This summer has seen the return of many Y2K trends, with micro mini skirts, low-rise pants, and going-out tops all making their way from the runways to street style and TikTok. Now, designers are making a case for yet another ‘00s staple: the arm cuff.
If you’re cringing recalling your “bicep cuff” days, know that this piece looks nothing like the relics of the butterfly clips era. Take, for example, Blumarine which featured a bedazzled piece that tapped into fashion’s recent logomania craze. Or: Prada, which showed an elegant minimalist strap that mimicked a satin belt. On the celebrity front, Dua Lipa gave the trend her stamp of approval, wearing a silver version from Blumarine’s spring 2022 collection, paired with, what else but, a butterfly top.
From Egyptian queens to Mayan kings, the arm cuff has long been a symbol of social rank and power. It’s no wonder Wonder Woman and Xena, the protagonist of the Warrior Princess series, wore the accessory as part of their battle-ready ensembles. In the early 2000s, celebrities, including Keira Knightley and Aaliyah, adopted the arm jewelry as a red carpet statement, paired with mini skirts and jeans, as well as formal gowns, showing the versatility of this accessory. (Personally, I lived through the accessory’s early ‘00s popularity in Puerto Rico, where arm cuffs were a must-have thanks to the success of the Brazilian soap opera O Clone.)
While the arm cuff was ubiquitous 20 years ago, it hasn’t been as quick to return as other Y2K accessories like Bratz-approved platforms. Maybe because, back in the early 2000s, the accessory looked borrowed from a costume department and featured garish elements like animal heads (see: Knightley’s snake-shaped cuff above) — a look more fitting for a Game of Thrones episode rather than real-life fashion.
But the newest comeback ushers in the new age of the arm cuff. For the new season, designers like Fendi and Tory Burch reimagined the jewelry piece in more minimalist designs that are worlds away from the costume-y styles of the ‘00s. If its new iterations don’t convince you, this might: The bold accessory highlights the arms, making its wearer look like a superhero in the process. Plus, it’s the perfect accoutrement to amp up even the most mundane looks, which is why brands like Prada, Raf Simons, and Fendi juxtaposed it with feminine, minimalist frocks
As summer reaches its final weeks, there’s still time to give the arm cuff a much-deserved chance. Below, styles to get you started.
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