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20 Fashion Trends That Survived the '90s

Leather

Leather

Leather was a must-have. Almost everyone owned at least one clothing item made of this material during the ‘90s. While leather pants and dresses were hot trends, leather jackets were closet staples.

Women would wear black leather jackets with black tees and trousers for a dressier look and black leather jackets with high-waisted denim for a more relaxed look. No matter how you wore leather, you looked trendy. The same goes for today. It can be dressed up or down.

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Flannel Button-Downs

Flannel Button-Downs

There’s nothing cozier than a flannel button-down, especially during the fall and winter months. Women of the ‘90s agreed. Flannel dominated. It was worn by virtually everyone. They would experiment with their outfits by taking off their button-downs and tying them around their waists.

While we no longer wear our button-downs around our waists, we do still wear them. Celebrities, fashion influencers, and bloggers wear flannels over graphic tees. They buy them oversized and leave them unbuttoned for a more casual look.

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Denim Jackets

Denim Jackets

If you don’t own a denim jacket, go out and purchase one ASAP. They can be a little pricey, so if you don’t want to splurge, try looking for one at your local thrift shop. You may even be able to find one from the ‘90s—talk about embracing the fashion trend.

The best part about denim jackets is that they can be worn through all seasons. In spring and fall, they can be worn with tees and straight-leg denim. In the summer, they can be worn over the shoulders with shorts and heels. And in the winter, they can be layered with puffer coats and knits.

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Overalls

Overalls

Overalls have yet to go out of style. Every year, you see more and more women wearing them. While all styles are trendy, oversized styles with cuffed hems and fitted cuts that are slim-fit are the most popular this year.

Because overalls come in two different styles—short overalls and trouser overalls—the style is transitional. The short overalls are perfect for the warmer months and the trouser overalls are perfect for the colder months. Both styles can be dressed up with heels or mules, or dressed down with sneakers or boots.

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Matching Sets

Matching Sets

Matching two-piece sets were the epitome of the ‘90s. If you need a visual, think about the yellow plaid ensemble that Alicia Silverstone wore in Clueless. Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. Although this trend hasn’t gone anywhere, it has evolved in the last two decades.

These matching sets are one of the biggest trends in recent years. They’ve been reinvented so that they’re the modern version of the ones worn in the 1990s. Almost all celebrities have been photographed in a matching set at one point or another.

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Chokers

Chokers

Ah, the choker. Any woman who was born before or during the ‘90s knows about this must-have accessory. The classic choker of the ‘90s was the tattoo choker necklace. This was made of a looped elastic material. As popular as it was then, it has since faded.

Chokers now are very glam. They’re made of delicate materials or expensive chains. If you’re wanting to buy one (or more), you can find them at almost any online retail store. Just so you can wear them with literally any outfit, think about buying a gold one and a silver one.

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Small-Framed Sunglasses

Small-Framed Sunglasses

In the ‘90s, small sunglasses ruled. The majority of the selection available featured either oval-shaped lenses or rectangle-shaped lenses. These unique shapes looked great on all face shapes and sizes, but they looked especially good on smaller faces.

Vintage frames have made the ultimate comeback. A few years ago, celebrities started wearing extremely thin frames again. The retro style is sold by many of the prominent sunglass retailers. They sometimes even come in unique tints. If you really want to embrace the ‘90s, purchase small-framed sunnies that are red, purple, blue, or yellow.

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Oversized Tees and Button-Downs

Oversized Tees and Button-Downs

It’s pretty obvious why the oversized tee and button-down trend stuck—it’s so comfortable. In the 1990s, most women wore these tops over fitted trousers and paired them with heels or mules. It was an easy way to dress down an outfit and make it look business-casual.

Today, these oversized tops are worn with everything. Button-downs can be worn loosely over denim shorts or jeans. They can also be worn tucked into skirts or worn unbuttoned or tied over midi or maxi dresses. Oversized tees are perfect with shorts or jeans as well. They also work with athleisure shorts or leggings.

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Skater Dresses

Skater Dresses

The ‘90s were all about grunge. It was so much more than a subculture made up of alternative-rock music and a less than pristine appearance. Grunge was also a major fashion movement. And many elements of grunge have stuck around.

Skater dresses were a fashion staple for this individualistic lifestyle. Most women paired their floral dresses with scrunched socks, sneakers, or combat boots. It was the perfect mix of modern and retro. Today, women dress these up by pairing them with heels and delicate jewels.

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Combat Boots

Combat Boots

While skater dresses were an iconic part of the grunge uniform for women, so were combat boots. The combination of the two were what created “grunge.” If they weren’t worn with skater dresses, they were worn with denim shorts or jeans and a dainty blouse.

Because times have changed, how you wear these boots has also changed. If you’re wearing them with a dress, add a pair of tights to connect the entire outfit. Or, wear them with cropped jeans or cutoff shorts. They’re perfect for all weather.

