The 90s are back in fashion, complete with oversized logo sweatshirts, DM boots and spaghetti strap floral print dresses with tight white t shirts underneath. It’s enough to put a mother off fashion entirely.
I was young enough in the 80s to be able to cope with the irony of that particular revival and got a warm glow to see neon fingerless gloves back in the shops along with Hello Kitty and My Little Pony, but I’m nervous to hear about this 90s revival.
I’ve been told that’s it not cool to follow a fashion trend twice. Luckily for me I didn’t get it right the first time so unless white Levi’s with a flecky roll neck from M&S’ “Wearable Cotton Knits” graces the catwalk, I should be OK.
But I shouldn’t be too tough on myself, it was so much harder then; we didn’t have online shopping, GHDs or nail art. It took two years for a seemingly futuristic outfit from the catwalk to be distilled down into a wearable and utterly bland item which you could happily buy at Jigsaw. We didn’t have eBay, Instagram or collaborations between Lanvin and H&M at our fingertips.
And here lies my main concern; what will I tell my daughter when she is a teenager looking to borrow my vintage clothes from the 90s? What do I tell her when she’s having her Courtney Love phase and is sniffing around my wardrobe for original fucked up band t shirts, grunge floral dresses and beaten up DM boots?
I will have nothing for her. I will have to explain that in the 90s, I enjoyed doing my homework on time, tidying my pencil case and watching Casualty on a Friday night, then phoning my best friend to go through the entire episode in painstakingly melodramatic detail.
I can tell her I knew all the words to Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do it” and I once (almost ironically) owned a Tamagotchi, but that’s not going to cut it with a teen who is not only trying to find her own identity through a swathe of crop tops, piercings and dungarees but also has to deal with the slow realisation that her mother was a lame teenager.
“But”, she will ask, “didn’t you even have a Lisa Bonet inspired couple of years where you wore ripped high waisted vintage jeans, a patterned waistcoat, trilby and lots of jangly bracelets?”
“Or a plaid shirt, a Tommy Hilfiger crop top or an Adidas zippy top?”
And I will have to explain that the 90s were hard on a middle class teen from the Home Counties; everything on trend was either Hip Hop, Cool Britannia or involved going to raves which was not totally compatible with revising for my A- levels, living in the suburbs and being called Camilla.
Well, this revival is my chance to put that right. In the same way we all admire photos of our mothers in the 70s with their bell bottoms and long ironed-flat hair and fantasise that they have some vintage Biba tucked away in their wardrobe, so too will I create a legacy of which my daughter can be proud.
Here is my guide to winning as a middle aged mother in the 90s revival:
• As a busy working mother of two I am often exhausted, washed out and with no time for make-up. Work this to your advantage and cultivate the heroin chic naturally from within. A heavy spritz of CK1 will complete this look.
• The most famous hairstyle of the 90s was, obviously, The Rachel, but achieving this straightened-then-blow-dried-then-straightened-again-with-feathery-layers-at-the-front every day is going to take more time and commitment than this ultimately boring look deserves. Instead do that thing where you scrape all your hair back into a 90s scrunchie, except for two teeny tiny strands at the front.
• Sweatshirts tied around your waist – mother’s rejoice! When you’re hot, carrying too much stuff and have no free hands, this “look” which you’ve been reluctantly adopting at airports, supermarkets and car parks is bang on trend. Tie any sweatshirt, jumper or denim jacket in this way teamed with your CK high waisted jeans and Jansport backpack and you are THERE!
• Avoid Hypercolour t-shirts or anything that highlights to people that you are hot and sweating. Also applies to mood rings.
• With so much denim to choose from in the 90s it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Be wary of denim dungarees; maybe you rocked these back in the 90s (with one strap undone, natch), but on the middle aged mother, unless you want to look two stone heavier than you actually are, they are to be avoided. Instead go for the high waisted mum jeans, stonewashed everything or rock a classic Levi bootleg – ideally teamed with a massive Fruit of the Loom t-shirt.
• If you’re adventurous enough to rock the Hip Hop 90s vibe then you will be richly rewarded; the mantra of the baggier the better saw girls opting for XXXL t-shirts and 42×42 jeans. The sheer comfort that clothes this size can provide is immeasurable. And, if it all feels like it needs some holding together – you can create a stylish accessory by cinching the lot in with a bum bag decorated with your own graffiti tag.
• Velcro wallets – washable, fun AND stylish! Need I say more? While we’re talking accessories, don’t forget a rucksack – perfect for mums on the run with a heap of stuff who need to stay hands free. How about a natty tan leather one with an Aztec print?
• Combats/polo neck – the mainstay of any half decent 90s wardrobe. If like me, you’ve still been rocking this look since 1998 unsure if it was kind of OK or not, you can relax. It may have taken 20 years but it is now back on trend. If you are lucky enough to still own any fisherman sweaters from French Connection or Penny loafers from Next you should feel relief; these innocuous items are now true 90s vintage pieces.
The 90s revival; how will you ensure you get it right this time round?