20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000

The time is now, the day is here folks! What am I talking about? Well, I’m a 90s kid, so inevitably have all the posts of the 20th century led up to this very decade (definitely). From the streets, the denim, the 1960s touch, the supermodel era to Hollywood and technology. Here’s the fashion history: 1990-2000!

20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folks

The Society during 1990-2000

Some historians consider the 1990s to be the beginning of our modern society with the end of the Cold War (amongst other things). It was also a decade for technological innovations with computers and cell phones growing in popularity and increased in usage. In retroperspective, the 90s feels like an unpretentious decade with a “chill vibe”. Something that’s reflective in the fashion (what else) with the street style, the mini skirts, dresses and the overdose of denim.

The decade also saw the rising of boy bands, popstars, R&B and girlpower. Or how about Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, TLC, Mariah Carey, *NSYNC and Spice Girls? Alongside the music, television and movies were factors of influence. Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Seinfeld, Friends, Buffy The Vampire Slayer to mention some shows. And iconic Hollywood movies like: Clueless, Pulp Fiction, Notting Hill, Titanic, Forrest Gump, 10 Things I Hate About You and The Shawshank Redemption. These artists, shows and movies had a major impact on people’s life with the celebrity focus going strong. Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel in Friends and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character Elaine in Seinfeld were two popular trendsetters. Not to forget Clueless and Cher’s iconic wardrobe.

As for the fashion world, the supermodel era continued with names such as Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss. Moss was perhaps the ultimate it-girl in the context of past ideal with her slender figure, characteristic eyes and charismatic way. Quite similar to Twiggy’s role of the 1960s. 

Style of the 1990-2000

I often refer to the 90s as a later version of the 1960s, as the early decade had its first revival period during the 90s. Even though the loose and oversized silhouettes of the 80s remained, the 90s also embraced mini skirts, mini-dresses and tight clothes. The 90s also had some touches of space age fashion with a lot of white, 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folksmetallic, ultra violet and references to cosmology.

As with all decades, different styles were true to different groups of people. To divide it roughly, the 90s had the elegant minimalistic fashion and the street style fashion. The former was about simplicity with clothes sans details, a colorless palette and silky fabrics but also some velvet and leather. The lines, and if details existed, were straight and geometric. The colors were mainly white, black, beige, grey and some tones of metallic. The clothes were rather defined and followed the silhouette of the body that should be slim and toned (the beauty ideal). Think Calvin Klein in the 90s or Armani. Classic, sophisticate and elegant.

As for the street style fashion it was quite the opposite. It was oversized, it was sporty, had some colors and an attitude above all. The most important material was denim but also leather and fleece. Light pastels were common, but black, white and denim were even bigger. In center of the street style look was t-shirts with prints and oversized sweaters in a bold color. Bomber jackets were a thing and same for the 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folksboots. Not to forget, the 90s were the first proper decade where sneakers got a major fashion status.

A third style one can define is the school girl style. Yup, I’m talking plaid, crop tops, high waisted mini skirts, knee socks and blazers. Not to forget turtlenecks and also denim overall if going for the leisure style. The style lands somewhere between elegant (but barely) and street style. A 90s perspective on the 1960s style with short lengths and high socks substituting for the A-line dress and knee high boots Think Clueless (to the right) if you want to get the ultimate idea!

The clothes between 1990-2000

If this post wasn’t marked with “the fashion history of the 90s”, it could more or less be a post on the current clothes that are trending. The 90s has been a major style influence for the later half of the 2010s. So when I say that crop tops, turtlenecks, denim jackets, slip dresses and mom jeans were some of the most popular clothes of the decade – it could be equally as true for the fashion trends we’re living this moment.

The 1960s part of the 1990s was all about the short mini skirts, dresses, crop tops and high knee socks (much like our 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion FolksOTK boots of today). As talked about earlier, the fashion had a touch of space with white, black, velvet, silver and metallic shades. The chokers were also a major piece to count on and worked for the street style life as well. As for the street style fashion, denim jackets, bomber jackets, animal prints, oversized t-shirts, boots and also a fair share amount of crop tops. A lot of plaid as in plaid shirts and oversized sweaters. With the attitude, you got the grunge fashion. 

As for the more elegant life. Slip dresses, blazers with matching miniskirts, and long coats were common. Often sans prints, but houndstooth, some dots and funky prints were popular too. Even though we already had seen a classic set for office wear as early as in the 1930s, and definitely in the 1980s, the office set of blazer and pencil skirt as we know it today, emerged from this decade. A basic blazer in a neutral shade hitting the hips and a matching pencil skirt hitting the knees and matching 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folksshoes. That set up is still a common go-to for people who work in an office environment. The elegant life had a lot in common with the 1980s empowered and elegant women with blazers, turtlenecks, gloves and gold details. Catching a vibe similar to the elegance of Paris’ fashion and Chanel.

