Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (2024)

Fashion is relentlessly cyclical and the 2000s (or as the kids like to call it, Y2K) is the latest era to stage a comeback.

It started trending on TikTok all the way back in 2021, then the celebs came – Paris Hilton walked the catwalk for Versace’s Spring 2023 show, Gigi Hadid started wearing pedal pushers and Kendall Jenner was seen in mini UGGs. Now it’s drifted down to the high street with capri pants, ballet pumps, motorcycle jackets and more relaxed denim all trending for 2024.

So what does it mean for our wardrobes now? Or to put it another way, can pedal pushers and cargo pants ever really look good or should we just shut the door and hide in our houses until the fever has passed and we can get back to wearing flattering full-length trousers again?

Let’s take a deep dive into this divisive decade to see what we can borrow and what we should leave well alone.

What is Y2K fashion?

To take you back to the era that style very much forgot (or tried to) until the past few years, this was a time when Destiny’s Child were singing about freakum dresses and wearing barely there butterfly tops and low slung, bootcut jeans. Pop culture was at its peak (or nadir, depending on how you look at it). We had Britney, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Posh and Becks were in their Gucci era.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (1)

The Y2K look actually spans from the late 90s to the mid-2000s and was typified by scarf tops, boot cut jeans, velour tracksuits, pastels, metallics, cowl necks, pedal pushers (aka capri pants) and showy accessories, from furry bucket hats and trucker caps to bowling bags and butterfly clips. Think Mean Girls, the early Sex and the City years and The Simple Life.

As someone who very much came of age in the early aughts, I was there and definitely wore the slogan T-shirt. And the pink Juicy Couture and UGG boots (at the same time, of course). And the low-rise jeans. It was a bit like playing dress up – we experimented with silhouettes and proportion, wearing dresses over trousers and peplum tops, which, to my knowledge, have never looked good on anyone.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (2)

I remember when Kate Moss first started wearing UGG boots with her skinny jeans and you couldn’t get them in the UK yet. I ordered a pair from Australia and had to wait five torturous months for them to arrive. Friends and family now refer to that dark time as UGG-gate.

We wore GIANT necklaces. (I think I knew the gig was up when I bought one from the 2011 Versace x H&M collab that weighed the same as a small toddler.) This was style on steroids and, dare I say it, it was fun. Which might explain its revival. When times are tough, who doesn’t want to cover themselves in rhinestones and velour?

The nostalgia effect

With the original millennials now in charge at fashion houses, it’s no surprise the fashion they loved as teens has influenced their designs. A prime example is 34-year-old designer Nicola Brognano who took the reins at Blumarine and promptly kickstarted the Y2K comeback tour with a collection full of slouchy denim, statement belts and butterfly tops.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (3)

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (4)

Netflix documentaries from the likes of Britney Spears, David Beckham and Robbie Williams have reminded us why we fell in love with them in the first place. The OC celebrated its 20th anniversary, making us nostalgic for weekends spent watching Seth and Summer and T4. Blink 182 are touring again.

And the iconic brands of the decade are back by popular demand. Baby Phat and Juicy Couture have been reborn. UGG has collaborated with menswear designer Feng Chen Wang and is now sold on Matches (with next-day delivery, praise be!)

Just like the decades before them, we now view the noughties’ crimes against fashion with a sepia-tinged fondness. The passing of time has made them palatable, covetable even (certainly if you do a quick Depop trawl). Suddenly, Ed Hardy T-shirts are cool, Juicy Couture is kitsch, Britney and Paris are sympathetic survivors. Enough time has gone by for us to only see the good bits (not, for example, the worrying celebration of skinny frames; low-slung jeans don’t really allow for actual hips). Hence, the decade’s return to our wardrobes.

But what does it mean for your wardrobe?

According to the fashion rulebook, if you wore it the first time round, you shouldn't go back. But my approach with returning trends has always been “never say never”. Put it on the right style icon and I can definitely be persuaded. Having once recoiled at the idea of wearing kitten heels again, I now love a delicate heel with a pair of straight leg jeans or pinstripe office trousers.

The key to throwback fashion is taking the pieces that work for you and styling them in a modern way. Take cargo pants. In the noughties, they were oversized and worn low on the hips with a baby tee. Now they’re cut slightly slimmer and can work for the office with a sharp shirt and (yep) a kitten heel or pair of trainers.

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Even pedal pushers can be reimagined. My advice? Add a little length so they don’t cut you off at the calves and pair with an oversized shirt or cardi and some chic ballet pumps - think more Audrey Hepburn, less Carrie Bradshaw.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (10)

Sezane Basile Cardigan - Light Pearl Grey

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (12)

Sezane Paula Babies

This season’s A-line minis aren’t going to be for everyone. But worn with a skinny knit, tights and loafers, they tap into that modern, preppy trend with just a hint of Clueless.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (13)

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (14)

Isabel Heart Fair Isle Jumper

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (15)

Boden Suede A-line Mini Skirt

Now 50% Off

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (16)

Russell & Bromley Stacked Block Heel Loafer

Now 14% Off

I'll be wearing my mini-UGGS with leggings and oversized shirts and blazers. Motorcycle jackets, meanwhile, are now worn slouchy and oversized instead of tight and shiny a la Grant Mitchell.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (17)

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (18)

Reformation Veda Marco Leather Oversized Bomber

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (19)

Reformation Val 90s Mid Rise Straight Jeans

Now 25% Off

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (20)

UGG Classic Ultra Mini Sheepskin and Suede Ankle Boots, Sand

As for low-slung jeans, I’ll leave them to Gen-Z, but I will be wearing my straight-leg denim a little more relaxed, in a nod to my carefree student self. Because I sort of miss her and her giant necklaces.

