Select 1990s styles seem to come in and out fashion each year. Whether it’s a specific style of T-shirt or a particular shade of makeup, the fashion world both resists the ’90s and finds a thing or two worth repeating. But for the most part, you really don’t want your clothes stuck in the 1990s. Are you reliving the decade a little too enthusiastically? Check out the top signs your wardrobe is stuck in the ’90s to make sure you don’t look like you stopped buying new clothes 20 years ago.
1. All of your jeans are the light-wash, distressed variety
In the 1990s, everybody wore jeans that were ripped, distressed, and generally of the flare-leg variety. Today you can wear jeans cut in any silhouette you want — you can spot skinny, boyfriend, flared, and wide-leg options both in stores and on real women. But consider picking a darker wash and a pair without giant holes at the knees for a more chic look. Even better, pair your band tees with a slim-fitting black pair for an updated take on ’90s grunge.
2. A flannel shirt is always tied around your waist
Flannel shirts haven’t gone anywhere. But you definitely shouldn’t be wearing them tied around your waist. That was a ’90s trend that looks passé on just about anyone these days. And is tying an extra shirt around your waist really the most efficient way to layer? Probably not, so you should find a new way to style your flannels ASAP. Try them with a pair of skinny jeans come fall for a low-key, casual look.
3. You’re still wearing plaid pants
Flannel shirts are one thing — a staple anyone can wear, regardless of the decade. But plaid pants, especially flare-leg varieties, are a style that should probably be left in the past. Even a classic plaid skirt can look too ’90s if you aren’t careful about the cut you choose and the way you style it. Sure, there are some menswear-inspired plaid pants that can look modern, but if you’re still wearing the same ones you sported a few decades ago, it’s time to find a new look.
4. All of your clothes are neon colors
The 1980s trend toward neon colors continued into the 1990s, with fluorescent pink, neon green, electric blue, bright orange, and other loud colors appearing on celebrities and regular women alike. Bright motifs like lightning bolts, free-form shapes, and geometric patterns were also popular. If this sounds eerily like a description of your wardrobe, it’s probably time to go shopping and check out the new prints and patterns that have surfaced more recently.
5. Your crop tops bare your entire stomach
Crop tops are a ’90s style that hasn’t disappeared. But in the past couple of decades, the style has gotten a more sophisticated update. Instead of showing off your entire stomach, today’s versions are meant to showcase only a little bit of skin, especially when paired with a high-waisted skirt or pair of pants. If you’re still wearing the same crop tops you wore in the ’90s, it’s probably time to pick a more grown-up iteration of this midriff-baring style.
6. Any outfit with combat boots also includes a slip dress
The combination of heavy combat boots with a slip dress or a floral sundress is a quintessentially ’90s outfit. That means that it looks just a little too dated to continue wearing some 20 years later. For most people, combat boots will be incongruous with the rest of their outfit. But if you’re one of those people who can pull off a modern grunge look — you know who you are — you can keep the Doc Martens if you promise not to wear them with one of these flimsy, girly dresses.
7. Your closet is full of metallic and bedazzled pieces
From metallic miniskirts to sparkly dresses, bedazzled tank tops to rhinestone-encrusted jeans, in the ’90s you probably wore all kinds of sparkly pieces that we hope you left behind. If you’re still wearing glittery tank tops or dresses decorated with gems, it it’s time to move on. You can still find statement pieces and shiny clothes, but the ones being produced today will typically offer a sophisticated finish and a more modern cut than the pieces you’ve been holding on to.
8. You still own a babydoll or lingerie-inspired dress
Babydoll-cut dresses and the lingerie-as-outerwear trend were a big deal 20 years ago. Both trends were especially visible among celebs, often worn on stage by major pop stars. But neither one is a particularly good look these days, especially if you’ve actually grown up in the years since the ’90s and need to look pulled together and sophisticated on a daily basis. Just say no to this ’90s trend
9. You routinely wear scrunchies or butterfly clips
Even if you’re in the clear as far as your clothing goes, your accessories can still give you away as a ’90s kid. When you’re getting your hair out of your face, do you routinely turn to a scrunchie or butterfly clips? If so, it’s time to upgrade to something, anything more basic. Similarly, if your jewelry is all plastic — from chokers to slap bracelets to mood rings — you’re better off upgrading to something a little more understated and a lot more modern.
10. You’re wearing ’90s pieces from head to toe
Ultimately, you can rock just about any ’90s piece if you know how to style it in a chic and modern way. A crop top, a denim jacket, or a high-waisted pair of jeans all enable you to revisit the ’90s without looking like you’re trying to relive them. Channeling your favorite decade’s style without looking like you just stumbled out of a time machine is a major challenge. But with a little bit of smart styling and a lot of moderation, you can wear trends from the ’90s without looking like you’re on your way to a costume party.