90s Hip Hop Fashion Ideas For Any Party - 13 Costume Ideas
90s hip hop has been a pillar in creating innovation in music, and fashion. As hip hop gained popularity in the 90s, it was evident that a new fashion style was emerging. One in which would mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Hip hop was building it's character through fashion and the world was curiously watching.
From the late 80s and early 90s, hip-hop fashion was heavily influenced by knowledge of self. In this time, hip-hop was influenced by artists like Afrika Bambaata of the Universal Zulu Nation, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Brand Nubians. These individuals were building a movement out of the creativity of a new generation of outcast youths with an authentic, liberating worldview. Hip hop fashion around this time was educational, empowering, and fun with a reflected of traditional African culture. Rappers were seen rocking the red, black and green African medallion, fitted snapbacks, leather bomber jackets, blousy pants, fitted jeans, afros and/or dreadlocks. Unfortunately, this movement did not last as major record labels found it more profitable to capitalize on selling meaningless fantasies of drugs, sex, and money in hip hop. This was where the big brands stepped in.
As big brands including FILA, Adidas and Nike saw the success of hip hop, they wanted in on the actions. The support of these billion-dollar brands helped push the narrative of what hip-hop should "look" like. No more african medallion leather necklaces. Gold rope chains were they new trend. Nike baseball caps, neon apparel and even carrying garments backwards became the brand new trend. We were also introduced to hiphop accessories such as cazal eyeglasses, oversized name tags manufactured from gold placing from chains, rings and heavy earrings suggesting wealth and prestige.
Hip-hop fashion for women and men became different; Guys preferred saggy jeans, sunglasses and heavy workboots, while women wore tighter jeans, bell bottom jeans, and tube tops. Brands like Dickies, Chuck Taylors, and Raiders contributed to the popularization of pants, sneakers, and baseball caps, respectively. Even Chanel joined in and featured models carrying the classic look of hip hop: black leather-based jackets and gold chains, or black clothes with silver chains.
As the mid and late 90s approach, the narrative of hip hop took a turn as what is now know as the golden era of hiphop. Heavily influenced by rappers such as Nas, Jay Z, Biggie, and Tupac, to name a few, hip hop now celebrated thugs and gangsters. Oversized jeans and cargo pants were still prominent in hip hop. The style of "sagging" pants (wearing pants below the butt) was still a common practice. This practice comes from prisons, where belts are not allowed for their potentially-lethal purposes (as reported by CNN), as well as from poor urban communities who could not afford new clothes, therefore passing them down from one family member, to younger, smaller members. Accompanying this are hand signs and territorial mentality, which were first adopted by African-American youth in Los Angeles, but which later spread.
Hip hop fashion persisted to inspire more and more designers in the late 90s, and massive names like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, DKNY created sports wear that showed this style, and glorified urban street put on. FUBU opened hip hop fashion to the mainstream, starting an enterprise of its own. Moreover, hairstyles that have been historically African-American resurged, such as Afros, cornrows and wave; the latter created via sporting a Du-rag over the head. Eventually, the Du-rag become a hip hop style accessory on its own. By the mid to overdue 90s, instead of gold, platinum became the choice of metal for hip hop earrings, which changed into frequently studded with diamonds.
With this, we take a trip down memory lane to discover some of the best hiphop fashion outfit in the 90s.
1) My Addidas
Run DMC was one of the biggest influencers to the first look of hip-hop fashion. With songs such as “My Addidas”, adidas gear became the gold standard for hip-hop. The most common outfit of this was the adidas wind breaker or sweat suit, adidas sweat pants and the adidas shoes.
This outfit was also idea for most break dancers. The silk adidas sweat suits and sweatpants made it the best outfit to rip windmills on the cardboard without any friction.
2) The SnapBack
What made the snapback so unique amongst other hats was the design. The brim was slightly curved, and the hat itself sat high on the head. It goes it’s name from its adjustable back which “snaps” in place to a desired size.
The Snapback was made popular by NBA players and the hip hop group, NWA. The most notable snapback was the Chicago Bulls snapback worn by Jordan as he clutched his 6th NBA championship trophy. Another notable snapback was the LA Raiders snapback worn by NWA.
Snapback hats were popular trend in the 90s and were usually complimented with retro styles like vintage jerseys.
3) Timberland Boots
When you think of the timberland boots, you think of New York, and when you think of New York, you think of Biggie. Yes, New York made “tims” a thing in the 90s as they were rocked by many, it not, all New York artists including Biggie, Nas, Jay Z etc. Although the shoes were made for construction workers working in the outdoors, it was made notoriously (no pun intended) amongst drug dealers who needed durable and comfortable shoes to wear during long hours in the streets. The shoes have evolved as fashion statement and are now worn amongst many, young and old.
4) The Cazal Glasses
CAZAL eyewear has become synonymous with hip-hop fashion. Many of hip-hop’s brightest stars (both past and present) have rocked a pair of CAZALs in their music videos, around town, and virtually anywhere else they go.
CAZAL was first created in 1979 by Austrian eyewear designer, Carl Zalloni. The iconic 607s were one of the first pairs released by CAZAL, but, again, they didn’t receive widespread popular support (especially in the hip-hop community) until later.
It didn’t take long for sunglasses fans to take notice of CAZAL, though. And it certainly helped that Darryl McDaniels (from the aforementioned Run-D.M.C.) liked to rock his own pair of 607s. When McDaniels was first seen in his 607s, the popularity of CAZAL in the United States seemed to balloon. Although the price tag for those early CAZALs hit upwards of $500, the sunglasses were still flying off the shelves. But because these glasses were high quality products and not cheap glasses for 5$, most of the B-Boys were not able to buy them because they were very expensive (up to 500$ depending the collection). So there was just the possibility to snatch them. In the Bronx people were even killed for a CAZAL frame.Cari Zalloni himself was very shocked about this fact. The CAZAL BOYS even made a song of it and it was called “SNATCHIN CAZALS” (’85 Tempre Records).
