How to Create Aesthetic ’90s Outfits: The Complete Guide
Are you looking to bring back ‘90s style into your wardrobe? It was all about being bold, chic, bright, and fun – perfect for making a statement.
This article covers the general characteristics of ‘90s fashion, from blouses and dresses to bags and accessories. You will also learn the basic rules for creating aesthetic ’90s outfits. In addition, we will illustrate each example.
Moreover, here you will find 27 fun and fabulous outfit examples that are perfect not only for a party but also for everyday wear.
What upper clothes were popular in the ’90s fashion?
1. Cropped Tops
Cropped tops are an essential part of ’90s fashion.
Before choosing an outfit, always think about the event and time of year. There is a wide range of cropped top styles to choose from, including sleeveless or with sleeves, strapless or with straps, and made from different materials. For everyday comfort, go for cotton, linen, or denim fabrics. If you want more of a grunge look, choose leather instead. However, if your goal is to dress up for a special occasion opt for satin or silk and metallic fabrics that are often decorated with beads and crystals.
Cropped tops can be combined in many different ways. High-waisted skirts and trousers combined with a cropped cardigan or a leather or denim jacket will do.
Here are some examples of the ‘90s cropped tops for every day:
- Three Graces London: Wendy Cropped One-Back Green Linen Top
- Reformation: Nikki Cropped Blue Denim Bustier Top
- Anna Quan: Lillian Cropped Twisted Ribbed Cotton-Blend Green Top
- Reformation: Shia Cropped Cottone Peplum Pink Camisole
Here are dressier versions of the ‘90s cropped tops:
- Alix NYC: Portia Strapless Cropped Black Leather Top
- Emilia Wickstead: Tara Cropped Bead-Embellished Cutout Duchesse-Satin Black Top
- Area: Cropped Crystal-Embellished Metallic Jersey Bustier Green Top
- Miss Sohee: Vanguard Embellished Purple Top
2. Slim-Fit Turtlenecks
Turtlenecks were often worn as layering pieces in the ’90s. They can be worn alone or under dresses. You can choose between a turtleneck with a pattern or a monochrome look. A sleeveless turtleneck or cut-out detail looks very elegant.
Slim-fit turtlenecks can be combined with trousers, skirts, and even overalls.
Here are some examples of the ’90s turtlenecks:
- Ulla Johnson: Aurelia Printed Stretch-Jersey Black Turtleneck
- Holzweiler: Sara Stretch-Lace Off-White Turtleneck
- Michael Michael Kors: Cutout Metallic Black Knitted Top
- Interior: Ridley Tulle and Cotton-Blend Red Sweater
3. Mesh Shirts
Mesh shirts were often worn as layering pieces or on their own. They can be worn with jeans, skirts, or on top of a slip dress.
Here are some examples of the ’90s mesh tops:
- Ioannes: Recycled-Mesh Brown Wrap Shirt
- Isabel Marant: Kimmy Sequin-Embellished Black Mesh Top
- Missoni: Mare Cropped Printed Mesh Top
- Helmut Lang: Jersey Black Mesh Top
4. V-Neck Shirts
V-neck shirts are a wardrobe essential. They are suitable not only for a ’90s-style outfit but also for a modern look. With them, you can easily create both an official and a more playful preppy look combination with a mini skirt and a colored wool vest.
For cooler seasons, choose V-neck t-shirts with sleeves, and for warmer seasons, three-thirds sleeves or sleeveless. The elegance of this piece comes with a longer type of sleeve ends, accentuated waist, and details like buttons. Choose soft fabrics like cotton and silk.
The V-neckline allows you to choose jewelry close to the neck. Here you can learn how to style jewelry.
Here are some examples of the ’90s V-neck shirts:
- Balmain: Button-Embellished White Cotton-Poplin Shirt
- Giuliva Heritage: Adelaide Perforated Linen and Cotton-Blend Ecru Shirt
- Reformation: Kendall Silk-Satin Neutral Blouse
- Acne Studios: White Cotton-Poplin Shirt
5. Graphic Tees and Flannels
We classify graphic tees and flannels in the category of grunge and street style. These clothes are perfectly combined with denim or leather pants and chunky sneakers or ankle boots.
Here are some examples of the ’90s graphic tees and flannels:
- Balenciaga: Printed Cotton-Jersey Black T-Shirt
- Isabel Marant Étoile: Ervey Checked Ecru Flannel Jacket
- Dolce & Gabbana: Printed Cotton-Jersey Black T-Shirt
- Balenciaga: Slime Printed Cotton-Jersey White T-Shirt
6. Blazers and Coats
Whether it’s leopard print, zebra print, or another animal print, a colorful blazer or coat was a great way to add some fun to your outfit in the ’90s. These jackets also feature padded shoulders and a waist accented with a wide leather belt with a buckle.
