The 30 Best '90s-Style Shoes to Wear in 2023

Channel your inner '90s baby with jelly sneakers, platform sandals, and more.

woman wearing chunky 90s style sneakers
(Image credit: Getty)

The resurgence of '90s fashion over the last few years has brought back everything from plaid to grunge, inspiring many of us to look like we're characters in Empire Records or headed to a Nirvana concert. Personally, as a '90s baby, I'm a much bigger fan of the '90s look than the Y2K look, so my closet is filled with retro pieces that I've thrifted or swiped from my mom and brother. But do you know what people too often forget when they're styling their 90s 'fits? The shoes.

When you're going for an all-around retro look, you have to pay attention to every detail, and shoes are a huge necessity. And, sure, leather boots and pumps have always been popular and match with just about everything, but if you're looking to party like it's 1999, then why not go all the way? Sell it and pick a shoe that's straight out of the greatest decade of all time (I'm biased). Below, some essential categories. 

Platform Sandals

woman wearing chunky yellow sandals

(Image credit: Getty)

To me, these platform sandals induce a sudden surge of nostalgia. Get very late 90s/early 2000s with a pair of chunky Madden slip-ons, or try one of these other retro fits. Personally, I love a good platform sandal in black: They match with everything, and the added height lends a funky flair to even the simplest of outfits.

Chunky Sneakers

woman wearing chunky white sneakers

(Image credit: Getty)

From the dad sneaker to the platform sneaker to the pair of Jordans, '90s sneakers were all about the chunky, sometimes oversized-looking fit. Go classic and unisex with a pair of Jordans or Nike Air Maxes, or spice it up with a more contemporary, colorful pair. 

Jelly Sandals

jelly sandals in the grass

(Image credit: Getty)

I absolutely lived in jelly sandals as a little kid, and am delighted to discover that adult versions exist. This style is just plain fun, and adds a youthful touch to any outfit. Grab them in the classic, fully transparent style, or go for a more colorful, opaque look.

Heeled Thongs

woman wearing black heeled thong sandals

(Image credit: Getty)

These minimalist sandals add a touch of a class to the tried-and-true flip-flop with their short heel. When I was in elementary school, I had a pair of these with a big ol' rose attached to the top, and I—no lie—miss them every day.


woman wearing chunky pink clogs

(Image credit: Getty)

This trend survived well into the early 2000s. Clogs, with their clunky-chic look and the distinctive sound they make (talk about making an entrance!), are set to make a comeback this year. Grab a pair in classic black or in a more subdued beige, tan, or light pink color, and pair with a floral midi skirt for the full '90s/Y2K look. 

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at