As the 80’s came to a close, more rappers and hip-hop artists were rocking their own CAZALs. Other famous styles included the 951s and 955s often worn by Joe Cooley and Rodney-O.
5) African Leather Medallions
The African Leather Medallion Necklace was introduced in the late 80s and early 90s, a time in which artists like Afrika Bambaata of the Universal Zulu Nation, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Brand Nubians, were building a movement out of the creativity of a new generation of outcast youths with an authentic, liberating worldview. Hip hop around this time was educational, empowering, and fun with a focus of knowledge of self. A symbol of such pride was with the use of the African Medallion Leather Necklace.
The necklace was made of leather, with the shape of Africa carved out of it and typically painted red, yellow, green and black. The African Medallion Leather Necklace replaced fat diamond chains and gold rope chains as a statement to dismiss the glorification of meaningless materialism in hip hop. The necklace had a great impact and reached not only hip hop groups, but also inmates who wanted to turn their life around, religious groups like the Nation of Islam and everyday individuals.
6) The Gold Rope Chain
The Gold Rope Chain was another status symbol in hip-hop. Initially, it was worn by drug dealers who could afford the it’s outrageous price. As hip-hop became profitable however, many hip-hop artist could afford it. This help catapult the gold chain into mainstream media. It no longer became something that only drug dealers wore, but a symbol of success regardless of your occupation.
The gold chain evolved in the mid-90s with the popularization of the Jesus piece. Worn by Biggie, the Jesus pendant gold necklace became one of the most popular gold necklaces in hiphop.
7) Oversized T Shirts
From the beginning of the ‘90s well into the late 2000s, hip-hop fashion was largely defined by oversized fits and long silhouettes. One reason cited for this is that many kids growing up poor in cities like New York, LA and Chicago would receive clothes as hand-me-downs from their older siblings. And even if you didn’t have a sibling, wearing oversized clothes might have kept you out of trouble; after all, the bigger your clothes, the bigger your “older brother” must be.
8) The Bucket Hat
The first bucket hat-wearing rapper was widely said to be Big Bank Hank of Sugar Hill Gang, who wore one during a 1979 performance of “Rapper’s Delight” on the TV show Soap Factory (which also marked the first-ever recorded music video), and it promptly launched a phenomenon, spurring others to embrace the hat, including Run-DMC in 1984 (the group’s headwear collection was so extensive, they were never seen without a bucket, a fedora, or a panama hat perched atop their heads), LL Cool J in 1985 (like who could ever forget his red Kangol bucket hat), and Jay-Z in 2000. It made regular appearances on members of Wu-Tang Clan and EPMD. Once again, it was Kangol who dominated this style, with their Kangaroo logo regularly featuring on rapper’s buckets of choice.
9) Army Fatigue
The military has inspired many great looks in men's style, and this of course translates over into hip-hop. Camouflage, literally and figuratively, has been a staple in hip-hop for years. Simply put, the masculinity and functionality of military-inspired gear translates very well into hip-hop, and it's definitely been a source of inspiration for years. Camo has been a mainstay of streetwear for as long as anyone can remember, and the same is true of hip-hop. In the early years, rap group Public Enemy complemented vocalist Chuck D’s politically-charged raps about the struggles of life as a black person in America with military uniforms in a grayscale woodland camo pattern, signifying their status as soldiers of America’s urban warzones.
The fact that military gear was available in abundance from army surplus stores and was affordable and hardwearing was another plus. Countless artists like Tupac, Biggie and Das EFX made camo part of their wardrobe, and the style has endured ever since.
10) Tommy Hilfiger Jacket
Tommy Hilfiger, who launched his men's collection in the early 90's, was as important to hip-hop as hip-hop was to his brand. The signature red, white and blue patriotic jackets were often paired with Girbaud jeans and knapsacks. The instantly-classic American prep brand flooded the closet of both hip-hop stars and fans alike. And once Aaliyah rocked the brand, guys only wanted to see their girls rocking Tommy as well.
11) The Tracksuit
Whether made of velour, jersey, or heavy polyester, tracksuits have been a part of hip-hop culture ever since b-boys started breaking in the late '70s and early '80s. Run-D.M.C. made the track jacket and pants a classic of the streets, but Diddy and Sean John also helped make this hip hop style a signifier of wealth. The message was anyone in a matching jacket and bottom didn't have the need to get dressed up. It was the OG beta version of cozy boy, while also stating that you only fucked with king shit.
If you lived through the ’90s, the chances are that you wore overalls. These sleeveless denim jumpsuits were an essential fashion item for the decade and worn by both ladies and gents everywhere. No longer just for farmers, the ’90s made overalls a casual and comfortable wardrobe staple. To rock this look in pure ’90s style, try partnering a pair of classic blue overalls with a crop top and sneakers.
Denim jeans might be a fashion staple today, but that wasn’t always the case. Adopted during numerous subcultures like punk rock and the flower power movement, by the ‘80s denim jeans had moved from pure workwear to credible fashion garm, heralding a new age of designer denim brands.
By the ‘90s, labels like Guess Jeans, Versace, Moschino and Calvin Klein were leading the way in high-end, fashion-focused denim, while black-owned labels like Phat Farm and FUBU cemented denim as part of the ‘90s hip-hop fashion wardrobe.
West Coast artists like Tupac and Eazy-E of N.W.A. took the style even further, pairing denim jeans with oversized denim jackets for the full ensemble.