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Crop Tops

Crop Tops

Crop tops were huge in the ‘90s and ‘00s. Celebrities like Cher, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Paris Hilton would wear these itty bitty tops on a regular basis. It didn’t matter if they were attending something as casual as a Saturday morning brunch or as fancy as a red carpet debut, crop tops were the clothing article to wear.

These celebs mastered the art of the crop top so well that they became a must-have for women everywhere. Today, they’re typically worn with high-waisted denim and high-waisted skirts and shorts.

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Backpack Purses

Backpack Purses

While standard purses have always been and will always be trendy, a beloved trend of the 1990s was the backpack purse. It was the sportier version of the standard bag. It allowed women to easily and comfortably carry all of their belongings.

This is why the backpack purse is still so popular today. They hold quite a bit of weight because of how they’re designed. My backpack purse typically holds my wallet, sunglasses, makeup must-haves, daily planner, and my current read. Women can just sling these backpack purses over their shoulder and be on their way.

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Athleisure

Athleisure

Workout wear was worn to more than just the gym in the ‘90s. Although the term “athleisure” hadn’t appeared yet, it was most definitely a thing. Women would leave the house in matching sweatsuits, athletic leggings, and comfortable sneakers.

The best part about athleisure is that it stuck. It’s practical, functional, and subtly stylish. Most women wear athleisure as their weekend wardrobe. This style typically includes clothing items that are sports-influenced—like joggers, tennis shoes, and graphic tees—as well as clothing items that are trendy—like bomber jackets, sweatshirts, and cardigans.

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Graphic Tees

Graphic Tees

When the grunge fashion movement started in the ‘90s, graphic tees were worn by everyone—men and women alike. All the bands of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s sold t-shirts and they sold out. Most people now search thrift stores for these vintage must-haves!

Besides being super trendy, thrifted graphic tees are so good for the environment. By purchasing second-hand clothes, you are reducing pollution and waste. If you take the time to dig through your local thrift stores, it’s likely you’ll find at least a handful of items that you love. And you’ll keep it away from the landfill by purchasing.

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Polka Dots

Polka Dots

Polka dots have always been a trendy pattern, but in the 1990s, this pattern exploded. Clothing manufacturers produced countless clothing pieces in this pattern and boutiques and stores were quick to order and sell them.

If you’re not into some of the bolder ‘90s trends, try this one. Polka dots are one of the more subtle trends on this list. And this pattern will always be iconic. It doesn’t matter if you wear small, neutral polka dots or large, colored polka dots, they’re all trendy and fun.

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Bright Blazers

Bright Blazers

The ‘80s and ‘90s introduced us to the female power suit. Suits were no longer just for men and women were all about it. Oversized blazers featured huge shoulder pads and bright patterns and bold colors. Women couldn’t get enough.

The same can be said today. Women are still attracted to blazers. Their sharp lines and professional look command power and attention. And as if that isn’t enough, they’re sold in bright hues so they’re literally impossible to ignore.

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Crushed Velvet

Crushed Velvet

Crushed velvet emerged during the grunge era and was a huge hit. The majority of skater dresses were made of a dark blue, dark green, or dark red crushed velvet fabric. Celebs and fashion influencers would pair these crushed velvet dresses with opaque tights and chunky combat boots.

Although skater dresses aren’t typically made out of this velvety fabric anymore, lots of other clothing pieces are. Crushed velvet dress pants, tailored coats, oversized blazers, and flattering wrap dresses have resurfaced.

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Plaid

Plaid

I’m pretty sure plaid will be around forever. It’s such a classic pattern. It was as prominent during the ‘90s as it is today. Women wore plaid skirts, plaid flannels, plaid blazers, plaid bucket hats, and so much more.

Because plaid is so iconic, it hasn’t gone anywhere. It graced fashion week in Paris, Milan, and New York. Today, it’s most popular with statement pieces like headbands, totes, mules, and smocked tops.

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Halter Tops

Halter Tops

If you remember anything about ‘90s fashion, you most likely remember the halter top. It was legendary. Instead of having two shoulder straps, it had one strap that looped around the neck. This style was new and exciting, which is probably why everyone had a halter-style top.

This style is still worn today. Lots of dresses have even embraced this look. This is because the halter top is universally flattering and extremely comfortable. The only drawback is that you should wear a strapless bra with halter tops so your bra straps aren’t showing when you wear it.

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Power Suits

Power Suits

The power suit is for the woman who wants to wear more than just a blazer. Wearing the entire power suit—blazer and trousers—is so iconic. Women were all over this in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I always think of the movie Working Girl when I see a woman in a suit.

I’m so happy this trend is still around today. And I hope it never goes out of style. Women are all about embracing this look, and because they are, fashion outlets are producing and selling all kinds of blazer and trouser sets.

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