The 90s trends we all remember - from embarrassing fashion statements to over-the-top accessories

From pedal pushers to skinny eyebrows, we reminisce on the 90s trends we all loved at the time... but remember with less fondness

1999 Drew Barrymore stars in the movie "Never Been Kissed."
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The 90s were a golden era for pop culture in more ways than one: hip hop music and supermodels were born, sitcoms like Friends and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reigned supreme on TV, and the Game Boy colour was the only piece of tech worth having. 

Then there was the 90s fashion, much of which we still have in our wardrobes today: think slip dresses, cargo pants, bomber jackets and scrunchies - to name a few. With that being said, however, there were plenty of embarrassing 90s trends too. In fact, many of us can’t talk about the decade without inviting equal measures of nostalgia and cringe. 

Remember when skinny eyebrows were a thing? Or when pedal pushers and blossom hats had their heyday? And we haven't even got on to 90s hair trends. From chunky highlights to porcupine updos, most of us rocked some hairstyles we're happy to lock away in the vaults of time. Here, we take a trip down memory lane at the trends we loved at the time, but might not recreate now...


Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo

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Blossom hats (also known as big hats featuring a small floral arrangement) had people in a tight choke hold, in large part thanks to Mayim Bialik from hit 90s sitcom, Blossom. Safe to say it wasn’t our finest fashion moment. 


Jennifer Lopez closes the runway at the Jennifer Lopez Fall 2005 show

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Whoever made pedal pushers a thing has some serious explaining to do because why? The half-leg, half-trouser look was never a good idea but alas, we were obsessed. Some of us even cut up our perfectly fine, full-length jeans to succumb to the style. In our defence, some of the most iconic Sex and the City outfits feature them too. 


Kirstin Dunst wearing jelly shoes

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Not entirely embarrassing, but if you had a pair of these, you probably remember how deeply uncomfortable they were. These days we prefer a pair of good quality leather sandals instead. Usually without glitter.  


Singer Larusso poses during a portrait session in Paris, France on 05/15/1998. (Photo by Eric Fougere/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Not only did platform trainers take the comfort out of wearing trainers, but our feet have never looked chunkier. Still, we loved them at the time.


David Beckham wearing a zigzag hairband

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The zigzag headband was *the* hair accessory of the 90s — whether you were 12 or 30, chances are you had one, ripping out your hair every time you took it off. Ouch. 

The hairband made a comeback at London Fashion Week 2022 but it's a trend we've swiftly chosen to ignore. 


Rap group Kris Kross (aka Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith) appears in a portrait taken on June 10, 1993 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives)

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A bit of a niche one but if you know, you know. Kriss Kross made us jump in the '90s (and sometimes still do), but they also made some of us wear clothes backwards. Luckily this trend was short-lived; we think we know why.


Sweatband n white.

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Fitness chic may have been the thing of the 80s, but in the 90s, we ditched the leggings and kept the terry cloth headbands -  and not just in the gym. From the red carpet to the high street, there was no escaping them. 


A little girl plays with her "slap wrap bracelets" December 7, 1990 in New York City. The bracelets are made of flexible stainless steel sealed with a fabric or plastic cover. The bracelet can be straightened out, making tension within the springy metal bands. The straightened bracelet is then slapped against the wearer's forearm, causing the bands to spring back into a curve that wraps around the wrist, securing the bracelet to the wearer. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

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The 90s were an era for accessorising and the slap bracelet was a unique recreation. The half toy, half style statement was a true gem. First created in the 80s, they became ultra popular in the 90s and you probably remember them - whether you were a child yourself or your kids had them in their toybox.


Posh Spice Victoria Adams arrives at the VH1 5th birthday party in London, 1999. The party was also to celebrate the launch of Baby Spice Emma Bunton's new show on the music channel. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

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Chokers may still be around but they were front and centre in the 90s. From thin velvet designs to classic zigzag styles, they were never the most flattering accessory but boy, did we love them.


Supermodel Tyra Banks arrives to the 47th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 13, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Were you even a 90s girl if you didn’t have butterfly clips in your hair? The ultimate ‘girl next door’ look was everything back then. Now we leave them to five-year-olds. 


Madonna at the Outside The Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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Shiny vinyl outfits swarmed the streets in the 90s, and we lapped up the 'high fashion' look, thanks to the likes of Madonna, Spice Girls and Shania Twain whose every move we followed, of course. While those stars pulled this look off with ease, our personal photo albums tell a different story...


Pamela Anderson (Photo by Ron Groeper/WireImage)

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Pencil-thin eyebrows were the single worst beauty trend of the 90s yet somehow, they were everywhere, from the local high street to Hollywood red carpets. We're not against the eyebrow shape per se, just that we didn't think we were making a permanent commitment to them when we plucked away most of our brow hair in the 90s.


Singer Janet Jackson attends the Party for Janet Jackson's Sold-Out Concert Tour and Plaque Presentation for 10 Million Copies of "Janet" Album on April 7, 1994 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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The fountainhead look was quite something and while Janet Jackson (pictured) looks great with this 'do, it wasn't one that most of us pulled off particularly well. 


Alicia Silverston during 2nd. Annual Humane Hollywood Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

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Believe it or not, the porcupine updo was the ultimate cool girl hair trend in the 90s. Everyone from Mandy Moore to Alicia Silverstone rocked the bird's nest hairstyle combining spikes, tendrils and those all-important butterfly clips. 


Reese Witherspoon (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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There was a lot of blue eyeshadow in the 90s, and we mean a lot. Frosty blue and lilac eyeshadows reigned supreme (even better if they were paired with jet-black kohl pencil). Reese Witherspoon pulled off the look at a red carpet, but us? It was a little harder to master this one at home. 


