Dress Like It's 1999

Apparently everything comes back in style. Even overalls.

By Lucy Spicer January 29, 2015

Many clothing and jewelry trends from the past 25 years have thankfully faded into obscurity, but some have managed to slink back into our lives, and all because we’ve occasionally thought, “I used to feel so cool when I wore my tattoo choker necklace.” That’s right: the late '90s and early '00s are apparently back, and everyone will just have to deal with it.


Image: Topshop

Tattoo Choker Necklaces

This was THE piece of jewelry from my childhood. Available at Claire’s, drugstores, and inside of gumball machines, this plastic statement piece was tight, uncomfortable, and stretched out easily. The pain was worth it though, because it lent just the right amount of edge and faux-goth flair to every teen girl’s wardrobe. Nowadays the wiry neck accessory has crept its way back into fashion blogs, YouTube channels, and even mainstream stores. Topshop has one for an incredibly inflated $12, and you can find almost every possible color and variety of the choker on Etsy.


Image: Gap


To be fair, the turtleneck has been around for centuries and has been popular in the U.S. since the 1950s, but the turtleneck I’m talking about was the one that specifically adorned Gap models and boy band members. You know the one. It could be worn loose and baggy or as tight as a second skin, but either way it helped to define a generation. These days the turtleneck is available just about anywhere. American Apparel has a fair selection, including the ultimate impractical '90s version: the inexplicable sleeveless turtleneck crop top.





Image: Nordstrom

Crop Tops

Speaking of crop tops, I feel that they deserve a spot on this list, too. In the '90s and early '00s, crop tops seemed to be reserved for daring celebrities who wore them with hip-hugger jeans or shiny satin pants. The halter crop top especially seemed out of reach for us common folk. Now the crop top has become infinitely more accessible thanks to music festival fashion. It’s so much easier to wear a crop top confidently if I can pair it with some high-waisted shorts (yet another resurfaced relic from a bygone era) to hide the evidence of my recent taco binge.


Image: Forever21

Ear Cuffs

A big part of the ‘90s and the ‘00s involved our trying to look edgier than we actually were. Dark lipstick, temporary tattoos, and combat boots helped to balance out the fact that we knew the dance from the “Oops!...I Did It Again” video by heart. Ear cuffs and other faux piercings (anyone else covet a fake nose ring?) were a perfect addition to our double lives: they looked edgy and rebellious but did not require us to actually puncture our bodies. Today ear cuffs have taken a turn for the dainty, and they’re a great option for those who want a little extra ear bling. 

Dr. Martens

Doc Martens boots are another example of a wardrobe staple that has been around for decades but catered to a very specific crowd in the '90s at the height of grunge. The combat boot's sales suffered in the mid-2000s when preppier styles filled our closets, but now the rubber-soled shoes are back in full force after remarketing themselves to a younger, hipper crowd. This is probably the same crowd that has embraced flannels, dip dye, and the soft grunge movement as a whole. Nothing says teen angst like long shoelaces and yellow stitching. 


Image: Old Navy


I’m not talking about your general jumpsuit (which, incidentally, is a big thing right now too); I’m talking full-on, all-denim overalls. No longer just a protective outer garment, overalls inexplicably became acceptable fashion statements during the '90s and early '00s. *NSYNC wore them. TLC wore them. I wore them. Why did we wear them? They were heavy, cumbersome, and made going to the bathroom take twice as long. Suitable for both man-repelling fashionistas and committed, denim-loving hipsters, choose from an inexpensive pair at Target or a strategically distressed pair of Levi’s Vintage overalls that will set you back almost $500 at Anthropologie.

While we may look back on our pictures from 20 years ago with some level of fashion regret, the return of the '90s should give us hope. Maybe in 50 years people will be throwing '90s themed parties celebrating the bold choices we made—after all, look how popular Roaring Twenties parties are. It’s only a matter of time before people start hosting grungy ‘90s events, and when they do, we’ll be ready.



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