Mid-90s Fashion: Less Becomes More

Clothing from the mid 90s with trends such as the school girl look
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Last Updated on June 7, 2022

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. Check out how to style scrunchies here.

Read: 90s Workout Clothes: 8 Ways to Get That Retro Fitness Look

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 these 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. 

Read: Is Calvin Klein a Good Brand?

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. 

Read: Mix Up Your Style with these Mini Pleated Skirt Outfit Ideas

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! 

Check Out: 5 Brands Like Gucci: Be an Early Trend Adopter and Shop in Style

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).

Bonus Section

Famous Mid 90s Movie Outfits

Movies and TV give us endless amounts of outfit inspiration, plus they’re a great reflection of the culture at the time! These mid 90s films have some iconic looks in them, so take note!

Wayne’s World (1992)

Though this comedy is slightly before the true mid-90s, it gives us some great insight into the crazy fashion of the time. While the main characters chilled out in classic 90s band tees, flannel shirts, and ripped jeans, the girls in the film offered some truly inspired looks.

Cassandra Wong, played by Tia Carrere, wore bold colors like red and shocking pink – embracing some of the bolder 90s trends. One of her best styles is a red lace mini dress with matching fingerless gloves, proving how coordinated rockstars can be. If you want nighttime or evening outfit inspo, Cassandra is your girl!

Clueless (1995)

Clueless is still relevant to this day, proving how much of an impact this romcom made on pop culture. Yellow plaid suits and mini skirts will always be appropriate, even if they are slightly over the top for everyday fashion.

In this film, we see spaghetti straps, paid prints, tennis skirts, and blazers. Preppy chic mixes with grunge elements to create a fusion of the two most popular 90s subcultures. Bodycon Calvin Klein dresses and platform shoes are a must for evenings too!

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Though Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired in 1997, this show gives a true indication of the fashion for girls in the mid-90s. It also cemented Sarah Michelle Gellar as a 90s fashion icon, proving that you don’t need to be decked out in designer clothes to look good.

Popular clothing choices from the show include 90s sundresses, slouchy tees, casual trainers, and chunky boots. Though the wardrobe is very casual, the subtle styling captures the laidback mid-90s vibes. The style wasn’t about creating a shocking look every time you left the house, it was about comfort and subtle self-expression instead.

Popular Mid 90s Shoe Styles

Shoes in the 90s were fabulous and shouldn’t be ignored, check out this epic piece on The Best 90s Shoes Trends that We All Wore. From platforms to trainers, this decade mixed comfort with style for the ultimate everyday shoe styles.

Platform Sandals/Steve Maddens

A key shoe to own if you want to recreate the mid-90s style is a platform sandal. The most popular iteration of this style was by Steve Madden. His take on this casual, yet elevated shoe involved a simple black platform with a mule shape. This was the “it girl” shoe and if you owned a pair you would have worn them everywhere!

Doc Martens

Another classic shoe every girl wanted was a pair of Doc Martens boots. Though these are more grunge than preppy, they suit the everyday style and can add an alternative look to any outfit. Pair these with some high-waisted mom jeans and a cardigan for the ultimate mid 90s look. These boots are popular in black, burgundy, and white and can be bought in platform styles too.


Skechers are practical shoes, but in the mid-90s these trainers saw a rise in popularity as fashion shoes. Popular styles included platform sketchers, perfect for adding some height to your outfit without sacrificing your comfort. Celebrities like Britney Spears helped to put these shoes on the map through star-studded campaigns.

What do you remember from the mid 90s? Let me know below.