Last Updated on July 2, 2020
The 90s music scene rolled onto our peaceful little path like a canonball through a rainbow.
It was an era where male musicians from all genres opened our mind to new styles and colour clashes that were unimaginable 10 years prior.
Don’t believe me?
Follow me on a journey of my top 13 favourite iconic outfits below …
- 13. Jarvis Cocker, Pulp – Common People Music Video, 1996
- 12. Michael Stipe, REM – Shiny Happy People Music Video, 1991
- 11. Axl Rose, Guns n Roses “Use Your Illusion” Tour, Tokyo, 1992
- 10. Andre 3000, Hip Hop Music Awards, 1999
- 9. The Beastie Boys, Roseland Ballroom, New York City, 1992
- 8. Jay Kay, Jamiroquai, Space Cowboy Music Video, 1994
- 7. Layne Staley, Alice in Chains on Saturday Night Special, 1996
- 6. Liam Gallagher, Soccer Six Charity Football Tournament, London, 1996
- 5. Take That, Dance with Lizzie TVAM, 1992
- 4. Seal, Unknown Awards Show, 1991
- 3. Sonic Youth, 100% Music Video, 1992
- 2. Tupac Shakur, First Annual Minority Motion Picture Awards, Los Angeles, September 1993
- 1. Kurt Cobain, MTV Unplugged in New York, November 1993
13. Jarvis Cocker, Pulp – Common People Music Video, 1996
Bit of a background: Jarvis is a bit of a rebel, he introduced mooning to the mainstream at the 1996 Brit awards and is not shy about drawing on societal differences in his music videos. All hail Jarvis.
Clothes worn: Maroon velvet blazer, slim fit button down shirt, grey tie and wayfarer style shades.
Why I love it: Ok, this style is not strictly 90s. In fact the video is based on 1960s-esque aesthetic but Jarvis pulls off the velvet blazer look well. Streamlined.
12. Michael Stipe, REM – Shiny Happy People Music Video, 1991
Bit of a background: R.E.M aren’t famous for their upbeat songs but this one outdoes some of the most upbeat songs ever made. While Michael Stipe pulls off some brazen style choices in the video there are also loads of other extras who could wave the flag high for early 90s fashion trends.
Clothes worn: Stipey wears a loose khaki suit, brown on brown opposite direction striped shirt and … an orange cap. Wowzers, welcome to 1991!
Why I love it: The 90s was a happy innocent time for me. Pre-9/11, pre-global pandemics and pre-reality TV (Ok, there was The Real World, but that wasn’t half bad). So, it goes without saying that Shiny Happy People with it’s over abundance of colors and positive message sums up the heralding of a new decade where colour and pattern clashes were damn cool.
11. Axl Rose, Guns n Roses “Use Your Illusion” Tour, Tokyo, 1992
Bit of a background: Axl goes down into the rock annum of time as the lead singer of Guns n’ Roses. He’s also diverse in his fashion sense and a massive Elton John fan. No flamboyant link there then …
Clothes worn: Open plaid shirt, tartan kilt, leather kilt belt, high top sneakers
Why I love it: The outfit is very Axl Rose. When he reveals those white high top sneakers. Brazen reaches another level. Respect!
10. Andre 3000, Hip Hop Music Awards, 1999
Bit of a background: Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000, is at least 3000 miles ahead of any other male music fashion star this side of the galaxy. As the dual lead singer of Outkast, he’s a hip hop counter-culture icon. Hats off! (Or on…many on).
Clothes worn: What’s not worn? That is the $3000 question.
Why I love it: Andre knows little bounds and pulls off culture appropriation with ease and a ton of dynamism.
9. The Beastie Boys, Roseland Ballroom, New York City, 1992
Bit of a background: The Beastie Boys spanned a career over an incredible five decades. They’ve influenced artists from across a range of genres and their music covered a fusion of hip hop, rap rock, alt rock, jazz-funk and hardcore. Their fashion sense was just as eclectic.
Clothes worn: Baggy plaid shirts, bomber jacket, skater shoes, beanie, backwards cap, slogan tees, died hair
Why I love it: The aesthetic of the photo draws on skater and rock styles of the early 90s. A a small snapshot of a band that liked to fuse.
8. Jay Kay, Jamiroquai, Space Cowboy Music Video, 1994
Bit of a background: Jay Kay from Jamioquai is a boundary breaker, hell I’d go as far to say as a boundary bender (in the nicest possible way). Both his music and style spread across a range of choices in one outfit. Whether is appropriating the styles from the upper himalayas or the deserts of mexico. Jay Kay has dabbled.
Clothes worn: peruvian chullo, peruvian alpaca jacket, noble green adidas originals jacket, black jeans, adidas gazeelles trainers
Why I love it: I’m a sucker for that groovy peruvian style and then layering it with some adidas classic casuals. Big win on every level.
