Fashion, year upon year, never gets more 90s-inspired than when the leaves start to fall. 90s looks have become inherent to our idea of autumn, so much so that pictures from the decade feel familiar to us — we see the same outfits recreated every day in our modern lives.
I’ve recently noticed Taylor Swift being praised for her autumnal street style around New York: oversized cardigans and knit jumpers, leather boots, mini skirts, long coats, all in muted colours. As one of the major figures of pop culture today, Taylor channelling the cosy minimalism of the 1990s exemplifies just how much our autumn wardrobes have been influenced. If we look back at the pop culture of the 90s, one can find the sources of our autumn staples nowadays.
Meg Ryan, for instance, dominated the 90s as the it-girl of romantic comedies, starring in films that have now become synonymous with autumn: ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, and ‘You’ve Got Mail’. These movies seem to embody the cosiness of the season, and, coupled with Meg Ryan’s minimalist, comfortable style, have therefore been very influential. It’s hard not to think of Nora Ephron movies when autumn comes around, and whose style is better to recreate than that of the leading lady? Ryan’s effortless looks incorporating blazers, oversized outlines, chunky knits, turtlenecks and boots are definitely fashion inspiration for many of us when the cold weather hits.
The comfortable style of the 90s is timeless; its flexibility to be made more grunge or preppy depending on one’s personal style is what makes it a reoccurring trend not likely to die out any time soon. Rachel Green’s autumnal style in ‘Friends’ is an example of this, her mini skirts giving her outfits a more preppy feel than Meg Ryan’s interpretation of the same 90s silhouettes. The monumental cultural impact that ‘Friends’ had means that the character’s fashion has become iconic, especially for the autumntime: her plaid skirt paired with a white long sleeve is an infamous look now, and constantly being recreated.
The defining feature of these films and shows that makes us associate them and the fashion of their leading women with autumn, is their feeling of familiarity, their warmth that has transformed them into comfort watches. This cosiness is naturally translated into the outfits of the characters, setting autumnal trends for years to come. When thinking of cosiness, it is hard not to also include ‘Gilmore Girls’ in the list of autumnal media with influential 90s fashion. The show is rewatched every autumn, largely due to its small-town aesthetic giving everyone the comfort needed, and its fashion is one reason for it becoming so iconic. Chunky knits, leather boots, skirts and blazers, and a multitude of browns, blacks and burgundies, give the characters their effortless autumnal style that, despite the show being set in the 2000s, conveys a nineties feel — Rory and Lorelai Gilmore were clearly heavily influenced in the earlier seasons by autumnal trends of the previous decade. And just as they were influenced, so are we today; Rory’s iconic white mumu, just like Rachel Green’s plaid outfit, is repeatedly sought after as an autumn staple.
In general, 90s autumnal fashion was dominated by the comfort of an oversized silhouette, the ease of leather everything, the simplicity of a mini skirt elevating an outfit, plaid adding a seasonal touch. It is this effortlessness, this minimalism, that separates this style from other ephemeral trends that make their rise and fall on social media within a couple of weeks. The level of influence that 90s pop culture has on our vision of autumn now means the fashion of that time has become indistinguishable from our own wardrobes. The cosiness of that decade definitely won’t go out of style any time soon.
Featured image: Lina Kivaka on Pexels