And that, of course, is how it gets you.

Y2K fashion is back but will you be wearing it? (2024)

FAQs

Is the Y2K trend coming back? ›

Fashion trends inspired by the early aughts have repeatedly returned in recent years, proving that the 2000s just can't be shaken. As Millennials and Gen Z satisfy their craving for nostalgia, styles not seen for decades have bubbled up on social media and, in many cases, the catwalk.

Is Y2K still in style in 2024? ›

Fast forward to today, and Y2K fashion is still popular because it brings back nostalgic vibes, looks cool, is eco-friendly, and gets a boost from celebrities and influencers. Sustainability is in, and Y2K styles, now found in thrift stores, are making a comeback.

Is Y2K fashion here to stay? ›

Low-rise denim, cargo pants with large pockets and detailing, and of course, flare jeans! All these styles are making a huge comeback and we truly believe Y2K fashion is here to stay.

Is early 2000s fashion coming back? ›

Ballet flats, Juicy Couture sweat suits, UGGs — the early-aughts fashion revival seems to be sticking around. Still, a few items have managed to slip through the cracks. We've identified some more worthy contenders for a comeback.

Why is Gen Z obsessed with Y2K? ›

For many Gen Zers, '90s and 2000s were their formative years, a time of social progress and prosperity. It might also represent an escapist desire for simpler times, especially when people put on nostalgia glasses looking at a distant but noticeable reality.

When did Y2K get popular again? ›

Is Y2K Fashion Coming Back? It's quite clear that Y2K fashion is making a major comeback in the 2020s. One obvious bit of proof is the popularity of Paris Hilton, who was arguably the queen of Y2K. Who didn't want one of her iconic velvet tracksuits ?

What will the style be in 2030? ›

Another 2030 trend that we can already see emerging is sustainable fashion. Sustainability and an aversion to so-called 'fast fashion' have become more prevalent among consumers. Customers expect companies to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and transparency around how goods are produced.

Is Y2K over? ›

Y2K will never die in my opinion. It will always have a place in the hearts and wardrobes of hotties. I think we've seen Y2K explode in recent years to the point of it becoming the new “commercial” again, with high street giants reclaiming and pushing it to the masses.

How old is Y2K style? ›

Although it is difficult to determine a specific timeline and creator of this trend, due to multiple contributing factors, Y2K fashion started to be well defined around 1997.

How to dress Y2K girl? ›

Wide-leg jeans, shiny jackets, baby tees, and velour tracksuits are just a few of the iconic pieces that are back in style. These pieces are often styled in new and fresh ways, incorporating modern elements and trends to create a unique and updated Y2K look.

Why is Y2K trendy? ›

One of the reasons that Y2K fashion is getting popular is that it appeals to a sense of nostalgia. Many people who are now in their 20s and 30s grew up in the early 2000s, and the Y2K fashion trend allows them to revisit and reinterpret the fashions of their youth.

What is Y2K fashion dress code? ›

The Y2K look actually spans from the late 90s to the mid-2000s and was typified by scarf tops, boot cut jeans, velour tracksuits, pastels, metallics, cowl necks, pedal pushers (aka capri pants) and showy accessories, from furry bucket hats and trucker caps to bowling bags and butterfly clips.

Will the 90s come back? ›

Promise. It's been over 30 years since the '90s first started (!!), and everything from the era is starting to feel brand-new again. All the looks you loved back then—or covet now while binge-watching old sitcoms—are officially back and more stylish than ever.

Is 90s style coming back in 2024? ›

Pinterest Confirms '90s Decor Is Coming Back in Their Summer 2024 Trend Report. And we can thank Nancy Meyers for that. Leslie Corona is the Senior Home Editor at REAL SIMPLE magazine. She has been styling, organizing, writing, and reporting on all things in the home space for a decade.

Who brought back 2000s fashion? ›

Social media platforms have played a pivotal role in propelling the resurgence of these trends. Influencers and celebrities alike are showcasing their take on the Y2K revival, using platforms like Instagram and TikTok to share their nostalgic fashion choices.

What is 2000 fashion in 2023? ›

This year, it became clear: more Y2K fashion. Trends throughout 2023 have involved a plethora of born-again, solidified, 2000s-era staples, like ballet flats, low-rise jeans, ribbed tanks as statement pieces, unbuttoned pants, chunky belts resting on hips, and peekaboo bras.

When did Y2K aesthetic end? ›

Cybercore (also referred to as Y2K Futurism, Cyber Y2K, Y3K (in Japan), or just simply Y2K) is an aesthetic that was prevalent in popular culture from roughly 1997 to 2004, succeeding the Memphis Design and Grunge eras and overlapping with the McBling, UrBling, Surf Crush, and 2K1 aesthetics.

Why is Y2K fashion making a Sharp comeback? ›

Everything Y2K (around the year 2000) is making a comeback in the world of fashion, and it's mainly thanks to TikTok.

What is Y2K style today? ›

Wide-leg jeans, shiny jackets, baby tees, and velour tracksuits are just a few of the iconic pieces that are back in style. These pieces are often styled in new and fresh ways, incorporating modern elements and trends to create a unique and updated Y2K look.

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