Despite my deep affinity for Stranger Things and all the awesome 80s concepts that that show is chock-full of, I am technically a 90s kid. I grew up to the cultural norms of the 90s. I rocked the platform sandals, squealed at the sight of pastel-colored clothes, listened intently as Clarissa explained it all and carefully read the profiles of each Backstreet boy on my cassette tape cover.
Apart from witnessing one of the last decades wherein MTV only played music videos, I was also able to witness some of the most iconic films in teen movie history (does that make sense?) first come to cinematic life. They were moody, hilarious and often exaggerated, and many of them inspired (and keep inspiring) a generation with their impeccably styled costumes.
With the comeback of 90s fashion still going strong, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the movies of my younger years that have inspired and awed me with their wicked cool styling:
It is impossible to talk about 90s teen/fashionable movies without including Clueless.
The clothes in this movie were practically a whole other character themselves- they could even have outshone the lead character had she not been played by the awesome Alicia Silverstone.
There are not enough adjectives to describe how much of an impact this movie has made. It’s become symbolic not only of 90s fashion, but of the popular culture and jargon of that decade as well.
While it may not have been a hit the first time it came out, Empire Records eventually developed cult following because of its likeable group of misfit characters, great soundtrack, “damn the man” message and for me personally, the individual styles of each of the characters.
I especially liked Liv Tyler’s and Renee Zellweger’s outfits: the plaid skirt, combat boots and mohair sweater; the V-neck cardigan and circle skirt with the mules. I think the outfits played a big part in bringing the characters to life and making them even more memorable to audiences.
This movie came out just a year shy of the second millennium, and featured outfits that were just as wicked as Rose McGowan’s queen bee character in the movie. They were colorful, exaggerated, sexy and fun, with plenty of things trending today: chokers, halter tops, off-the-shoulder tops, turtlenecks and slip dresses.
For those girls who weren’t into pastels and girly prints, The Craft offered refreshing fashion inspiration. It featured the darker, goth and grunge side of 90s fashion with its all-black looks, boots, plaid skirts with thigh-high stockings and layer upon layer of somewhat controversial neck jewelry.
These outfits had a cool, dark, devil-may-care attitude to them that was a perfect fit for the four teen witches portrayed in the movie.
Ten Things I Hate about You
Apart from giving a fresh new take on the Shakespearean tale The Taming of the Shrew as well as introducing us to the young and talented Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger, Ten Things I Hate about You brought to the forefront two very different fashion statements of that year. On one side we have Julia Stiles’ character with her laid-back camo infused looks, jeans and flip flops; and on the other we have Larisa Oleynik’s character with her majorly pink outfits sprinkled with floral prints, pearls and tulle.
I must admit I was more attracted to the girlier side of things, and often dreamt about having a prom dress just like Larisa’s character had. It’s definitely a look that could work today, as many people have likened it to what Taylor Swift wore in the 2016 Grammys.
Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
It’s absolutely ridiculous this movie, but I absolutely love it. While it may not exactly be a “teen” movie, it’s certainly got the things we’re all familiar with in our teens- bullying, crushes, bffs and prom night. It’s immensely entertaining watching these two girls, Romy and Michelle try to make something of themselves just days before their high school reunion. What made it even more entertaining was their costumes. They dressed up in really fun, frisky and colorful outfits, and even paid homage to Madonna’s 80s looks!
So these are the top 90s teen movies right off the top of my head that I think had really awesome outfits. There were dozens of them however, so I might have forgotten a few already. If you happen to think of another particularly fashion-forward teen movie of the 90s, do let me know!