These blazers can be combined with trousers, skirts, and dresses. But keep in mind that when your blazer or a coat has an animal print or is brightly colored, it will be the main attraction of your outfit. As such, make sure the rest of what you’re wearing should be more subdued.
On the other hand, you can create a color block outfit with your monochrome bright jacket. Just use contrasting, but slightly muted colors.
Here are some examples of the ’90s blazers:
- Proenza Schouler: Asymmetric Zebra-Jacquard Stretch Cotton-Blend Blazer
- Fendi: Belted Metallic Silk-Blend Gold Cady Blazer
- Dolce & Gabbana: Double-Breasted Floral-Print Cady Red Blazer
- Dion Lee: Oversized Hook-Embellished Green Crepe Blazer
7. Leather and Denim Jackets
Denim and leather jackets are essential pieces in any wardrobe. They can be paired with cropped tops, skirts, and pants of all styles to create a range of looks – from edgy to classic. And they always add an extra touch of style.
The decade was defined by either cropped or longer (with accentuated waist) jackets.
If you’re going for a ’90s look, your best options for leather jackets are black, dark brown, or burgundy. The texture of the leather jacket is also important – it can be either smooth or shiny.
Here are some examples of the ’90s leather jackets:
- Altuzarra: Laga Double-Breasted Black Leather Jacket
- 16Arlington: Adara Cutout Cropped Dark Brown Leather Jacket
- Sergio Hudson: Cropped Dark Brown Leather Jacket
- Petar Petrov: Mylo Belted Textured-Leather Burgundy Biker Jacket
Denim jackets are also available in various designs and colors.
Here are some examples of the ’90s denim jackets:
- LVIR: Belted Denim Jacket
- Ganni: Cropped Metallic Organic Denim Jacket
- Saint Laurent: White Denim Jacket
- Agolde: Charli Organic Denim Blue Jacket
8. Cropped Cardigans
The cropped cardigan was a popular fashion choice in the ’90s. It can be worn with both jeans and slip dresses for either a casual or girly look. These cardigans are often decorated with buttons, pockets, and a ribbon tied in the front.
Here are some examples of the ’90s cropped cardigans:
- Golden Goose: Journey Cropped Crystal-Embellished Cable-Knit Lilac Cotton Cardigan
- Alexander Wang: Crystal-Embellished Wool-Blend Black Cardigan
- Frame: Cropped Crochet-Knit Off-White Cardigan
- Gucci: Horsebit-Detailed Camel Cashmere Cardigan
Different types of vests were popular in the fashion of the decade. For a more formal look, go with a V-neck shirt with a button-down sleeveless jacket-type vest. To create a preppy look, combine V-neck shirts with knitted vests and mini skirts. Denim vests are more suitable for leisure time.
Here are some examples of the ’90s vests:
- Alex Mill: Francis Fair Isle Pink Wool Vest
- Veronica Beard: Bennett Houndstooth Brown Tweed Vest
- Lingua Franca: Cashmere-Jacquard Green Vest
- Ganni: Organic Denim Vest
Sweatshirts can be worn for sports- and streetwear. They are made of different materials, but nylon and cotton are the most common. Sweatshirts from the ’90s are often oversized. They are easy to combine with jeans, wide cargo pants, and chunky sneakers.
Here are some examples of the ’90s sweatshirts:
- Brunello Cucinelli: Brown Satin Sweatshirt
- JW Anderson: Run Hany Half-Zip Track Blue Jacket
- Koral: David Koma Zelda Valo Cropped Jersey Black Hoodie
- Erl: Distressed Two-Tone Cotton-Jersey Red and Green Hoodie
What dresses and skirts were popular in the ’90s fashion?
There are several dress types and characteristics popular in ’90s fashion: slip-type dresses with straps, also turtleneck stretch dresses, and floral designs.
This decade’s definition of a slip dress features satin, metallic and sequined materials. Additionally, velvet was also popular. To complete the look, pair a dress with a cropped cardigan and platform sandals.
Here are some examples of the ’90s occasion dresses:
- Reformation: Breslin Metallic Stretch-Jersey Green Maxi Dress
- Alex Perry: Preston Twisted Blue Velvet Turtleneck Midi Dress
- Stella McCartney: Asymmetric Draped Satin-Crepe Red Midi Dress
- Galvan: Mykonos Sequined Metallic Tule White Midi Dress
For a more casual look, try pairing a floral slip dress with a leather or denim jacket and sneakers. Or, for something a little more dressed up, go for a turtleneck stretch mini-dress.
