The ‘90s may have been a breeding ground for some divisive looks:
whale tails, butterfly clips, and capri pants. But it was also a golden era of fashion, IMHO.
The decade’s icons — like Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Winona Ryder — all had major style moments on red carpets, rocking minimalist, glam, and goth chic looks, respectively. A young Kate Moss was photographed in a naked dress that changed the trajectory of the sheer ‘fit forever and helped make it one of the
most enduring trends today.
Perhaps most iconic of all was Princess Diana, whose style legacy is as celebrated as her life —
even to this day. When she debuted her “revenge dress” in 1997, it didn’t just get its own enduring moniker — I would argue that it’s now also officially part of the stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and revenge dressing.
I’m not alone in yearning for ‘fits of decades past, either. Some of today’s most stylish celebs have been dipping frequently (if not daily) into fashion archives for dresses of yore. Dua Lipa rocked a 1992 Chanel creation
at the recent Met Gala, while Zendaya often looks through the ‘90s Prada archives for her red-carpet appearances. Even Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian, among their other stylish siblings, have been wearing vintage Jean Paul Gaultier, rocking items from the vaults.
If you, too, want to walk down memory lane and remember the ‘fits that made crafted the era, read on. I’ve got 25 for you.
Britney Spears Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images
In 1999, before
Britney Spears was dubbed the “Princess of Pop,” she wore a playful outfit to the first-ever Teen Choice Awards in a baby pink tank and matching pants, equipped with metallic pink plates. Cue: “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.” Jennifer Lopez Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images
On the heels of her film
Selena (pre-“Jenny From The Block”), Jennifer Lopez wore a cowl-neck chainmail crop top and a leather maxi at the 1998 MTV Movie Awards — her most underrated ‘fit ever. Princess Diana Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
This 1997 Princess Di outfit was iconic for two major reasons: One, it’s capital-S stunning. More importantly, she wore this too-spicy-for-regular-royals dress the
very same night now-King Charles publicly confessed his infidelities, marking the official genesis of the “Revenge Dress.” Lil' Kim Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
One of the most iconic fashion moments of the 1990s, Lil' Kim’s mermaid-inspired, one-shoulder look (complete with a shell-shaped nipple pasty) still goes hard — even in 2023.
Kate Moss Dave Benett/Hulton Archive/Getty Images Julia Roberts Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Julia Roberts has been known to rock oversized pantsuits on red carpets, yes. But the skirt suit she wore at the 1992 Golden Globes was especially chic. Paired with her perfectly messy bob, and gold hoops, she looked every bit the star.
Jada Pinkett Smith Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
TBH, I could see any of today’s style stars wearing Jada Pinket Smith’s shimmery, chainmail crop top and maxi skirt at the 1997 Oscars After Party. It’s a look worth copying, to be sure.
Drew Barrymore Tom Wargacki/WireImage/Getty Images
It’s already difficult to pull off micro bangs
and a chevron print (one now stuck in “cheugy” purgatory) — together, even more so. But this ‘fit on Drew Barrymore just worked. Angelina Jolie Fotos International/Archive Photos/Getty Images
infamous leg pop at the Oscars, there was this standout moment at a different award show: a spicy halter dress encrusted with crystals at the 1999 Golden Globes. She won a Best Performance by an Actress award, BTW. Destiny's Child Brian Rasic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Just your regularly-scheduled reminder that Beyoncé can do no wrong — in the fashion department or otherwise. She, Michelle Williams, and Kelly Rowland served all leather cut-outs in 1998. It was just one of many incredible (coordinating!) looks they’d serve during their tenure.
