View Full Version : Upstate New York in the early 90s

02-06-2014, 04:08 AM
In southern California, girls in the early 90s had really high, hair-sprayed bangs. We also wore mood lipstick that was green in the tube but came out bright pink, and we wore doc martens and tartan skirts. Music was Nirvana, Greenday, Tupac, Alanis. Was this a national thing? Only west coast? I have characters who went to a small high school in a made up town in upstate New York, and I'm just wondering if their trends would have been similar to my own.

02-07-2014, 02:02 AM
Some of that was everywhere - every town had its different cliques that all embraced a different fashion. The big influences I remember at that time period in a nearby town were goth and grunge.

02-10-2014, 01:43 AM
Probably depends what part of upstate NY. For the music, sure.

I was in Ulster County, so we had a large Woodstock-ish influence. Lots of tie dye, broomstick skirts. Lots of punk, grunge and goth.

Big hair was an 80s thing. Pretty much gone by the 90s.

Mood lipstick and tartan, probably not in our area.

02-10-2014, 07:38 AM
I was in Annandale, near Poughkeepsie, at a VERY liberal college. It was fashionable for women to shave their heads completely, or leave one or two wisps of bangs. Guys were wearing skirts (a la Kurt Cobain) more than girls. I wore vaseline in my hair (never shaved it though) and put it in twin braids. I don't remember anyone dying their hair, other than maybe henna.

Overalls were big, as were clogs and flannel shirts. We also wore men's flannel boxers. Lots of clothes from thrift stores, often pants that were too big and had to be belted to keep from falling off. Jeans cut off at the knee and folded over to make a cuff, over stockings. Docs. I had a faux fur coat. I wore lingerie to clubs like it was a legitimate top, things like bustiers.

We listened to: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, House of Pain, U2, REM, The Cranberries, Sinead O'Connor (though her stuff wasn't new anymore at that point), Red Said Fred (had a gay friend who sang "I'm too sexy" all the time), Arrested Development, En Vogue, Salt N Pepa, and Ani di Franco.

Other people were still listening to Poison but I thought their taste was irredeemably bad.

Do you want to know about guys, too?

02-10-2014, 07:47 PM
What is "Upstate" to you? Ulster and Poughkeepsie wouldn't be considered upstate to those of us from upstate NY. Technically, upstate NY is anything outside of the five boroughs, so Armonk, Albany, Oneida, Onondaga, Sacandaga, Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Old Forge, Utica, Ithaca, Binghamton, Buffalo and Niagra Falls would qualify.

In some areas, you'd be surprised if earth shoes and peasant skirts had caught on yet. :)

Music is similar in most areas. Clothing trends might not be. A lot depends on outside influence, is it near a university? Do they have cable (MTV, etc.)? Does the family have money for new fashions (not common in many areas)?

Fashion trends for girls in the Adirondacks tended to be tight jeans, tight sweater or hoodie, rarely turtlenecks and, in good weather, t-shirts with college names, rock bands or concert tees. Short skirts and heels in summer. Clothing stolen from boyfriends, especially shirts or jackets, was common. Some of this was flannel, jeans jacket or camo hunting jacket.

Metal lasted late, country rock and classic rock were popular and Green Day was in vogue. Alanis and the Lilith Fair groups had a niche. Grunge and Nirvana caught on a little later. Rap and Pop weren't as popular but did get played at school functions. Colleges were the location for most concerts and they rarely had the big name groups but they did have the newer groups that were starting out. High school kids had ins with older siblings to get to most of the colleges around the area.

Hope it helps.


02-10-2014, 08:29 PM
i'm a guy who grew up in Upstate NY, outside Albany. I have to ask...why use a made up town in NY? there are lots of good real towns that would work wonderfully...

music was national...and any clothing associated with that music was common for those fans (plaid and long hair for grunge, black for goth, etc.) tie dye and birkenstocks were common for the hippy / Phish type

Jeans and doc matins were huge, so were adidas sneakers. white hats with college teams were very common...lots of times guys would cut out the inner lining, and at times cut out the lettering on the front as well. also, the way you curved the brim was a thing of pride. the tighter the curve the better...guys would wrap the brim around balls and hold it together with rubber bands...a trip through the dishwasher could help solidify it...but no matter what, you were always taking it off your head and bending it in shape.

Starter jackets...a must...everyone had one, and if you didn't, you wanted one.

we had a large skater population, so sketchers, vans, etc with really baggy jeans and long hair was common for guys.

i'll be less help on the girl front, but girls wore boxers (Joe Boxer mostly)...sometimes with long t-shirts making it look like they weren't wearing pants. scrunchies. sweatshirts from different local and out-of-state colleges.

i could probably help you out better if i had my yearbook in front of me.

hope this helped.

02-10-2014, 08:33 PM
i wonder where your fictional NY town would be because downward Upstate NY (Poughkeepsie), would be different from Albany, and true Upstate NY (Watertown), and much different from western NY (Buffalo).

Calla Lily
02-10-2014, 08:41 PM
^This. I'm in Bflo, and we're Western NY. Definitely not "upstate" unless the person talking about it lives in NYC or LI.

02-10-2014, 09:02 PM
i wonder where your fictional NY town would be because downward Upstate NY (Poughkeepsie), would be different from Albany, and true Upstate NY (Watertown), and much different from western NY (Buffalo).

not to quote myself....but dialect would come into play here for your character as well. western NY has more of an Ohio / Midwestern influence. eastern NY has a more New England / New York City influence.

we said "soda," my Rochester cousins said "pop." we said "wicked," they did not.

02-12-2014, 12:01 PM
Yeah, what's upstate? I grew up in Westchester and people from NYC would call me upstate. Westchester is about forty minutes north of NYC and is not upstate.

I was born in 90 so I might be younger than the rest of you for that decade. I had lots of cousins and often visited them near Albany. Spent a lot of time in Lake George too. We didn't have outrageous hairstyles like the 80's, but we had lots of bangs. (I'm guilty.) :D We had mood rings, but I've never heard of mood lipstick. Too young for docs. Overalls, of course. We had those tight 90s jeans. Cut the jeans at the knees, too.

I remember visiting places like Lake George and making fun of the hick music. I would later grow to understand this as a viable genre called country music.

Most of the trends sound similar. The slang is probably different. I moved out to CA and had to stop someone on the street and ask what the hell "hecka" meant.