The '90s is a transformative decade for fashion. Trends like grunge and minimalism were so ubiquitous that it's impossible not to reflect on that period of time without remembering the looks that defined it. Style icons of the era like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Winona Ryder, and Drew Barrymore all helped to establish a casual-cool new aesthetic in silky slip dresses, baggy jeans, and plaid. However, these iconic women had their counterparts: stylish men from the '90s who defined fashion in their own right, and are worth revisiting today. That's right: borrowed from the boys — literally.
Looking back, there are many male style icons that hailed from the era of Nirvana and No Doubt whose outfits translate seamlessly to the opposite gender. After all, the decade felt in some ways like a precursor to much of the gender fluid fashion emerging today. Women and men both opted for baggy, oversized clothing and statement jewelry — often paired together. Below, get inspired by 11 trendsetting men like Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington who helped to carve out '90s style and continue to inspire now. Then, pick up a few new closet staple to let your next outfit nod to one of these rad dudes.
Despite his untimely death at the young age of 23, Phoenix managed to cement his cult status as the posterboy of the '90s. His sandy long hair and grungy garb translates to 2019 so seamlessly it might be worth adding a few of his looks (like the one above) to your moodboard. First things first: start with a statement tee you can tuck into your favorite high-waisted denim.
Depp's devil-may-care approach to style in the '90s is what makes revisiting his looks so worth while. The formula typically consisted of baggy jeans, utilitarian boots, and a layered situation up top. Add a cool accessory or two and that's all you'll need to nod to his relaxed aesthetic.
A prelude to normcore, perhaps? Washington's baseball cap, crewneck sweatshirt, and blue jeans combination is so simple yet so cool. Bottom line is hats aren't just for bad hair days.
It's hard to imagine '90s style sans Pitt. The actor's look evolved throughout the decade starting out with West Coast cool moments like this paisley shirt above, eventually getting grittier as he moved towards his turn in Fight Club in 1999.
The king of grunge is always a fitting place to start when making a list of '90s male icons to embody. He made a cardigan and cat-eye sunglasses a bonafide uniform that's appealing to recreate all these years later.
Whether it was Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Wild Wild West, Smith was always turning out a new film or song during this decade, which meant his red carpet looks were aplenty. His penchant for color combinations and simple layering is not to be missed.
This legend not only transformed the industry with his revolutionary approach to making music, his flair for cool combinations and fabrics — especially when it comes to sportswear and denim — also makes him a style icon in his own right.
Before Leto was dressed in head-to-toe Gucci, he was wearing über-amazing getups like the one above that usually entailed a pair of colorful-lens sunglasses and a layered look.
This dream boat will always be a perfect '90s style reference with his classic American look and charming smile. Channel his look by styling a cool button-down with beige trousers and sneakers. Polished, yet cool.
The Oasis frontman, a purveyor of bucket hats, offers the English take on '90s dressing. The Brit's penchant for making classic staples look sexy is what makes him such an icon from the decade.
Reeves is an icon whose style is watched just as closely today as it was almost 30 years ago — his recent Saint Laurent campaign is proof of that. Back in the day, his messy hair and casual-cool staples — whether Matrix-esque head-to-toe black, or western-wear a la My Own Private Idaho — were more than worthy of recreating.