Best 1980s’ and 1990s’ fashion trends and how to wear them today



Good fashion never goes away for very long. If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s, the range of returning fashion styles you used to rock as a child probably has you feeling nostalgic — but how do you make these work with your current style?

River Island, a leading UK fashion retailer of boys’ and girls’ clothing, has found the best trends from the unforgettable 1980s and 1990s to create a comeback style guide that will help you give these classic childhood looks a contemporary twist.



Double denim

From Britney to B*Witched, all the stars took to the stage in double denim during the 1990s. Denim pants, jackets and shirts have long been popular fashion pieces to wear individually, but it’s rocking them together that’s making a huge comeback right now.

The first step to bringing this trend back to life today is to decide on your colour. You have light blue, dark blue, black, white, and grey denim to choose from, so pick your shade and build your outfit around it.

Don’t mix and match your main denim colour, but do play about with shading — wearing a denim jacket and pair of trousers in slightly different hues or washes gives you a more casual, versatile and urban look that’ll help to merge the retro trend with modern fashion. Keep it casual by pairing your double denim jacket-and-jeans outfit with plain tees and white trainers.

If you’re wearing a denim shirt and jeans, break up the colour palette with a chunky black or tan belt — or dress it up with a pair of heels and chunky jewellery.



Any true 1990s’ girl had a set of choker necklaces she could rely on. Now, the retro trend is moving into unchartered territory and there are several ways you can welcome it into your 2017 wardrobe.

The best thing about chokers is that they can be as grungy or elegant as you like. Go for a velvet lace design to wear with night-out dresses or wear a cool tattoo style with skinny jeans and an off-the-shoulder top. Thin diamante and pendant chokers infuse your look with subtle shimmer and character, or you can make a 1990s-inspired statement with a thick, embellished ribbon choker that can turn any outfit into something special.



Ripped jeans

We’ve already discussed the joys of jeans, but when you’re doubling up your denim, you might want to consider the ripped style. Torn jeans aren’t exactly new to 2017, but they are elbowing their way to the front of the pack as a top retro fashion statement.

Whether you go for subtle tears or stand-out slashes, you want to make your outfit all about the ripped effect. To do this, pair your destroyed denims with a plain v-neck jumper or sweatshirt — depending on the occasion — and customise with simple flats or sneakers. If you wear a blouse or floaty top, tuck it into your jeans to highlight the distressed vibe or get the causal, boho look by teaming your torn denims with a floral kimono and platform boots or sandals.



Crop tops

Popstars and films, like Madonna and Flashdance, helped propel the crop top from beachwear to mainstream fashion during the 1980s, and the crop top continued to be a massive feminine fashion trend throughout the 1990s. But of course, you don’t have to limit this to your summer wardrobe.

For dressy events, wear a frilled crop top with statement jewellery and skinny jeans. For days out, pull on a plain, fitted, cotton design with floral shorts and a blazer, or try a looser fit crop top and team it with a high-waisted skirt if you don’t want to show too much midriff. Why not go really retro and wear your crop top under a pair of dungarees with plain plimsolls or incorporate denim into your look by throwing a loose, patchwork denim shirt over your cropped tee?  


Glitzy sequins

1980s fashion was loud, proud and excessive — and one of the biggest trends that emulate this vibe is glitzy sequins. The shimmery look is perfect for autumn and winter, so don’t hold back. The one rule we suggest is limiting your outfit to a single statement piece and complementing it with plainer clothing to help it stand out.

Sequin and tassel tops truly have the 1980s’ vibe and look incredible with black skinny jeans and pencil skirts. There are plenty of graphic tees with sequined adornments that you can merge with more casual trousers and jackets for off-duty days, or why not dress up for a night out with a sequin dress, stiletto heels and a plain blazer?




You don’t get more retro than ruffles and this aesthetic is taking over catwalks around the world right now. Far from being confined to prom dresses, you can now get ruffles on a range of fashion pieces to help you bring the comeback trend to any future event.

Team a satin ruffle top with a black midi skirt and heels for formal business meetings or go for a cute ruffle sweatshirt with torn jeans and pumps on your free days. Statement jewellery was also big in the 1980s, so why not fuse these two trends together with a ruffle shirt or crop top, leggings, hoop earrings, chunky bangle, and ankle boots or revive the preppy 1990s’ look with a ruffle skirt and roll-neck sweater?  

There’s no denying some of our favourite childhood fashion trends are back. Follow these tips if you want to merge retro chic with your modern style.






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