|"in the nineties, there were two distinct aesthetics that defined the decade. two distinct schools of fashion that found favor with the women of those times. one who preferred beautiful simplicity through rigor and technique, and the woman who used fashion to realize the fantastical." —Source|
For style aficiandoes—and sewists who can relive eras through needle and thread—this might sound like a personal hell. People hate on the 90s the way I hate all that 80s ease. But I’m starting to wonder—no matter how much I adore other eras—if I’m really just a 90s girl, all growed up?
See, the 90s was when I started to express myself through my clothing. Sure, I was clad in t-shirts and jeans most of the time, but I wasn’t shopping at the GAP. I blew my scant spending money at thrift stores, raided my father’s closet and stole all of my grandmother’s cardigans. I wore a neon pink 70s mini-dress to a school dance with insanely high wedges. There was a purple swing number that made me feel I was in the 40s. Most days, under the tropical sun, I wore men’s flannel shirts with old lady cardigans and loose, fraying jeans. Vans and maryjanes and t-straps. Chunky heels and chokers.
We’re not talking Clueless here, with its privilege and knee-high cuteness; we’re talking Empire Records and Reality Bites and the irreverance and life-questioning and annoying, arrogant irony. I saw Reality Bites a gazillion times (and still own it).
This looks like people I know. How we dressed then, how we dress now. Either taking too many chances or too few.
I HAD to have this shirt Winona Ryder’s wearing (I really wanted bad boy Troy Dyer, but settled for the shirt). I owned a similar one for more than a decade and just recently donated it.
What would you call this? It’s not quite grunge, not quite all Doc Martens and Eddy-Vedder-I-Shop-At-the-Army-Surplus. It’s classic mid-90s: well-worn casual clothes, mixing masculine elements with the feminine, some funkiness thrown in with shoes and vintage. Not a lot of leg and boobage. The best expressions of femininity in the 90s, to me, was lined with badass-ness or rock-in-roll. Floaty dresses and shit-kickin’ boots.
|My So-Called Life|
I’m not saying I’m having a 90s rebirth and am going to go out and buy every last rayon floral dress I can find. Still, no matter what I can produce out of my sewing machine—vintage or contemporary—I keep returning to things I started to love then: I like my crotch rise higher and my shirt hems shorter. I can’t pass a pair of maryjanes without touching them. I love minimalist, casual clothes with occasional forays into vintage and color. My favorite dresses look like they could be the underwear of yesteryear—strappy and flowy slip dresses. I still love conservative cardigans and undershirts (but they won't be sheer "wifebeaters" atop a black bra, what was I thinking?).
Maybe I'm just getting old enough to become nostalgic, shaking my head at ultra-ultra low rise jeans, voluminous racer-back tanks and whatever is massively popular among teens today. But this clarity gives me some guidance in my sewing and shopping—understanding my 90s preferences, just better fitting and better looking.
What about you? No matter what you think of the 90s, was there a time when you set your preferences for the way you dress? How so?