Here are some examples of the ’90s casual dresses:
- Off-White: Ruched Floral-Print Stretch-Crepe Off-White Mini Dress
- Rodarte: Embellished Floral-Print Pink Silk Maxi Dress
- Rixo: Sardinia Open-BAck Crochet-Knit Floral-Print Linen-Blend Blue Maxi Dress
- Loveshackfancy: Sima Floral-Print Green Velvet Midi Dress
2. Pleated Mini-Skirts
The ’90s were characterized by a look that featured a pleated mini-skirt, V-neck shirt, jacket, and black knee boots. However, these skirts can also be worn with cropped tops, turtlenecks, jackets, blazers, and cardigans. Finish the look with a pair of sneakers.
These skirts come in various materials like denim, knit, or leather which makes them versatile for any occasion.
Here are some examples of the ’90s pleated mini-skirts:
- Balmain: Embellished Distressed Pleated Light Denim Mini Skirt
- Sergio Hudson: Pleated Dark Brown Leather Mini Skirt
- Balmain: Button-Embellished Pleated Houndstooth Jacquard-Knit Black Mini Skirt
- Reformation: Mattia Pleated Organic White Cotton Mini Skirt
2. Pencil Mini-Skirts
For more formal or preppy styles, choose pencil mini skirts. They go well with V-neck shirts or turtlenecks over a cardigan or blazer. Knee-length boots will complement your outfit.
Here are some examples of the ’90s pencil mini-skirts:
- Adam Lippes: Embellished Blue Denim Mini Skirt
- Loveshackfancy: Balsam Metallic Tweed Pink Mini Skirt
- Anine Bing: Alina Black Leather Mini Skirt
- Bottega Veneta: Burgundy Leather Midi Skirt
3. Maxi Skirts
The fashion of the decade is characterized by knitted skirts, as well as floral and other patterned designs, as well as meshes.
The combination of the maxi skirt with a mesh top or a sleeveless V-neck shirt will give you the perfect ’90s look. Combine this style with leather loafers or clogs.
Here are some examples of the ’90s maxi skirts:
- Paco Rabanne: Floral-Print Stretch-Jersey Black Maxi Skirt
- Loretta Caponi: Vale Tiered Printed Cotton-Voile Green Maxi Skirt
- Alexander McQueen: Mesh and Ribbed Silk Black Midi Skirt
- Christopher Esber: Mélange Ribbed-Knit Chocolate Midi Skirt
What bottoms were popular in the ’90s fashion?
1. Cargo, Leather, and Plaid Pants
The ’90s were characterized by baggier styles of pants, including cargo and leather. Plaid pants with a high waistline and shorter leg lengths were also common.
Here are some examples of the ’90s cargo, leather, and plaid pants:
- Interior: The Marlowe Brown Leather Wide-Leg Trousers
- Reformation: Franklin Plaid Straight-Leg Green Pants
- Frame: Straight-Leg Black Satin Cargo Pants
- Alix NYC: Jay Metallic Pink Leather Straight-Leg Pants
2. Jeans and Overalls
Jeans were a staple piece of clothing in the ’90s. The most popular styles were baggy, flared, and straight-leg mom jeans. Additionally, overalls were also popular for both men and women.
Here are some examples of the ’90s jeans and overalls:
- Mother: The Hustler Frayed High-Rise Flared Dark Blue Jeans
- Slvrlake: White Organic Denim Overalls
- Re/Done: 90s High-Rise Straight-Leg Blue Jeans
- Mother: Snacks High-Rise Wide-Leg Light Blue Jeans
What sportswear was popular in the ’90s fashion?
Colorful bodysuits, cycling shorts, and oversized sweatshirts were popular sportswear items in the ’90s fashion. Tracksuit sets often included a two-piece sports top with elastic waistbands and jogging bottoms.
And how could we forget the ’90s attributes such as ankle socks and chunky sneakers, elastic hair bands, wrist weights, and fanny packs?
Here are some examples of ’90s sportswear:
- Year of Ours: Johanna RIbbed Stretch-Jersey Lilac Playsuit
- BALA: Bala Bangles
- Adidas Originals: Adicolor Heritage Now Striped Cotton-Blend Red Track Pants
- Alexander McQueen: Perforated Suede-Trimmed White Leather Exaggerated-Sole Sneakers
What bags were popular in the ’90s fashion?
Shoulder bags were everywhere in the ’90s, and they come in all sorts of materials like leather, canvas, or denim. And don’t forget about the mini backpacks!
