'90s Fashion Moments We Don't Miss

Remember the thin eyebrows trend?

Jenny McCarthy in the 1990s
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ah, the 1990s. We had some amazing style moments that have deservedly come back into the popular zeitgeist (Mariah Carey as a goddess in a Calvin Klein dress, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy as the casual street style icon, Julia Roberts' hair as the most important inspiration to ever happen to curly-haired ladies). But, equally, we have some puzzling, strange, and outright wacky fashion decisions.

The red carpet was an especially wild ride back in the day, with a lot of stars forgoing stylists and just kind of showing up in...whatever! It let to a bunch of epic red carpet moments, from Drew Barrymore strolling onto the carpet with a cigarette in hand to Keanu Reeves riding in on a motorcycle, but it also meant we were in the Wild West in terms of style. Honestly, it made for a fun and spontaneous experience (especially compared to red carpets today), but it also left us with some head-scratching trends.

Keep scrolling if you want to learn more about the fashion moment from the '90s that we'd rather people not bring back, thanks so much.

Haphazard Curls

Jennifer Aniston in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Remember when we were, like, only curling every third hair chunk? Jennifer Aniston is pulling off the look as well as anyone can, but the "some hairs are straight, some are tightly curled" look was...chaotic, at best.

Tiny Headbands

Britney Spears in 1998

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Oh man, I forgot how much we loved tiny, sparkly headbands back in the day. Britney Spears mostly falls into the '00s fashion category ("...Baby One More Time" wasn't released until 1998) but she squeaks in here from a twee red carpet appearance from the late 90s.

Zig Zag Headbands

Jenny McCarthy in 1997

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your headband was that zig zag style that pinched your hair terribly, you were absolute on trend in the '90s. My head hurts just thinking about it.

Tiny Butterfly Clips

Danielle Fishel in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Danielle Fishel (Topanga from Boy Meets World) had very enviable hair in the show, but unfortunately falls victim here to the "teeny tiny clips around the head" trend that we all thought was the height of class and chic but instead looks like pink bugs.

Small Braids and Twists

Christina Aguilera in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We really loved teeny tiny hair styles back in the day, didn't we? Xtina here is doing some randomized, bedazzled twists (along with some super-styled tiny curls) that were just...so punishing to our scalps.

Really Dark Lipstick

Drew Barrymore mid-90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with a lip shade in a rich hue. It's more that we made our brows and lips so dark and matte, with the rest of our face so light, that the whole look just ended up feeling jarring.

The Emergence of Low-Rise Jeans

Mariah Carey 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Everyone thinks of the low-rise jean as a distinctly '00s trend (and you'd be mostly correct), but the style actually showed up in the late '90s—see also Mariah Carey here with this loose, frayed-top situation.

The Visible Bra

Melissa Joan Hart in the '90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether intentionally or not, the '90s was all about the messy bra strap situation, including very much on the red carpet (in this case, the Varsity Blues premiere). If you could get a thin necklace in there to really confuse things, so much the better.

Weird Belts

Reese Witherspoon, 1996

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just in case you thought the "big statement belt" was confined to 2000s fashion...I hate to disappoint you, but it started as a trend in the '90s. Sorry, Reese, but I don't care for that scarf.

Belly Chains

Fran Drescher in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We even saw the debut of a much-beloved '00s style—the belly chain—in 1999. Fran Drescher has managed to combine the low rise, belly chain, and big statement belt in one outfit.

Weird Turtlenecks

Shania Twain in the '90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The '90s were all about turtlenecks (often from Gap), and while that led to iconic fashion moments like Sharon Stone at the Oscars, it also gave us this fascinating animal print sleeveless crop number. Tell us more, Shania.

Skirts and Dresses Over Pants

Tara Reid in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We really loved a layered look in the '90s, but less the chic blazer-jacket-boots street style we know and love, and more the "I left the house wearing everything I own" style. (Insert Joey from Friends joke here.)

Randomly Sheer

Jennifer Lopez in the late 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The '90s began a years-long obsession with sheers. It didn't start out too wild, but it was confusing: J. Lo's skirt hem ends several inches before the sheer overlay does, creating a very strange hemline situation.

Sheer Asymmetric Skirts

Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham) in 1997

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, things really started to take a turn in the sheer department. Posh Spice (that's Victoria Beckham to you) really was always a trendsetter, except in this case the trend was "sheer that comes almost all the way up to your crotch."