Beauty between 1990-2000

Not only have the 90s fashion taken over our lives these past years, the makeup and beauty life have also made their impact. Or how about the mauve, brown, purple lips- and eyeshadows that are trending? All the lipsticks in brown/dark red/mauve shades were major in the 90s. So were also eyeshadows of bright metallic with light blue, lavender and some bright green. Lip liners were major (as today) but often in a shade darker than the rest of the lips. The 1990s were also the years of the bronzer, with sunkissed skin being kind of a big deal. Often in questionable shades, but that’s for another article.

As for the hair, the length hit slightly below the shoulders. The voluminous hair from the 1980s partly remained with women’s hair being done as a voluminous bob. It was also common with hairdos, like two buns on top of the head or two high ponytails. The eyebrows were to be thin and heavily defined, often contrasting the bright shades of the eyeshadows.

Spotlight of 1990-2000: Calvin Klein

So Calvin Klein’s breakthrough decade wasn’t the 90s, more the 80s, but his design of the decade reflects the fashion so well. The fashion was the very edge of minimalism with a solid focus on the lines of the clothes rather than details, colors or prints. It was monochromatic all the way with simple and clean necklines, silhouettes and hemlines. A lot of slip dresses, pantsuits, long coats and bright shades as white and beige.  Not to forget the underwear and all the denim. Klein was behind 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folksa lot of thought-provoking, sexualising and objectifying commercials for their underwear lines. Campaigns that are questionable in more than one way, but nevertheless effective as Klein’s sporty underwear remains some of the most iconic ones of our time. Kate Moss was the leading model for the company and contributed even further to the brand’s status as well as her own.

Transition to 2000s

Here’s how it goes: one should never say never to anything and especially not within the frames of fashion. But I am going to say never to wearing the fashion of the early 2000s. Never have so many fashion crimes been committed and so many designers having a lot to apologize for. If you’re a fashion stalker though, you know that certain “it-persons”  today are slowly starting to wear more and more fashion of the late 90s and early 00s.

Because here’s how it is: the early 2000s can in many ways be described as 90s fashion but worse. The crop tops even shorter, the waist even lower and the miniskirts even shorter. I call the late 90s/early 00s fashion for Barbie 20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folksfashion as it was pretty much was it was about. Pink, short skirts, short tops, fishnet, fur clothes, oval shaped sunnies, plastic clothes and overall quite the plastic feeling. But more about that next week, I’ll drag the whole decade then (definitely going for objectivity here, lol).

Thoughts: 1990-2000

As for now though, my 90s heart is grateful for the revival of the 1960s fashion (though 1960s did it better). Love to see different styles being clashed and mixed. Because when it comes down to it, that’s where the 90s lands. The elegant business women meeting the street style fashion going schoolgirl vibe and a touch of grunge. Above all though: attitude. Attitude as in women ending the 20th century with work, independence and major improvements within the fight for equality. More attitude as in fabrics being used in new ways, like leather, denim and plastic. Attitude as in personality, individualism and creativity being defining. Also, attitude as in defying the societal norms of dressing like everyone else, in relation to the homogenous fashion in the beginning of the 20th century. Less refined, but more defined.

Folks! What is the best part of the fashion history: 1990-2000 according to you? The skirts? The 60s vibe? The attitude? Let me know in the comments! Xx

20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000 | The Fashion Folks

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51 thoughts on “20th Century Fashion History: 1990-2000

  1. Had so much fun reading this post, Mia! You just saw my recent post on the 90s vibes and I simply love all those iconic elements from the end of last century, want to try them all! I am a big Clueless fan and still dream with Cher’s spinning wardrobe ♥

    Happy Easter, pretty lady!

    Saida | She talks Glam

    1. Hahah same here tbh, just love that Clueless 90s vibe. Same to you Saida babe! Xx

  2. OMG this post was so perfect! I’m also a 90s kid and you totally got me in the feels with an nostalgic mindset! I totally remember those cK ads, those were always my favourites to look through in YM and Seventeen magazines hehe. I truly miss the style of the 90s, I really think it was the perfect era and not because it’s my time, but when you think about it, it was a very peaceful time and barely any crazy wars or terrorism going on unlike now… anyways back to the style! Just everything was perfect then, and I know a lot of people recreate it now, but it’s just not the same!! 🙁 Love this post!!

