Mom jeans, scrunchies and graphic tees: a 2010’s guide to ’90s fashion

Fashion magazines and runway shows are seeing a blast from the past as trends of the 1990s make a reemergence in popular culture.

From the era that brought us “Friends,” Furbys and frosted tips also came some of the most infamous style trends from the last few decades. Featuring everything from mood rings and cheetah print nylons to combat boots and graphic tees, the ’90s are considered by some a golden age for fashion and for others a period of fashion faux-pas. No matter your stance on the trends, these styles are coming back in a big way. Here is WSS’s guide to the looks of the 1990s.

Denim Jackets

Kara Wagenknecht
Alex Carlon ’21 stands downtown Iowa City holding her jean jacket on Thursday, March 21.

Although jean jackets have been a fashion craze since the 1950s, the popularization of denim-on-denim outfits by stars such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake made the item a staple of the ’90s.

Nowadays, denim jackets are back in the sphere of fashion do’s — with a few twists. Patches and pins are a popular addition to the piece, with many seeking out vintage additions to their jackets. Additionally, the waist-hitting jean jacket has been ditched in favor of cropped or oversized styles.


Mom Jeans

Kara Wagenknecht
Alex Carlon ’21 poses wearing a graphic t-shirt and mom jeans in an alleyway downtown Iowa City on Thursday, March 21.

Perhaps the most notorious trend reemergence from the ’90s, these high-waisted, loose-fitting jeans were first considered stylish when stars such as Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder stepped out in them.

After a brief hiatus in popular culture, mom jeans are now the most iconic pants of the late 2010s. Going hand-in-hand with the rise of “thrift store fashion,” teens and young adults alike enjoy hunting for the most unique iterations of mom jeans at second-hand stores. They’re often styled with a belt and tight-fitting top


Graphic Tees

Kara Wagenknecht
Alex Carlon ’21 sits on a block while wearing a graphic t-shirt on Thursday, March 21.

Accompanying the grunge trend popularized in the mid-’90s, graphic tees were a wardrobe essential throughout the decade. As brands realized the item’s potential as a marketing platform, branded t-shirts rose in prevalence, and shirts with “Calvin Klein” or “Tommy Hilfiger” emblems became fashionable.

In the 2010s, styles such as the t-shirt dress and the DIY crop top have re-popularized graphic tees. The aforementioned thrifting trend also comes into play here, as vintage shirts have become trendy in the last few years.


Barrettes and Scrunchies

Kara Wagenknecht
Alex Carlon ’21 adjusts her velvet scrunchie around her wrist in front of a mural downtown Iowa City on Thursday, March 21.

These hair accessories are no stranger to the fashion scene, with both barrettes and scrunchies originating in the mid 20th century. With the release of teen blockbuster hits such as “Heathers” and “She’s All That” in the 1990s came the pinnacle of their popularity.

Now, barrettes and scrunchies find themselves in their third act as the two have become wildly popular in the past year. Snap clips were implemented in Alexander Wang’s 2018 show while scrunchies made their runway debut with Balenciaga.

But these accessories are not runway exclusive, as barrettes and scrunchies have become an indispensable wardrobe item for West students, the latter often being worn as a bracelet.



Kara Wagenknecht
Alex Carlon ’21 models a white long sleeved shirt with a plaid dress over it downtown Iowa City on Thursday, March 21.

Layering has been a no-brainer fashion move since Alicia Silverstone first introduced the look as Cher in “Clueless.” Its ability to make tank tops and dresses a year-round style choice appeals to both the youth of the ’90s and today’s teens.

In the 2010s, big names such as Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been seen stepping out in t-shirts and slip dresses. Within our school community, students appreciate this style technique’s ability to transform an otherwise average outfit.

Popular forms of this trend include a white t-shirt under a patterned dress and a long sleeve shirt under a tank top.