7. Layne Staley, Alice in Chains on Saturday Night Special, 1996
Bit of a background: Layne was one hell of an underrated singer in one of the greatest alternative metal bands in the world. A tortured artist in every sense of the word. After his passing in 2002, Seattle, Washington pay tribute to him every year with “Layne Staley Day
Clothes worn: Faded leather trenchcoat, finger gloves, dark shades, smart white shirt, patterend tie, one small hoop earring
Why I love it: Layne had a penchant for long loose fitting trench coats and leather jackets plus sunglasses. In this video I can’t help but feel he’s returned straight from a failed job interview and the train is going slowly off…the…rails. It’s a complete misfit of fashion choices that fit right in with the 90s alternative metal/grunge vibe.
6. Liam Gallagher, Soccer Six Charity Football Tournament, London, 1996
Bit of a background: At the height of Britpop we had Liam Gallagher, Damon Albarn and Robbie Williams playign football together. When you get this much ego and rivalry on a football pitch it’s bound to draw some attention
Clothes worn: Bucket hat, two tone long sleeve t shirt, pair of trackies, gold crucifix necklace, Adidas Original Samba Supers
Why I love it: Liam’s the only bloke I know who has played football in a bucket hat.
5. Take That, Dance with Lizzie TVAM, 1992
Bit of a background: What … on … earth did I just watch? If the 90s had a clothes jumble sale and the highest bidders were 5 blokes from Manchester, this would be the video. While some of these style are down right garish, in a way, I love it. It’s really 90s and we were all a bit guilty of these fashion crimes.
Clothes worn: Tank tops, cargo pants, calf length shorts, ¾ length shorts, lyrca shorts, baggy t shirts, backwards cap, Nike classic Cortez trainers
Why I love it: Take That take it easy and light with their 90s pop star fashion styles in this video. They also have no shame, no shame.
4. Seal, Unknown Awards Show, 1991
Bit of a background: I have no idea which awards show this is but heck, does it matter? That’s Seal doing what Seal does best. Engaging anybody who lays their eyes or ears on the stage. Oh, and enough soul and sex appeal to melt anything in his path. Kiss from a rose anybody?
Clothes worn: Leather jacket, white open linen shirt with large sleeves, tight leather trousers, large buckle belt, large thick silver hoop earrings, and a ton of swag and sway
Why I love it: His outfit has a Jim Morrison-esque coolness that not many blokes can pull off. He makes it look effortless.
3. Sonic Youth, 100% Music Video, 1992
Bit of a background: Directed by that fella who seems to have handled some of the most epic music videos of the 90s, Spike Jonze. A house party, that if it was any more laid back, would be upside down.
Clothes worn: So much to mention. Flannel shirts. Cargo pants. Two tone t-shirts. Baggy t-shirts. Combat boots. Bermuda shorts. Ripped denim shorts. Bowling shirts. Backwards caps. Band tees. Dark sunglasses. More flannel shirts (tied around the waist). Beanies of all colours. Short shorts (women). Chokers (women) Plaid crop tops (women). Oversized boyfriend denim shirts (women). Grubby Converse.
Why I love it: It’s amazing how one msuci video can sum up so much about the youth alt-rock culture of the early 90s. For such a short video, it shines a massive light on the style of the era. Very cool.
2. Tupac Shakur, First Annual Minority Motion Picture Awards, Los Angeles, September 1993
Bit of a background: Tupac drew on so many fashion styles it was incredibly hard to pigeon hole him. His music influences were also just as varied including Kate Bush, Sinead O’ Connor, Culture Club, and U2. He loved Shakespeare and was even a trained ballet dancer. It’s fair to say he was a trailblazer.
Clothes worn: Dickies loose blue denim overalls (straps up!), baggy nautical style thick stripe polo sweatshirt, backwards pinstripe cap
Why I love it: I could have chose over a dozen different moments of Tupac’s style but there’s someting really fresh looking about this outfit that really sums up the early 90s. Overalls are for the most part, awesome. It’s also tricky to pull off stripes on stripes but 2pac does it well and with an artist as outspoken as he was, the straps up add a touch of calmness to his persona.
1. Kurt Cobain, MTV Unplugged in New York, November 1993
Bit of a background: It goes without saying that Kurt led the way in not only fashion but the genre of grunge. This 1993 live MTV special is as haunting as it is poignant. The set itself went against the grain in that Kurt requested that stargazer lilies, black candles and a crystal chandelier adorn the stage. Funeral-esque. Only four months later he was dead.
Items worn: Oversized cardigan (with cigarette burns), white “Fright” logo t shirt, loose faded denim jeans, black and white converse. Timeless.
Why I love it: That cardigan. It sold for over £260,000 in 2019. An epic live set that goes down into the annums of time. A young Dave Grohl on drums wearing a turtleneck.
So there it is, my favourite mens pop star outfits of the 90s.
What was your favourite? Leave a comment below.