Like many facets of culture in the ’90s, fashion was about being over-the-top and experimental in the endless search for something ‘cool’. Why? Well, honestly, because the fashion community didn’t know what the hell it was doing – and that made for some awesomely outrageous aesthetics, both on the street and the runway, both hot and not. Heck, even Kriss Kross – a pair of middle school kids, at the time – managed to convince the American public that wearing your clothes backwards was going to be the next big thing. While everyone from Vetements to Balmain is trying to channel (read: recycle) the bygone era, there are trends that are still ‘all that’, and those that aren’t. If you want to do the ’90s right, follow these simple Dos and Don’ts.
DO: Multi-coloured Windbreakers
While you might be hard-pressed finding a vintage windbreaker in all its zig-zagged neon glory in good condition, the less over-the-top equivalents today still sport bold colours that’ll set you apart from a monotonous crowd. Lightweight, loud and perfect for all sorts of weather, a solid windbreaker will bring even the most boring outfit to life.
DON'T: Track Jackets
It wasn’t exactly a good look when the Gallagher brothers did it then (Liam still does), and it certainly isn’t a look you want to own now – that is, of course, unless you want to look like a soccer hooligan, chav or wayward youth from Ukraine. Three stripes, you’re out.
DO: Double Denim
It was fly when Elvis did it, and it’s still fly when Kanye does it – heck, even Clint Eastwood is proof that doubling down on denim is a timeless look. The key is contrasting tone and not taking on one uniform colour or texture, so don’t be afraid to pair your classic selvedge with the torn, acid-washed variety.
DON'T: Wrap-around Shades
The only guy on Earth still doing this is Guy Fieri, and to give you an idea of this man in the rare instance you don’t know who we’re talking about, he is also probably the last person alive to unironically wear flame shirts with a head full of frosted tips. Even if you want to sport a pair of Oakleys for a laugh, please don't encourage this man.
DO: Hawaiian Shirts
When Adam Sandler sports oversized Hawaiian shirts today, it says something to the effect of “I don't care how I look” – but when a young Leonardo DiCaprio rocked one in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, it said “I don’t care how I look – ‘cos I look good.” Likewise, tropical tops can give their wearers an air of effortlessness and nonchalance, so long as they're fitted and the sleeves aren’t going past your elbows.
DON'T: Long Sleeves Under Tees
While not as heinous as the popped collar, the long-sleeved tee under the short-sleeved tee aesthetic is solely reserved for awkward teens who have yet to find a style they're confident with, and is unacceptable for anyone in the post-high school world. If you’re cold, put on a sweatshirt – otherwise, just pick one. You’re not a nurse.
DO: Fanny Packs
We take our hats off to anyone who has the balls to pull this off, regardless of what year it is; the fact that it was brought back into street style by a Jakartan teen’s insanely catchy bit of rap satire is even better. If you can walk around in one of these without being immediately robbed, more power to you.
DON'T: Wallet Chains
Unless you have some serious Chrome Hearts hanging from your pants or happen to be an outlaw biker, leave that string-thin link of metal in your heyday of teenage rebellion. Your wallet should have nothing by which a chain can be attached, and the only thing it’s chaining you to is a historical lapse of stylistic judgement.
DO: Retro Sports Brand Tops
While you might have been pushed around for wearing brands like Champion and Fila back in the day when everyone was far too concerned with the number of stripes that adorned your sleeves, those brands are now a hot ticket in the streetwear scene, pulling in more celebs and collabs than they can shake a stick at. If you still have this stuff in a box somewhere, dig ‘em out and rep that vintage steez.
DON'T: Cargo Pants
Only one man can still rock cargo pants without earning sniggers from passersby, and that man is Zack de la Rocha (and that’s in part due to his legacy of riot-raising music). For the rest of you, there’s absolutely no reason as to why you need pockets that extend below your knees. Get a money clip and leave the rest of your sh*t at home.
Text Trent Davis
Images Various Sources