Nostalgia: Looking Good Never Goes Out of Style – 1990s

Liv Combe, Editor-in-Chief

The Rachel. Flannel. Oversized dirty jeans. Babydoll dresses. White Keds. Bellybutton piercings and bare midriffs. Ah, the stuff of the 1990s. 

It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly defined the fashion of this decade — maybe because it was a time when we were alive and had the mental capacity to choose our own clothing, or maybe because the styles haven’t entirely disappeared. Either way, there are definite elements to describe the kind of clothes that Obies from two decades ago would wear around campus.

The fashion from the beginning of the decade was a carryover from the ’80s, with oversized tops and tight-fitting pants. Quickly, however, the aesthetic from the Seattle grunge scene trickled in, and people were dressing like urban lumberjacks (see what I mean about the styles not being entirely gone?). Tartan flannel shirts and stonewashed blue jeans wouldn’t have looked out of place in a forest, and they didn’t look out of place anywhere else, either. The popular palette — somber colors like maroon, dark green, and dark blue — was a complete turnaround from the neons and pastels of the ’80s.

The grunge look remained a fashion staple throughout the decade, but, as demonstrated by the students enjoying an early ’90s TGIF in this photo, mixed into the casual look was a touch of 1970s hippie. This revival saw long, floral skirts and dresses, lace tops and straw hats interspread with the more current styles — spandex biker shorts, khaki cargo pants and chunky-heeled Doc Martens.

Pop culture continued to have a huge influence on fashion. Besides the effect of music like grunge and punk rock on just how much plaid people wore, this influence was quite evident when it came to hair.

The Rachel haircut — the bouncy, layered look worn by Jennifer Aniston’s character on the first season of Friends in 1994 — was one of the most requested styles of the decade. Julia Roberts’s voluminous curly mane was also popular, and the grungy look was the incredibly long, wavy hair parted in the middle. As for men, the curtained look favored by the male cast of Dawson’s Creekmeant that sensitive musicians could gaze out from underneath their floppy fringes.

Fads like the prep and Goth looks came and went as the new millennium approached. But, as anyone who has ever shopped at Urban Outfitters can attest, the urban lumberjack is still going strong today.