Back in the 90s, Jamaican dancehall was all the rage and people in the West wanted to emulate their look. Dancers draped themselves in colourful printed fabrics, with oversized shirts unbuttoned from the chest up and short mini skirts. Even their hair was an essential part of their fashion statement – ample braids and dreadlocks piled high in a tall puff style.
Today, as we find ourselves revisiting dancehall fashion trends, it’s only natural to wonder what iconic elements of 90s Jamaican Dancehall style still remains? With streetwear brands finally making some design nods to classic dancehall attire, how else is culture being celebrated and represented?
In this blog, we’ll be revisiting 90s Jamaican Dancehall Fashion and seeing how it has changed over time. From what stayed the same to what new adaptations have been made,
The 90s was a decade of bold and daring fashion choices, especially in the Jamaican dancehall scene. From bright colours to over-the-top accessories, the fashion of this era was all about making a statement. And while some may see it as a dated look, the influence of 90s dancehall fashion can still be seen in modern fashion trends. In this post, we will revisit some of the most iconic fashion moments from the 90s Jamaican dancehall scene and explore how they continue to inspire fashion today.
Bright Colors and Bold Prints
One of the defining features of 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion was the use of bright colours and bold prints. Dancehall fashion was all about making a statement and standing out, and these vibrant hues and eye-catching patterns were the perfect way to do just that. From head to toe, dancehall fashionistas embraced bold prints and bright colours in everything they wore.
At the forefront of this trend were colourful tracksuits, which were worn by both men and women. These tracksuits often featured bold stripes or geometric patterns in bright colours like yellow, green, and red. They were typically worn with matching sneakers or sandals and were the perfect choice for dancehall parties and concerts, where they allowed wearers to move freely while still making a statement.
Another popular item during this era was the graphic t-shirt, which often featured bold prints and slogans. These t-shirts were often paired with oversized jeans or cargo pants and were the perfect canvas for expressing one’s individuality. Dancehall fans also embraced brightly coloured jackets, often in shades of neon pink, green, or orange. These jackets were typically oversized and featured bold prints or slogans, and were worn as a statement piece to complete a bold and eye-catching look.
Baggy Clothing and Oversized Accessories
Another hallmark of 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion was the popularity of baggy clothing and oversized accessories. Baggy clothing, particularly pants and jackets, was a common feature in dancehall fashion. This style was influenced by hip-hop fashion from the United States, which was also characterised by loose-fitting clothing. Baggy clothing was not only a fashion statement but also practical for dancing, as it allowed for ease of movement.
Oversized accessories such as hats, jewellery, and sunglasses were also popular features in dancehall fashion. Many of these accessories were inspired by Jamaican and Rastafarian culture, with hats featuring the colours of the Jamaican flag and jewellery featuring the lion of Judah, a symbol associated with Rastafarianism. These accessories were often worn in a mismatched and haphazard way, adding to the overall eclectic and non-conformist aesthetic of dancehall fashion.
Platform Shoes and Sneakers
In the 90s, platform shoes and sneakers were popular footwear choices in Jamaican dancehall fashion. Platform shoes were often worn by both men and women and came in a variety of styles, from chunky and colourful to sleek and metallic. They were often paired with colourful socks and baggy pants or skirts. Platform shoes not only add height to the wearer but also contributed to the overall bold and flashy look of dancehall fashion.
Sneakers were also a popular footwear choice in the 90s dancehall scene, particularly for men. Brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok were highly sought after and often worn with baggy jeans or cargo pants. Some sneakers were even customised with bright colours and unique patterns to match the wearer’s outfit. Sneakers were not only a fashion statement but also a practical choice for the energetic dance moves and physical activities often associated with dancehall culture.
Today, platform shoes and sneakers continue to be popular in Jamaican dancehall fashion, although the styles have evolved. Platform shoes are now often paired with bodycon dresses or skirts, and sneakers come in a wider variety of styles, including high-tops and slip-on. However, the bold and colourful aesthetic of 90s dancehall fashion continues to inspire current fashion trends and remains an important part of Jamaican cultural identity.
Hair and Beauty
Hair and beauty were essential components of 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion. Both men and women often wore their hair in elaborate styles, with intricate braids and twists, and colourful hair extensions. The use of hair accessories was also prevalent, such as bandanas, headbands, and hairpins.
Makeup was also a significant aspect of 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion, with women sporting bold and vibrant colours on their lips and eyes. Popular makeup trends included bright red and purple lipsticks, dramatic eyeliner, and glittery eyeshadow. Both men and women also embraced the use of skin-lightening creams and hair relaxers, which were marketed as a way to achieve a more Westernised look.
However, it’s important to note that the use of skin-lightening creams has faced criticism for promoting colourism and perpetuating harmful beauty standards. In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards embracing natural beauty and celebrating darker skin tones in Jamaica and beyond.
In conclusion, the 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion was a vibrant and eclectic mix of bright colours, bold prints, baggy clothing, oversized accessories, platform shoes, and unique hairstyles. It was a reflection of the energy and creativity of the dancehall culture, and it continues to influence fashion trends today. The fashion of the dancehall has also influenced many international designers, celebrities, and fashion icons, highlighting the global appeal and significance of this fashion subculture. As we look back on the 90s Jamaican dancehall fashion, it is clear that it will continue to inspire and influence fashion trends and cultural identity for generations to come.