As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread:

Good place for images of clothing, furniture, appliances, etc. from the 1990s?

DuffelDuffel jacobkoshRegistered User regular
This may be a bit of a strange request, but I have seen this board find stranger things, so I thought I might as well ask.

So, I'm currently cooking up a writing project that begins in the mid-late 1990s. I'd like to get a lot of period details right for thematic reasons - stuff like people's clothes/haircuts, the stuff they have in their houses and the way those houses are decorated, all that sort of stuff. This is the time period I myself grew up, but it's been 15-20+ years, and I don't really trust my memory for specific details.

Searching for this sort of thing on Google seems rather fruitless. Usually what you end up finding are buzzfeed-esque articles which show the most cartoonish incarnations of those styles and fads, usually from celebrity media and what have you (stuff like all the members of N'Sync wearing matching overalls... not what I remember people wearing on a daily basis!), and all the other stuff I'd like to look into basically aren't there at all.

I actually thought about ordering some old catalogs to look through. Sears and JC Penney were the ones that sprung immediately to my mind, since those were fairly "average" companies (ie, not cutting-edge fashion) and they also sold a lot of home appliances, electronics, furniture, etc. But getting on ebay and looking through those things, a lot of those catalogs sell for between 60-70 dollars apiece(!). Why the sellers think a catalog that's been obsolete since the spring of 1998 is worth that much money I have no idea, but that seems to be the going rate. I guess they assume the only people who would want them are aspiring fashion designers. I have no desire to spend that kind of money on a personal project that I'm just doing for my own enjoyment, and I'd also like to have a wider range of "data" than a single catalog to show change over time, etc., so that is not really practical.

Photos seems like the only other available option, but 1) I don't have access to my own family's photos at the moment, since I'm living in another state 2) Most of the photos you can find online from that time period are stuff that people post for humor, and aren't really what I'm looking for (stuff like awkward family photos...), and 3) This was all of course up to ten years before social media became a thing, so as far as the Internet is concerned it's sort of from a "dark age".

So, does anybody know where you can find this sort of thing without paying through the nose for it? Any other kind of 1990s general reference would also be appreciated (stuff like wayback-ed news articles, contemporary culture and opinion pieces, retrospectives/autobiographies, all that kind of stuff).


  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Have you asked your older relatives if they still had old catalogues lying around?

    Also keep in mind that a family is not just from the current decade. I still have an 8-track radio and a bunch of cassettes somewhere, and I was using the former up until 1997 as a radio.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Pull up Southern Living and look at their older texts from that timeframe. You can probably find a full set of all of them at a local library.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    Go check your local libraries, some of them have things like catalogs in their collections. Or at the very least they should have some fashion/interior design/etc. magazines from the era.

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Your local stylist may still have hair and fashion books from that era you could look through.

  • DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Have you asked your older relatives if they still had old catalogues lying around?

    Also keep in mind that a family is not just from the current decade. I still have an 8-track radio and a bunch of cassettes somewhere, and I was using the former up until 1997 as a radio.

    Oh, I'm aware of that IRL, but (without getting into irrelevant detail about the story itself) it's kind of important for the characters to start off as being very emblematic/representative of that specific era in time, at least in their external appearance, the way they customized their personal space and what have you.

    I'll definitely check out my local library. I haven't been there in a while and I do remember some of their stuff in the nonfiction section being a bit dated :biggrin: Not sure how long they keep the magazines, but I think they have a ton of stuff on digital archive.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Maybe fast forward through some 90s shows and movies?

  • E.CoyoteE.Coyote Registered User regular
    There are a bunch of home movies on youtube from that time period, people running around with camcorders and such.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2016
    America's Funniest Home Videos etc could help a lot.

    Incenjucar on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    if you just want sort of a survey of dress/clothing trends and pop culture from that era, you could probably do worse than watching contemporary music videos

    hold your head high soldier, it ain't over yet
    that's why we call it the struggle, you're supposed to sweat
  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    I would add that you might want to think about socioeconomic status of the types of families you want to look at. Echoing the idea to look at television and movies, you'll notice that that homes and clothing of characters are very different between say the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Rosanne.

  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    Ya the variance of the 90's was pretty crazy, like

    are both from 1991.

    edit: And Goth/Emo/Manson etc all also hit in the mid 90's.

    WiseManTobes on
    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    mid-to-late 90s is a great time to write , because you were post grunge and things were finally becoming "90s" and not the 80s struggling to find themselves.

    Think about it: Things you mention like appliances and such, well most people in the 90s were still living in houses made in the 80s so they had those floorpans and those kitchens. People didn't buy new televisions all the time, so you either had a cutting edge massively heavy Sony Vega television or you had crappy rear projection big screen or you still had your 80s console tv.

    Cell phones were magic, you saw one or two a day at most in the late 90s depending on where you were.

    Cars are once again going to be late 80s early 90s models all the way up to the 00s.
    We simply spend money differently now then back then. We were disposable culture but not as bad as now.

    OOOOh remember CARS... SUVs weren't a thing quite yet. The ones that were out there were more like trucks then mini van/station wagon replacements like today.
    Internet was dial up at best, floppies were a thing.

    Flannel was awesome.

    Great movies for visual references: (JUST for the looks of the movie, no other comment on the movies watch at your own risk)
    SFW for the grungier side
    Higher Learning for the mainstream fashion, music, multiculturalism
    Hackers for what hollywood thought the 90s looked like
    Welcome to the Dollhouse for what being a teen really looked like
    Go for what the last days of 90s looked like before we fell into what ever the hell happened in the 00s

    TV shows:
    Real World early seasons- can't stress this enough.
    For teen fashions watch Boy Meets World the high school/college years

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    flickr group: pure 90s

    bsjezz on
  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    According to my facebook feed, if you want to know what the 90's were like ask any kid born after 2000, because they apparently all were there and nostalgic for it :snap:

    Grunge was my favorite trend, suddenly all of us poor kids were high fashion.

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • ShimshaiShimshai Flush with Success! Isle of EmeraldRegistered User regular
    Friends ran for 10 years from '94, might be a potential source for reference.

    Steam/Origin: Shimshai

Sign In or Register to comment.