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Last Updated on January 5, 2022
The late 90s saw the close of our favorite decade, sigh!
However, 1997-1999 brought us many treasures on screen, on the radio, and the runways. ‘Friends’ was getting good, Ricky Martin was shimmying, Xtina and Britney were killing it, and rom-coms were still churning through the studios.
Fashion was very clearly transforming and hurtling toward the dreaded ‘00s. Waistbands were creeping toward the hips, silhouettes were cleaner, and makeup was fresher.
Years from this period:
So without further ado, here are our favorite trends and moments from the late 90s.
- 1. Slip skirts, tanks, and kitten heels
- 2. Baggy JNCO jeans
- 3. Leopard print
- 4. The “Curtain” haircut
- 5. Cardigans as tops
- 6. Dark denim
- 7. Pastel makeup and twisted hairstyles
- 8. Crop tops and baggy pants
- 9. Low-cut bottoms
- 10. Skater clothes
- 11. Indian-inspired bindis and saris
- 12. Baggy tracksuits
- 13. Slim column gowns
- 14. Boot-cut trousers and fitted tops
- Bonus Section:
1. Slip skirts, tanks, and kitten heels
When heading on a date (or a red carpet) a go-to outfit featured a slip-style midi skirt, midriff-baring tank, and strappy kitten heels. Add a cropped cardigan secured with a single button at the bust, and a zig-zag headband.
2. Baggy JNCO jeans
Raver jeans by the brand JNCO were ultra-wide, flared pants that were popular among the techno party-goers. They were worn with fabric belts, tight tees, plug necklaces, spiky hair (with neon dye), and sunglasses over baseball hats.
3. Leopard print
Shania Twain, the country-pop queen of the 90s was famous for her animal print threads in the 1997 “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Remember that fabulous long, hooded coat over flared pants and a crop top, all in matching leopard? She also had matching heeled boots and matching suitcase.
4. The “Curtain” haircut
90s boys grew their hair until it reached that perfect “curtain” style. The hair was floppy and thick, parted in the middle, and framing the forehead. You can find such styles in old ‘Dawson’s Creek’ reruns and on basically any other late 90s teen shows.
5. Cardigans as tops
The cardigan was a must-have in the entire 90s, but they were particularly popular in the late-90s. They were often worn as tops, with low-cut necklines and cropped hemlines. Or, they were worn as a sweet little set with a matching tank.
6. Dark denim
Denim was transitioning from the paler blue varieties to deeper navy and indigo hues. Check out the images from the ‘Forever Spice’ book launch in 1999 (The Spice Girls minus Geri!). You’ll find dark denim jeans, (Sporty’s had a shine finish that was popular at the time) that sat on the hip.
7. Pastel makeup and twisted hairstyles
Makeup in the late 90s was less neutral-toned and fresher with pastel shades and sweet, glossy lips. Creamy eyeshadows in pale blue or lilac shades and fruity lip gloss were makeup bag staples.
Check out the “C’est La Vie” video by B*witched for the perfect example. What’s more, it shows the iconic 90s hairstyle that involved twisting, the hair toward the back, and gathering the ends in a bouncy cluster.
8. Crop tops and baggy pants
Baggy pants with fitted crop tops were everywhere in the late 90s, as sporty-meets-sexy thrived. Sporty Spice wore track pants with crop tops, sneakers, and armbands. British pop group S Club 7 wore this look to perfection in their “Bring it all back” video, as did Mandy Moore in the “Candy” flick.
The tides were turning and bottoms were changing from high-waisted to ultra low-slung, a trend that would reach eye-watering extremes in the ‘00s. Posh Spice wore her sleek black minis on the hip, while Mariah Carey wore her jeans far below the belly button.
10. Skater clothes
Blink 182 inspired late 90s guys and girls to wear ultra-low Dickies shorts, backward baseball caps, fabric belts, Hurley t-shirts, Oakley’s sunglasses, and spiky hair. The air in 1999 was thick with Dax wax and rang out with punk-rock, bad boy sounds.