Here are some examples of ’90s bags:
- Stella McCartney: Falabella Zip Mini Blue Denim Shoulder Bag
- Burberry: Micro Leather-Trimmed Checked Brown Canvas Backpack
- Saint Laurent: Niki Baby Crinkled-Leather Black Shoulder Bag
- Gucci: Ophidia Printed Coated-Canvas White and Beige Shoulder Bag
What shoes were popular in the ’90s fashion?
Platform sandals, chunky sneakers, knee, and ankle boots: these were all staples in 90s fashion. Leather loafers or clogs were also very popular.
Here are some examples of ’90s shoes:
- Jimmy Choo: Karter 85 Black Leather Knee Boots
- Aeyde: RUth Black Leather Loafers
- Giuseppe Zanotti: Black Leather Ankle Boots / Similar
- Alaïa: 50 Studded Laser-Cut Black Leather Clogs
- Porte & Paire: Blue Velvet Platform Sandals
- Adidas Originals: Stan Smith Faux Leather White Sneakers
- Porte & Paire: Fuchsia Satin Platform Mules
- Alexander McQueen: Perforated Suede-Trimmed White Leather Exaggerated-Sole Sneakers
What accessories were popular in the ’90s fashion?
Back in the ’90s, popular accessories included hoop earrings, chokers, and bracelets. Often these accessories were brightly colored and made of plastic or leather. Of course, don’t forget a wide leather belt with a round buckle to accentuate your waist.
Headbands, bandanas, and claw clips were some of the most popular hair accessories of the decade.
If you’re struggling to put together the perfect outfit, learn how to style jewelry here!
Here are some examples of ’90s accessories:
- Etro: Braided Black Leather Belt
- Bottega Veneta: Silver and Blue Leather Hoop Earrings
- Oscar de la Renta: Lush Acrylic Gold-Tone and Bead Pink Clip Earrings
- Timeless Pearly: Gold-Plated and Cort White Necklace
’90s fashion is characterized by rectangular narrow or slightly wider frames and cat-eye frames. And of course, colored glasses with transparent eyes.
Here are some examples of ’90s sunglasses:
- Dior Eyewear: Dior Club D-Frame Logo-Print Blue Mirrored Sunglasses
- Givenchy: D-Frame Silve-Rone Pink Sunglasses
- Dior Eyewear: Miss Dior Cat-Eye Gold-Tone Blue Sunglasses
- Dior Eyewear: Lady Oval-Frame Black Acetate Sunglasses
How to create aesthetic ’90s theme outfits?
1. One Focal Point
The ’90s were all about bright colors, neon hues, and patterns. However, it can be difficult to combine these qualities in one outfit.
Let’s say your outfit is dominated by the red blazer shown above with black and white floral motifs. To create a more balanced outfit, the main clothes, shoes, and accessories should be more subdued.
2. Color Combinations
One of the most important rules is to learn to combine colors using color palettes.
A red blazer can be quite a challenge. Pair it with black clothes. Repeat the small motifs of red or white from the same jacket in accessories, handbag or shoes. For example, white earrings or a small red detail in a handbag.
Another tip for color matching is to use only one or two dominant colors. The other colors should be softer and not as pronounced.
When styling your outfit, consider using two to three colors maximum. This gives the appearance of a more balanced outfit overall.
3. Visual Interest
Visual interest can be created with different types of fabrics. In ’90s fashion, combine satin fabrics with velvet, as well as cotton, leather, and jeans. Sequins, beads, metallics, buttons, and other shiny details are also perfect for creating visual interest.
Let’s return to the example with the red blazer and black outfit. Take note that you’ll want your black ensemble to remain interesting even when the blazer is off. In this example, we chose a black satin cropped top decorated with beads and satin black cargo pants and combined it with white sequined platform sandals.
Visual contrast is one of the most important rules when choosing a monochrome outfit. Choose more interesting fabrics and accessories to make your look pop.
4. Body Proportions
To create an aesthetic outfit, you must also consider proportions. A cropped top with high-waisted bottoms always looks good. An oversized cropped jacket or cardigan can also help create the illusion of a slimmer top half.
5. Trust Your Intuition
Follow the rules of color combinations, visual interest, and body proportions but trust your intuition when making choices about what looks good on you! pieces and combine them with more muted pieces. Every outfit is unique, so experiment and be creative with your styling.
The ’90s were a time of vibrant style and creative self-expression. With the right pieces, you can recreate the classic ’90s look today.
Here are some tips to help you create an outfit: Choose one focal point, play around with different color combinations, add visual interest, and make sure your proportions are balanced. Follow your gut feeling and have fun with it!
Featured image by Valerie Voila.