How Miley Cyrus Owned ’90s Style This Year

The many looks of Miley Cyrus.
Photos: Getty Images

If we’ve learned anything about Miley Cyrus this year, it’s that she probably owns more high-cut bikini bottoms than anyone in the free world. We’ve also learned that if it weren’t for New York Fashion Week, there’s a chance she could have been single-handedly credited with reviving the sartorial styles of the 1990s. And even though crop tops first started cropping up (heh) on runways back in October 2012, Miley was definitely one of the trend’s earliest AND most enthusiastic supporters (like that time she wore four in 24 hours this summer). You might even say that her newfound personal style was, and is, miles (heh) ahead of the curve.

Fashion in the ’90s was primarily characterized by a kind of laid-back minimalism. (Not pantsless minimalism, per se—but maybe that’s Miley’s modern twist?) Leaving the neon spandex, leg warmers, and bulky shoulder pads of the ’80s behind, the following decade was heavily influenced by Seattle’s grunge-rock scene (tartan flannel, overalls, Doc Martens) and hip-hop streetwear (labels, a ton of flashy bling). Comfort was key, but even more important was the ability to have your style convey a sense of rebellion and anti-establishment. And that’s exactly what Cyrus claims to stand for. “It’s almost punk rock to like me because it’s not the right thing to do,” she told Cosmopolitan. “Like, society wants to shut me down.”

So, to celebrate Miley’s BIGGEST and most stylish year to date (sorry, Hannah Montana fans), we’ve laid out the many ways that her evolving look has paid tribute to the decade in which she was born. In the words of 2 Unlimited, frozen in time by Jock Jams and Space Jam, “Y’all ready for this?” (DUN NUH NUH!)


All kinds of belly-baring.
Photos: Getty Images

With the power vested in me (via my keyboard), I hereby crown Miley Cyrus the 2013 Queen of Crop Tops! Seriously, nobody wore crop tops like Miley did this year. From special events to promo appearances, fashion shows to live performances, Cyrus bared her belly while wearing combination jean/pants, regular pants, no pants, and skirts. She even managed to channel her childhood icon (and the original matriarch of midriff-baring garments), Britney Spears, in a black turtleneck half-shirt that she paired with plaid slacks back in February. Now that’s dedication to a look.


Miley as Lil’ Kim circa 1999.
Photo: @mileycyrus’s Instagram

Right before Halloween, Miley started snapping photos of herself in an assortment of wigs. We for SURE thought her faux long locks would translate into a throwback Hannah Montana costume, but as it turned out, we were WAY off the mark. Instead, Miley dressed up as Lil’ Kim from the 1999 VMAs, purple pasty and all. Cyrus was spot-on in her ode to the rapper, putting on a purple wig and an intricately bedazzled, single-sleeve onesie. She also nailed the ~finer~ deets of ’90s-era Kim by lining her light purple lips with a dark purple pencil. *SIGH* You’d be hard-pressed to find that kind of fearless double-color experimentation these days.


50 shades of creepers.
Photos: Getty Images

Free history lesson: Creepers, the platform lace-ups that Miley Cyrus has in, like, 100 styles, originated after World War II for soldiers based in North African deserts. The thick, crepe rubber soles were made to protect their feet from the sweltering environment. *the more you know* A modernized version surfaced in the 1950s, and by the ’90s, they were officially a fashion statement for goths and rockabilly fans alike.

These days, they’re basically glued to Miley’s feet and are often used to keep the singer stable while twerking. #function (Remember the ones with light-up soles that she wore for her now-infamous 2013 VMA performance? No? What on EARTH could you have been distracted by? *wink*) Much like crop tops, she wears them E-VER-Y-WHERE. And Cyrus’ creeper collection is colorful, too. She wore a holographic pair for her show-opening EMA performance and then rocked her black-and-whites the day after the show (she also paired those same shoes with three separate outfits on the day Bangerz was released). Miley wore a solid white pair on a German talk show in November and pulled out her metallic pink creepers to perform on Today—but TBH, most people were probably too distracted by the giant dancing mushrooms to notice her shoes.


