Even if you didn't grow up during the heyday of Beanie Babies, aggressively crimped hair, and dial-up internet, you can surely appreciate the era that was the '90s
. And although the oh-so-iconic decade gave us a few fashion trends we'll hopefully never revisit (like butterfly hair clips and JNCO jeans), it did pretty dang well in the belt bag
, mom jean
, and footwear
categories. Ahead you'll find an illustrated guide to our favorite throwback shoe styles from the '90s starring the platform sandal, dad sneaker
, kitten heel
, and more.
Slinky Slides: Probably the most well-known (and hilariously impractical) '90s shoe trend, the slinky slide is just so comfortable. Sure, your foot slides as you walk, making shuffling your only option, but who cares when your feet are basically walking on clouds. Originally brought to us by Steve Madden, this platform slide features a spandex strap that actually stretches with your every move.
Chunky Oxfords: First appearing on men in Scotland and Ireland in the 17th century and named after Oxford University, this style gained popularity much later with a heightened, chunkier iteration. In the age of chokers, Kurt Cobain, and black lipstick, interest in large and in charge Oxford styles (remember Hush Puppies?!) reached a fever pitch. Just like they say in Texas, when it comes to chunky Oxfords, bigger is better.
Adidas Slides: Traditionally worn in the shower or by the pool, the Adidas Adilette may actually win as the most recognizable '90s shoe style. First introduced in 1972, this comfy, waterproof style has made leaps and bounds since it first protected locker room feet. Now, celebs including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber (yes, we said it), and Suki Waterhouse all slip into them.
Kitten Heels: In the '50s, these mini heels got their name after young girls AKA "kittens" starting wearing them as training heels for stilettos. The popularity surged again in the '90s when supermodels including Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington wanted to rock heels without the added height. Even more recently, designers Manolo Blahnik, Celiné, and Prada have brought back the silo in a big way and we are 100 percent here for this comfy style.
Square Toes: After years of pointy toe perseverance, this clunky shape is having a minute in the style spotlight. And because it was low-key made cool by the Gucci loafer, how can you not be on board?
Jellies: Referring to the translucent sandal comprised of PVC (and sometimes actual glitter), jellies were once a wardrobe staple. Now, the same molded material can be found in the form of ballet flats, sandals, and cheerful boots. This affordable fad has traveled the world over, comes in a range of colors and styles, is extremely comfortable, and can be worn year-round. What's not to love?
Platform Sandals: Want a bit of height without sinking your shoes in the ground with troublesome heels? Japanese gals did, and so the platform sandal of the 1800s was born. Much later In the 1930s, Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo brought them back in a bigger, taller way, adding a cork heel and more height, thus becoming more appealing to the masses. Then came the '90s and with it the Spice Girls, who pretty much launched the girl power movement in an array of platform sandals (ranging from sporty styles to polished iterations).
Mary Janes: In case you're a child and missed the epicness that was and is the movie Clueless, please go and stream it STAT. Thanks to the abrasively checkered and knee high-socked fashion of the film's protagonist BFFs Cher and Dionne, Mary Janes became popular throughout the '90s. But this wasn't the beginning. Dating as far back as the Renaissance, MJs were originally unisex before making the shift to female-only footwear in the 1930s after a comic strip called Buster Brown featured the main character's sweetheart — Mary Jane — in the now classic shoe style.
Mules: Once confined to just the bedroom, this originally ancient Roman style was thought of as very risqué until it was finally worn out in public in 1694. Over 300 years later, Marilyn Monroe and other pin-up stars began rocking the backless shoe on the reg. The '90s rendition featured a chunkier heel, and women were often spotted wearing them with socks. Overall, we think Manolo Blahnik said it best when he declared that “It’s such a wonderful thing to do mules again."
Dad Sneakers: Remember those fugly kicks you begged your dad not to wear out? You meet again. And even though *you* may still take issue with the contrasting colors, flair-tastic laces, and hefty soles, high fashion does not. Thanks to the likes of Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Gucci, this style may be the hottest and priciest throwback purchase of 2018.
If you’re rocking ’90s trends this summer, we salute you. Follow us on Facebook for more style news and inspiration!
(Illustrations by Sarah Tate)