Fashion Jam: The best and worst of the 1990s

Do you remember the ‘90s – the decade of grunge, ‘Friends’, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ and the first supermodels?

There is definitely a revival in the air, but like any revival it involves sorting through the odds and ends of a decade to find the pieces that still look fresh today.


A ‘90s revival is tricky though, because it’s quite indistinct. If you think about the ‘60s, it’s a miniskirt, the ‘70s is flares, the ‘80s is shoulder pads and neon, but the ‘90s is complete diffusion. This might be why it’s so appealing now when a pick-and-mix approach to culture and fashion rules. and, because there’s so much variation, there’s lots of room to get it wrong.

Good 1990s right now means a bit of Britpop (trackie tops, androgyny, vintage), a smidgen of R&B (those high-waisted jeans, dungarees) and a whole lot of grunge (slip dresses and cardigans). Less likely to come back? Blossom’s hats, Rachel’s haircut and Tony Blair’s suits.

Charity shops became cool in the 1990s because they were cheap. While there were plenty of shiny pop stars such as the Spice Girls, New Kids on the Block and Take That, it was the bands with guitars like Pulp, Suede, Nirvana and Blur – dressed in their best second-hand garb – whose style stuck.

This vintage 1990s look is being frequently copied today; only now it comes with four-figure prices and a label reading Gucci or Saint Laurent.

GOOD ‘90s:

The slip dress
Thanks to Kate Moss, the slip dress has been the cool girl’s party look for 20 years.

The elegant dressed-down look. Kurt and Courtney were its king and queen.

Tom Ford at Gucci was a ‘90s fashion moment never to be forgotten. Gwyneth Paltrow and her red velvet suit at the 1996 MTV Awards still looks supercool, thanks to the oversized fit and an extra shirt button undone. (I would happily wear it any day.)

Born in the ‘70s, they went oversized in the ‘90s. Marky Mark wore them topless (not sure about that one) and TLC went multicoloured.

The ‘Sex and the City’ foursome influenced the wardrobes of all women who owned a TV. Carrie’s name necklace and tutu were both hip and pretty – a combo she continued to perfect through six seasons. Thanks, Patricia Field.

BAD ‘90s

Super-low rise:
Any jeans that require a bikini wax should not exist, but by the end of the ‘90s, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were both proud promoters of such a

High-cut swimsuits
A ‘Baywatch’-inspired leftover from the ‘80s. No coincidence surely that the Brazilian wax became popular soon after.

The torso is back, but strictly above the waist. The bellybutton is so 20 years ago. (Not only because I’m not 20 anymore.)

Buffalo boots
Always threatening a revival, the Spice Girls-endorsed Buffalo boots were huge – literally and figuratively.

Lip liner
Mariah Carey, Pamela Anderson and Cindy Crawford all favoured a heavily outlined lip. Now worn by Kylie Jenner, a comeback could be on the cards.