The resurgence of '90s fashion has resulted in a truly mixed bag of emotions. While the '90s can be credited with providing us with now-favorable slip dresses and kitten heels, there's also a raft of trends we'd like to keep in the past. After reaching out to the rest of the Who What Wear team, we reminisced about all the pieces we used to be so proud to own but can't imagine ever wearing again (we think), as well as the celebrity looks we'd happily revisit time and again.
Just when you think all of the possible forgotten looks from the 1990s have remained hidden, along comes another one. How much do you want a really ridiculously small right now? And how much better would it be if it had tiny handles and was rendered in silk-satin (see Kate Beckinsale below)? Or what about those '90s Kate Moss images you come back to time and again for inspiration on what to wear on a night out? We've recently rediscovered a love for old-school SJP and combat trousers, too. The revivals are coming in thick and fast, people. Thick and fast.
Keep scrolling for our guide to the '90s fashion items, trends, and combinations we wore to death and then forgot about until now.
1. Animal-Print Dresses
Style Notes: From the midi length to the snakeskin fabric, we can totally imagine this Cindy Crawford dress being worn by someone on Instagram this season. It might've had a bit of a dip in the intervening years, but animal print is officially cool again.
Style Notes: This stunning blush pink red carpet look remains one of the most iconic dresses of all time. We've spotted plenty of Scandi influencers in soft-pink gowns worn with cowboy boots. Gwyneth Paltrow was so ahead of her time.
Style Notes: Helena Bonham-Carter rocked the gothic look in this sheer-sleeve red carpet gown, which she styled with a gold chain necklace (also very on trend right now). There are plenty of copycat sheer dresses and tops around this season, which we'll be wearing with our favorite denim and strappy sandals for a night out.
Style Notes: Velvet was the fabric of the '90s, and this Sarah Michelle Gellar look represents the slinky styles popular during the decade. Fast-forward and the fabric is making a big comeback for the party season, with affordable and high-end brands alike creating dramatic midis and wrap dresses in jewel-tone velvet.
Style Notes: She will forever be remembered for that safety-pin dress from Versace, but let us not forget Elizabeth Hurley's stunning chainmail number, please. The fabric became popular after Gianni Versace created a more wearable version, and the idea has returned yet again with chainmail tops popping up all over the high street.
Style Notes: If your top wasn't A) a vest or B) a corset in the '90s (setting aside grunge and athleisure for a moment), then you were living in a bubble! SJP was a strong supporter of boned and bodiced bandeaus, wearing them with everything from short suits to fancy red carpet skirts. The look feels a bit restrictive in 2020, so it's probably better to go for the milkmaid-style bustier-top trend instead.
Style Notes: Slip dresses will be popular forever and ever, but there's something about the slinky bias cut that feels so right now. Kate Moss has long been an advocate of the simple style, but she was a particularly strong figurehead for them in the '90s.
Style Notes: If you weren't grunge or super polished, you probably spent the '90s trying to imitate Lisa Bonet and her artfully thrown-together NYC hippy look. The mini sunglasses and sneakers still stand up today, and we all know celebs continue to love a "naked" dress.
Style Notes: Printed leggings started in the '80s and went well on into the '90s. It's not a look we're often found reaching for these days, but there's no denying that Naomi Campbell looks smoking hot in this matchy ensemble.
Style Notes: Tell us truthfully now: You want a mini bag again, right? Kate Beckinsale's little fabric bag (and pink skirt) look so right for now. We wonder if she still has the pieces she wore to this film premiere. Also, props to Claire Danes on the very au courant tiger-print top.
Style Notes: Take one look at Zara's new shoe collection, and it's like we've journeyed back to 1995 when strappy heels were the only option. Here's Jennifer Lopez giving an excellent "business casual" look in hers.
Style Notes: While this trend might have started with the grunge music scene, the likes of girl group All Saints and Naomi Campbell were seen promoting this look too. Most recently, Justin Bieber tried to bring it back again. Opinions are split.
Style Notes: This item's popularity probably has a lot to do with the fact that The Matrix was such a huge hit—everyone wanted to wear Neo's long leather coat. But because that maxi silhouette isn't exactly practical (and is more associated with goth kids), it evolved into this shorter form instead, as seen on Winona Ryder and on Kate Moss. Today, you'll rarely find a cool girl in a leather blazer—it's all about the classic biker.
Style Notes: As modeled here by Victoria Beckham, pedal pushers weren't shorts or trousers, and they definitely weren't cropped kick flares. They sat somewhere in a tasteless no-man's land that accentuated your thighs and made your legs look short by cutting them off in the middle. Very popular at Tammy Girl. These were filed under "never to wear again," but influencers have been experimenting once more…
Style Notes: We've tried many a time to block this one out. The vest was often worn during the '90s as a piece all by itself, rather than belonging to a suit. Ideally, it should be worn à la Drew Barrymore with a denim skirt and a bum bag.
Style Notes: Kurt Cobain was a style icon for many reasons. His baggy cardigans and love for the general grunge look inspired a whole generation of fashion. But we still love these oversize red sunnies he wore on the red carpet for the MTV Video Music Awards in 1993. While they've just started to come back into fashion, we'd forgotten about them for so long.
Style Notes: There are many reasons to love the Gwyneth-and-Brad era. For starters, they always somehow managed to do the couples-dressing thing without appearing tacky. But they also did casual dressing like no one else.
Style Notes: If you didn't have a tie-dye T-shirt like the original Destiny's Child lineup, were you really living through the '90s? These were truly everywhere, with even grunge icons like Kurt Cobain getting involved.