Mid-90s Fashion: Less Becomes More

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The mid-90s (1994-1996 roughly) was a fabulous time for fashion and pop culture. ‘Friends’, ‘Moesha’, and ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ were released, while The Spice Girls and The Fugees grooved our radios.

Mid-90s fashion was moving away from the big silhouettes and OTT accessorizing of the late 80s and early nights. Silhouettes and details were becoming a little more streamlined and simple, with a less is more approach

We’ve covered the specific years below:

1994: Grunge Got Sweeter and Rachel Green Set the Scene

1995: Layered Chokers, Mugler & Clip-On Earrings

1996: Girl Power, Witch Goth & Calvin Klein

But for our full run down of our favorite mid-90s fashion trends and moments, scroll down below.

1. Scrunchies 

Technically, scrunchies became ultra-popular in the 1980s along with neon spandex workout gear. However, we’re adding them to our mid-90s list because they are such a solid, iconic 90s accessory. 90s gals would wear them on the top of their heads in jaunty, off-set ponytails or, half-up-half-down styles. 

2. Preppy Fashion 

‘Clueless’ was released in 1995 and became one of the most iconic teen movies of the 90s and all time. The show sparked a sexy-preppy trend of short tartan skirts, fitted blazers, collared shirts, argyle, and over-the-knee socks. Check out there 17 preppy outfit ideas you can wear today.

3. Calvin Klein Minimalism 

Check out Calvin Klein’s Spring 1995 Ready-to-Wear collection.

It’s full of clean, minimal silhouettes, monochrome, and barely-there details.

Simple white slip dresses with square necklines, cropped black trousers with blazers, and body-skimming midi dresses in soft lilac. Texture was added with shiny satin, gauzy chiffon, and chunkier knits. 

That same year, Kate Moss (the Calvin Klein 90s girl) wore a slinky lemon-yellow gown with a strappy back and square neckline. A perfect example of the clean, just-threw-it-on mid-90s look. 

4. Shift dresses and a-line skirts with knee-high boots 

Like the slip dress, shift-style dresses that sat above the knee were popular in the mid-90s. They were sometimes skater-style with a flippy skirt and long sleeves, or more structured with spaghetti straps and ruched bust. 

A-line, button-front skirts were also popular, worn with tight sweaters or cropped tees. 

These combos were commonly worn with chunky knee-high boots that left at least an inch between the leg and the boot. Reese Witherspoon wore the look on a 1996 red carpet, with a sleeveless green shirt, knee-high boots, and short 90s hair with plenty of oomph. 

Check out: 25 Photos of ’90s Hairstyles You Secretly Still Love

5. Corduroy pants and tanks

If you were a kid or teen in the mid-90s, you’ll remember the cord trend. The key was to find a pair that looked like something your Grandad would wear. We wore them with chunky lace-up shoes and tanks with contrast-tone straps. 

Other popular trousers were slack-style pants with a stripe down the side, sitting low on the hop. Or, baggy tartan pants made of flannel that had a suspicious resemblance to pajama pants. 

6. Mini skirts with crop tops and blazers

The mid-90s saw a boost in mini skirts worn with crop tops and matching blazers. Hilary Banks from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and Versace’s runway shows perfectly wore the trend. 

Gianni Versace’s 1994 promo shoot saw the 90s supermodel crew in metallic skirts and cropped sweaters baring their envious pins and tums.

Later in the decade, mini and knee-length skirts would be worn with midriff tops and fitted cardigans secured with one button at the chest. Add kitten-heel or flatform sandals and you’re basically a 90s heartthrob. 

7. Slip dresses 

A popular ensemble for a girl heading out for a date or to dance would consist of a slip dress, strappy heeled sandals, frosty lipstick and eyeshadow, and a choker necklace made of crystal beads. 

A little beaded handbag in iridescent organza would also fit right into the mid-90s aesthetic. Slip dresses were also popular daywear, often layered with plain tees. 

Read: Your Favourite 90s Dresses – Plus Some Mistakes We’d Rather Forget

8. Animal print

Animal print had a pretty solid run throughout the 90s, especially during the middle of the decade. 

At the 1996 Grammy awards, Mary J. Blige wore a head-to-toe animal print outfit complete with a hood and blousy sleeves. Shania Twain wore a suspiciously similar outfit in 1998. 

9. Fitted sweaters and cardigans 

Watch any mid-90s TV show and you’ll see multiple variations of fitted sweaters both full-length and t-shirt style. Women in their 20s and upward favored this look, at the same time as teens and kids wore roomier sweaters in line with the dregs of grunge

10. Silky blouses 

Silky, satin blouses were big in the mid-90s, whether they were tucked into a-line minis or worn with blue Mom jeans. 

In the promo videos for the 1996 Kids’ Choice Awards, Whitney Houston wore a purple satin blouse over jeans, with heeled boots and shoulder-length curls. Amber Valletta wears a blue satin blouse in a 1995 Gucci promo. Note the velvet pants worn on the hip! 

11. Maxi skirts and tanks

This trend followed on into the late-90s, big time. It featured a full-length skirt with a column-style silhouette, sitting low on the hip. 

The skirt was paired with a simple tank or a double-layer tank with a ruched bust. 

Add chunky black boots, mini buns in the hair, and a bunch of chokers. Reese Witherspoon wore this look on the cusp of the mid-late 90s (1997).