The ’90s Nostalgia Boom Is Real — and Everywhere

The cast of Yellowjackets, Jabari Banks in Bel-Air and Lily James in Pam & Tommy. Photos Courtesy: Showtime/Peacock/Hulu/iStock

While watching episode nine of the first season of Showtime’s Yellowjackets I had an epiphany: this year for Halloween I could dress as one of the guests at the Doomcoming festivity organized by the show’s stranded team of high school soccer players. It shouldn’t be hard to pull off: an autumnal flower crown paired with a ‘90s-fabulous outfit is all that’s needed. Sure enough, I typed “90s party dress” into my phone’s browser and endless possibilities started popping up.

The search results weren’t from vintage stores either but from brand-new collections. The ‘90s are officially back. Right now a ‘90s slit dress, a textured stretched ‘90s shirt or some high-waisted and curvy jeans are only a click away. And they look very much like something someone would wear in Point Break, Reality Bites, Clueless or another iconic Generation X movie

Yellowjackets isn’t the only recent show to be set in the ´90s, although I could argue it boasts the grungiest — hence coolest — soundtrack. FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story revisited Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 and the events leading up to it. The show, which is now available to stream on Hulu, is told from the point of view of the women at the scandal’s center. Besides giving voice to Monica Lewinsky, watching Impeachment also means revisiting the big hair, bigger bangs and shoulder-padded pantsuits of the time. You definitely get an idea of what business casual looked like in Washington DC at the turn of the last century. 

Then there’s Hulu’s Pam & Tommy. The limited series just wrapped its run and offered us perspective on the tale behind Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s stolen sex tape. It’s also a more mainstream (and even sleazy) portrait of the decade that you can pretty much enjoy just for its nostalgia-filled soundtrack — The Cardigans (“My Favorite Game,” “Lovefool”), 4 Non Blondes (“What’s Up?”) and Alanis Morisette (“You Oughta Know”) — as well as Pamela’s sense of style when she’s sporting the perfect combination of cropped cable-knit sweater and cheeky jeans, or a candy blue velour tracksuit.

Lily James in Pam & Tommy. Photo Courtesy: Hulu

If you still aren’t convinced about the ´90s being back, or don’t see yourself daring to try on a pair of high-waisted straight non-skinny jeans, let me keep making my case about the decade’s comeback and our seeming need for end-of-20th-century nostalgia. Rappers Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre and Eminem, as well as R&B singer Mary J. Blige, all released their debut albums in the early 1990s. They were also the headliners for this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. I know, the much younger Kendrick Lamar was also part of the stellar group of performers but it’s not like the Compton-born rapper hasn’t been open about the influence of ‘90s music on his work

This new array of 90s-infused pop culture doesn’t end there. You can also see it in certain TV and movie revivals. At the beginning of the year, the fifth installment of the Scream film series gave us a Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette reunion on the big screen once again. We had the spin-off show from Sex and the City, aptly called And Just Like That…, which writers and editors at Ask Media Group faithfully cringe-watched (and also couldn’t shut up about for weeks). And then there’s the reimagining of the iconic The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a drama with Peacock’s Bel-Air. Inspired by the 2019 viral fan video, Bel-Air is set in 2022, but Jabari Banks, who plays Will Smith, still knows how to rock a school blazer worn inside out.

Plus after last year’s The Matrix Resurrections and the upcoming John Wick 4, which is set to be released in March of 2023, it’s clear that ‘90s icon Keanu Reeves pretty much still rules Hollywood. 

I rest my case about the ‘90s comeback. Now let me get back to my browsing of clothes to see if I can ace the Yellowjackets’ Doomcoming look.
Feel like reading more about nostalgia? Don’t miss our piece on the biggest cultural trends of the 2000s.