Yes, Another Year in Y2K Fashion (2024)

year in review

By Danya Issawi, a fashion news writer at the Cut. She previously worked across the newsroom at the New York Times, including on the “Style” desk and the Pulitzer Prize-winning COVID-tracking team.

Yes, Another Year in Y2K Fashion (2)

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

Last year, we asked ourselves: What comes after Y2K fashion? 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. While these are all new to younger fashion fanatics, some older millennials have done a double take. While the ghosts of this year’s Y2K fashion resurgence take their final, rattling breaths within the trend cycle, let us send them off with a eulogy to match their resiliency. It takes a tenacious fad to make it into the Zeitgeist once, but it takes a legendary one to do it twice. While I, as always, encourage you to continue wearing what feels right for you and your style, here are the Y2K trends that got a second chance at life in 2023.

Ballet flats ruled supreme

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ballet flats are a beautiful atrocity and must be worn with caution. Their first iteration years ago involved sweaty feet sliding around in smelly slippers and a complete lack of arch support. We have, now, become a wiser bunch. This time around, we choose to wear them with precious little crew socks, and the smart ones among us have ventured into nearly, if not fully, orthopedic flats.

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Photo: Arnold Jerocki/GC Images

Peekaboo! It’s my bra.

What was more freeing than wearing a white tank top with black bra straps poking out? Speaking from experience, nothing. One might imagine Sydney Sweeney, Scarlett Johansson, or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley felt similarly when they attended the Cannes Film Festival wearing dresses with their bras exposed via their necklines. Zoe Saldana wore a similar silhouette by Fendi to the Oscars. While all of their looks sparked controversy online (would you or wouldn’t you let the world in on the BIG, GIANT secret that women wear undergarments?!?!), it was a bonafide nod to peekaboo queens who came before. It’s always a bit funny that each time this trend comes around, it garners much attention and many pearl-clutches. Surprise, people wear bras!!!!!

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Photo: MEGA/GC Images

Ribbed tanks took over

While most of us, especially in New York City, have been on the ribbed tank train for some time, this year, Jeremy Allen White turned this trend into a lifestyle. That man is carrying tank tops on his back both figuratively and literally. There hasn’t been a place where he and his generously bulbous arms have not been photographed in a little undershirt-as-a-real-shirt. Sorry, but I do support it! And may we continue this pattern well into 2024!

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Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Juicy Couture sweats rose again

We have Ice Spice to thank for many things: highlighting New York’s drill rap scene, popularizing the term “munch,” gluttonous Dunkin drinks, and most importantly, reminding us all of Juicy Couture sweatsuits. The certified princess of New York is famous for her Juicy sweatsuits, even wearing them for her photo shoot for our fashion issue earlier this year, and I understand why. Wearing a little velour or terry-cloth sweatsuit that says “Juicy” splashed across both your back and butt feels both comfortable and empowering. They serve no purpose beyond serenity: You can’t really work out in them, you can’t be too mobile on account of how low-waisted they are, and you can’t be too rough with them due to the rhinestones ready to pop off at any second, and yet, they persist.

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Photo: Jared Siskin/GC Images

The great Ugg Renaissance

Bella Hadid utterly shifted the trend cycle last year when she was photographed eating pizza wearing platform Uggs. The shoes immediately sold out and the moment made way for a complete Ugg renaissance. This year, I’ve seen the slipper-esque shoes both reclaim their spot as a casual, bodega run shoe as well as fully turn into a daytime going-out shoe, paired with jeans, skirts, and dresses galore. While I know damn well some of you aren’t wearing socks with your Uggs and the insides of them likely smell like the sheep pasture from whence they came, there is something completely comforting about walking around in the city and seeing people wearing their little boots and slippers out and about. Perhaps that stems from a sense of nostalgia for me, but is that so wrong?

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Photo: Arturo Holmes/WireImage/Getty Images

Dresses over jeans, once more

Katie Holmes is either a fashion prophet or the most unbothered person in the entertainment industry (or maybe both). Late last year, the actress wore a tight, tube-top dress over a pair of jeans and created a media frenzy. Every fashion outlet, celebrity tabloid, and the New York Times was writing about the trend whiplash we were all simultaneously experiencing via Holmes. Was it ugly? Was it cute? Was she a disruptor? Was it intentional? Slowly but surely, the trend leaked back into the mainstream throughout this year just as it did in the early aughts. But this time around, most dress-over-pant moments looked a bit more streamlined. Those taking part went for monochromatic or tailored approaches. I even wore a little slip dress over jeans during Fashion Week earlier this year, and it’s one of my favorite, most comfortable looks to date. Thank you, Madame Holmes!

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Photo: MEGA/GC Images

We’ve turned a corner on low-rise jeans

I know this has been a contentious point in the frivolous Gen Z versus Millennial internet beef, but I for one am GLAD we have rediscovered low-rise jeans these past few years and that this trend has persisted well into 2023. I was one of the many that was fooled into thinking I looked best in high-rise denim only to discover jeans that sit just above my hips are my personal golden ticket. Who knew American Apparel would have led me astray all those years ago?

And (some) even embraced unbuttoned jeans

Kim K has always been one for Wearing Things (derogatory), including leaving her jeans unbuttoned as a fashion statement. While I am always a proponent of exploring yourself in fashion and styling, this was a trend I sat out. But you do you, I guess, Kim.


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Yes, Another Year in Y2K Fashion
Yes, Another Year in Y2K Fashion (2024)


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.

What is Y2K fashion years? ›

The Y2K aesthetic, born in the late '90s and early 2000s, blends bold, playful, and futuristic elements, drawing from the era's digital and societal progress. Influenced by the dot-com boom and the rise of the internet, fashion embraced futuristic designs with a casual spin.

Is Y2K fashion coming back in 2024? ›

The resurgence of Y2K fashion in 2024 is driven by a mix of nostalgia, sustainability, and the influence of social media.

What is Y2K in simple words? ›

What Is Y2K? Y2K is the shorthand term for "the year 2000." Y2K was commonly used to refer to a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000.

What does the k mean in Y2K? ›

The flaw, faced by computer programmers and users all over the world on January 1, 2000, is also known as the "millennium bug." (The letter K, which stands for kilo (a unit of 1000), is commonly used to represent the number 1,000. So, Y2K stands for Year 2000.) Many skeptics believe it was barely a problem at all.

What did girls wear in Y2K? ›

Y2K fashion is synonymous with metallic and glossy textures. Clothes made from vinyl, PVC, and other shiny materials were all the rage. They give outfits a futuristic, space-age vibe.

Why is Y2K so popular? ›

The term rose to new popularity in 2020 when users on TikTok and Instagram began popularizing nostalgic early 2000s fashion styles as “Y2K.” Now, it has inspired a widespread revival in early 2000s staples such as velour tracksuits, ballet flats, tiny shoulder bags, crop tops, bedazzled shirts, denim and baggy jeans — ...

What does Y2K vibes mean? ›

Y2K is used to refer to the fashion trends of the (early) 2000s. Widely regarded as unflattering by many, this era of fashion has made a comeback, and is known today as the 'y2k aesthetic'. Some well-known Y2K clothing choices include: Low-rise jeans: Jeans that sit low on the waist. Tank-tops.

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.

What does Y2K aesthetic mean? ›

In recent years, Gen Z has set its retro-gazing sights on another era: Y2K. The Y2K aesthetic is a retro-futuristic fashion trend that emerged during the late 1990s and the early aughts (memorably called the “noughties”). It is characterized by bold colors, shiny materials, and unique textures.

What is a Y2K costume? ›

The characteristic of Y2K Fashion is neon color, metallic fabric, short top and low rise jeans. It also includes mini dramas and dresses, chunky sneakers, and space style designs.

Is Y2K still trendy? ›

But change is on the horizon. Y2K is still on trend, but its tendencies are veering towards the very early years of the millennium, edging on the late '90s, when simplicity and minimalism still had a place in fashion.

What is the dress code for Y2K? ›

Popular outfits for women included mesh or handkerchief tops, box-pleated or leather skirts, shiny pants, and sparkly shoes. For men, Y2K looks usually involved leather jackets, a statement dress shirt, and chunky shoes. If you need inspiration, Britney Spears and *NSYNC were trendsetters for this type of style.

How would you describe Y2K aesthetic? ›

People were making bolder fashion choices with faux fur and shiny, synthetic materials. Those who owned computers began dipping their toes in early forms of social media like MySpace. The Y2K aesthetic was a distinct reflection of the time. It was futuristic, glittery, cyber-obsessed, and full of teenage angst.

What does Y2K concept mean? ›

Meaning of Y2K in English

abbreviation for the Year 2000: used to refer to the problems that were expected with computers when the date changed from 1999 to 2000: Many industry experts today believe the Y2K problem was exaggerated.

How do you explain Y2K to a child? ›

The Year 2000 problem (also known as the Y2K problem, the millennium bug, Y2K Bug, and Y2K) was a computer problem that affected lots of computer systems. It happened because of the way in which some early computer programs were made to handle only years containing two digits (for example '92 instead of 1992).

What is the definition of Y2K aesthetic? ›

Imagine bold colors clashing with metallic fabrics, logos so big you could see them from a mile away… that's Y2K for you! Originating from the late 90s and early 2000s, this style was all about optimism, embracing technology, and standing out. Today, the Y2K look is making a major comeback.

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