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Fashion has a funny way of looking at past trends with derision only to then embrace a few turns of the style wheel later. The 1990s is the latest era to get the full designer overhaul.
As someone who grew into adolescence during the 90s, it would be easy for me to shudder at the thought of stepping back into any of my old looks. But, with a zoomed-out perspective, there was much to admire about this decade. From a musical angle, it was the years that brought us bands like Nirvana, Oasis and Blur and it is an aura of rebellious angst that found its way into fashion.
Overall the fit of the clothing in the 90s became much looser. Clothing broke away from the restrictive formal silhouette and fell headfirst into a more relaxed aesthetic. That meant baggy jeans, shirts tied around the waists and oversized tops. Even suiting had wider shoulders and
Flannel shirts were a staple of any grunge-obsessed music fan. Worn by bands like Pearl Jame and Nirvana, they were always a size or two too big and tied around the waist for extra grungie style points.
The grunge music and style was a modern rebellious ethos for the youth. Unlike the more aggressive punks or rockers of decades before, the 90s archetypal heroes of grunge were typically musicians or actors. Delve into the style archive of a young Johnny Depp for inspiration.
You will find flannel shirts are still as readily available as they were back then. The style though has become more fitted so go a size up. A flannel shirt would look great with some slim-fit black jeans and a leather jacket.
Nothing gives a grunge-inspired two fingers up to consumerist society than a cardigan that looks like it has been hanging on the rails of a charity shop. You don’t buy into brands and this mohair cardigan is proof.
Teenage-angst aside, the cardigan is not something only old people wear. It is versatile and practical, easily integrating into either smart or casual outfits. For true 90s style, we are going more casual than smart.
With most fashion from the time, it was all a little baggy. So something like the Cowichan number made famous by ‘The Dude’ in Big Lebowski would be spot-on. It is bold and would look great with a pair of light blue jeans and a simple white tee underneath.
Thankfully brands like Kent & Curwen have made it much easier to get our hands on this relaxed-fit, long-sleeve alternative to a polo shirt.
The typical looser fit of a rugby shirt means it will naturally dovetail in streetwear but it can be worn slightly more fitted if that is more your style. Either way, the traditional bold stripes of the item can elevate your wardrobe without pushing you out of your comfort zone.
We like to pair our rugby shirts with light-wash denim and trainers. Even adding a blazer if the mood takes us.
The current menswear mood for utilitarian design has seen a resurgence of late for the cargo trouser. Like with denim, in the 90s, cargo trousers were worn loose and you can look to pop groups like Backstreet Boys or N-Sync to recreate the style.
Recent incarnations are a more favourable fit with tailored designs giving it a contemporary and modern feel. It’s the additional pockets on the side of cargo trousers that can offer something different to the majority of bottoms in your wardrobe. As such, they can be a nice alternative to chinos.
Denim manufacturers must have had a field day during this decade. From double denim to baggy jeans, the material was everywhere and in large quantities. In the 90s, hip-hop and skateboard culture was getting us to embrace a wide-leg aesthetic which was a direct alternative to the more regular-fit designers like Ralph Lauren were pushing.
Although both wide and regular were present, we are leaning towards the latter for our 90s inspo. Lighter washes of blue were the toast of the day, so stick with that and add a fitted oxford shirt on top. If you want to go full-on Jerry Seinfeld tuck the shirt in but approach with caution.