Fashion Trends: 80s, 90s, Y2K, Today

From leg warmers to leather jackets, fashion has evolved exponentially over the past four decades

Back in the 80’s, everything seemed over the top and beyond. The McDonald’s Big Mac was introduced, hairspray was in high demand to lock in high bangs, and clothes were baggy. In the eighties, the sky was the limit. No color was too bright, no pattern was too bold, and no hairstyle was too big for this era. Geometric and animal prints were all the rage. 

With the internet not having yet emerged as a common household staple at that time, most fashion trends came from magazines, and later music videos and VHS, which had a widespread influence on how people dressed. For example, leg warmers worn by Jane Fonda in her famed exercise videos quickly became everyday wear. Stirrup legging pants made their way into many closets thanks to Olivia Newton-John’s look in 1978’s ‘’Grease’’. Other fashions that went into style during this time were the power suit, shoulder pads, big hair, and neon colors. 

Then came the 90’s, where people traded in their big and bright clothes and went grunge, which is a fashion style characterized by its durable, thrifty look, including overalls, bike shorts, combat boots, plaid and denim. Much like the decade prior, 90s fashion culture drew much of its inspiration from popular culture. Many of these influential figures showed off their style in magazines like Teen Beat, Teen Vogue, Seventeen and BIG!, and  movies, such as “Clueless,” “The Matrix,” and “Pretty Woman.” Music videos grew in popularity throughout the late 80s and into the 90s, causing bands to have more influence on the fashion industry.  Trending hits at the time were “Zombie” by the Cranberries, “Vogue ‘’ by Madonna, “Wannabe’’ by the Spice Girls, ‘’ Baby One More Time’’ by Britney Spears. 

At the dawn of the 21st century, fashion continued to spread but now even more rapidly was the change as movie stars, bands and icons had more media channels to influence the trends. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Christina Aguilera were only a few of the most influential fashion icons of the early 2000s. Examples of fashion staples of the time would be ripped jeans, white belts, and denim miniskirts. Transitioning into the 2010s, fashion started becoming more mainstream at a faster pace. 

With the added influences of social media and streaming services that extend all across the world, fashion trends have become much more universal and it is far easier for trends to make their way overseas now than it had been in years past. Trending fashions as of the present day include crop tops, ripped jeans, leather jackets, Nike footwear and bold stripes, influenced by social media stars as well as the usual actors and singers. For more upscale events, however, fashion is much more extravagant. 

Inspired by the glamor of celebrity custom outfits, such as Blake Lively’s “Gossip Girl” themed dress and Alicia Keys’ famous New York City skyline gown, many popular party dresses tend to be tight-fitting with glitter or sequins. Jewel tones, such as emerald green and rose gold, are some of the most sought-after colors for homecoming dresses, prom dresses, and even bridesmaid dresses. 

Fashion is everywhere. There are so many different styles, designers and it has changed so much over the years. From leg warmers to shoulder pads to oversized shirts and sweatshirts, the most recent fashion generation has certainly taken a much more casual tone than in years past. With so many changes in only a few decades, the shifting tastes beg the question: what trend will be next?