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Last Updated on December 1, 2022
The early 90s (we’re talking 1990 to 1993) are a fascinating few years to explore when it comes to fashion.
The color burst of the 1980s was giving way to deeper, grungier styles. Supermodels were catapulted to superstardom and workout gear was still shining bright. Glamour was becoming sleeker and sexier, while youth fashion became even more eclectic.
Here are our favourite fashion trends and moments of the early 90s.
- 1. Mom Jeans
- 2. Grunge plaid flannel and denim
- 3. Brimmed hats with big flowers
- 4. Women wearing menswear-style suits
- 5. Baggy denim overalls
- 6. Turtlenecks, jeans, and boots (and little sunglasses)
- 7. Tartan
- 8. Kufi hats and African textiles
- 9. Bold shoulders
- 10. Waistcoats over baggy shirts
- 11. Leather jackets
- 12. Bright colors and neon tones
- 13. Structured corset tops
- 14. High-cut, simple workout gear
- 15. Sexy, glitzy glam
- Early 90s Brands
- Early 90s Hairstyles
- Early 90s Fashionable Celebs
- Early 90s Key Fashion Moments
1. Mom Jeans
Check out the imagery from the first season of ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ and you’ll find quintessential Mom jean action. High-waisted, kinda puffy in the crotch. Slim-leg but not fitted. Officially back in action today.
2. Grunge plaid flannel and denim
Grunge was the definitive style of the 90s, looking back. While countless other trends were happening at the time, grunge had fingers in every pie. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam showed the world how to wear grunge. Staple pieces were plaid flannel shirts, baggy shorts, ripped jeans, worn-in Converse, and worn-out cardigans.
3. Brimmed hats with big flowers
Classic 90s show ‘Blossom’ made brimmed hats popular, especially those with faux flowers pinned to the brim. Other popular hats were bucket hats and the ever-classic baseball cap.
4. Women wearing menswear-style suits
Julia Roberts wore a menswear suit at the 1990 Golden Globes. Women wearing pantsuits wasn’t a new thing, but the suit itself went through changes in the 90s. The early 90s saw baggier, more slouchy suits as a follow-on from the 80s.
5. Baggy denim overalls
Denim overalls were everywhere in the 90s, particularly in the earlier years. TLC famously wore baggy denim overalls accessorized with condoms at the 1994 AMA’s. Read more about TLC’s 11 best styles of the 90s here. Tupac wore dark denim, baggy overalls with a striped polo sweater, and a backward baseball cap.
6. Turtlenecks, jeans, and boots (and little sunglasses)
Halle Berry and Cindy Crawford were photographed on their “off-time” during the early 90s, usually stomping through an airport. They wore the classic early 90s uniform of mom jeans, a fitted turtleneck, heeled leather boots, little sunglasses, and a leather jacket.
A fantastic photo taken by legendary Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue in 1991 is a 90s how-to. It features straight leg blue jeans (slightly ‘Mom’), white tees, big gold jewelry, and red/black tartan blazers.
Of course, Cher from ‘Clueless’ made the trend a must-have later on in 1994. Tia and Tamera Mowry also wore tartan stockings and brimmed hats in the ‘Sister Sister’ promo.
8. Kufi hats and African textiles
At the 1991 Grammys, En Vogue wore incredible outfits featuring embellished Kufi hats and rich-toned African textiles. Check out our awesome 90s hats page for some kufi trends. Their shoes were achingly 90s, with metallic leather, slingbacks, pointed toes, and mid heels.
9. Bold shoulders
Check out this amazing video of the streets of New York City in 1993.
You’ll see many short, curly haircuts, chunky heeled shoes, and wide-shouldered jackets and coats. Women on their way to work in NYC wore blazers or trenchcoats with blouses or high-neck tops.
10. Waistcoats over baggy shirts
A popular ensemble for young people and stylish adults consisted of a baggy shirt with an embroidered waistcoat over the top. Bottoms were usually mom jeans or mini skirts with slouchy socks and lace-up boots or high-top sneakers.
11. Leather jackets
Leather was popular throughout the 90s, but leather jackets were particularly present in the early 90s. We saw Drew Barrymore in slouchy leather jackets with messy hair and punk-rock ripped jeans. Uncle Jesse also served the leather look, complete with tight leather motorbike pants.
12. Bright colors and neon tones
Neon was still going strong in the 90s, as it was in the 80s. Bright colors were seen everywhere, including high fashion runways. The Chanel 1991 Fall ready-to-wear runway saw rich pink and blue skirt suits dripping with accessories such as necklaces and animal print hats.
