The ‘90s Are Officially Vintage
…and we love it? *wipes vintage tears from our vintage eyes* The 1990s were a key decade for The Good Trade team, one where many of us began to establish our personal style. We learned about sustainability when we wore hand-me-downs and (perhaps) begrudgingly thrift-shopped with our parents for back to school. Before online shopping and ultra-fast fashion, we worked with what he had.
Now the ‘90s are coming full circle, with younger generation paying homage to mom jeans and “ugly” sneakers. So, we took a trip down memory lane and pulled together our ‘90s staple pieces—all from sustainable brands. Before you buy new, consider this your thrifting inspiration. There are plenty of gems at your local thrift store that are authentically from the decade that shaped us so significantly, so start there first for the most sustainable option.
Be sure to share your ‘90s essentials in the comments below!
Growing up in a small mountain town, I spent more of my '90s childhood wearing dirt and scrapes than I did trending fashion. The clothes I did wear were practical and affordable; my mom took us back-to-school shopping at the local K-Mart since that was the only clothing store within a 30-mile radius of home. Can you picture it? There I was on the first day of elementary school donning a Joe Boxer tank and a JanSport backpack that, like all the cool kids, brushed the backs of my ankles.
For me, the ‘90s is reminiscent of tie-dye tees made at slumber parties, braided fishtail anklets and BFF necklaces from summer camp, and my first 'boyfriend'—a skinny kid with a Bowl Cut, skater shoes, and t-shirts that fell past his knees. He let me wear his puka shell necklace on the playground. It was a good decade.
While my ‘90s starter pack doesn't necessarily reflect that younger version of myself, it's fun to imagine what I would have worn if I was 29 (not nine) back then. It cracks me up to think I'd have dressed like parents—because, like most pre-teens, I thought they were so 'uncool.' Now, my siblings and I raid their closet for forgotten ‘90s gems (ha!). Go figure.
My pack includes Birkenstocks and a fanny pack—both point to my mountain-girl spirit. The Everlane's ‘90s Cheeky Straight Jeans have me wondering how I've gone almost 30 years without embracing the mom-jean trend—I got these over Christmas break, and I'm always reaching for them. And then there is the anklet, which is probably the most nostalgia-inducing item on my list. A nod to Girl Scouts and church camp and summers spent bathing in only sun and lake water, this minimalist design has me hoping the once-loved jewelry trend is making a comeback.
If I were to describe my style using the decades, I would say that it’s my mother’s ‘90s closet meets all the high-waisted denim and scrunchies of the ‘80s. Being that I am a 1991 baby, when my personal style started to develop, it was naturally rooted in the ‘90s but with a rebellious early-2000s twist. Think Abercrombie & Fitch with seatbelt-belts and too much black eyeliner. (Can we please take a moment to reflect on seatbelt-belts?)
That said, in my opinion, the ‘80s and ‘90s really taught humanity how to accessorize. These decades brought us fanny packs, scrunchies, hair clips, and sparkles, just to name a few. We also can’t forget the colors: these decades taught us about tie-dye and neon. Flash forward to today and so many of these iconic styles are back, but with a more sophisticated edge. I love that the year 2020 is starting to feel like we’re watching a re-run of the ‘90s. These cyclical trends come back when we need to be reminded of simpler, brighter times.
For my ‘90s starter pack, I’m channeling Jennifer Aniston from “Friends” with this precious tie-dye slip dress, and I’m in love with this two-tone denim jacket that screams the ‘90s. For my accessories, I added in a claw clip, handmade beaded necklace and, of course, glitter. I am grateful for these brands bringing the ‘90s back thoughtfully and sustainably so that we can re-live the joys of this decade!
Co-Founder & CEO
No decade will ever truly live up to the ‘90s—from the allure of slip dresses to the casual cool of capri pants. To my great childhood delight, it was the era of overalls, jelly shoes, chokers, spaghetti straps, and lest we forget, slap bracelets.
My perfect ‘90s starter pack recipe dials things back a bit, but not too far, and definitely includes:
Tight white tee
Mini cord skirt
Although a tad whimsical, each of these pieces blends seamlessly into my (almost) grown-up wardrobe and I can personally vouch for their comfort and wearability. (I am wearing the mockneck sweater at this very moment.) Fashion should be fun, thoughtfully made, meant to last, and just a little bit nostalgic.
P.S., In vogue or not, I’m never giving up my scrunchies. 🙈
Social & Community Lead
Having been born in 1993, I can’t help but feel like I really came into my style after the turn of the millennium, probably peaking more in 2002 than in 1998—hello Reggie Rocket, the style icon of my cartoon-loving childhood. Even still, I am determined to be referred to as a ‘90s kid and will happily remind anyone who asks that the first six-and-a-half years of my life were, in fact, spent in the ‘90s.
When I think of the trends of my childhood, a few different favorite styles come to mind. I think of the ladies of “Friends” (a Julian household favorite), Liv Tyler in “Empire Records,” our queen Julia Roberts in every great ‘90s film ever made, and Steve Jobs, a sartorial icon in his own right and the first person to prove to me that having a uniform was actually cool. My mother’s round, wire-framed sunglasses come to mind as the first accessory I associate with the decade, plus plastic hair clips, big scrunchies—the list could go on and on. So much of the ‘90s is still alive in fashion today—Doc Martens, silk slip dresses, subtle florals—so it didn’t take long to pull together some favorites that pay tribute to pre-millennium times.
My youngest years were spent draped in secondhand corduroy, Winnie The Pooh appliques, and wires from my Walkman. Those years established a colorful base for me to dive into fashion as a teen in the ‘00s. (Not to mention, I was wearing ‘90s clothes in the ‘00s, since so much of my wardrobe consisted of hand-me-downs from my cousins.)
So, my ‘90s starter pack is actually inspired by the turn of the millennium, full of hope and optimism in the pocket of time between the Y2K scare and September 11th. I’m feeling a pull towards this light-hearted style again, in the face of all this social and political turmoil. Each morning when I get dressed, I want to smile at my reflection—and I want others to smile at my outfits, too.
For my ‘90s starter pack, I’m wrapping myself back in corduroy, jelly shoes, and turtlenecks. I’m thanking my mom for instilling the usefulness of fanny packs. And, of course, I’m popping on some eco-friendly glitter gloss before I face the day.
Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.