, you have a range of silhouettes to try! From full-body spandex suits to mini skirts, you can be as creative as you want with reggae style. Our top tip is to make sure you spend time on accessorizing as this can transform your dancehall outfit from chilled out to ready to dance. Always remember to add extreme high heels too! 

Ladies should also play around with hair and make-up too! Take inspiration from the bright clothes and add colorful hair, braids, and eyeshadow into the mix for a full-on dancehall sensation. 

Men’s Reggae Outfits

When it comes to men’s reggae fashion, it’s not as tight-fitting or sexy as the women’s, but it’s still a great vintage style to embrace. Men should embrace 90s hip-hop-inspired baggy jeans, as well as oversize sports jerseys too. You can even add some Snoop Dog-inspired sneakers, baggy white shirts, and high tops into the mix too!