Gwyneth Paltrow KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow was definitely a winner at the 1999 Oscars — as the recipient of the Best Actress award for her turn in
Shakespeare in Love (and for slaying the red carpet in this blush pink ball gown). Sarah Jessica Parker Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images
Sarah Jessica Parker didn’t just take a page out of Carrie Bradshaw’s playbook, she took a whole dress out of her closet. After wearing the “naked dress” that caused much hoopla with Mr. Big in Season 1 of
SATC, Parker wore the mini slip IRL to attend the VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards in 1997. Spice Girls Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Let’s be real: the Spice Girls defined a style era in the ‘90s. But their appearance at the 1997 MTV VMAs — with platform sneakers, leopard prints, and athleisure staples to boot — was a total group slay.
Jennifer Aniston Frank Trapper/Corbis Entertainment/Getty Images
There were almost too many Jennifer Aniston options to choose from, because she’s basically the IRL version of her ever-stylish on-screen persona, Rachel Green. But the
Friends star may have been the most radiant in this sculpted brown number at the 1999 Emmy Awards. The glitzy ornate top, the smooth skirt, the messy hair? A vibe before vibes were called ‘vibes.’ Diane Keaton Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Diane Keaton has been a style icon for decades, continually wowing with her takes on suiting. But this all-white ‘fit at the 1997 Academy Awards was beyond your usual realms of chic. With her styling touches — the glasses, the choker, gloves, and platform boots — she also made the look completely
her. Audrey Hepburn Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Before Barbiecore, there was Audrey Hepburn. I have no words for this one-shoulder vibrant pink number the actress wore at the 1992 Oscars. Just wow.
Aaliyah Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Aaliyah had the best street style game, but no ‘fit ever eclipsed this white-hot look she served at the
Anastasia premiere in 1997. With white sneaks, a faux fur coat, and her signature crop top, she looked wintry cool. Cindy Crawford Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Cindy Crawford was a style icon of the 1990s and this saucy gown — for an Oscars date with Richard Gere, no less — is undeniably one of her best looks of the decade. Just fire.
Winona Ryder Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Winona Ryder was all about grunge glam in the ‘90s. But she traded in her all-black ‘fits for an ivory, beaded, flapper-style number to attend the Academy Awards in 1994. With those pointed pumps? So good.
Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Diva history was made when Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston twinned at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. It was so iconic, in fact, that
Dua Lipa and Meghan Thee Stallion paid homage to it by also wearing matching Versace looks to last year’s Grammys. Halle Berry Kevin.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Let’s get this straight: Halle Berry can do no sartorial wrong. But this boudoir-inspired slip dress with sheer lace panels was probably her best effortlessly spicy look.
Britney Spears (Again) Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
OK, but this metallic pink bandeau top and white pants ‘fit Britney Spears wore to perform at a 1999 concert is part of
Spears’ fashion canon. Kate Hudson Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
This white and gold number Kate Hudson wore to attend the 1999 MTV Movie Awards was equal parts angelic and daring — and utterly ‘90s.
Kate Winslet Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images Titanic’s Rose walked so Kate Winslet could run. She attended the 1998 Academy Awards in this regal gown, complete with a intricate embroidery reminiscent of her on-screen character’s elaborate wardrobe. Madonna Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Madonna channeled Marilyn Monroe in a glitzy strapless number and fur stole. She wore $20 million worth of Harry Winston bling, for a look that would be recreated for decades to come. Meg Ryan Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
There’s something about Meg Ryan walking the red carpet in a fur-trimmed, zesty lime green coat that makes me wish I had a time machine...
Cameron Diaz Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Cameron Diaz served range in the ‘90s — donning everything from minimalist slips to
preppy ‘fits. The saccharine vibes of the flutter sleeves and lone clip perfectly capture her then-status as a rom-com darling. Nicole Kidman Kevin.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
If you need proof that Nicole Kidman has always been a must-watch on the red carpet, here’s a delicately-embroidered chartreuse beauty to hold sway. Paired with a beaded bag, drop earrings, and pointed sky-blue slingbacks, this look was a gem.
Get Even More From Bustle — Sign Up For The Newsletter
From hair trends to relationship advice, our daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.
Subscribe to our newsletter >