Things 90's TV and Movie Stars Wore That I Tried To Wear Too

I've always struggled to define my personal style. Currently, I'd have to say it's the best it has ever been. I try to wear things that are both comfortable and figure-flattering, while attempting to stay somewhat age-appropriate. I understand what silhouettes flatter my figure and which are best to be avoided. I also inject quite a bit of courage into my wardrobe, busting out the sequins during what some might consider controversial settings. Like the supermarket.

If my style had to be categorized, I'd say it's Carrie Bradshaw meets the J Crew catalog with a dash of Mad Men and Zooey Deschanel's character on That Girl, minus the covetable hair. Yes, it's a  somewhat schizophrenic look, and brings to mind a wild-eyed mess of red lipstick and denim and sequins and snug pencil skirts. Getting to this point, though, has been a long and interesting trip. In my 37 years, I have run through a wide variety of looks. I went through a phase where I wore head-to-toe designer clothes, complete with those obnoxious logo handbags that you see on spoiled teenagers and suburban moms at the mall. I experimented with grunge, tearing my vintage Levis and pairing them with plaid flannel shirts and a disaffected smirk. There was a moment with preppy style, in Lacoste polo shirts and chinos from The Gap. I even had a brief brush with athletic wear, during which I wore Nike sneakers with track pants and oversize sweatshirts. That was a particularly unfortunate phase.

Being that I am a child of the nineties, most of my fashion inspiration came from the stars of that decade. As an awkward, geekish teenager stuck in the suburbs, the mythical creatures that graced my TV set were glamorous, stylish, and youthful. They were my first real fashion influences, the people I looked towards for what was trendy. I studied their appearance much as a National Geographic cinematographer tracks a herd of axis deer, and as a result, there were more than a few times when I took fashion cues from them. Was I successful? Well, there's a reason why imitation isn't always the most sincere form of flattery.

The Crop Top

Oh, Donna Martin. She spent her summers at the Beach Club and and went to Paris with Brenda where she almost became zee famous fashion model while Brenda worked zee very very unfortunate French accent for a boy who was, how do you say, gorgeous. She lamented her virgin status and drove a BMW (or was that Kelly? I don't know) and nearly almost didn't graduate high school because she had one measly glass of champagne. One glass. Which was an outrage. Donna is remembered primarily for her somewhat...colorful outfits. She worked a lot of crop tops. A lot of crop tops.Which is fine if you are like her and have an augmented bust and abs that look like you can grate cheese on.


The sexy preppy look was perfect encapsulated by Cher and Dionne in Clueless, though their liberal dose of Californian valley girl vernacular added a certain element I wasn't able to replicate. I adored the white collars that peeked from their sweaters; their plaid skirts; their loafers and headbands and fresh-faced innocence. I loved how their cardigans perfectly coordinated to their accessories and seemed to be made from a combination of angora and baby's breath. But the thigh-high stockings lost me. No matter what size I bought, thigh-highs either squeezed my legs like sausage casings or slid down to my ankles into sad little puddles of wool.

High-Waist Jeans

Melrose Place is most remembered for Heather Locklear's crotch grazing miniskirts and that scene where Jane threw Sydney in the pool after she stole their grandmother's dress, followed by Jane comparing her to the Bride of Frankenstein. Dysfunctional sibling squabbles aside, Melrose Place introduced me to high-waist baggy jeans with a button fly. These were jeans that climbed to your rib cage and cost an astronomical $80 (if you went with Diesels, the preferred brand among Melrose Place starlets.) They were typically accompanied by pegged legs and tiny back pockets, and flattered no one.

Oversized Clothes

Angela Chase of My So-Called Life was my hero. She was awkward, and self-doubting, and thought a lot about things like her failing grade in science and zits and if her dad was cheating on her mom and the size of her breasts and whether she and Sharron were going to stay friends after that horrible hottest girls of the ninth grade list that was passed around at school. There was also Brian, sad sack Brian pining away for Angela while she made out with Jordan Catalano in the stairwell basement of their school. And Ricky and Rayanne, the best friends I wished I'd had. Angela Chase encouraged me to dye my hair red and thrift for grandpa cardigans. Thanks to her, I wore a lot of baggy, oversize clothes that made me look like a hobo Hobbit.

