In the 1990s, fashion trends for teenage girls seemed to quickly go from one extreme to the other. The decade saw wide swings back and forth between casual, baggy looks and dressy, feminine styles. The beginning of the ’90s was a time when fashion made a quick departure from the overblown, big-haired ’80s. Compared to that decade, girls’ fashions became much softer and more natural in the ’90s.
Hip-hop music became a phenomenon in the late 1980s and the fashions it inspired carried over into the early ’90s. Bright colors and bold prints were seen on shirts, sweaters, jackets and dresses. Tight leggings or jeans that were a bright color were big; gone were the day-glo or pastel colors of the ’80s; they were replaced by the bright, primary colors of red, yellow or blue. “Global Fashion” caught on and ethnic prints were seen on girls of all races. African-inspired patterns that came from hip-hop were seen on skirts and dresses and styles like Indian and Asian patterns were seen as well.
The grunge style hit the scene for guys early in the ’90s, thanks to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The clothes soon made their way into girls’ closets as well. The look originated in Seattle and consisted of a constant uniform of jeans, a t-shirt that was usually dark and often sported a rock-band logo, and the crucial plaid flannel shirt worn over it. The most common accessory for guys with this outfit was a fitted, knit winter cap. The hats were worn indoors or out, in all kinds of weather. Girls wore them as well and found other ways to accessorize the look with fingerless gloves and dark nail polish.
A complete departure from the grunge look was the trend to short baby-doll dresses, made famous by movies like “Clueless.” The dresses were often Elizabethan in their design, with high, empire waists and puffy, capped sleeves. Except for one detail: They were excruciatingly short. So short, in fact, that another trend was born: wearing bicycle shorts beneath dresses or skirts. Thigh-high stockings were often worn with these dresses, as were chunky-heeled shoes. Accessories were understated with this look; headbands and hats replaced the heavy jewelry of the ’80s as the go-to accessory.
Toward the end of the decade, A re-emergence of the hippie styles of the 1970s collided with the grunge look to create a style known as Shabby Chic. It also became known as “Boho” fashion, meaning a bohemian look mixed with the styles of Soho, the artistic district in New York. This trend included long skirts or dresses, often with soft, feminine patterns like flowers, combined with a baggy t-shirt and a flannel shirt or men’s blazer worn over it. When pants were worn instead, they were often men’s dress pants or very baggy overalls or jeans. Enormous sunglasses and layers of necklaces or bangle bracelets were often seen with this look.
References and ResourcesThe Rutger Observer: Chic Stranger - Fashion Icon 90s Teen Style
Kidzworld: '90s Fashion Trends
The People History: Cothes and Men's and Ladies Fashions in the 1990s
Fashion Fizz: 1990s Fashions