The Best ’90s Trends to Buy Vintage on eBay

by Sammy in 10 Comments — Updated May 23, 2024

90s fashion trends found on eBay

So you’re interested in shopping vintage, but the closest vintage boutique is over an hour away and according to those negative Yelp reviews, not worth saving gas money to visit.

So you skip the road trip and high-speed it over to to check out what vintage sellers are offering in their auction or buy-it-now listings. But shopping vintage online isn’t always cruise control: Type “vintage clothing” into eBay and you’ll definitely get more than just one result — in fact, you’ll see more than 400,000 items to choose from!

With numbers like these, the fun of shopping vintage online can feel overwhelming to the point of fashion frustration. How do you find what you love from thousands of options?

Thankfully, the solution is as simple as tailoring your search to narrow the results for the styles and trends that speak to your personal tastes.

Since 90s clothing is such a trend in stores right now and feels the most modern for today, I decided to share the three best ’90s trends to buy vintage to help show you how easy it is to shop from marketplaces like eBay — and show you the ropes of online vintage shopping!

The art of shopping vintage on eBay is searching for what you want using words for optimal search results. For example, typing “90s vintage” into the eBay search bar yields about 30,000 more results than simply typing “90s fashion” (hardly 500!).

The grunge, schoolgirl and goth trends I featured in this post inspired the wording I used to search for the best vintage pieces to illustrate these trendy vintage looks.

Share your thoughts in the comments below the post, or by saying hello on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or by subscribing to my newsletter!

xx, SD


90s fashion grunge look

Source: Delune Blog

Sure, grunge fashion of the ’90s originated with the music scene of the Pacific Northwest (Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love being the scene’s king and queen), but going grunge doesn’t mean you have to wear Nirvana shirts and ripped up tights.

While the style has evolved from dirty beginnings into a more polished look, the ’90s grunge influences of today still pay respects to their origin: Denim, plaid and androgynous-femininity with minimalist accessories are the key components of a 2012 grunge goddess.

Going grunge means you may just own a few things your boyfriend could wear, too! Unisex pieces like a denim vest or a red flannel shirt are easy staples for the look, or up the fem-barometer with a mini dress in a dark floral print (grunge girls love dark colors) and then for a touch of man, some Doc Martens work boots below.

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Buy It Now on eBay:

1.) Grunge Floral Mini Dress, $38
2.) Denim Vest, $58
3.) Doc Martens Boots, $149.99

Total outfit cost: $245.99

Search for more items:1990s vintage grunge” or “grunge revival

Searching for “1990s vintage grunge” narrows your search to cute and trendy clothing pieces, versus searching for “1990s grunge” alone which yields a Kurt Cobain wig as the first result!

Sometimes adding “revival” to a descriptor helps to find the style or look you want. Try grunge revival for this style, or even boho, hippie and mod revival when looking for styles from the ’60s and ’70s.


90s schoolgirl style

Source: Lights Drive My Soul

It was after seeing Clueless at a birthday party in the 4th grade that I dragged my mom to the mall for my own version of Cher’s schoolgirl look of plaid mini skirts, knee high socks and Mary Janes. And when she said I was too young for a mini skirt my response was obviously … “Like, whatever!!!”

Whether you were 10-years-old like me or perhaps a more appropriate age for these sassy schoolgirl styles, chances are you remember the prep revival that this ’90s teen flick inspired. The preppy trend of the ’80s was reinvented for a sassier, sexier look embraced by a ’90s generation of rebellious youth.

Whether you channel classic prep in respect of the style’s origins of class (styles by Lilly Pulitzer, Polo and Ralph Lauren) or look to the “Lolita” look this trend evokes with knee high socks and micro minis, ’90s prep is still like totally easy to buy vintage on eBay!

90s fashion schoolgirl prep

Buy It Now on eBay:

1.) Red Argyle Sweater, $28
2.) Nautical Plaid Mini Skirt, $15.95
3.) Wingtip Wedges, $49.95

Total outfit cost: $93.90

Search for more items:90s preppy vintage” or “vintage schoolgirl

Finding schoolgirl style from the ’90s on eBay is the most difficult of these three trends. To expand your search beyond just pieces from the ’90s, searching “vintage schoolgirl” returns about 800 search results from across the eras.

Searching for “vintage prep” makes sense as well, but the return on items is more focused for the preppy male. Searching with “90s preppy vintage” actually narrows your search to more accurately represent the schoolgirl styles of that era for the ladies, not the gents.

Based on this search psychology, try “80s preppy vintage” and “70s preppy vintage” for more schoolgirl styles from earlier eras.


90s fashion goth crushed velvet trend

Source: Daily Dose of Dana

In the world of archetypes, “goth” gets a bad rep. I had a goth phase in high school when I wanted to attract the attention of a Marilyn Manson loving boy in the 11th grade. So to Hot Topic I went for fishnets, pink hair dye and platform boots to declare I was “like him” (oh geez).

But this isn’t 2002 and you’re not a love struck freshman like I was. Going goth today is less about dressing like an outsider and more like dressing like a mysteriously irresistible lady — think Morticia from the Adams Family.

Crushed velvet dresses in deep royal hues of emerald green, crimson red, navy blue, eggplant purple and midnight black capture the look without actually wearing a look. Rosemary beads are a punchy (and slightly poignant) accessory, and for more vixen with your velvet add elevating platforms below.

Oh, and that boy in the 11th grade? He ended up my boyfriend for a year!

The Best '90s Trends to Buy Vintage on eBay 6

Buy It Now on eBay:

1.) Crushed Velvet Dress, $68
2.) Rosary Beads, $9.99
3.) Cut-Out Platforms, $150 (or Chunky Black Heels, Auction)

Total outfit cost: $227.99

Search for more items:90s vintage goth” or “vintage goth

Removing a descriptor like ’90s is actually going to expand your search results for trendy goth styles. So when searching “vintage goth,” be sure to narrow your 14,000 search results by choosing “women’s clothing” from the selection bar on the left side of your page.

“90s vintage goth” is much more targeted and therefore yields women’s clothing (and plenty of crushed velvet dresses) automatically.

Do you shop for or sell vintage clothing on eBay already? What tips and tricks have you learned to navigating its awesome abundance of vintage pickings?

Let me know in the comments below!


EBAY: Buy ’90s Vintage Straight from the Past
THRIFT: How to Thrift Store Shop ’90s Fashion Trends
TRENDS: Complex Magazine Ranks the top 100 ’90s Trends
PLUS: Everything You Wanted to Know About the 1990s from ’90s 411


This post is part of eBay Finders, a new partnership that presents collections of items curated by a carefully selected group of style setters. Find more inspiration at eBay Fashion. #eBayFinders

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10 thoughts on “The Best ’90s Trends to Buy Vintage on eBay”

  1. In all seriousness I owned a plaid mini skirt from The Limited in the 4th grade ONLY because I saw Clueless. Pop culture influence … it went deep!!

    • The Limited made some really nice stuff in the 80s and early 90s.

      • I couldn’t get enough of the Limited. I think you know this about me. I think we both know this about each other! God bless Columbus, Ohio for birthing Express and The Limited.

  2. Great tips for searching! The only tip I would add is to try searching with misspelled words too – sometimes tricky words get accidentally misspelled by the seller or there is a typo in the listing. Something like Doc Martens may be spelled Doc Marten (singular) or Doc Martin, etc. I think my favorite fall 2012 does 90s trend is grungy dark florals!

    • So funny, so true!

      • Natalie I didn’t think of that with misspellings. I just double checked to make sure my Doc Martens was spelled correct! Thanks for adding these tips!

  3. A lot of 90s was about looking back at vintage to be counter-cultural. Especialy the “prep girl” (Twin Peaks) look and the indie girl, I mean Courtney Love was always channelling Stevie Nicks. And flannels were traditional work shirts in the 50s and 60s.

    Finding vintage is about getting things that are unique and well made, so I feel a lot of 90s pieces are too mass-produced to be that special. But I still like the styling and you can borrow from differenet vintage eras to achieve it.

    It’s really awesome to find minimalist 90s DESIGNER pieces, though. :)

    Always a great time reading your post, Sammy!

    • Calvin Klein or Chloe from the ’90s, anyone? ;-)

      But yes, you are definitely right about the mass produced qualities. Very difficult when the perspective is from someone who only grew up with mass produced, arguably me, and definitely everyone who is younger. I think that’s why thrifting the ’90s is more relevant because you can find designer ’90s pieces, they aren’t sold in stores as much … yet. XO

  4. very nice dress,I like your post thank you very much!!


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