11. Indian-inspired bindis and saris
The late 90s saw a rise in fashion and aesthetics from India and other Asian cultures. For example, incense sticks and sari-style bedspreads were popular in the bedrooms and homes of young people.
Fashion also took inspiration (whether appropriate or not) with bindis on the forehead and wrap skirts in sari materials. People would also have henna tattooed onto their skin during festivals and at trinket stores.
12. Baggy tracksuits
Baggy tracksuits with crop tops were a late 90s staple. Aaliyah wore a bright yellow Tommy Hilfiger tracksuit with a triangle bra and dark sunglasses in 1997.
13. Slim column gowns
Red carpet gowns in the late 90s were often minimal in terms of silhouette but ornate in terms of embellishments. For example, the 1998 Emmy Awards red carpet is riddled with torso-hugging dresses that fall straight to the floor, with spaghetti straps and low backs. We also see beading, sequins, and dark sunglasses.
14. Boot-cut trousers and fitted tops
Smart-casual womenswear was more refined in the late 90s, without a shoulder-pad or front-pleated slack in sight. Women chose boot-cut pants in dark denim, jewel tones, or even leather. They paired them with a turtleneck, crewneck, or V-neck top that was fitted and often sleeveless.
Why don’t you complete the late 90s look with these brands, makeup tips, and hairstyles too? You know you want to!
Want to make sure you’re decked out in all the most popular 90s brands? Maybe you want to get inspired by some 90s fashion? Here are some of the best late 90s brands to explore!
In the late 1990s, Umbro was at its height of fame in the U.S. In the 90s we saw Umbro shorts, boots, and general football casual clothing turn into streetwear, proving that you can make any brand fashionable. Pair a branded Umbro sweat with some well-fitting jeans for a great casual outfit.
You can still find Keds today, however, they just don’t feel the same as they did in the late-90s! These canvas sneakers look similar to Vans or low-top Converse, however, Keds give a laid-back feel. These are the perfect pumps for chilling with your friends or taking a walk through the city.
Though Hypercolor shirts were initially released in 1991, they retained their popularity until the late-90s. These unique shirts changed color when they felt heat, resulting in some…interesting sweat patches. Despite their unfortunate patterns, these were popular for casual days and many embraced their unique nature.
Here are some of the cutest late-90s looks to embrace! Make sure you test these before going out to get them right!
Blue eyeshadow may seem like a 1950s trend, but this traditional look was embraced in the late 90s, and the bolder the better! Models strutted down catwalks with this unique look, batting their eyelids to emphasize the unique style.
Nude makeup, also known as “barely there” makeup, was another emerging trend in the 1990s. The late half of the 20th century saw women expressing themselves with makeup, but this changed in the late-90s. Supermodels like Kate Moss started ditching the heavy makeup to give a new fresh-faced look and we love it!
This trend carried on into the 2000s and gave us some questionable looks, however, when it’s done well it looks fab! The frosted eyeshadow and lips style was seen on celebrities like the Spice Girls and models too. This look involves light, shimmery eye shadow, and pale shimmery lip gloss, perfect for an evening on the town! Add extra body glitter if you feel daring.
We’ve found some of the most popular hairstyles of the late 90s! Have fun recreating these at home.
There’s no denying Winona Ryder was a huge fashion icon in the 80s and 90s, so it’s no surprise that when she appeared with a short pixie cut many girls copied her! This extremely short haircut framed Winona’s face well and made her look ethereal too.
We know that Gwen Stefani wasn’t the only celebrity to wear butterfly clips in the 1990s, practically every star tried them at least once! But, Gwen’s take on this accessory worked so well, with platinum blond locks and short hair this girly style looks punky on the singer.
Who wants subtle hair when you can go crazy with color? Artist Kelly Rowland expresses her alternative style with thick red highlights and a short choppy style. This hair trend later evolves into chunky blonde highlights in the 2000s, but that’s best kept in the past!
What was your favorite highlight? Let me know below!