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One of my favorite activities when I visit my childhood home is to raid my mom’s closet—but I’m not digging through her drawers to find designer items or her latest Zara purchases (though I’ll happily stumble across them). I’m looking for any rare artifacts from the ‘90s: leather pants, blazers with shoulder pads and light-wash Levi’s denim. I love that my mom has kept many of her pieces from the early days of my adolescence, and that she now gets to begrudgingly share them with me. I won’t let you raid her closet, but I will let you in on the best ’90s outfit inspo for creating your own old-school ensembles.
Fashion from the ‘90s is rooted in a few key categories: comfort, color and relaxed minimalism. Many of the pieces from the ‘90s are what we would now consider “basics” or “essentials”. Well-loved leather and denim act as the canvas for most looks, and primary-colored turtlenecks, t-shirts and patterned sweaters add carefree flare that shows consumers didn’t take their style too seriously. The simplicity of many ‘90s fashion trends was a major redirection from the wild wardrobes of the ‘80s, so it’s no surprise fashionistas gravitated to the unexpected change.
On the contrary, we now see a resurgence of both maximalism and ultra-minimalist fashion happening at the same time—and conveniently enough, my top ’90s outfit staples are essential for both kinds of outfits. I personally can’t commit to just one aesthetic—some days I like to opt for a Bella Hadid-style slicked bun, blazer and jeans, and other days I’m drawn to puffy sleeves, garish hues and geometric shapes.
If you’re ready to revamp your wardrobe with a ’90s main character flare, scroll on for some ’90s outfit inspo straight from our street style favorites.
A Leather Set
Grunge was big in the ’90s and has come back in style in a more glamorized way. A full-on leather outfit looks best when the leather is heavy, yet worn-in for a biker-chic meets model off-duty look.
A Pair of Baggy Jeans
Skater culture was alive and well in the ’90s and that means baggy denim styles were everywhere. While the silhouette was primarily worn by men, everyone is playing a part in bringing the baggy denim trend back.
A Sweater Vest
Sweater vests are one of the power players of ’90s fashion. They can be styled in so many ways because they are easy to layer. Tiny sunglasses, baggy denim and white sneakers is a guaranteed formula for sweater vest success.
An Oversized Blazer
One of the major perks of ’90s-inspired outfits is that they are often geared towards comfort. An oversized blazer is an essential piece for looking chic on the go.
A Plaid Skirt
Not owning a plaid skirt? As if! Channel Cher from Clueless and wear a plaid skirt with as many looks as possible. If you want to play into the school-girl vibe, you can add a pair of loafers—or, if you want to mix it up for a more 2022 look, opt for cowboy boots or flatforms.
A Simple Ribbed Tank
A ribbed white tank top is the best item to have in your closet, and it oozes ’90s chic. You can add a blazer, leather jacket, baggy jeans or plaid skirt as you see fit! It’s also an understated going-out top—add some jewelry to dress it up and you’re golden.
A Trench Coat
Trench coats were a huge trend on the 2022 New York Fashion Week runways and should honestly never go out of style. A ’90s-inspired leather trench is a great option for staying warm in the winter, or a classic cotton twill beige trench will last you through the summer.
A Leather Blazer
If that aforementioned full leather set was a little too much for your liking, a simple black leather blazer is a classic ’90s piece to add to your wardrobe.