The ‘90s were filled with all sorts of ridiculous trends — there was grunge, neon, tons of glitter, lots of sports gear, and somehow it all got mixed together to create one of the most rad decades for fashion. Whether your thing was heroin-chic like all the models, or snapbacks and sweet kicks like the rappers, there was for sure something for everyone. Here’s a look back at 21 of the most memorable trends, and we’re betting if you were a ‘90s kid, you managed to make your way through all of them.
Whether you rocked them as a headband or as a shirt, there always seemed to be room for a bandana in every outfit. Even dudes liked wearing them to keep their quintessential ‘90s bowl cuts out of their eyes.
20. Shell necklaces
You didn’t have to be fresh from a beach vacation to rock some version of a shell necklace (although they were required purchases anytime you went anywhere within 10 miles of a beach). This is another trend that wasn’t gender-specific — everyone could pull off those sweet Puka shells.
19. Air Jordans
These were literally the coolest shoes anyone could own. They weren’t cheap, but they were hip AF. It was the height of Michael Jordan’s fame, and most teenage boys would’ve bought anything he put his name on. J’s were legit.
18. Reebok pumps
These rivaled Air Jordans as the coolest shoe in existence. These had the bonus feature of being able to be inflated with air for a customized cushion in the heel and ankle. So, not only did they look cool and futuristic, they would obviously drastically improve your game — duh.
17. Neon windbreakers
There was a neon windbreaker for every personality in the ‘90s. There was never a risk that you were going to accidentally take your BFFs home with you because they came in a million patterns and yours had to be as unique as possible. But they were all in electric, eyeball-numbing colors and we loved it.
16. Crimped hair
The hair crimper was a hot commodity for teenage girls in the ’90s. There was always one gal in every group that owned one, making her house the coveted spot to get ready for school dances (it just didn’t look as cool when you tried to put your hair in tiny braids for the same effect). We were all just basically trying to be as rad as young Topanga Lawrence.
15. Raiders gear
It didn’t actually matter what team was your favorite. If you wanted to be cool, you wore Raiders gear regardless of who you preferred to root for, particularly if you were trying to live out your West Coast rap fantasies.
14. Button fly jeans
Button fly jeans were somehow flattering on no one and yet simultaneously a must-have for anyone who wanted to be anyone. Even when A.C. Slater “rocked” them on Saved by the Bell you were still kinda like, “huh?”
For some reason, they were ultra-popular despite the diaper-y look they had to them.
13. Sweaters around the waist
You didn’t tie sweatshirts, sweaters, and flannels around your waist for convenience! It was because it looked cool AF. Sometimes you were already rocking a flannel when you tied an extra around your waist just to complete “the look.”
12. Backwards hats
Most of us forgot there was more than one way to wear a baseball hat or a snapback — if it couldn’t be worn backward, we weren’t interested. It gave any outfit that final touch of casual flair that permeated every ‘90s outfit.
11. Starter jackets
Yet another fashion trend revolving around sports, and another where the team you chose to rep was all about their coolness factor. These were absolutely a status symbol, and the coolest kids looked to rap groups like 2 Live Crew and Public Enemy to decide which teams to represent.
10. Tube tops
The deeper we got into the ‘90s, the more naked every teenage girl seemed to get. Navels were always just out to face the world. The tube top was essential in every teenage girl’s closet, which was hilarious since none of our parents let us leave the house in them anyway.
9. Schoolgirl skirts
Seen as both sexy and grunge, plaid schoolgirl skirts were pretty widely loved. Yet another item you usually weren’t allowed to leave the house in (since they were usually WAY too short), but you still somehow owned five of them, much to Mom and Dad’s dismay.
8. Overalls (with the straps down)
These weren’t the overalls of your youth. Somehow, as soon as you unclipped a strap or two from your overalls, you became the coolest kid in the room. Dudes rocked them with a baggy t-shirt underneath, and girls paired them with their teeniest and tightest babydoll tees.
7. Butterfly clips
It was hard not to go overboard with these things. For a classic look, these glittery little treasures could be used on either side of your head to pull your hair away from your face. To go full-‘90s though, you’d have to frame your entire hairline with them.
6. Mood rings
Mood rings were our straight-up religion and all-knowing force. Not sure how you felt about the new kid? Wondering which Spice Girls track to cue up? All you had to do was take one glance at the all-knowing mood ring to gain some insight into your own emotions.
5. Body glitter
There was never enough body glitter in the ‘90s. It was most popular in roll-on form (scented, of course), which could be applied literally everywhere. Eyelids, bellybutton, cheeks, hair, lips… if there was an exposed surface of your skin, body glitter was going on it as a final touch. This is a trend I’d like to see brought back.
4. Combat boots
With the number of combat boots floating around the malls and arcades in the ‘90s, basically everyone looked like they were about to kick some serious ass. It didn’t matter if you were a tortured artist, angsty teen, or actual tough guy — boots, particularly Doc Martens — were cool on everyone.
3. Bucket hats
It’s unclear who’s to blame for the popularity of bucket hats. They were somehow worn by rappers, boybands, and teenage girls alike. How so many different walks of people managed to rock such a dorky hat is an absolute miracle, but these were most certainly a must-have wardrobe staple.
2. Hoop earrings
Yet another trend that was cool for boys and girls. Ladies loved their huge hoops — à la JLo — and dudes were still rocking those tiny silver hoops through their lobes and cartilage. Everyone was dying to get more and more body parts pierced so they could have more places for cool hoops.
The coziest of ‘90s fashion trends, flannel was appropriate for every season back in the day. Preferably worn unbuttoned, baggy, and while listening to your fave Nirvana cassette tape for the third time today.