12 '90s fashion trends that are popular again — and 13 we wish would make a comeback

Christina Aguilera
Cardigans were another huge trend in the '90s, and they're making a comeback.Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images
  • The 1990s were an exciting time for fashion.

  • Insider spoke with a fashion historian to learn more about some of the decade's most popular trends.

  • Acid-wash denim, printed blazers, and headbands are a few trends we wish would come back in style.

The '90s were an exciting time for fashion.

According to Sarah Byrd, a New York University and Fashion Institute of Technology lecturer and fashion historian, this can be traced back to technological advancements made in the decade, which made fashion more accessible to everyone.

From the burgeoning internet to the Style Network, a cable channel that broadcast style- and beauty-centric shows, style inspiration suddenly became widely available to anyone with a TV, or, in the later '90s, a home computer.

Styles popular in the '90s — just like fashion trends of any decade — reflected both old and new ideas. Some trends, like mod sunglasses and plaid outfits, were reminiscent of the '60s. Other styles, like patent leather and nylon clothes, symbolized a futuristic view and a look toward what people thought the year 2000, the new millennium, would bring.

And, as further proof that trends are cyclical, some of our favorite '90s looks are popular again today.

Here are some of the best fashion trends from the '90s that are back in style, and more we wish would make a comeback.

Designer brands like Versace and Tommy Hilfiger became more well-known by everyday people due to the rise of supermodels and fashion-focused media.

cindy crawford 90s versace
Cindy Crawford, wearing an outfit by Versace, attends the Ninth Annual MTV Video Music Awards in 1992.Ron Davis/Getty Images

In a 2019 interview, Byrd told Insider that prior to the mid-and late-1990s, high fashion and luxury name brands were mostly reserved for an elite group of people: celebrities and designers. But with more access to media and TV shows about celebrity style, everyday people started to feel that they could participate in the once-exclusive world of fashion.

"In the late '90s, you had this widespread emergence of TV shows that talked about style," Byrd said. "For example, with shows like 'Fashion Police' on E!, celebrities [became] not just talent, but they also became fashion icons."

Versace and Tommy Hilfiger are still popular fashion brands today.

A simple "little black dress" was a huge trend in the '90s and still is today.

Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell in 1994.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Style icons Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Jennifer Aniston all rocked the chic look throughout the 1990s. Today, the LBD is still popular off and on the red carpet.

Leather was popular during the decade and was often worn in the form of skirts and dresses.

cindy crawford leather outfit
Cindy Crawford, circa 1994.Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Styles that appeared shiny and sleek were a common thread throughout the '90s.

Today, oversized leather jackets and leather pants are popular ways to wear the trend, although Sydney Sweeney proved leather dresses still work at Variety's Power of Young Hollywood event in August, where she wore a leather Alexander McQueen peplum midi dress.

A classic leather jacket was a must-have in the '90s, and is still a wardrobe staple.

drew barrymore leather jacket
Drew Barrymore, circa 1990.Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Leather jackets weren't a style that originated in the '90s, but, as Byrd explained, "The story of fashion is also the story of revising design" — everything makes a comeback.

"From the very beginning of time, there's only been so many ways people can approach how to put together fabric into something that goes on the body," Byrd said. "You'll see the revisiting of past designs and familiar silhouettes throughout the history of fashion."

This classic look is still loved today — Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker even wore matching leather jackets for their 2022 Las Vegas wedding ceremony.

Wearing a plain T-shirt under a blazer was another go-to look in the '90s.

blazer t-shirt 90s
Nicolas Cage on "Saturday Night Live" in 1992.Al Levine/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

This classic look is still a go-to today, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Acid-wash jeans were a new way of wearing denim at the time.

acid wash jeans
Acid-wash jeans.Getty/Ian Gavan

Acid-wash jeans may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but they were certainly a fashion statement. The style was recently spotted on runways in 2019, as pointed out by Who What Wear.

Leopard print has also withstood the test of time, but in the '90s, it was all the rage.

kylie minogue 90s fashion leopard
Kylie Minogue in 1991.Dave Benett/Getty Images

The animal print really was everywhere, from hats to coats and dresses.

Cardigans were another huge trend, and they're making a comeback.

Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera in 1999.Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Cardigans were not only worn as cover-ups thrown on top of tops or blouses, but many stars wore buttoned-up cardigans on their own. Today, stars like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Katie Holmes have all rocked the look.

Plaid blazers and skirts are an example of '90s fashions that made an intentional nod to the past.

clueless movie plaid 90s fashion
Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in "Clueless" in 1995.Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

The yellow plaid outfit worn by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) in "Clueless" has made a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks to Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" music video.

Crushed velvet was another popular fabric in the '90s, and it's made a comeback in recent years.

