Much to the dismay of some millennials who, two decades on, still have low-rise-jean-induced nightmares, the time has come to accept the fact that the hip-baring garb of 2003 is back en vogue. But low-rise denim isn’t the only Y2K fashion trend that’s making a return in 2021. The sartorial era, defined by short hemlines and even shorter fly zippers, has always gotten a bad rep, with those who follow fashion’s vicissitudes having hoped that they’d never have to see another Von Dutch trucker hat again. Alas, after no less than the likes of Rihanna, Dua Lipa, and Hailey Bieber were spotted looking like extras in Jawbreaker, there is nothing left to do but welcome back the candy-colored trends of yore.
Just because we’ve given in to Y2K’s influence over our wardrobes doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten how questionable the era’s fashions were. For a good decade at the turn of the millennium, the industry’s top dressers chose so-called aesthetics over utility, adorning themselves with chain belts that did little to keep one’s pants up and tube tops that required nipple petals and rolls of boob tape. Barely-there monochrome skirt sets and twee butterfly motifs were also among the trends that dominated in the early aughts. And yet, people loved them — or loved to hate them — enough to justify the current resurrection.
To celebrate (or mourn) the return of all things ’00s in fashion, ahead, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through the weirdest, and sometimes worst trends, from the Y2K days. Slowly but surely, they’re all becoming mainstays in modern times. Will you be wearing them?
Despite the fact that no one whose bra size is beyond a C-cup can wear a tube top without significant effort to keep their chest inside of the strapless silhouette (and they present a different type of problem for those who don’t have the curves to hold up the garment), the going-out top once beloved by Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and J.Lo has managed to ride the Y2K train straight back into fashion’s good graces. Spotted on the likes of Beyoncé, Kendall Jenner, and Bella Hadid, the boob tube is having a 2021 renaissance.
After a year-plus of only accessorizing within the visibility range of your Zoom camera, fashion-minded people are tired of limiting their baubles to the jewelry department. Instead, thanks to recent chain belt and belly bauble appearances on Olivia Rodrigo and Kim Kardashian, many are taking pages from the stylebooks of Y2K stars like Amanda Bynes, Beyoncé, and Christina Aguilera and opting for waist jewelry that, while NSFW, will turn up the heat on your ‘fit far more than any pair of statement earrings ever could.
The cap style equally beloved by Paris Hilton and Punk’d-era Ashton Kutcher is back to sitting atop the heads of fashion’s finest, from Rihanna to Addison Rae. And just like they weren’t two decades ago, today’s trucker hats aren’t in the least bit subtle. Bedazzled logos and highlighter colors blind us in the majority of the styles we’ve seen thus far from both newcomers to the trend, like Beepy Bella, and old faithful labels, such as Von Dutch and Ed Hardy.
Mid- and high-rise jeans are hard to reject: They’re structured, durable, and don’t require tugging at the belt loops after each and every step to ensure that your G-string doesn’t pop out whale-tail style (though that, too, is trending ATM). Low-rise jeans, on the other hand, check off few useful boxes, with some not even bothering to include belt loops at all. (When the zipper on your jeans is only two inches long, there simply isn’t room for belt loops. See: Bynes at the 2002 Kids’ Choice Awards.) And yet, the denim style we all swore we’d never tug on again is, in fact, rising up the ranks, with the hashtag #lowrisejeans acquiring over 61 million views on TikTok and celebs like Sophie Turner and Rihanna jumping on board. Proceed with caution.
Though perhaps less ubiquitous than some of the aforementioned trends, butterfly mania remains one of the most memorable facets of the Y2K era, with Mariah Carey and Salma Hayek both having worn Emanuel Ungaro’s sequin butterfly top from the designer’s couture ‘00 collection. Today, the delicate winged creature is just as ever-present. Think: Billy Porter’s metamorphosis-themed Hogan McLaughlin look from the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards and Dua Lipa’s custom Versace naked dress from the Grammys. The throwback trend even flew onto the catwalk, with TikTok-favorite brand Blumarine including a kaleidoscope of different butterfly-related garments in its nostalgia-inducing fall ‘21 collection. *Cues “Butterfly” by Crazy Town.*
If you’re on TikTok (which, if you’ve made it this far in this tribute, you definitely are), then you’ve probably seen dozens of videos dedicated to recreating Hailey Bieber’s lilac-colored micro-mini set from her recent trip to France with Justin Bieber. Yes, it seems like a celebration of a look made for summer. But, did you know that nearly two decades prior — back when Mrs. Bieber was still Hailey Baldwin — Beyoncé was making the barely-there monochrome look cool? Then again, it’s Beyoncé we’re talking about, so, of course, she did it first.
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