90s hip-hop fashion has defined the culture as we know it. The ’90s have long been considered the golden age of hip-hop because of the explosion of creativity and the introduction of now iconic artists. If you’re a true “hip-hop head,” then chances are you have at least one playlist dedicated to the era. Yet, any discussion about this decade’s magic is incomplete without noting the iconic looks that commanded our attention. The creativity of the music perfectly complimented the style choices of the artists. This creativity is especially true when it comes to the ladies. The women were fearless in their fashion choices.
Although it’s always fun to take a trip down memory lane and get nostalgic about the 90s, we can’t forget that the early 2000s gave us some looks we will never forget. The jersey dresses and Rocawear sweatsuits had the streets on fire! Of course, we are choosing to forgive the guys for the oversized white-T’s they seemingly couldn’t live without. Still, this roundup is all about the ladies!
MadameNoire took a trip down memory lane to identify some fashion icons from the 90s and early 2000s and the looks they gave us. Some of these looks have reappeared thanks to the younger girlies in hip-hop. In no particular order, join us as we revisit some standout looks and icons.
When discussing hip-hop fashion trends in the 2000s, it’s hard not to mention Lil Kim’s “Crush On You” video. Styled by the iconic Misa Hylton, Kim donned colored wigs with matching fur jackets over a two-piece. Of course, her looks matched the video set. Everything about it was memorable. When asked about where the legendary stylist found inspiration, Misa stated, “It was inspired by The Wiz (the 1978 musical starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross). There were all of these different monochromatic scene changes, which I was very excited about because I love a monochromatic look. I wanted to take it to the next level, so the hair had to match the clothes.” We love a visionary who isn’t afraid to push the envelope!
Da Brat made waves in the rap game in 1994 with her debut album Funkdafied. She was the first female rapper to go platinum, and the Chicago-born artist was a style icon in the 90s. It wasn’t uncommon for female rappers to incorporate gender-defying elements into their wardrobe choices or mix a little traditionally masculine look with feminine accessories. Oversized jeans complimented by a tank top were a standard look in the 90s. Yet, Da Brat offered a unique twist to her look. Never afraid to think outside the box, colorful rubber bands and beads accessorized the emcee’s signature long twist. In true 90s tradition, she rocked bright colors with matching bandanas and perfect oversized jewelry. Her looks were always complimented by subdued, natural-looking makeup. One standout moment includes her look at the 1998 Soul Train Music Awards. Da Brat rocked the scene wearing oversized jeans and a matching jacket with an army fatigue pattern.
Missy Elliot is from the future. At least that’s what it feels like when you watch her “Sock it 2 Me” video, released in 1997. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee wore a suit with what looked like a Gmail logo on it. The Hype Williams-directed video has an afro-futuristic vibe. It’s a standout production that exemplifies the top-charting lyricist’s fashion-forward style. From perfectly styled finger waves to pink leather track suites, the Hip Hop style icon has always been that girl! Missy’s consistent fashion hits make it hard to pick a single style moment from the VA native’s catalogue. However, her 2003 VMA’s red carpet look was bold and innovative. She wore a retro, gulf inspired, plaid Addidas tracksuit, only upstaged by her signature smile.
What are the 90s without TLC? Like Missy Elliot, they were anything but standard regarding fashion. The Hip-Hop/ R&B trio was formed in Atlanta when they signed with Perri “Pebbles” Reid and reportedly became the best-selling female group of all time. The standout sound that helped them to become chart-topping artists was directly in sync with their boundary-pushing, unique sense of style, most notably at the 7th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in 1992. Each of the ladies wore a different color oversized jumpsuit over a standard white long shirt, complete with condoms pinned to their clothing. The condoms, as T-Boz shared in an interview with TeenVogue, were a way to send a particular message. T-Boz stated, “We wanted to empower young girls to have their own stash of condoms and not to leave it up to the guys. Some parents thought we were telling their kids to have sex. But we were making a fashion statement to make it easier to talk about sex.”
The Philly-born rapper may have referred to herself as a “pit bull in a skirt,” but “Ruff Rider’s First Lady” proved she can pull off anything from couture down to a jersey dress. One of Eve’s more memorable looks was her army fatigue, form-fitting dress she wore to the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in 2000. The “Gangsta Lovin” rapper pulled the entire look together with her bright red short haircut, a gold statement necklace, and sparkling diamond earrings. The MC’s style always stood out amongst a sea of fashionistas throughout Eve’s career. As HelloBeautiful previously noted, “Eve had so many signature looks that are monumental culture moments.” “Her style was sexy, hood, with a splash of glam.” The style icon gave us some of this “sexy, hood glam” when she launched Fetish in 2003. The self-proclaimed “tomboy girly girl” has a unique style that continues to evolve. We love this in our fashion icons!
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