1990s TV fashion making a comeback

By Erica Garnett

The Spice Girls’ metallic get-ups and plaid shirts, Stephanie Tanner’s side scrunchie in “Full House” and Will Smith’s quintessential color-blocking style in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” all represent some of the 1990s fashion that hit our generation early on. A decade not quite known for its fashion-mindedness, the ‘90s has wedged a place in our hearts, and is making a comeback.

Fifteen years after its peak, the choker necklace is one style making its return. To millennials, the first image that comes to mind is the “tattoo choker,” which surfaced in the late ‘90s. The necklace is made of stretchy plastic, looped together to fit tight around the neck, giving the appearance of a tattoo. The necklace was most commonly black as tribute to its mid-‘90s gothic-styled predecessors: the spiked dog collar chokers.

Other bright colors, such as purple, pink, blue and yellow, were worn as well, typically with small-multicolored beads. The tattoo choker was popularized by television shows like “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “That’s So Raven” and “Lizzie McGuire,” and made their way into many American homes.

The choker was not always merely a ‘90s fashion statement, but a political statement made by women in the late 18th century to symbolize those who died at the guillotine. It was most commonly worn as a red ribbon with a long tail down the front, stopping about mid breast. Throughout the 1800s, the choker evolved from a black ribbon accessory of a prostitute to the multi-layered pearl strings worn by the elite. In 1944, 50 years before the tattoo choker would emerge, LIFE magazine published a feature on the dog collar choker. This style was thicker, combining the ribbon, velvet and pearl influences of its past.

Today, the choker is resurfacing in all forms. Many older celebrities choose to wear large gold chains and diamond pieces for a sophisticated and formal look, while the younger stars are bringing back the tattoo necklace in its true ‘90s form. The baby boomer generation’s preference toward the thicker, bolder style of their childhood parallels the millennials’ choice to wear the plastic tattoo-style choker of their childhood.

If you’re thinking of paying homage to your ‘90s childhood, be wary of this act of love going south. A black tattoo choker can harden the appearance of any outfit. Pair a tattoo choker with black high tops, acid wash jeans and a black shirt if you’re aiming for a modern goth look.

On a weekend night, the tattoo choker can be the nuance your outfit needs to change from basic to edgy by pairing it with dark wash skinny jeans, heels and a fancy tank top. For those who enjoy attending the electronic dance music shows, the multicolored tattoo chokers are perfect to complete a bright and crazy get up, especially if multiple colored chokers are worn together on the neck. Layering a longer-style necklace on top of a choker style can add dimension to your outfit. A basic black dress and the thicker gold versions of the choker are smart pieces to wear for interviews or internships as minimal accessorizing and a sign of maturity.

Erica Garnett can be reached at [email protected]