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90s Themed Party Outfits

When I think of the 90s, one predominant trend comes to mind, Grunge. However, 90s fashion was so much more than one specific fashion trend. From Britney Spears to Kurt Cobain, fashion could not have been more on the opposite side of the style spectrum. In fact, the 90s has something for everybody. Whether you like to dress up or like to dress down, 1990-1999 saw it all. In my opinion, us Gen-Xers enjoyed the last great decade where the fashion was distinct and recognizable. In this post I’m breaking down what to wear to a 90s-themed party including 3 specific and easy options I think you’ll love!

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I’m not about to suggest you buy a packaged Halloween costume. I think Halloween costume parties are such a fun way to express your style, even if you’re dressing up as someone other than yourself. And kudos to your host-themed parties are the best and a 90s party is one of the most fun costume parties to throw!

The 90s gave us so much. It was a time of drop dead gorgeous supermodels, 90210, Saved by the Bell, Friends, Baywatch, boy bands, bubblegum pop and alternative music, just to name a few. After writing What to Wear to a 70s party and Last Minute DIY 80s Costumes, I feel like the decade of the 90s is much more diverse. There are so many options for 90s party outfit ideas so in this post I’ll give you a bit of fashion history, remind you of the most memorable movies of the 90s and give you a few of my ideas for a few special and unique 90s outfits.

In the recent years, 90s fashion has come back in a huge way. My teenage daughter is blowing my mind with her throwback 90s outfit uniform of an oversized shirt, high-waist jeans and chunky sneakers! My youngest daughter even owns a bucket hat. Don’t get me started on the baggy pants, crop top and fanny pack! Isn’t it interesting how trends never die? They come back when you least expect it!

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The Progression of 90s Fashion:

At the beginning of the decade the uber glamorous supermodels ruled the fashion scene. This was a time where women played up all their assets to the highest degree-makeup was heavy and extremely flattering. Hair was voluminous and big. Think Miss America meets high fashion. Models like Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer were not only walking the catwalk, they were also seen in many music videos from Guns N Roses to George Michael to Michael Jackson.

Hot on the trail of supermodels came Kate Moss-a young English model barely coming in at 5’7 with exquisite bone structure and a “waif” thin body. She would turn fashion in the direction of what was called “heroin chic” which was marked by impossibly thin models that were photographed with depressed, far off expressions. Heroin chic made way for the grunge look as Seattle became the epicenter for bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Doc Martin boots, flannels and beanies became staples in fashion and finito was the glamour of the supermodel.

90s Supermodels

Kate Moss
Kate Moss (Photo by Rose Hartman/WireImage)

Hip hop on the other hand was giving Tupac, Biggie Smalls, LL Cool J and Sean Combs with ultra baggy jeans, gold chains, tracksuits and Timberland boots.

Gothic fashion also became popular with movies like The Crow, The Addams Family and The Craft which gave way to the store Hot Topic. Goths were wearing all black, crosses, ripped up fishnet stockings, latex and vinyl and black lace.

The Crow

In the mid 90s there was somewhat of a 2nd British Invasion with bands like the Spice Girls, Oasis and Blur which brought a resurgence of 1960s English mod style. We also saw the schoolgirl look coming back in the form of plaid sets as seen on Cher Horowitz on Clueless and Liv Tyler in Empire Records.

Near the end of the 90s, artists like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Backstreet Boys and NSync danced on the scene and brought with them low waisted, boot cut denim jeans, crop tops and butterfly clips. The late 90s also saw Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a slew of teen scream movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

As you can see, 90s style was literally all over the place so if you are headed to a 90’s theme party, you have plenty of options to choose from.

I grew up in the 90s and can distinctly remember hunting for the perfect pair of used Levis 501s like my life depended on it. Doc Martins, baby doll tees, belly button rings and dreaming of all the tattoos I’d get the day I turned 18 was my style. I also remember when those 501s turned into extreme low waisted bootcut jeans and we were all tugging those pants up with every move. Animal print got big in the late 90s and I was so proud of my zebra printed bag. My style and beauty role model was Liv Tyler so whatever she wore, I wore. You better believe those Aerosmith videos (Cryin’, Amazing and Crazy) were on repeat 24-7. Well, at least when my mother wasn’t looking…

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Wardrobe Staples in the 90s:

