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Style SOS: Am I too old to wear the 90s trend?

Style SOS: Am I too old to wear the 90s trend?

Is it true what they say about being too old to wear a trend if you lived through it the first time around? Asking for a friend who remembers the 90s well. – Terry, via Twitter

The short answer, Terry, is no. The longer answer is a bit more complicated. The received wisdom is that fashion moves in 20-year cycles, meaning that all of us will live through the trends of our youth at least once. This has always been the case, but thanks to the internet and the fact that fashion is much more visible in society than it used to be, these trends feel much bigger and in your face than they did previously.

Now, just because you remember something does not mean you need to recreate it in its entirety. And it definitely isn’t the green light to dust off anything that’s been in the attic since 1996. If you are old enough to remember the 90s well, then you’re not the chap in those in sepia-tinted memories. Dressing exactly like he did will not look as good now as it did then.

The best thing about seeing a trend come around a second time is that you know what elements to embrace and which to avoid, and with the 90s there’s a lot of both. Unlike the more clearly defined trends of the 60s or 70s, the 90s ranged the fashion scale from preppy, Ralph Lauren chic at one end, through rap-inflected baggy denim and sportswear, to full-on grunge at the other. The good news is that this means instead of recreating a trend head-to-toe, you can go for elements of the looks or trends you once loved and wear them in a new way.

Accessible in both price and style, the bright sportswear that dominated the 90s is back – Fila and Ellesse are being worn enthusiastically and unironically in 2019. Though the Kappa tracksuit you wore in the playground probably won’t work for the office, a pair of smart sweatpants with trainers can look really sharp. As can a Champion logo jumper (yes, they’re back too) with wider leg trousers – the combo nods to the streetwear trend that’s even bigger now than it was back then, without going OTT.

The thing you want to avoid is looking like you’ve not moved on. Liam Gallagher is rarely seen without his green parka, but that doesn’t mean you need to dig out your Blur vs Oasis tees. Instead, look to the thinking man’s Britpopper, Jarvis Cocker. Double-breasted suits like this slim-fit Marks & Spencer number, or fitted jackets over knitted polo shirts, both have a 90s feel but feel a bit more grown-up. And no one will assume you’re off to a fancy dress party. Because to make the 90s trend work now, you need to update it. If you did live through it, make sure no one thinks you’re still stuck there.

Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillet