The ’90s was the life! Being an alternative teen in the ’90s, really was the dream life. No mobile phones, clothes from the market, goth boyfriends, listening to The Cure, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and The Levellers, on cassette tape mixes. I don’t know what else life has to offer really. Oh wait, there’s tie-dye.
What possessed me to ever dispose of any of this clothing, I have no idea. I don’t actually recall getting rid of any of my vintage items, so I’m suspicious something happened to them while I was away at Uni…??
But really the tie-dye life was pretty much mine in the early ’90s.
And now, I feel it is my duty, to demonstrate the joys of tie-dye, ’90s style…
For an ‘alternative’ ’90s indie kid, the three main ways to wear tie-dye (in my humble opinion), were XL t-shirts, dresses from Greenwich or Camden market and, most importantly, the tassel/fringe skirt. I mean, I might have been the only person this side of Nepal that was wearing a tie-dye mini tassel fringe skirt, but it was, and still is, my most favourite item of clothing that I have ever worn or owned.
It breaks my heart that I didn’t even really think about it through my uni years, and now that I look back, wear did it go? How could a person allow such a treasured item to slip from their possession? It’s a mystery to me. Anyway, I digress, back to the point…
The Tie-Dye T-shirt
The first ‘way we wore tie-dye in the 90s’ was in the XL t-shirt (or any size you have to hand tbf). I had a black and white one, which was pretty awesome actually (see photo above), albeit that some random person probably dyed it in their bath tub, but who cares? It did me great, thank you very much, especially when combined with that long black tassel skirt that I think I nicked off off my sister (she must have been livid, sorry sis).
I also possess a, now rare, vintage sunshine-bright, tie-dye yellow, orange and cerise Levellers tour top, which I think I bought in 1992/93 when I went to see The Levellers live in concert. It was a legendary folk experience of a night. I have the ticket somewhere!
I don’t have a full photo of the t-shirt but I have this pretty awesome attempt at a faux-candid self-timer shot in my bedroom, complete with wall and ceiling ’90s posters in the background (see photo below).
I’m pretty pleased at myself for having the forethought to take these photos during my youth. Go me! I always did love taking photos and still do. Film photography was a labour of love but we knew no different in those days. Just glad I kept the prints I took.
The Tie-Dye Dress
So, next up, the tie-dye dress. Well, you know what, I think I only had one tie-dye dress, and I wasn’t that sure of it at the time. I only have this one, not-that-great-photo of it (see photo), when we, my family and friend, built a sand pit from railway sleepers, in France, on holiday, for my little siblings and cousins. Bit random, but there you go. You’ve got to have the right kit for the job, eh?
Looking at that dress now, it was pretty awesome. I should not have doubted myself. In that pic, I’m wearing it under an old black t-shirt from God-knows where, with my cherry Dr Martens, ta boot. A legendary look, I must say, now.
The Tie-Dye Skirt
And finally…The Tie-Dye Skirt. To be specific, in my case, the tie-dye mini tassel fringe skirt! I don’t even know how to introduce this awe-inspiring piece of vintage clothing. It was a wonderous glory. Everything about this skirt was indie, grunge, boho, gypsy, hippie, goth, festival, folk perfection, rolled into one. It summed up my life at the time and will always remain a treasured item in my fashion history. Ahem. Sorry about that. Got a bit carried away there.
I have to say, that I have trawled the earth for such a vintage tie-dye mini (what we called) ‘tassel skirt’ (though it’s not what comes up on Etsy or Depop when you search that term…ergh), and I am still searching for, what my idea of what a true, ’90s vintage ‘tassel skirt’ is. It’s a long slog, but one well worth the trudge, though I am still trying to work out the true meaning of this pilgrimage. It’s probably deeper than you’d imagine. Let’s not dwell.
In my vintage clothing searches, I have actually managed to find a very similar, longer version, of the skirt I owned in the early ’90s (see photo). It feels the same, and gives me serious ’90s teen comfort vibes, but it doesn’t entirely match up tbh, even if it does look pretty funky on my, now, 17-year old daughter.
Crazy but true, this blog post has been an emotional journey. The life lived in those clothes was a story, and I am grateful to have had those life experiences, and enjoyed the alternative music and fashion cultural influences I did, in the early ’90s.
I have to say, major credits to my older sister, who was my ultimate inspiration in all things music and fashion, and led me to The Cure, The Smiths and The Stone Roses, bands which had a huge impact on my appearance, but moreover, served me so well musically, and emotionally, during my teens.
Feel free to have a peruse and see if you spot anything you fancy. It’s basically the ultimate shop with everything I would have ever wanted to wear in the early ’90s (minus that mini tie-dye tassel skirt…weep). There are some pretty awesome other tie-dye numbers in there though. Well worth a look.
In the mean time, I’ll keep looking for that mini skirt.