Halle Berry at the Sony Studios in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

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It was uncomfortable, it was (with the exception of the ever-glam Halle Barry) tacky, and it looked awful. But for some reason, we kept returning to it. The fashion statement has had something of a revival in 2023 / 2024, but we've chosen to ignore it this time around.  


Christina Aguilera (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

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A late 90s, early noughties classic, crimped hair is a look that instantly takes us back to simpler times. Our crimpers are long-retired now, replaced by curling wands.


Sweatband in white

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Worn with a matching headband, the terry cloth wristband was the arm candy of the 90s hip-hop and skater scene, but it also made its way to the mainstream Now, it’s a memory we’d like to keep in the past - unless we're playing tennis maybe...


American singer Gwen Stefani attends the 1997 Billboard Music Awards, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, 8th December 1997. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

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One bun simply wasn’t enough in the 90s - why have one when you can have five?! We loved intricate mini-bun hairstyles and while Gwen Stefani (pictured) managed to make the style look edgy, we looked more like children. 


Kelly Clarkson

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Before the days of ombre and balayage, chunky highlights were in - and no, not just on bad hair days. The chunkier and brighter, the better. If you could master a zig-zag part like Kelly Clarkson (pictured), all the better. Word on the street is that this style is back for 2024. 


Shaquille O'Neal at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

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Men in the 90s were all about their pinstripe suits, and of course, the bigger the jacket the better - even if it looked like they were swimming in it. It might have looked like the sharpest thing back then but we prefer smarter tailoring now.


Keira Knightley arriving at the World premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

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The low-rise jeans phenomenon first came to be in the 70s, before it was revived in the late 90s and early 2000s. Since then, it has tried to creep its way back into fashion every two decades or so, but we're firmly refusing to pick them back up again. Sure, they looked great on Keira Knightly (pictured) but anyone who had a pair (or ten) will remember how uncomfortable they were. Not to mention, rather unflattering for most of us... 


Kate Hudson

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Long cardigans weren’t just reserved for teachers or slobbing around the house back in the 90s; Hollywood stars were wearing them to film premieres and other glamorous industry nights. Yep, our favourite it girls couldn’t get enough of them - just look at Kate Hudson at the 1998 Velvet Goldmine premiere (pictured). Not exactly an embarrassing trend, but one we perhaps overdid. 


Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice) of English pop group the Spice Girls in concert, circa 1998. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

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From the Spice Girls to Kate Moss, ultra-tight and extra-short-shorts were the cool girl pants of the 90s, no matter how uncomfortable and unflattering they might be. Geri Halliwell (pictured) rocked them here on stage in 1998, but it was a harder look to pull off at home.


English model Naomi Campbell presents a new creation by French fashion house Chanel on October 17, 1994 as part of the Spring-Summer ready-to-wear collections. / AFP / Gérard JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Chain belts may have gotten a modern revamp that we can get on board with, but the 90s take on the trend went a little overboard. Much like many things in the 90s, the more you had the better. And if they didn't match each other or your outfit? Even better again.


Singer Sisqo and his group Dru Hill attend the Eighth Annual MTV Movie Awards on June 5, 1999 at The Barker Hangar, The Santa Monica Air Center in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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We couldn’t just stick to leather jackets - we had to have the vests too. And trousers, and skirts. But we digress. While some people pulled off the leather vest look, it's not the easiest item to style, meaning that some of us got the look *very* wrong.


A model walks the runway at the Shay Todd Summer 2007 fashion show during the Sunglass Hut Swim Shows Miami in the Cabana Grande tent at the Raleigh Hotel on July 18, 2006 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images for IMG)

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Spot the tourist! The infamous bum bag was the ultimate travel accessory back in the 90s. Not the sexiest accessory, but it was a pleasingly practical one, and one we still turn to when we're travelling or hitting a festival.


Whitney Houston (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

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When you think of velvet today, festive dressing or accent pieces may come to mind. Not in the 90s. Back then, any occasion would call for a head-to-toe velvet look. And while Whitney looked great in her white velvet get-up, it shouldn't have given us free rein to wear velvet co-ords to every social event. But it did.


American Victoria's Secret Angel model Taylor Hill wears reflective sunglasses, a long-sleeve cropped black top, a black chain purse, a red plaid shirt around her waist, and black pants after the Marc Jacobs show at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 15, 2016 in New York City.

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We’re all for layering and practicality, but this trend from the 90s was a little needless, as plaid shirts often doubled up as an accessory, slung around our waists. We'd probably recreate this if we need to peel off a layer and don't have a bag at hand, but it's not a look that we'd actively put together. 


Brooke shields

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Yes, feathers had a moment in the 90s too. Feather dresses, tops, skirts and accessories were commonly spotted on celebrities and naturally, the rest of us followed suit and let’s just say, we have major regrets. Brooke Shields looks as glamorous as ever here, but even looking at this picture makes us itchy.


Image from TV show, my so called life

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We’ve all done it (and some of us still do it) but wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long-sleeved one isn’t as cool as we thought it was in the 90s. There was just too much fabric around our biceps.


A model wears a white cotton and lace top with a print skirt and blue and silver print bandana during the Anna Sui fashion show 04 November in New York City.

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On our heads, round our wrists, even fashioned as tops, bandanas were everywhere in the 90s. Just look at the Anna Sui Spring Summer 1999 collection. While this silky paisley pattern number looks sleek and boho on the catwalk, our interpretation of the look was far less sophisticated.