Marlee Matlin 1990 crushed velvet dress
Marlee Matlin in 1990.Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images

Crushed velvet spaghetti strap dresses were a '90s staple, and would still be a flattering look today.

The bucket hat was a fun '90s statement that is also back.

bucket hat will smith 90s fresh prince of bel air
Will Smith, circa 1990.Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Of all the accessories people sported in the '90s, the bucket hat was a reliable and versatile option. Recently, they've made a return — Pete Davidson even wore one to the 2023 Met Gala.

Neon colors and athletic wear were often a fun, fashion-forward combination during the decade.

spice girls 90s fashion
The Spice Girls in 1997.Fiona Hanson/PA Images via Getty Images

Though these exact styles from the Spice Girls may not be on-trend today, athleisure has made a major resurgence, proving that fashion constantly revisits itself.

Patent leather and vinyl were often used as fabrics in the '90s for a futuristic look. The look has yet to make a comeback, but definitely should.

patent leather clothes 90s
Rachel Blanchard, Elisa Donovan, and Stacey Dash in 1996.Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Byrd says that the overall technical advancements of the '90s as well as the impending new millennium influenced people to dress in what seemed like futuristic styles at the time.

"You can see clearly that in the '90s, there was some ingenuity with how people were looking at design, in large-part because of technology and the feeling that we were entering a new era," Byrd said.


Platform shoes were a '70s trend that reemerged in the 1990s.

Tori Spelling 90s
Tori Spelling during an interview with host Jay Leno in 1996.NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Throughout the decade, everyone from The Spice Girls to Britney Spears and Tori Spelling was photographed wearing platform shoes, and we're waiting for this trend to take off again.

Speaking of prints, blazers with loud prints and vibrant colors were very '90s.

90s fashion saved by the bell
Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano in "Saved by the Bell."Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The loud floral print may be less popular today, but bold printed blazers could be a fun statement to revive.

Polka-dot shirts were big in the '90s.

jerry seinfeld seinfeld 30 years
Jerry Seinfeld in 1991.Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

From Julia Roberts' dotted dress in "Pretty Woman" to lesser-known fashion moments, like this Jerry Seinfeld look, polka dots were a defining print of the '90s.

Seinfeld's style, showcased in the sitcom "Seinfeld," also became iconic for the decade.

Leopard-printed outerwear was especially popular.

90s fashion leopard print mary j blige
Mary J Blige at the 1996 Grammy Awards.Russell Einhorn/Liaison via Getty Images

Though not everyone reminisces on fashion trends from the '90s in a positive light, the leopard- and animal-print look is one that has aged well.

Blazers and button-up shirts were truly the name of the game throughout the decade.

seinfeld fashion 90s
The cast of "Seinfeld."Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

While not exactly style icons, the cast of "Seinfeld" dressed iconically '90s. While blazers are still worn today, they're usually styled a little more casually.

Skirt suits, often worn by Princess Diana, were always a classy ensemble.

princess diana skirt suit
Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1995.Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana wore a number of memorable outfits. While skirt suits are popular among politicians and royals today, it's not often that you see someone wearing this look in a casual setting.

Overalls were also popular for both kids and adults.

overalls - monica friends
Courtney Cox as Monica Geller in "Friends."Warner Bros.

One-piece fashions, like rompers and jumpsuits, have become a staple in many wardrobes today, so overalls reminiscent of the '90s would fit right in.

The high-neck tank top was common in the late-1990s.

90s high neck turtleneck fashion Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson, circa 1999.David Keeler/Online USA, Inc. via Getty Images

This was one of the more simple silhouettes of the '90s.

We miss halter-style shirts, which also kept with the high neckline theme.

high neckline jennifer lopez 90s fashion
Jennifer Lopez in 1998.Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

J-Lo has rocked a variety of memorable ensembles over the years.

Wearing hair in an updo was very on-trend in the '90s.

Reese Witherspoon high neck dress 90s
Reese Witherspoon in 1994.Steve Eichner/WireImage via Getty Images

Butterfly clips and crimped strands were also popular '90s hair trends.

Many sunglasses that were popular in the '90s were a nod to shades from the '60s.

drew barrymore 90s
Drew Barrymore in 1990.Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

As Byrd explained, some styles popular in the 1990s were largely inspired by elements from the past: "Even though there was some ingenuity with how people were looking at design, probably in large part because of changes in technology, there were some styles [of the '90s] that were reflective of the '60s."


Headbands were also super popular.

Alicia Silverstone and Jeremy Sisto in "Clueless" in 1995.CBS/Getty Images

Headbands have come back in style numerous times over the years, including in the early 2000s with the popularity of teen drama "Gossip Girl," on which the main characters wore them almost constantly.

However, in the '90s, the trend truly dominated.

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