Still Wearing These Clothes? Your Style Might Be Stuck in the 1990s

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

light wash jeans with tag
Jeans should not be torn before you buy them. |

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

variety of flannel shirts
Flannel fabric was huge in the 1990s. |

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

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week - Coco Kliks Show
Plaid pants look a little dated at this point.| Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

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

Pop star Britney Spears performs on NBC's 'Today' show June 30 2000, in New York's Rockefeller Center. 'Today' holds concerts outside its studio every Friday during the summer. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)
Brittany Spears was the queen of neon back in the day. | Chris Hondros/Newsmakers

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

Designer Estefano Gabbana and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas mingle during the after party for the 2003 GQ 'Men of the Year' Awards at 48 Wall Street on October 21, 2003 in New York City. The GQ 'Men of the Year' Awards recognize sensational men of distinction from the worlds of music, fashion, style, film, sports, comedy and television. The show will air live on the Spike TV network. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
These tops are just a little too cropped. | Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

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

Dr Martens boots are pictured in the Dr Martens factory in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in central England, on March 18, 2010. What do British 1980s groups Madness and the Cure have in common with current teen heart-throb actor Robert Pattinson, Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama? Believe it or not, Dr. Martens' boots and shoes. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Combat boots seemed appropriate for any situation. | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

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

Jennifer Lopez performing at the '1999 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards' at The Armory in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect)
Metallics are more suited for performers. | Scott Gries/ImageDirect

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

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Supermodels (L-R) Daniela Pestova, Stephanie Seymour, Karen Mulder and Ines Rivero pose in front of a spaceship to celebrate the launch of Victoria's Secret "Angels 2000" line of bras and panties. The new line is made of futuristic liquid-looking fabric. AFP PHOTO/Timothy Clary (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Supermodels ruled the lingerie-inspired looks. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

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

woman styling hair with curling iron
Yes, even certain hair styles are stuck in the ’90s. |

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

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 1: Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Elle MacPherson (L-R) make a grand entrance at the launch party of their new restaurant, "The Fashion Cafe" 01 December in New York. The trio of some of the world's most successful fashion models have teamed up to launch a theme restaurant which combines fashion and food. The opening is scheduled for Spring 1995. (COLOR KEY: Schiffer C wears sky-blue top.) (Photo credit should read JON LEVY/AFP/Getty Images)
Don’t try this today; it’s just too much. | Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images

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.