The Worst Fashion Trends from 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s | Fashion History

Hi everyone, it’s Emily!

I am an old soul and often find myself romanticizing the past. When it comes to fashion, I tend to do the same. It’s easy to romanticize the past when it comes to inspiring, elegant, and magical fashion trends, but we can’t ignore the bad fashion trends like some we have seen in the early 2000s….*cough cough pleated skirts and block heel shoes. 

From popcorn shirts to workouts in leg warmers, there have been many questionable fashion choices from the past few decades. Trust me, I had a lot of fun compiling these. In this blog, I am going to round up some extremely cringeworthy trends from the 1980s to the 2000s. 


The 1980s were a decade of bold style, colors, and silhouettes—and heaping amounts of permed hair. With trends spanning ripped tights and biker jackets, polished oversized blazers and poof skirts; it was one of the most eclectic decades in fashion. Here’s a couple of trends that stood out to me:

leg warmers - worst trends

Legwarmers. Is it even possible for someone's ankles and calves to get chilly while working out? It is such a random item of clothes to tack onto your legs. If anyone has an answer as to where and why these were a thing, leave me a comment!

bright colors - 1980s -worst trends

Wearing all of the brightest colors at once. I feel like Tim Gunn would say let’s refine this, cut back, and make it work!

rubberband bracelets - worst trends

60 rubber bands to weight train your wrists. These even came back in the 2000s in the shape of animals. Makes you look a little like a craft project. 

mc hammer pants - worst trends

MC Hammer pants. Nothing like the crotch of your pants bunching up between your legs! Even the founder can’t pull them off. 

sweatbands - worst trends

Sweatbands. Since when did the act of sweating become trendy? It’s funny to think about someone trying to improve and accessorize an outfit and the answer being a sweatband. 

sweater around neck - worst trends

Sweaters Tied Around the Neck. I’m not sure what the point is here. Why don’t you just take it off? Somehow not having a place to put your sweater became a trend. 

acid wash jeans - worst trends

Acid Wash Jeans.  They just look wrong. I usually get mad when my clothes get bleached in the wash. 


Styles popular in the '90s — just like the fashion trends of any decade — reflected both old and new ideas. Because of the beginning of the Internet, some styles spotted often in the 1990s, like mod sunglasses and plaid outfits, were reminiscent of the '60s. Other styles, like patent leather and nylon clothes, symbolized a futuristic view and a look toward what people thought the year 2000, the new millennium, would bring. Here’s a few trends that stood out to me:

tiny tinted sunglasses - worst trends

Tiny color tinted sunglasses. There’s something with the obscurely micro sized sunglasses that just make the face look extra large. Not a flattering look. 

blossom hats - worst trends

Blossom Hats. I just discovered this while researching 90s trends. Was this actually a trend? Why? It’s giving me Full House vibes. 

short sleeve shirts over long sleeve - worst trends

T Shirt over Long Sleeve Shirts. I used to do this if it was cold, and I really liked the T shirt. I haven’t thought to do this since the 90s. Why wear a jacket when you can layer your shirts!

parachute pants - worst trends

Parachute Pants: You can’t find them in any subtle colors. Only extremely bright shades of neon. I guess one benefit is the lightweight nylon has you prepped for an afternoon of falling from the sky. 


If you grew up in the 2000s, you may have noticed some of the trends coming back. I was born in 1995, and the decade still feels like it happened just yesterday. I grew up watching Britney Spears music videos and watching The Hills. For me, 2000s fashion trends are even more nostalgic than those of the 1980s or 1990s.

velour tracksuit - worst trends

The Velour Tracksuit. I don’t know guys. I know Kim K is trying to bring this back. I almost bought these off of Skims the other day (I did stop myself!),  but they are pretty terrible to wear in public. Everyone had one and would style it with a cami underneath and a logo bag. You were really cool if you had a pair with the words on the butt. I think it’s much more attractive to be more subtle than that.

low rise jeans - worst trends

Very Low Rise Jeans. I believe, (correct me if I am wrong), this originated from Alexander McQueen and his bumster pants, but I think we need to leave this one on the runway, especially when the thong and/or belly is hanging out. 

trucker hats - worst trends

Trucker Hats. The fact that we took fashion inspiration from truckers says it all. From Von Dutch to your own DIY-airbrushed hats that you got off the boardwalk, this was another trend that we learned to live without.

artful sunglasses - worst trends

Artful Sunglasses in the late 2000s. Shades were made to obstruct your vision altogether-  artful, yeah, but practical, no. Any sort of fashion that halts your everyday functioning should be abandoned. 

lace up shirts - worst trends

Lace-Up Shirts. Ties were everywhere during this decade: the bust of your shirt, the sides of your jeans, the fly of your pants. It didn't matter if it was totally impractical. It had a bohemian 70s vibe. I hope it doesn’t come back. 

sequined shirts - worst trends

Barely There Sequined Shirts. Part shirt, part reflective gear for when you're riding a bike (because this is the type of outfit you’d be exercising in), sequined shirts served many purposes.

That’s it for my trip to the past! I think we see a common theme around these worst trends. They just aren’t practical. Practicality factors into timelessness and elegance. That’s what I would like you to take away from these bad trends, along with a little nostalgia and reminiscing. 

Comment below if you’d like me to do more videos on fashion trends. Subscribe to my channel and click the bell to get notified when I upload new videos every Friday. Thanks for watching and have a great day!

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What to watch next? 

Watch my video on the Queens Gambit: Fashion History, Design and Sustainability Analysis

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Watch my video on How to Make a Fashion Portfolio

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