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1990s Style 2.0: Key Pieces to Help You Master a 90s Look in 2023


THree women wearing 90s inspired looks; a long leather jacket, a pair of black chunky slides, and a little black dress with strappy sandals

Back in the early pandemic days (around 2020) when 90s era trends started popping-up absoutely everywhere in the fashion world, I figured it would play out like most fashion trends. I figured we'd get a season or two out of it then move on, our attention having been captured by the next shiny thing to cross our paths.


Yet here we are a full three years later, and every style season seems to lead with more 90s era trends. I was just entering my 20s in the 90s, so I am absolutely thrilled by the increasingly evergreen nature of this trend; it feels like having your youth preserved in a sartorial pickle jar for all eternity. As a card-carrying member of the mid to late 1990s Seattle GenX Angst Brigade, I never fully let go of a lot of this stuff to begin with, and I continue to stock a prolific amount of it in my online shops. Trust me when I tell you that nobody is more thrilled than I am at the enduring nature of 1990s Version 2.0.


Want to get the look (again?) This time around we're even more spoiled for choice than we were in the actual 1990s, but when you strip 90s looks right down to brass tacks, key themes emerge. Here are three tried and true, easy to wear classic 90s pieces you can add to your wardrobe right now with literally no fuss. You can click on the photos of individual pieces for more information.


 

Easy 1990s Style Pieces for 2023


Chunky Loafers


In any piece written about 1990s era style, there are two iconic items you simply must include if you are to be taken seriously; the chunky loafer and the Delia's catalog. Lucky for me, this is a homework assignment in which I can easily combine my efforts. This page from a late 90s Delia's catalog is emblematic not only of the chunky footwear of the era, but also of how we used to shop in the time when e-commerce was still a baby. Basically, the Delia's catalog is now a historical document of sorts, and when you compare it to the photograph below of chunky loafers that are available online in this very moment of 2023, it is clear that the Delia's catalog is a historical document that still retains its sartorial significance.


In the years since the expansion of internet e-commerce sites, we have been blessed with more style options that we ever could have imagined when we sat at our kitchen tables paging through the Delia's catalog. Nowadays the "chunkiness factor" of a loafer offers options ranging from subtle to extreme, so you can choose a degree of chunkiness that suits your evolved 2023 tastes.


Chunky shoes from the 1990s, a page from a vintage Delia's catalog



Relaxed Jeans


Ladies, I think we can all finally take a collective deep breath, and I mean that quite literally. It seems that 90s-era relaxed fit jeans are at long last edging-out skinny jeans in the fashion world, and I can't say that I'm sorry about it. Undoubtedly skinnies will always have a place tucked neatly inside my tall boots, but I can't help but feel a newfound enthusiasm (not to mention relief) for finally having a new silhouette to wear on the daily that doesn't pose the threat of needing a standing prescription for yeast infection meds.


I've taken to wearing thrifted flat front mens jeans when I want that sort of 90s, masculine silhouette without the Mom jean waistline (I loathe ultra high waists on me), but if wearing preloved mens jeans isn't your vibe, there are plenty of other style options out there right now.


Relaxed, 90s style jeans



A Statement Leather Jacket or Blazer


In the 80s and 90s, leather jackets became quite the thing. They were marketed to us as a perfect blend of luxury and coolness. If on any given day, you left the house without your obligatory leather jacket over whatever you had on, it left you feeling off balance and beige.


I remember a 90s Seattle roommate of mine who was gifted this oversized insulated Wilsons leather jacket with a hood (!?) by a guy she had just started dating, and whom she was still sort of unsure about. I remember watching the poor guy struggling up our front stairs with this massive heavy black leather jacket (she was a petite flower) and thinking to myself "whoa dude...a leather jacket...that's like, serious. You're really putting yourself out there!" At the time I wasn't sure if the gift of this jacket was good or bad, it was just...a lot. To this day when I'm thrifting and I see one of those massive, ridiculously heavy 90s era leather jackets with a hood, I think of that poor guy, whose inability to read the room cost him the price of that gigantic jacket, as well as his heart.


This time, the similarities of the offerings between the 90s and now are striking. If you're lucky enough to still have some 90s leather pieces in your cache, nows the time to roll them out!


90s era leather jackets on well known female celebrities back in the 90s





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2 Comments


I’m with you in being glad to bid a not-so-fond farewell to skinny jeans. Nineties all cotton straight legs seem to be the direction my androgynous/preppy proclivities are sending me, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to go brick and mortar to try them on, ugh. At least I already own my leather jacket and chunky brogues!

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Exactly! I too will probably have to go try on some different silhouettes as well. I pulled a few pairs of mens jeans out of a bargain bin that work on me (I'm pretty straight up and down so the low waist and no hips thing works for me), bit I definitely want to try some of the more cropped, wider leg varieties for women.

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