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The 1990s: The Battle of Street Style and Minimalism

by Paige McKirahan 26 Sep 2018 0 Comments

The 1990s: The Battle of Street Style and Minimalism

By Paige McKirahan


Taking the crown as one of my favorite decades, the 1990s signified a transition from ‘80s garish to new age minimalism. Though it is difficult to assess the history of a fashion that seems as if it is still in style, there are some trends that aren’t as prominent as they once were (thankfully). In a time were technology was advancing at a higher pace than ever, it truly seems as if this decade is the beginning of modern society. Yes, we have seen an influence from Hollywood for decades, but pop culture affected fashion in an entirely new way during this period with the rise of boy bands, pop-stars, R&B, and the supermodel era.


Metallic Silver Clutch Bag Vintage Accessories talkingfashion online shopping

Though ‘90s clothing still found inspiration in ‘80s silhouettes, it was the first to instigate a ‘60s revival. Loose and oversized styles remained while being complimented by mini-skirts, mini dresses, and tighter styles. Space age aesthetics reigned as white tones, metallic, and references to cosmology were widely popularized. Similar to the ‘60s, this decade saw a division of styles come into circulation and the two main groups can be roughly separated into street style and elegant minimalism. The ladder included a colorless palette with silky, leathery, and velvety fabrics. Silhouettes were linear and simple boasting a relatively neutral color palette. Looking “rich” became cool again and the popularity of name brand designers was restored. They followed the shape of the ideal body which was, at the time, slim and toned. Need help visualizing this aesthetic? Reflect back to ‘90s Calvin Klein or Armani.


Kate Moss in ‘90s Calvin Klein

(photo credit to


Street style was absolutely the opposite. Garnering influence from sports and hip hop, this was a trend that had attitude and a sense of boldness never seen before. MTV could be seen on every television and artist’s laid back styles gave copious amounts of inspiration for streetwear lovers. It was oversized, sporty, and relaxed, boasting large t-shirts with bold prints as the center of attention. Women also loved crop tops and loose fitting, high waisted jeans. Bomber jackets and boots, especially Timberlands, could be seen on rappers and young women alike. This style loved denim, and also used hints of leather and fleece to make oversized sweaters more comfortable than ever. The ‘90s were the first decade where sneakers came into their own, shooting themselves to high fashion status; Vans, Converse, Nikes (especially ones endorsed by athletes), Reeboks, Jordans, and New Balances could be seen on even those most well versed in fashion.


Tyra Banks ‘90s street style

(image credits to


Preppy and grunge aesthetics reigned along with street style as movie stars and musicians were the driving force behind stylistic choices. Loved by affluent teenagers, preppy style was inspired by Clueless and Ivy League trends. Blazers, polos, all things Ralph Lauren, and plaid was worn everywhere; mini-skirts, crop tops, and everything in between could be seen covered in bright colors or with preppy motifs. Leisure style for this trend included denim overalls, which are loved by all style communities in this decade.

Grunge, on the other hand, finds in inspiration for its vision in bands like Nirvana and actress Drew Barrymore. Those that were interested in this style have similar taste to punk lovers of the ‘70s, but in a more subdued manner. These wardrobes included an assortment of jackets, sweaters, skirts, and footwear with a worn in look that made it hard for couture designers to have successful collections in this aesthetic.


Kurt Cobain in grunge style

(image credit to


Jewelry trends in the 90s moved away from the flashiness of the ‘80s and had a more minimal aesthetic. Swatch watches, slap bracelets, anklets, toe rings, and puka shell necklaces all were beloved accessories in this decade. Chokers were a youthful favorite that have been revived in the late 2010s, and scrunchies have made a comeback as bracelets at the beginning of this year! Tiny sunglasses in an endless supply of bright colors also moved away from the huge specs loved by the ‘80s and ‘70s.


lucite plastic jewelry vintage jewelry online shopping talkingfashion


Lucite was a popular material and was commonly used to make chunky rings in bright colors, among other jewelry styles. Celestial motifs, smiley faces, peace signs, and ying-yang icons adorned pieces and gave use a sense of ‘60s nostalgia. Name plate necklaces a la Carrie Bradshaw are just as trendy now as they were then along with hoop earrings of all sizes. This decade also loved the use of crystals and gems in their jewelry, especially if they were color changing depending on your mood.


maria arakas 90s fashion style hoop earrings vintage jewelry talkingfashion


A mere 20 years ago when all of these trends burst onto the scene, no one could have anticipated their overwhelming popularity in the 2010’s. If you’re loving this ‘90s revival as much as I am, head on over to our collections so you can own some hoops and chokers of your own!


Maria Arakas 90s choker jewelry set vintage bijoux talkingfashion

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