The Benicia City Library recently celebrated 25 years in its current location. Some of the festivities were held in the former library on G Street. I was asked to provide an informal fashion show with a 1990s theme for the event.
It took a little Googling, perusing photo albums and a lot of concentration to bring it all back. Surprisingly, there are current trends that are reminiscent of what could be considered the dark days of fashion. 90s grunge not only influenced ready-to-wear, but top designers like Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen were inspired by what they saw on the streets of New York, London and San Francisco. Kate Moss became the face and body of grunge, replacing the more voluptuous supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington. Musicians of the 90s also had an impact through video and the popularity of MTV.
Flared Legs and Mom Jeans
Flared leg pants with an oversized fit were a strong choice in the 90s. These designs included the paper bag waist with a boyfriend styled oversized jacket. I had at least three of these suits that ranged from neutral beige to a bright yellow acid wash treatment. In 2018, there are varieties of pant widths including the extreme wide leg to the narrow legging. Ripped jeans continue in popularity. The trend that never ends!
Chokers were the “it” accessory item of the era. These necklaces were worn tightly around the neck and added an edge to slip dresses and flannel shirts. While some were made to look like a tattoo, others boasted embellishments like stones and lace. Hoop earrings peaked in popularity during the last decade of the 20th century. Oversized ring-shaped earrings added attitude to bold style.
Midriff-baring tops are on trend again. Today, you can relive the best fashion from the decade by pairing a crop top with a pair of mom jeans. To make the look modern, just swap cropped camisoles for short t-shirts, off the shoulder sweaters and tank tops.
I still wear overalls! Although they were influenced by sitcoms of the 90s, mine are made of linen and worn with a t-shirt and duster cover up. If you lived through the 90s, chances are that you wore overalls. These sleeveless denim jumpsuits were an essential fashion item for the decade and worn by both men and women. Jumpsuits were also the rage as an alternative to separates and have made a significant comeback. The Clothes Stoppe (my former Benicia retail establishment from 1988-1992) featured Joan Walters jumpsuits in "pure" polyester in a range of bright colors and prints. We probably sold hundreds of them and would guess a few are still around in the back of some Benicia closets.
The grunge movement created an army of men and women alike, wearing heavy-duty combat boots. Doc Martins became the shoe of choice in a range of colors—including silver. Yes silver, which I wore with knee length jeans as the Benicia farmer’s market manager back in 1993. They looked tough, gritty and were comfortable. They were often paired with floral dresses or flannel shirts and frayed jeans. Exaggerated platforms were popularized by the pop music scene, in particular, the Spice Girls. Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty were the most widely recognized group of individuals since The Beatles. With the "girl power" label, the Spice Girls were popular cultural icons of the 1990s.
It was a blast from the past revisiting the old library building and celebrating the cultural vision of the current facility. Grunge and anti fashion may be on-trend once again, but just a reminder, fashion and culture is cyclical, but always returns with a twist!