Going home for the weekend, I was excited to show off my new fashion finds to my family, and I walked through my front door wearing a white pair of high-waisted Levi’s capris tucked into a chambray button-up. My mom, who usually showers my outfits with compliments, instead greeted me with a burst of laughter.
“I swear,” she said, “I had that exact same outfit when you were a little kid. And I’m sure you made fun of it for being ‘uncool.’”
Personally, there is one thing her comment made me absolutely certain about: The nineties are back. For a couple of years the fashion world has had an eighties revival with neon colors, exaggerated shapes and wacky prints, but now it is moving on to the next decade – one many of us college students have actually lived through. Don’t let those memories of your mom looking terribly Gap girl-esque scare you away; the nineties were a decade of fashion genius. Always effortlessly cool, fashion icons like Kate Moss, Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder mixed elegant minimalism with trashy grunge, cutesy girliness with a tomboy flair and wore every outfit with a down to earth attitude. With all the nineties-influenced pieces flooding the fashion arena, it’s easy to channel these stylish ladies in your everyday wardrobe.
The low waisted, flared jean has officially been taken over by an essentially nineties fit. Now, high-waisted pants that are skinny from the waist to the leg openings are the hippest option. Taking another cue from the nineties, the perfect jeans hit slightly above the ankle with a length somewhere between capris and normal pants, giving awesome kicks a time to shine. Of course, a new jean fit calls for a new shirt fit. While pants become higher, shirts become shorter (or should be tucked in) for a new silhouette that emphasizes your waist and butt. A tight fitting crop top is a daring option that allows for a little sex appeal when showing off a strip of stomach, or give grunge a modern twist by buttoning up a flannel all the way to the collar and primly tucking it in for an interesting contrast between classy and trashy.
While eighties-inspired fashion had an in-your-face color palette more appropriate for high school dress-up days than real life, the nineties had a subtler color palette that communicates a mature and laid back chic. As in any decade, all black was a chic go-to that let fit and fabric (preferably offbeat luxurious ones like velvet) take the spotlight. If color’s your thing, steal popular nineties hues like mustard yellow, deep maroon, off-white and pale pink, which are quietly pretty and both casual and elegant. Bold, oversized prints and graphics are replaced with smaller, more classic prints like paisley or hounds tooth (think Cher Horowitz’s irresistibly matchy-matchy suits in Clueless).
Denim is another huge nineties fabric that has gained popularity today. All satire of the “Canadian Tuxedo” has become obsolete as denim on denim loses it’s fashion-crime status. In the nineties, chambray and denim shirts were staples that hung in the closets of both the fashionable and the fashion-aloof. Now they are gaining back their coveted place in closets, taking on fits that are just slightly more tailored yet maintain that worn in, wildly soft fabric.
Jean skirts and cutoffs reclaim their spots in wardrobes, only the barely-there Abercrombie and Hollister versions should simply be banned. Instead, high-waisted pairs in perfectly worn fabrics would have nineties grungsters swooning. Or toughen up dainty floral prints with oversized jean jackets and vests that were too cool for school in the nineties and just cool enough for school now.
I idealize the midi-length silk shift my mom wore in family videos. Just slightly sheer, she would belt the elegant number with its tiny, dark floral prints. Calvin Klein’s minimalist gowns grew huge in the mid nineties and are once again a source of inspiration for any girl who wants to look simple and elegant with their monotone colors and streamlined shapes. Even girly mini-dresses with dainty prints and ruffled silhouettes take on an element of cool when paired with ripped tights, combat boots and denim jackets.
So sure, you may no longer be dying to watch your favorite boy band or watching reruns of “My So-Called Life,” but as far as fashion goes, the nineties are back with an unstoppable force.
Maggie Schafer is an English/creative writing and sociology major. Send her your opinions or questions on the latest trends at firstname.lastname@example.org.