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Industry • Inspiration

Now That's What I Call ’90s: The Tunes & Looks Your Clients Want This Summer

The middle part is really just a dividing line between Millennials and Gen Z

Summer’s in the air! For many people, the changing seasons provide the perfect excuse to refresh their looks or treat themselves to a little self-care at the salon or spa, and we couldn’t agree more. The year might be 2022, but more and more, younger clients are looking to the past for inspiration — particularly the 1990s. By mastering these styles, you’ll be ready to accommodate your clientele this summer; providing the perfect makeover-montage-worthy soundtrack is just a bonus.

The iconic middle part

What is the most pressing issue facing Millennials and Generation Z today? Is it income inequality? Social justice? Worker’s rights? Well… yes to all of those, but somewhere down the list is how to part one’s hair. Millennials are traditionally side-parters, but Gen Z vehemently believes the middle part is all that and a bag of chips. Of course, Millennials were rocking the middle part decades ago, but Zoomers are claiming it as their own. With so many ways to wear a middle part, expect younger clients to want their cuts styled around it.

The soundtrack:

  • “The Sign” - Ace of Base

  • “MMMBop” - Hanson

  • “Ironic” - Alanis Morissette

  • “Criminal” - Fiona Apple

  • “Graduation (Friends Forever)” - Vitamin C

The #Pamcore updo

The Hulu miniseries Pam & Tommy filled our television screens with the sounds and styles of the 1990s when it aired earlier this year, and one trend has strongly resonated with young audiences: Pam Anderson’s perfectly messy updo. The #pamcore movement, as it’s known on TikTok, has social media stars emulating Pamela Anderson’s signature style while putting their own (French) twist on it. Add in the fact that prom updos were all the rage back in the ‘90s and you can expect clients looking for special occasion styles to request similar looks.

The soundtrack:

  • “Semi-Charmed Life” - Third Eye Blind

  • “Vogue” - Madonna

  • “Always Be My Baby” - Mariah Carey

  • “I Want You to Want Me” - Letters to Cleo

  • “#1 Crush” - Garbage

Space buns

Space buns, rave buns… whatever you want to call them, they’re back in a big way. Popularized by club-goers, Gwen Stefani, and the Spice Girls way back when, space buns have reemerged as a trending topic among Millennial and Gen Z celebs and influencers. It’s a versatile look; the buns can be casual and sporty or flawless and fancy, and work with a variety of hair lengths, types, and textures.

The soundtrack:

  • “New” - No Doubt

  • “Firestarter” - The Prodigy

  • “Say You’ll Be There” - Spice Girls

  • “The Saga Begins” - "Weird Al" Yankovic

  • “Possession” - Sarah McLachlan

Box braids

Though they’ve been around in some form for generations, box braids didn’t make their way into the mainstream until Janet Jackson popularized the look in the 1993 film Poetic Justice. Like so many things from that era, box braids have made a triumphant return, so expect this style to be popular among people of color this summer. Trendsetters are finding new ways to make box braids their own, like adding fun colors, highlights, and blunt edges, so there’s plenty of room for freedom of expression.

The soundtrack:

  • “Unpretty” - TLC

  • “Got Till it’s Gone” - Janet Jackson

  • “The Boy is Mine” - Brandy & Monica

  • “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” - Destiny’s Child

  • “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” - Lauryn Hill

The French manicure reimagined

The basic French manicure was the height of fanciness in the 90s. Sporting the neutral-toned, white-tipped look back then added elegance to any ensemble — you knew it was fashion-forward if Cher Horowitz was wearing it. While the French manicure has undeniably made its comeback, modern style icons are adding their own twists: bright colors, intricate patterns, and delicate nail art. The result is a flawless manicure that evokes ’90s nostalgia while still looking modern.

The soundtrack:

  • “Kids in America” - The Muffs

  • “Linger” - The Cranberries

  • “Celebrity Skin” - Hole

  • “If I Had a Million Dollars” - Barenaked Ladies

  • “Barbie Girl” - Aqua

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