13. Structured corset tops
In 1992, Liv Tyler wore a fitted midi dress with a corset-style top and structured cups. This was a popular style at the time, just like Madonna’s iconic Jean-Paul Gaultier cone bra corset.
14. High-cut, simple workout gear
The early 90s saw workout gear that was a little more refined than the neon tones of the 80s. There were still many flashes of bright to be seen, but it was mostly clean black, white, and navy colors with full leggings under high-cut leotards.
Check out Cindy Crawford’s 1992 workout video ‘Shape Your Body’.
We also spy simple shorts and crops, with slouchy white socks and sneakers.
15. Sexy, glitzy glam
Red carpets in the early 90s saw tight silhouettes, lots of skin, and plenty of high-shine fabrics and embellishments. Female bodies were celebrated as supermodels made their mark. At the 1991 Academy Awards, Madonna wore an old Hollywood beaded gown that hugged her body, while Jodie Foster wore a plunging embellished pantsuit.
Early 90s Brands
Many brands had their start in the 1990s, but what 90s fashion brands ruled the early years?
Though this British company was around in the 80s, they were very popular in the early 90s too. Kangol got a boost in popularity in 1991 after Wesley Snipes appeared as Nino Brown in the film New Jack City. These unique hats were seen throughout the film, giving the audience some serious hat envy whilst watching!
Polo Sport, a diffusion line from U.S. designer Ralph Lauren, was another well-loved brand in the early 90s. Though Ralph Lauren was a popular brand in its own right, the Polo Sport was popular with the youth as it was embraced by the hip-hop scene. In 1993 the Wu-Tang Clan publicly wore Polo Sport and the rest is history.
Known for their loud sweater designs, the Australian brand COOGI is another early 90s essential. These colorful sweaters and luxury knits were worn by a range of celebrities and artists in the early years of the decade, catapulting the brand into the spotlight. You can still purchase these iconic sweaters online today.
Want to spruce up your hair regime with some early 90s hairstyles? Here are some of the most popular styles of the era.
As soon as Point Break (1991) was released, it was a hit instantly. Not only was the film great, but audiences were starstruck by Patrick Swayze and his shaggy blonde locks. Unsurprisingly, this chilled-out surfer hairstyle became a staple for men in the early 90s.
Fashion became more relaxed in the 90s and this was reflected in hair trends too. In 1991 Julia Roberts won her Oscar award and she collected it with relaxed curly hair. Unlike standard curly styles, she didn’t go mad with volume or drama, leaving us with a chilled-out style that’s easy to replicate.
In 1991 Brit-pop band Blue debuted their first record “Leisure”, setting off a global music trend. Lead singer Damon Albarn emerged onto the scene with an interesting bowl cut that was copied by young men worldwide. Though his style evolved throughout the decade, this is a style that was loved in the early years.
Street style is always a great source of fashion inspiration and it was at a peak in the 1990s. Check out these popular celebrities of the early 90s to get some tips and tricks.
Winona Ryder is synonymous with the 90s, her style in the early years is chic and easy to mimic too. With baggy silhouettes and lots of black, Winona always liked to look edgy. Look for leather jackets, dark denim, and quirky tees to get her look.
Janet Jackson was a bonafide-style icon by the 1990s. With Hits in 1990 and 1993, she provided constant style inspiration for girls worldwide. Whether she was dressing up for a red carpet or down for a casual event, she always looked on-trend and fashion-forward.
Though Alicia Silverstone’s memorable role in Clueless came out in 1995, she was already in the spotlight in 1993 for her role in The Crush. Outside of acting Alicia encapsulated the laidback 1990s style, often wearing relaxed denim, crop tops, and cardigans. She perfected the girl next door vibe and we’ve loved it ever since.
If you want to make sure you’re on top of your fashion history, explore these top early 90s fashion moments!
Known for putting a gaggle of supermodels into the mainstream spotlight, the Versace 1991 show was a hit. Top models like Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford strutted down the runway to George Michael’s “Freedom! ‘90”. This is a defining 90s fashion moment for sure!
Let’s face it when it comes to 1990s style Kate Moss is an enduring icon. Though we love her style throughout the decade, her early work at the start of the decade captures her at her best. Kate always managed to make the minimalist style look glamorous, inspiring a generation of women to peel back the 90s makeup and go barefaced. No one does it like Kate!