The Rachel Haircut

Those wacky, endearing characters on Friends were full of mystery. How did a group of struggling twenty-somethings afford that cavernous Manhattan apartment? What ever happened to Ugly Naked Guy? Did Monica ever get professional help for her OCD? How did they manage to keep Rachel's triffle down without throwing up? But mostly I questioned how Rachel's hair managed to look so...perfect. It was as if Chandler moonlighted as a hairdresser. Not a hair was out of place. Each strand was lustrous and shiny. It managed to be both perfectly tousled and elegantly simple at the same time. This kept me awake at night

Outstanding list of missteps aside, I still learned a lot from these iconic 90's characters. For example, don't allow yourself to be photographed by a creepy drug dealing French photographer because OF COURSE he will turn out to be a pedophile. There's always an excuse to wear plaid. It's generally a bad idea to live with crazy siblings, and even worse to share boyfriends with them. And sometimes you just gotta hang out in a coffee shop with your friends. That lesson was the best.


  1. I love, adore, and swoon over this post. Oh the memories! I just watched Clueless the other night and remembered fondly my purchase at Express in high school-a plaid sweater top, a kicky pleated skirt, and a pair of knee-high socks to accent my mary-jane doc martens. How I loved that outfit! My high school did not have lockers, so we carried backpacks everywhere-when I tried the angora sweater thing, it was a disaster of fuzz all over my uber-cool Eastpack. No more of that, thank you. And the oversized flannel, cargo pants, baggy overalls, combat boot look? I OWNED that! It carried me through my senior year into college. Sometimes, I see flannels in the LL Bean and feel a bit grabby over them. Just not the overalls. That look did me no favors:)

  2. Ah! Such a great post :) Love it!
    Love that final lesson, too!


  3. My list would have to include Kelly from Saved by the Bell :).

  4. Too funny! Admittedly, I have never given up on thigh-highs. Still battling the sausage-casing effect after all these years, I do love them so.

  5. My favorite blog post ever!!! I am a child of the 90's too. Everything you wrote was me to the tee. Love it!

  6. If it weren't for high-waited '90s jeans, I wouldn't have gardening pants ...

  7. ahhh...the 90's. Funny stuff girl! I am just a year older than you. The 90's was a crazy time in fashion. So many crazy looks. How about overalls? I had to have a pair of Gap overalls...$50 for those hideous things...what was I thinking?

  8. Monica's apartment belonged to her grandmother and she had a sub-let on it, or something. Ugly Naked Guy moved out and Ross took his apartment (when he moved across the street from the girls). I think Chandler was help enough to Monica and her OCD. No one but Joey ate more than a mouthful of Rachel's trifle, and he had a stomach of iron so it wasn't a problem for him. But Rachel's hair? That's a mystery to me too. I loved how she would wear it up but still have bits falling down looking amazing. And how it was so, so straight in the later seasons when it was long.

    Great post! I was a little young for Beverley Hills 90210 but I loved Clueless and the fashions on there.

  9. Yes, yes, and yes! (knee-highs, oversized clothes, the Rachel). Love this. I shudder to think that knee-high socks are coming back. Hopefully plaid skorts don't follow.

  10. As soon as I saw the post title I thought "Clueless" - I wore the short-sleeve over long-sleeve top look to death thanks to Cher.

  11. Love this post:) I had the Rachel hair in university!

  12. I wore all of these things! Tragically, back then I did have an uber flat stomach and should have revelled in it but I wasted a LOT of time on those nasty baggies and high waisted jeans. Even worse: coloured denim. Just say no.

    But preppy/sexy and cropped tops? No regrets. I even had a plaid suit consisting of a mini kilt and cropped (ie just under bust) jacket. Apparently it contravened my 6th form dress suitability code...can't think why..?

  13. haha I just watched Clueless last night and been watching Felicity. I don't know why I ever wanted to wear those clothes. And don't tell anyone but I'm not really a fan of "the Rachel" haircut ... shhh

  14. God, I totally did the thigh highs. Such a terrible trend. I also did baggy clothes, but more from the hip hop angle than anything--though at the time I wanted to be Angela Chase. Sigh.


I love my readers! Comments are welcomed and appreciated.