You may not think of ’90s style as the epitome of fashion, but you can’t deny that it’s starting to make a comeback. Everywhere you look now, you’ll see high-waisted jeans, crop tops, turtlenecks, and athletic wear. That’s why some of our biggest style inspirations were ’90s TV characters.
Growing up and watching these shows, our middle school selves tried our hardest to replicate their looks. Even if we weren’t successful, these characters had an impact on our style for the rest of our lives.
16. Kelly Kapowski
Let’s be real, we try and steal Kelly Kapowski’s style from Saved By the Bell to this day. Sure, her ’90s style was totally over the top and exaggerated, but she managed to pull it off in a way that made us think we could, too. She was all about big, voluminous hair, light-wash and high-waisted jeans, and lots and lots of neon colors. Kelly is pretty much the icon for the kind of ’90s revival style that’s popular today. Stars today are all about stealing Kelly’s look too, with “mom” jeans and bright crop tops popping up all over the place.
15. DJ Tanner
DJ Tanner is basically the embodiment of wholesome ’90s sitcoms and wholesome ’90s style. While we watched her grow from a dorky little kid into a real-life young adult, she never lost her signature, playful style. Granted, her bangs in the earlier seasons were a little bit too much for us to replicate, her style gave us certified ~looks~. These were the kind of outfits your mom wanted you to wear: chunky sweaters, neon leggings, and of course — who could forget that black prom dress?
14. Sabrina Spellman
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was not only one of our fave shows growing up, the titular witch also had a unique ’90s style that middle-school-you definitely tried to steal. The best part about Sabrina’s fashion choices is that they were pretty unpredictable. She could go from bright pink crop top to little black dress in one scene change. The earlier seasons of the show were the best because you could always catch Sabrina in a choker and some sort of funky hairstyle.
13. Hilary Banks
Hilary Banks was not only the most-stylish character on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she was a style icon in her own right. Hilary wore the kind of things we imagine we would wear when we were successful business ladies with tons of money. Granted, the clothes she wore weren’t always work-appropriate, but she always looked like a million bucks. Usually preferring dark clothes, Hil could go from rocking a pantsuit to a slinky cocktail dress in no time at all. While we definitely didn’t have her style as tweens, we dreamed of one day rocking an outfit like hers.
12. Rachel Green
Rachel Green was another undeniable icon for ’90s style. Even though she ended up working for Ralph Lauren, she had amazing style while she was still pouring coffee at Central Perk. Rachel was all about combining playful, girl-next-door style with high-fashion, definitely grown-up pieces. She could rock overalls or a plaid, schoolgirl skirt just as well as a black miniskirt and black stilettos. Plus, let’s not forget her haircut in the first season that changed the hair of women for a decade or more.
11. Monica Geller
Like Rachel, Monica Geller had her own amazing and unique ’90s style that we all wished we could pull off in middle school. While she played it a little bit safer than Rachel, she always pulled together outfits that were sophisticated and cute. Monica was all about the light-wash mom jeans and crop tops or oversized sweaters. Her style was definitely ’90s, but casual and timeless enough where you could wear pretty much any of her ‘fits today and look like a style icon.
Honestly, even out of all the girls on Saved by the Bell, sometimes Slater was the true fashion queen. He wasn’t afraid to rock crazy-bold patterns, neons, crop tops, and ridiculously-exposing tank tops. Granted, the mullet wasn’t a great look, but hey, not every aspect of ’90s style was great. We could give or take some of his athletic wear, but he wore some great sweaters, tees, and flannels, and honestly, some of us might be bold enough to copy his lewk, even today.
9. Buffy Summers
Somehow Buffy Summers was able to kick some serious vampire ass while managing to rock some incredible ’90s style. She was all about keeping it simple, with a whole bunch of blacks, dark reds, and occasionally some leather. But she looked just as good when she gets a little girlier and wears cheetah print or slinky crop tops. Basically, Buffy can pull off any look, and we definitely tried to do the same.
8. Topanga Lawrence
Topanga Lawrence was living every middle-schooler’s dream life. She was undeniably adorable, had a great group of friends, the perfect boyfriend, and of course — a great sense of style. While Topanga had a ton of great outfits, the true focus of her ~look~ was her legendary hair. It was healthy, shiny, and GIANT. She always had the most fun hairstyles, whether she was throwing it in a giant ponytail, braiding it, or crimping it.
7. Tia & Tamera Campbell
Sister, Sister had some of the wackiest ’90s style on television at the time. While the two were undeniably different in their personalities, their fashion senses were pretty similar. They were super daring in what they wore, and we tried to replicate it as best we could as 13-year-old fashion victims. Tia and Tamera Campbell were all about denim, neon colors, wild hats, oversized everything, and more denim. While definitely not a timeless style, everything about the twins’ fashion is wonderfully nostalgic.
6. Will Smith
Will Smith was absolutely everyone’s TV best friend and a relic of ’90s style. Most of us grew up either wanting to date him or wanting to be him. Just like the character himself, Will’s style on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was loud, playful, and totally unique. While he managed to pull a suit off in a few choice episodes, you could almost always catch will in baggy pants, shirts with the coolest patterns, and usually some sort of super-bold hat. Plus, he was probably one of the first to popularize the crop top for guys.
5. Lindsay Weir
Granted, Freaks and Geeks takes place in the early ‘80s, but after the show came out, we all wanted to dress like Lindsay Weir. She started as super-preppy, but as she became friends with the “freaks,” she took on a grungy, laid-back look that made her seem like a total badass. She was the kind of badass that every middle-schooler wished they looked like. If you had a flannel, an army jacket, and some distressed jeans — you were set.
4. Ashley Banks
Like her older sister, Ashley Banks had her own awesome, signature style. Unlike Hilary, however, Ashley’s style is a little bit younger and a lot more laid-back. As she grew up on the show, she became a way more independent and confident lady, which was definitely reflected in her style. She was all about super-high ponytails, babydoll dresses, and she always had the coolest pair of sneakers on. TBH, we still try and copy her style now that we’re long out of middle school.
3. Darlene Conner Healy
Darlene from Roseanne was one angry teenager and she made it look cool. She rocked all-black everything, except when she threw on an oversized denim jacket or ripped mom jeans. Her hair was the definition of ICONIC and left those of us who’d been trying to flatten our hair embracing our natural curls. Of course, they never looked as good as Darlene’s did.
2. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes was definitely one of the most memorable it-girls of the late ’90s and early 2000s. She was wild, hilarious, fun, and adorable. Every middle school-age girl wanted to replicate her sense of humor, confidence and of course — her style. She was all about bright colors (mostly pink, of course), patterned skirts, and usually a crazy hair accessory. We definitely couldn’t pull these looks off now, but she had the perfect style for middle schoolers to replicate.
1. Angela Chase
Angela Chase was everybody’s favorite brooding teenager from My So-Called Life. She wore dark colors, dyed her hair a wild red, and was definitely edgy. When we were in middle school, we definitely weren’t as cool as she was, but we may have been just as boy-crazy. Angela could always be seen wearing flannels, oversized florals and a whole lot of plaid. She encapsulated high school grunge. We tried to emulate her style, but were largely unsuccessful.