90s Men’s Suits: Get to Business with These Throwback Trends (With Iconic Photos & Styling Tips)

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Bill Gates wearing a dapper suit and red tie introducing Windows

Last Updated on October 5, 2020

Men’s suits are the embodiment of masculinity. They are an iconic item that is a must-have in every grown man’s closet. Over the years suits have evolved. Trends are constantly changing and developing.

In the 90s, men’s suits took a dynamic change. While suits are usually associated with elegance, the 90s represented an era in which suits were dressed down, and became commonly associated with casual wear.

This guide reveals most stand out suits from the 90s. Who wore them and why they are so important to men’s fashion today.

Culture of Suits in the 90s

The 90s marked an era of change for the way men’s suits were styled and worn. For years, suits had been worn to the office, dinner parties, special celebrations, and other sophisticated events.

They were not as fancy as tuxedos, but were considered a more elegant option than an informal blazer. During the 90s, television icons and celebrities began styling suits in much more informal ways.

Suits were incorporated into everyday attire without compromising on style and comfort. Unlike the past, they were not tailored to perfection. They could be worn at any time of the year. This included lighter weight versions during summer, and under a long coat during the winter.

Suits during the 90s lost relevancy in terms of elegance. They were simply dressed down. They were commonly used in loose, oversized styles, and were surprisingly paired with blue jeans. 90s suits were styled with other common trends from the 90s such as funky sunglasses and big, loose ties.

If worn with dress pants, these were not made to fit. Loose, baggy suits were the most stylish of 90s business fashion. Even though suits were dressed down, they remained an ever-present trend.

They were perceived through a different meaning; casual and cool. Pleats became a must-have in every full suit. An iconic element of suits during the decade.

Read:

17 Men’s Outfits that Defined the Nineties

Blast from the Past: 8 Luxury Watches We All Wanted in the Decade

From Pullovers to Turtlenecks: 90s Men’s Sweater Trends

90s Suit Designers

The fashion industry is very complex; designers must stay up to date with consumer demand, and simultaneously produce new trends that buyers will appreciate. Since the perception of suits changed so much during the 90s, fashion houses had to adapt and make these changes in stride. 

Calvin Klein

Perhaps the most relevant design house of the 90s, Calvin Klein adapted with ease to casual suits. In this 1992 ad campaign below, the suit featured is a classic, dressier version that could be worn to an event, or dressed down if accessorized correctly.

During the 90s both men and women fawned over Calvin Klein clothing. Suits were no exception. They produced various simple designs, in houndstooth fabrics or unicolor materials that could be easily dressed down. 

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani suits gained plenty of fame during the 80s and developed onward in the 90s. The magic of an Armani suit was that by itself, it was considered a simple yet elegant garment.

That said, with the right accessories and proper styling, it could be converted into a casual yet stylish option ideal for the 90s. This design features the famous 90s pleated, oversized, and slightly distressed appeal that characterized the moment.

Gucci

Gucci was another brand that stood out in the 90s. A bit more daring than competitors, Tom Ford at Gucci designed velvet-lined suits in dark tonalities. Only the most stylish men need apply.

Not everyone was able to pull this look off, nor everyone wanted to. This style was reserved for special occasions and more elegant events.

This version of the suit features an adventurous coral shade that varies from the classic suit. It was made with a specific idea in mind. 

Other, more affordable suit options could be purchased at Guess and Abercrombie & Fitch. 

90s Suit Styles

Simple Suit

While there were multiple different styles of suits in the 90s, let’s start with the most basic; a unicolor, three-button two-piece, single breasted structure.

Like all other suits during the 90s, the simple suit was usually paired with high waisted trousers. In comparison to past decades, this design can be described as ‘boxy’ and unflattering. However, when styled correctly, a 90s basic suit could be highly fashionable. 

How to wear?

The best way to wear this kind of suit would be a pair of fitted pants, similar to jeans, with a white t-shirt. Johnny Depp was often seen wearing this combination throughout the 90s.

Depp wears a simple with a t-shirt, straight printed dress pants, and a boxy yet simple black suit jacket atop. The look is very stylish due to its simplicity. His disheveled hair adds a grunge effect to the overall look.

Over-accessorizing with a big tie and loose dress pants could ruin this look. Straight trousers and a t-shirt pair perfectly with any suit jacket – even the ‘boxy’ and oversized kind. 

Suit Over Open Collar

A common ways to style suits during the 90s was with an open collar shirt underneath.

Let me assure you, the possibilities were endless.

I particularly liked the look with a cotton shirt or a silk button-down. This was an easy way to dress down a more elegant suit, making it a more casual alternative. 

The ideal pairing for this style would be a light, solid-colored open collar shirt, under a darker toned suit. The suit should be worn unbuttoned to create a more casual, relaxed appearance.

Ideally, the shirt should be tucked into dress pants matching the tone of the suit jacket. A simple leather belt is also a classic way to accessories this look.

Keanu Reeves famously wore this style of suit on various occasions, even on red carpet events.

Leonardo DiCaprio is another celebrity who frequented this trend during his peak years as a developing actor.

Luke Perry was also seen sporting the suit over open collar, in both informal and more formal events. 

Navy and black were the most popular suit colors of the 90s.

Loose & Baggy Suit

Arguably, the least aesthetically pleasing suit trend of the 90s. This was also one of the least stylish trends of the decade! It often saw men who wore this style looking dishevelled.

George Clooney, the ultimate celebrity bachelor of the 90s, was seen using the loose and baggy suit trend throughout his career. This did not make him any less appealing as a celebrity, but it did impact the perception of his sense of style.

Nick Carter from The Backstreet Boys was a big fan of this trend.

Unstylish? Perhaps. But part of the charm of suits like this is that in 90s comfort and relaxed style pipped classic trends. Viva la revolution!

This style was associated with hipster style, and was worn by many young male celebrities.

Light Toned Suit

Another common trend for suits during the 90s were plain, neutral-colored suits. These usually came in cream or beige tones and were ideally worn during the day.

This trend is a bit unusual, and rarely seen today, yet it managed to work during the 90s. If paired with a white, button-down shirt underneath, this look could be considered an easy, alternative style. 

Hugh Grant was famously seen using this style of suit on various occasions. It became a staple of his.

He would usually opt for a yellow-toned bone-colored suit, paired with a crisp button-down shirt underneath; distressed yet equally sophisticated. 

Printed Suits

The pinstripe suit became one of the most iconic looks of the 80s, but continued as a trend during the 90s. However, through a more laidback approach.

Houndstooth, perhaps the most popular printed suit of the 90s, became a big trend that further developed throughout the decade. Both pinstripe and houndstooth suits can be fashionable. They are considered vintage prints that developed from British culture.

These suits were usually made from wool fabric. The smaller the prints, the better and more aesthetically pleasing your overall appearance will be. NBA player Jalen Rose was seen wearing this suit during an event in 1994.

It’s a daring choice. But he who dares wins, right?

Take the Best Parts of the Past

After the 90s came to an end, suits became less about casualwear and reverted more towards formalwear. It’s no secret that fashion repeats itself constantly. Each year trends and styles that were made famous in past decades become once again huge trends.

While 90s suits as a whole have not yet made a full return (It’s only a matter of time!). Suit jackets very reminiscent of 90s style have been seen on recent runway shows.

They form part of what today is known as business casual. The trick to always look stylish, especially when attempting to recreate fashion trends from the past is to observe the mistakes that were made. And then avoid repeating them!

The same goes for great styling. Attempt to replicate the greatest styling moments of that particular time.