90s Fashion Trends: 'Less Is More'

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  • Topic: Fashion, Minimalism, 1990s
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  • Published : May 3, 2011
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‘Less is more’ in 90s fashion

As we reflect on fashion history, there is not always a distinctive shift from one decade to the next. When transitioning from the 80s to the 90s, this was not the case, as there was an evident changeover from conspicuous consumer to ‘less is more.’ When hearing this phrase and applying it to fashion, I think it can be viewed in two ways. The more literal interpretation can be restated as it is preferred to have either a more minimalistic and simple outfit, or that it is en vogue to wear skimpier clothing. Both of these descriptions can be seen in 90s fashion.

Minimalism was a widely accepted trend of the 90s, as shoulder pads and off-the-shoulder sweaters became outdated and were replaced with cleaner lines and sleeker silhouettes. The excessive glamour of the 80s faded away, and jewelry became either non-existent or chic in its fineness and barely there quality. The only attribution to 1980s excess glamour was the bedazzling and embellishments to clothing or iridescent glitter shimmer on sheer and tulle fabrics and added to skin make up and hair spray. Designers such as Helmut Lang popularized this minimalistic trend by incorporating Japanese avant-garde aesthetics. Lang’s designs conveyed his view on how modern men and women want to dress. His clothes were without affectation and embodied an understanding that perfect cut, comfort, and ease of movement constitutes great fashion luxuries. Common examples of his key pieces slim mannish-shaped trousers for women, and sharply cut suiting that has a more androgynous shape.

The minimalistic trend of the 90s was evident from head to toe and was even embraced by celebrities of the decade. Pop stars that had once worn frilly miniskirts adorned with suspenders, full faces of makeup and plentiful accessories were now embracing new, more simplistic styles. Calvin Klein’s infamous ‘Clueless’ mini dress, worn by Alicia Silverstone in the legendary film is a perfect example of the...
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