Back in the ‘90s (and hey – even the 2000s), we cared a lot about music videos. A lot. So much so that some of us may or may not have taped music videos off our TVs so we could watch and emulate them later.
And can you blame us? Music videos laid out some of the most important fashion trends to ever exist, or at least gave us permission to keep wearing pieces we already liked. To prove it, here are 10 of the best – or more specifically, 10 of the best and most underrated styles that work perfectly for summer fashion trends of 2014. Just don’t blame us when you take off to Value Village and justify buying platform flip-flops. Or do. We’ll understand!
Story continues below video slideshow:
1. Natalie Imbruglia, “Torn” (1997): The College Grad Look
The premise is simple: Natalie Imbruglia wears a zip-up hoodie (with a suede hood!), a dragon print tank top, oversize khaki pants, and makes us start to question if we should also all cut our hair. Understandably, too: 1997 had yet to see the full female pop singer revival (minus the Spice Girls), so before Britney and Christina’s crop tops, musicians gave us a wide range of school dress code-approved looks to choose from. This one, specifically, was available from Suzy Shier (as long as you looked hard enough).
2. Britney Spears, “Baby One More Time” (1999): The Sexy Schoolgirl Look
Not that there’s anything wrong with crop tops (hello, they’re back, and if you can wear them, go forth). So when Britney Spears debuted her sexy school-girl look for ‘99’s “Baby One More Time,” she made an impact both in terms how to amp-up one’s Catholic School ensemble and how to accessorize accordingly. However, odds are if you were a pre-teen circa Britney’s first track, you weren’t about to experiment with your button-up (since some of us still just wore hoodies) so that’s why you opted for the quintessential fluffy hair ties. Now you were only a Justin Timberlake away from being Britney herself (you said, memorizing the video choreography).
3. Lisa Loeb, “Stay” (1994): '90s Classics
Behold: another reason why ‘90s comebacks in fashion are both a blessing and a gift. Loeb’s baby doll dress, black tights, and chunky boots are completely indicative of that year’s trends (which explains why “Stay” accompanies "Reality Bites"), but also reminded that if you were a little too tame (or too young) for the likes of Hole, you could still embrace the mini-dress look and opt out edgier accessories. (Though now that we’re all older, we think we’re ready for the look of ’94 Love.)
4. Christina Aguilera, “Dirrty” (2002): Mini-Skirts
There was a lot to take away from Christina Aguilera’s public break-up with her squeaky-clean pop image (see also: Stripped is amazing), but if you look past the shock and awe of 2002’s “Dirrty,” you’ll see trends that quickly crept up as the decade progressed: super low-rise cuts, leather accessories, and pleated mini-skirts. Maybe not worn the same way, but we think we all remember the prevalence of the super-short pleated mini thanks to support from then-fashionistas like Paris Hilton. Let’s give Aguilera some credit.
5. Aerosmith, “Cryin” (1994): Plaid
Finally, it’s time to talk about how well Aerosmith dress. KIDDING, we are going to instead sing the praises of video star Alicia Silverstone, whose plaid, Docs, floral dress, and Levis perpetuate that belief that while the mid-90s may have abided by similar patterns and colours, you could manipulate them in a way to create innately unique looks. (Case in point: Silverstone’s baby doll dress is a far cry from Lisa Loeb’s.) Now let’s bring back those jeans already.
6. Spice Girls, “Wannabe” (1996): Mini-Dresses
Behold: the Holy Grail; our world’s greatest triumph. The only music video that really matters: “Wannabe.” With five singers fronting five very distinct types of styles, the Fab Five’s first single established five very distinct ‘90s trends: platform flip-flops, Adidas track pants, bright Lycra, mini-dresses, and sequins. Even better when not worn at the same time.
7. B*Witched, “C’est La Vie” (1998): Canadian Tuxedos
We don’t talk enough about B*Witched, especially since they so perfectly executed the look of a late ‘90s suburban teen. Adorned in individually-tailored Canadian tuxedos, the Irish four-piece took a cue from Natalie Imbruglia and ran, creating an image so perfectly age-appropriate and relatable that they made anyone feel like pop singers too – provided everyone had just one graphic t-shirt (check), or pastel turtleneck (you bet). Yes, this is real teen fashion. (Or real mall fashion – even now, with the denim jacket resurgence.)
8. TLC, “No Scrubs” (1999): Pleather
Besides the song’s necessary message, “No Scrubs” bestowed upon us another important lesson: pleather is a wonderful leather alternative, and it screams “futuristic.” (Obviously.) It was also the must-wear fabric of the mid-to-late ‘90s and early ‘00s, particularly to clubs, bars, and to "Electric Circus" (RIP), which allowed us to channel the wonder that is TLC while trying not to sweat too much as we danced in glorified vinyl.
9. Mariah Carey, “Heartbreaker” (1999): DIY Jeans
Who misses those super-low, DIY jeans? No one, we don’t think, since they were painful even in 1999. But at the time? Carey’s controversial and slightly exhibitionist vibe started a trend so powerful it took years to phase out, despite most of us struggling to conceal our bodies, ourselves (but especially the tops of our underwear).
10. Pink, “Get The Party Started” (2001): Platform Sneakers
Pink’s an underrated style icon and always has been – let’s just get that out of the way right now. But her video for “Get the Party Started” is evidence of how much Pink was and is overlooked fashion-wise: a sheer, fishnet off-the-shoulder top over a white tank top was a serious look in the early ‘00s (specifically if that top was Roxy brand, but that’s neither here nor there) – as were the platform sneakers, her baggy athletic pants, and the gold bling. Then again, they’re also serious looks now, having resurrected from the same place as this year’s crop tops.