  • Butterfly Clips
  • Slip Dresses
  • Plaid Flannel Shirts
  • Plaid Skirts
  • Leather Jackets
  • High-Waisted Jeans
  • Oversized overalls
  • Baby Doll Tees & Spaghetti Strap Dresses
  • Oversized Denim Jacket

90s Makeup Trends:

  • Smoky Eye & Nude Lip
  • Brick/Brown Colored Lips
  • Shimmery Eye Shadow
  • Pencil Thin Brows
  • Dark Lip Liner & Lighter Lip Stick

Drew Barrymore

Memorable 90s Movies:

  • Reality Bites
  • Singles
  • Mermaids
  • Now and Then
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Forrest Gump
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Fight Club
  • Goodwill Hunting
  • The Matrix
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Titanic
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Pretty Woman
  • There’s Something About Mary
Photo by Miramax/Kobal/Shutterstock (5885613l)

90s Teen Screams & Hits:

  • Scream
  • Varsity Blues
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer
  • Empire Records
  • Clueless
  • Dazed and Confused
  • American Pie
  • Can’t Hardly Wait
  • She’s All That
  • Mallrats
  • Election
  • Urban Legend
  • The Craft
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Cruel Intentions
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Jawbreakers
  • Halloween H2O

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Courtney Love:

Hippie/grunge singer, Courtney Love is a musician and actress but became famous after marrying Kurt Kobain. Her music career went into high gear after forming the group, Hole in 1992. After many unsuccessful stints in rehab, Courtney Love is known as a “hot mess” and a loose cannon. Her music is edgy, hard and angry and addresses taboo subjects many women face.

Courtney Love’s style was unique since she often work vintage baby doll dresses w/ Mary Jane shoes. While it would seem that her style was sweet and possibly even juvenile, she always added an edgy element that made her overall look anything but sweet. Whatever appeared sweet in her choice of clothing was drowned out by the grit in her guitar playing and words of her songs.

To pull off her look you’ll need disheveled blonde hair, a slip dress, mary janes. Her makeup typically looked like day old makeup she had slept in with smudged black eyes and badly applied red lipstick. Bonus points if you wear a tiara!

Courtney Love Outfit:


Grunge Girl:

Grunge, at least for me, was the overall style that represents the 90s. If you’ve chosen to represent the 90s by dressing grunge, you’ll want a flannel first and foremost. Black tights and cut off shorts were a bold look as well. Combat boots are a must but if you don’t have those, Converse would also be a great shoe for the grunge look. You could also wear mom jeans, like my beloved Levis 501s. A beanie and a choker would be great finishing touches. The slip dress with a baby doll tee, round glasses and military style boots also scream the 90s. Piercings of all kinds became extremely popular at this time as well.

Remember, the grunge style should be an effortless look, literally. The less primping, the better. Hair was kept natural and even messy.

For makeup, a smokey eye and maroon/brick colored lips is key.

The overall grunge look for women should have a slight edge to it. Sharper pieces like combat boots and a black leather jacket help to keep the look from being too sloppy.

Shop Grunge Outfit:


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Rachel Green (Friends):

The sitcom Friends is a quintessential staple for 20-30 somethings in the mid to late 90s. The lovable characters and funny episodes endeared so many of us. Between Rachel, Monica and Phoebe, the women’s fashion on Friends was emulated by everyone! Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) was best known for her style while wearing a skirt apron and working at the coffee shop, Central Perk. She often wore opaque black tights and a short skirt with a tight  turtleneck sweater or top.

Of course, the haircut is famous in itself and this 90s costume would not be right without something close to it. Using a large round brush or velcro rollers you can achieve the voluminous top layer.

Rachel Green Outfit:


Where to Shop for 90s Clothing:

The best places to find vintage 90s clothes are thrift shops. However, it’s not hard to find 90s style in every retailer today. Also, Free People offers vintage clothing on their site but it is always quite pricey. I found all the items I’ve linked in this post on Amazon Prime. This post is last minute friendly!

There are so many options when it comes to 90s theme party outfits. In my opinion, the decade of the 90s is the easiest to dress up as today because the style is currently in style. Buying a costume or shopping vintage isn’t necessary to pull off a head to toe 90s outfit. All though, you get extra cool points if you can find original pieces. There are so many various styles that represent the decade of the 90s that it won’t be hard to find your perfect 90s party costume! Between the grunge phenomenon, the 2nd British invasion, the hip hop style or the boy band/girl power takeover, the 90s has a style that works for you whether you hit the thrift store or Amazon.

xx, Jenni