Thin Scarves

Drew Barrymore in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Leaving aside the headband worn across the forehead, let's instead focus on the ultra-thin scarf tied around the neck once, then left to hang haphazardly. We absolutely raved over this look at the time, and I can't think of a single reason why.

The Tiny Rope Necklace

Cameron Diaz in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Or, if it wasn't a scarf, it was a long, thin necklace that was styled in virtually the same way. (Also, note the dress over pants style we mentioned earlier.)

A Super-Thick Choker

Tyra Banks 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We also saw the rise of the choker: always a bit odd looking, particularly when it was worn thick and all the way up the neck. Tyra, I love you, but that absolutely looks like a neck brace.


Destiny's Child in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We were also, generally, big fans of tassels, whether they be on the scarves we were wearing, at the bottoms of our skirts, or on our crop tops—just because! I wonder what Queen Bey thinks about these matching wrinkled satin pieces...

Long, Long Fringe

Halle Berry in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Case in point: The tassel theme, taken to the extreme! This long fringe over low rise jeans is a fascinating choice, and I don't see it coming back. Even on Halle Berry, who's amazing, it's a miss.

Sausage Curls

Tori Spelling in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another hairstyle we don't particularly miss (beyond the thin thin eyebrows—don't worry, we'll get to it) is the overly done curly hair. Like, the thick, not found in nature, must be done with a curling iron and burn some of your hair off sausage curls.

Platforms Everywhere

The Spice Girls, 1997

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The second time (but not the last time) the Spice Girls will be on this list, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice here are demonstrating one of our most popular (and regrettable) '90s trends: where we thought a chunky platform/flatform shoe was the answer to every outfit, from the most casual walking-around 'fit to the fanciest red carpet.

The Cropped Pedal Pusher

Jennifer Lopez in 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The late '90s saw the ascendence of the pant length that stopped just below the knee. J. Lo here is sorta-pulling it off, but it is a tough length to style even when you're as cool as she is.

Nude Tights

Sarah Jessica Parker in 1990

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Oof, remember when it was very much a thing to wear (very obvious) nude tights because it somehow seemed more modest? Bonus points if your shoes matched, so your legs just kind of looked beige and shiny? It's not Sarah Jessica Parker's fault! We all did it!

Very Blue Eyeshadow

Cameron Diaz in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scarf? Check. Tiny necklace? Check. Random cloche hat? Check. Eyeshadow that's so blue it looks like an Easter egg? Absolutely. I was very guilty of putting this particular shade on my eye, so: no shame, Cameron.

Bridal Chic

Alyssa Milano in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Starlets sometimes decided that instead of a casual vibe, they would instead go in the completely opposite direction with all the frills (this was at the 1991 People's Choice Awards, so, a fancy event!). Alyssa Milano here is giving us "I just came from my courthouse wedding, and I feel fabulous."

Princess Cosplay

Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a similar way, big princessy gowns started to make an appearance at some red carpet events. Melissa Joan Hart is half-Cinderella (including the powder blue color), and half-"I'm repurposing my prom dress." And the tiny bag as a bonus!

Sunglasses at Night

Susan Sarandon at the Oscars, 1996

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Honestly, how did any of us see in the '90s? Judging by our celebrities at the time, who were all wearing sunglasses at night (like the song says), we must have been fumbling about in the evenings.

Frosted Tips

NSYNC in 1998

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Granted, this look was often reserved for the boys, but we really loved blonde hair dye—but just the ends, understand? We liked looking like a yellow highlighter.

Skunk-y Highlights

Geri Halliwell in 1997

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alternatively, we liked looking like someone took a yellow highlighter and just streaked the front with it. Still love you, Geri, but I think we can leave this one in the past.

A Sweater Around the Waist

Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hart is demonstrating a couple of the trends on this list: the platform shoes, the pedal pusher pants, and the sweater tied haphazardly around the waist. I mean. Useful if it gets cold, at least?

Over-the-Top Patterns

Christina Ricci in the '90s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We weren't quite into Ed Hardy t-shirt territory yet, but the '90s were the beginning of some very intriguing patterns. Not even Christina Ricci looks enthused by her look, to be honest, but let's keep our fingers crossed that fire leggings don't become the next must-have style.

Really, Really Tiny Eyebrows

Kate Moss in 1993

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I'm really sorry I did this to you, I whisper to my eyebrows. Truly, the only person who looked good with whisker-thin brows is Kate Moss, and the rest of us plucked and waxed ours into oblivion trying to recreate it. Do not make the same mistake.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.