Nice, um, shoes.
Photo: RCA Records

When Miley Cyrus premiered her video for “Wrecking Ball,” the first thing people noticed was her awesome burgundy pair of Doc Martens. LOLOL JK. The first thing that people noticed was how totally naked she got on top of a giant wrecking ball. But I’m sure the second thing people saw were her Doc Martens, because, let’s be honest, there’s not much else to look at.


Miley wears overalls on ’Ellen.’
Photo: The Ellen DeGeneres Show

This year, something special happened: Two of the biggest proponents of overalls in ’90s pop music, *NSync and TLC, both reunited RIGHT BEFORE overalls became a thing again. Coincidence? Maybe. Regardless, they’re back and in more styles, prints, and textures than ever. Even better? We’re not doing that whole one-strap thing anymore. Phew. For her performance of “Wrecking Ball” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October, Miley traded in her Doc Martens and tighty whities for some black, cropped-denim overalls. Fitted at the waist and adorned with nautical brass buttons, Cyrus (obviously) chose to wear a crop top under her second-favorite style of onesie. (Second only, of course, to the mesh kind with pasties Ellen gifted her earlier in the show.)


Her throwback accessory has us all choked up.
Photo: Getty Images

For her performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in September, Miley Cyrus wore two very different kinds of accessories with two very different outfits (although both were sans pants, so I guess they weren’t THAT different). The first outfit featured black pasties under a white, long-sleeve mesh dress. (Not much ’90s about that, TBH.) For her second outfit, she paired a two-piece, lace-up romper with an adorably ’90s daisy chain choker. Aww, you guys! Remember chokers? I had a huge collection of stretchy plastic ones that were made to look like henna tattoos or something, but Miley’s is infinitely cooler. Not that it doesn’t go great with her romper, but can you imagine the magic if she wore it with a baby-doll dress and a pair of Docs? *cue the Gin Blossoms and a dream sequence starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas*


Miley in vintage Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and John Paul Gaultier.
Photos: Getty Images

Miley didn’t just wear trends from the ’90s this year, she made an effort to wear pieces that were actually made in the ’90s. Nice ones, too. Not like, a T-shirt from New Kids on the Block’s Magic Summer tour. (But that would also be pretty cool.)

Cyrus has rocked her chain-link Chanel bomber on several occasions, but it got some serious play recently when she wore it in Will.I.Am’s “Feelin’ Myself” music video. Of course, you may also recognize it from that time she wore it while whipping her detachable rat tail around in Miley: The Movement.

Remember that black, bedazzled getup she wore with tiny raver buns to walk the red carpet before this year’s VMAs? “I found [that] with Pharrell,” she told Fashion magazine. “It was a Dolce & Gabbana piece from 1992—the year I was born. He saw it and said, ‘You have to buy it.’ I think that outfit added a factor that the other girls couldn’t compete with. Pharrell says it’s not about what you’re wearing; it’s the way you wear it. That was a lesson I took to heart. I think it is important that I execute a look better than other people. Fashion is what separates me from everyone else.”

Anyone who describes their style as “white trash and Chanel” better have the goods to back it up (along with a little country twang)—and Miley’s vintage accessory collection definitely elevates her high-low look. For one of her EMA performances, Miles wore a long-sleeve white bodysuit with a single-strand gold chain and rhinestone-covered belt draped across her front. That belt, along with the “CC” necklace she wore, were both Chanel relics from the early ’90s, courtesy of Depuis 1924. She also wore a 1995 Chanel bracelet as an anklet in Mike Will Made It’s video for “23“, because #BALLER.

Finally, Miley made mouths drop at the 2013 Bambi Awards in Berlin—but this time, it was because of what she was wearing (as opposed to what she wasn’t). Cyrus walked the red carpet in a long, black trumpet-armed dress that looked like some sort of far-out Space Queen suit. The supremely structured garment, however, was actually a Jean Paul Gaultier number from the late ’90s and is easily one of the more sophisticated choices we’ve seen her pull off.

Only one question remains: Will Miley keep up this retro style for another decade, or will 2014 be the year she tackles a different era, like, say, the aughts? *shudders thinking about Von Dutch trucker hats, peasant tops, and SHRUGS*

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