If you’re Gen X or even an older millennial, seeing the 90s and early 00s come back around as a “retro” look can invoke a multitude of emotions from nostalgia, to oh-my-god-am-I-that-old, to disgust. Some shit should just stay buried, y’all.
Other trends look fabulous and actually make a ton of sense with their wearability and convenience for your plus-size summer wardrobe.
For many of us plus-size fashionistas, the resurgence is bittersweet. Whether you were a virgin who couldn’t drive or as popular as Dionne Davenport and Cher Horowitz combined, fashion options were still rough for plus-size bodies. As someone who spent a large part of their childhood and teenage years yearning for the cool trends that their thin friends could rock and sadly circling my favorite trends in the Delia*s, Girlfriends, and Alloy catalogs (shout out to Alloy for carrying up to a size 25, albeit ill-fitting), it can be both sad and an opportunity to wear the trends that I did not get to enjoy at that age because they didn’t come in my size and my family was too poor to afford them.
From t-shirts under spaghetti-straps to platform sandals to mini-backpacks and fannypacks, there are some things that deserve a comeback. Hello, combat boots with a babydoll dress and dark, vampy lipcolors? Yes, please. Frosty silver eyeshadow and glossy lips? You bet.
The secret to making these looks work and not look like you’re trying to be Cool Mom is to simply not try too hard. Don’t toss five things on at once and expect it to simply work without looking like a costume, when in reality you’re a lot more likely to look like Jerri Blank returning to high school.
Scarf Halters and Tube Tops (@glitterandlazers)
Ok I am kind of really proud of this look because while it looks simple it’s got a bevy if early 2000s trends accounted for: 1. Fake tan until you’re orange and then put on extra bronzer 2. Cream metallic eyes, because its y2k, you survived the apocalypse and its the future 3. Half a tube of pink jelly lipgloss and a touch of frosted baby pink lipstick 4. Platform metallic flip flops to show you had money to wait on overpriced and impractical pool shoes 5. Gaucho pants aka stretchy cotton culottes the pants for every 2000 occasion! 6. Scarfs wore at all times and in every possible way except in the cold when you need them 7. 90s tattoo necklaces but with more color and more layers 8. Awkward purse too small to go over your arm, but too big to be a clutch 9. Hair that is simultaneously stick straight, crimped and curled. 10. Hair tendrils in your face because you’re put together, but not that put together 11. Low rise pants, because they are neither comfortable nor flattering 12. Baby blue because episode 17 of tiger beat told you that was @justintimberlake’s favorite color. 13. Thin eyebrows because we destroyed them by over plucking them allll through the 90s #2000s #millenial #fashionblogger #retro #plussize #ootd #britneyspears
While halters can be hell on a larger set of breasts and the neck expected to hold them up, you can get the look with high-neck tank tops made to look like the 90s squared halter neckline but without the ergonomic hell, as seen on Coco Madrid in #3. However, there is no substitute for the scarf-as-a-shirt trend of the 90s. Any size can make it work, you just need to get a larger scarf or square of fabric.
Track Themed Looks (@asia_penelope)
Go, Speed Racer, Go! The 90s and early 00s served some serious racetrack inspired looks, for better or worse — think Britney, Spice Girls, Lil Kim, Miss. There were some major looks and each had a much more modern take on the original B-Girl tracksuit. Samoan-Australian rapper Asia Penelope puts a couture spin on the look in this amazing blue and white dress.
Vertical Stripes (@itsmekellieb)
Went to the mall today, Target was poppin. PS just stared at this caption for 15 seconds to make sure I wrote poppin not poopin lol Phew! We made it! P.s.s. @youtube friends, this is that shirt we were just talking about! obsessed. #asseenonme #summerstyle #andigetdressed #effyourbeautystandards #psblogger #wiwn #ootdplussize
The 90s were all about bold vertical stripes. If you’re nervous about it, try a simple pinstripe to start and then try a blue-and-white. Some of the best throwback examples of vertical stripes are the multicolored neutral striped flares which were hella popular in the 90s and early 00s.
Mini Backpacks (@thisisjessicatorres)
Ditch the back-breaker that is a heavy, oversized purse on one shoulder in favor of a mini or midi backpack which is balanced across both shoulders.
Short-Alls and Jumpers (@lydiahudgens)
The summer-friendly version of the overall, short-alls have made a comeback and YES, plus-size clothing companies are recognizing how rad they are and making them for our bodies, too! If you’ve got a pair of denim overalls that you love but don’t love the silhouette, just turn them into cut-offs for a much more stylish summer-friendly option.
Baby Tees (@katanafatale)
The quintessential wardrobe basic of the nineties, the cropped baby-tee is back. Why not make it a political statement, as well? PNW-based model Katana Fatale rocks a fat-postive tee by fellow fatshionista Jessica Hinkle over at Proud Mary.
Flatform Sandals (@houseofcoco)
Just say yes to a bit of extra foot support. Even Teva has caught on and started making stylish sandals for 90’s lovers for a little less “granola” crunch and a bit more glitter.
Colored Denim (@chicwithcurves)
You don’t have to look like the lost member of Color Me Badd or Jessie Spano’s body-double if you wear colored denim. Be careful not to incorporate too many trends into one look when utilizing this bold but simple trend. Floral is a great accompaniment, but leave the vertical stripes at home.
Tees Under Dresses and Jumpers (@kawaii.chola)
How many times have you had a great dress but just felt like not being that exposed? You can remix your looks by tossing a cute tee underneath a spaghetti strap column or slip dress and extend that look to other cuts, too, like jumpsuits and rompers.
Fanny Packs (@glamghoul)
Whose ready for a Sunday cruise? x Tube Top: @fashionnovacurve [XOASHLEY] to save $$$ Shoes: @jadamsshoes #jadamsshoes Fanny Pack: @shopfocapparel Skirt: Old Piece from @wetseal . . . . . #boldandcurvy #fatspo #plusmodelmag #plussizestyle #stylehasnosize #alternativecurves #plussizeblogger #novababe #novacurve #psfashion #pmmlovemybody #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #curvemodel #plussizemodel #plussizefashion #bigandblunt #labelcurv #tcfstyle #tattooedlegs #legtattoos #kneetattoo #thightattoo #tattooedwomen #tattooedgirls #alternativemodel #alternativeplussize
Fanny packs make sense and they’re cute. Fight me.
(A quick reminder for our global readers: in the U.S. we mean fanny like your backside, not your frontside. Otherwise, this would be totally different type of article…)
Vintage 90s Plus Size Floral Button Up Blouse. Fits like a Large - XLarge. Priced at $22. Message to purchase or find this item on Depop by searching the username: @katrollya Made of rayon with no stretch. Good condition. Measures: 21" across chest, 9.5" sleeves, 21" across hem, 25" total length from shoulder to hem. Shipping is $5. • #plussizeclothing #floralprint #plussizevintage #90svintage #floralblouse Photo by @praydeath_ taken @periodmodern
Yes, we know how Miranda Priestly feels about florals, but whatever. Florals have gotten bolder and more interesting as indie pattern designers have greater access to creating their own printed fabrics which is an amazing way for DIY seamstresses out there to create incredibly unique pieces right down to the fabrics. Either way, yes, florals can be “groundbreaking.” So shove it, Priestly.