    1. Hahah no it’s not the same unfortuanetly, but it’s so interesting how we people always want to go back in time to re-live it instead of focusing on the moments of today! Xx

  3. Ahhh the 90s! Being a 90s kid myself, this post definitely makes me feel so nostalgic! I remember the good old times so well, when I got my first ever mobile phone at the age of 10 and the antenna was the size of my forearm quite literally, lol! 😛 I definitely remember the makeup trends, also… My Mum used to have loads of those brown/mauve lipsticks, I used to steal them all the time when I was little! Bronzer was definitely a thing, and I think that a few too many women used to use it as a foundation, at least from what I can remember! Love the fashion from those days and everything about it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, lovely, this post has made me feel so nostalgic and I love it! I hope you’re having a wonderful Easter weekend, hun. xoxo


    1. Hahha I’m pretty sure a lot of people used bronzer as a foundation too. Hahah for better or worse or definitely worse! Thank you so much for the love babe! Xx

  4. Omg so many feels with this post!! I’m so happy I cought it almost by chance! 😀
    I’m a 90s kid too and I’m still obsessed with all-things-nineties unitl this day. I loved all the popstars back then and I still remember feeling ‘shocked’ by the Calvin Klein ads.
    It was also the most powerful era for supermodels. I’m not gonna start comparing them with models today because that’s a whole different subject but those girls knew how to be iconic without a swarm of stylists and social media managers behind, err.. just saying. But again, my opinion might be biased cause I started this comment stating how much I love that decade, lol.
    As for TV shows, I was still too young to watch like ‘adult shows’, even if they were harmless like Friends or Seinfeld. I watched them all a bit grown up, and I love them too <3
    So many iconic things come to my mind when I think of this glorious and fun era, and I feel like you named them all in this post. Thanks for sharing!!


    1. Hahah yes I do know what you mean though and I wouldn’t compare the supermodels of the 80s/90s to the ones of today. But hey, that’s for another subject too! Xx

  5. Oh, the 90’s. Sometimes I feel like the style has never died, and I’m not mad about it. I also love that last photo of Drew!

    Amber – amberelb.com

  6. What a great fashion report of these two important decades my dear! Such an original topic! My favourite I guess was the attitude of individualism and creativity of these decades, it’s so revolutionary comparing to the past ones!
    Thank you for one more great article and have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you babe! The 90s was something for individualism indeed, and next week I’ll go for the 2000 🙂

  7. Ah the good old super model era. I actually quite like the 90s grunge trend! So informative, I loved reading this!
    Kate xx


    1. Thank you love! The 90s grunge was definitely something and it’s for sure partly back! Xx

  8. Lately, I’ve been having a greater appreciation for 90’s fashion and implementing bits and pieces of it into my current wardrobe. You have to check out the movie Clueless if you want to see what 90’s fashion was all about.


    1. Hahah well I did mention it a couple of times in the post and also included a picture of the movie, so yes, I have seen it more than once. But thank you for the tips though, I can always watch it again! Xx

  9. I feel like the 90s were a more refined version of the 80s. It’s so interesting to learn that the fashion was so contrary between the street style and the more elegant styles on the runway. The 90s definitely saw the onslaught of baggy pants – hello MC Hammer, and other colorful trends. But also flannel and grunge. It’s also the decade when SATC began. One of the best fashion related shows ever!

    xx Yasmin

  10. We are totally living 90s fashion right now and I’m loving it. I was too young to really be into fashion in the 90s (born 89) so I never wore mom jeans or cut off shorts or tried grunge and crop tops. Now is my time to experiment with all the 90s trends but in a more modernized way =). I wonder how they will describe fashion from 2010-2020 which has basically been repeats of fashion from other decades =P.

    Rina Samantha

    1. Hahah well I’m 95′ so I was too young to go fashion in the decade too, but hey, we both are feeling the connection right? But ofc, the modern version of the 90s fashion is even better! Xx

  11. Haha, yup, the early 00’s for sure was not fashionable! I mean, denim on denim gone terribly wrong with Brittney and Justin, how could we ever forget, lol, and so many others as you’ve mentioned. But, the 90s are very nostalgic because I too grew up during this era and it definitely had a very chic vibe all around. The fashion was more casual for the everyday and entertainment played a huge role in fashion. It’s so funny, when I got to the part on beauty and the dark brown lipsticks that were trending, it brought flashbacks of when I’d sneak into my mother’s makeup draw and wear her dark brown lips and thought I was the 4th member of TLC, haha. I feel the 90s were the best time to be a kid, there’s no other era quite like it nor will there ever be. Oh, and don’t forget about “the Rachel” hair cut, yup, I got one as a kid, haha. I looked like a grown woman in a little girl’s body, but I was set on having that style because I loved her so much! Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you’re having a great day so far!



    1. Hahaha is it weird if I sort of can see it though? Young Jalisa loving the fashion and makeup of the adults and going for the TLC look? Hahah can definitely see it babe! Xx

  12. I’m a 90’s kid also. Well I was born in 1988, but I grew up in the 90’s. I remember so much of the fashion, the hair springs, the little butterfly clips, the tattoo style chokers, the short skirts, cropped jeans, platform shoes. It was all crazy! It’s weird to see it all coming back in fashion now though, but in a more modern way. I loved Clueless too!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

    1. Hahah right? It’s so weird and it took me ages to accept it, but I love it now! Xx

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