The Music-Minded Guide to Mastering Y2K Fashion Inspired by Mary J. Blige and TLC
Decades after the emergence of ‘00s style, Y2K fashion still reigns supreme today. Characterized by oversized silhouettes, midriff-baring ensembles, spunky hairstyles and kitsch accessories, the aughts-derived aesthetic was initially popularized by the leading ladies of the ‘90s and early 2000s — namely music’s biggest names at the time. Their cultural influence was felt not only through their funky fresh fashions, but also through their chart-topping hits, groovy sounds along with bold and brazen lyricism that defined their careers. As a result, R&B and hip-hop’s original heavy hitters, and their relevance across music and fashion hasn’t declined as evidenced by the fashion phenomenon’s recent resurgence. In a series of female-focused films, Lifetime is amplifying the tales of generational trendsetters and music masterminds that includes Mary J. Blige and TLC.
The music-minded films revolve around the reigns of the iconic songstresses and their sultry tracks. With a microscopic lens, Lifetime examines TLC’s rise to fame and their enduring influence on pop culture as the group tells the tales of their triumphs and tragedies in their own words in the upcoming documentary, TLC Forever. Drawing inspiration from Mary J. Blige’s legendary records, the network debuts two coming-of-age films inspired by and named after the singer-songwriter’s iconic songs, “Real Love” and “Strength of a Woman.” Tune into the new female-focused films, starting tonight with TLC and June 10 with Mary J. Blige, to celebrate each industry icon by paying homage to their indisputable impact in music, fashion and culture. Highlighting them as the trailblazing trendsetters they are, Hypebae harkens back to the defining styles and trends they popularized, pointedly the Y2K aesthetic, that has the internet in a frenzy today.
For a closer look at the barrier-breaking artists’ early aughts fashions, we devised a comprehensive style guide to channel your inner Y2K It-Girl by recreating Mary J. Blige and TLC’s most memorable looks.
The originators of sporty, streetwear-esque styling, T-Boz, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Chilli could teach a master class in rocking disproportionate silhouettes. The talented trio was notorious for gracing red carpets in cheeky crop tops and baggy pants, introducing a new trend to the masses. With a bold bralette, featuring head-turning cutouts, and tropical ombré-colored track pants, their classic aesthetic can be achieved in the new millennium. Styled with a gold cross chain and mustard statement square toe boots, this look can help you pay homage to the CrazySexyCool crooners.
Continuing to honor their classic combo of tiny halter tops and low slung pants, inject Y2K into 2023 with an all-white ensemble reminiscent of one of their most show-stopping looks. Grab a belly-baring bikini top and a pair of semi-sheer ruffle pants, along with high-rise bikini bottoms, to dress the TLC-way. For a finishing touch, block-heel rubber boots and a faux-fur bucket hat complete the look.
Nensi Dojaka cutout cotton bralette, $428. net-a-porter.com; AREA ombre nylon crystal slit track pant, $995. area.nyc; Laura Lombardi gold sestina necklace, $201. ssense.com; Miista brenda yellow ankle boots, $530. miista.com. Heron Preston glitter tape bikini, $275. heronpreston.com; Poster Girl elle trousers, $595. Poster Girl marilyn bikini bottoms, $375. poster-girl.com; Comme Des Garçons Shirt fluffy bucket hat, $136. farfetch.com; Chloe white betty boots, $550. ssense.com.
Ghetto Fabulous Girl
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige stormed the scene with hit singles and personality-packing outfits. Known for her signature style, that was injected with statement-making sunglasses, designer logos and sleek leather stylings, Mary J. Blige’s distinguished look can’t be achieved without each of these elements. With pink-tinted rimless sunglasses, you’re already on the right path to achieving star-status. Complement the accessory with a belted black leather dress, oversized hoop earrings and a silver cable link chain to make a memorable statement.
For a fiercer twist on styling shades à la Mary, you can style a pair of cat-eye frames with a full-blown monogram look. Brown logo-printed jeans paired with a silk shirt fashioned in a recurring motif, creates an eye-catching ensemble. Finish the look off with a jersey jacket housing dramatic mesh and metallic detailing.
KHAITE the nuelle belted dress, $3900. farfetch.com; Gucci gold & silver GG mask sunglasses, $880. ssense.com; Saint Laurent silver-tone hoop earrings, $550. net-a-porter.com; Bernard James liberte silver lock necklace, $590. bernardjames.com. Fendi bodysuit black lace body, $750. fendi.com; Fendi zucca FF logo skinny jeans, $477. therealreal.com; Gucci zip-up jersey jacket, $14000. farfetch.com; Prada PR 26ZS sunglasses, $517. sunglasshut.com; Hanifa zorah boots, $559. hanifa.com.
Girl Group Getup
Girl groups of the ‘90s and early 2000s were applauded for their bold and brazen outfits as displayed by TLC. Channel the boldness of the early aughts artists with an all-black look featuring a goth-tinged triangular halter top, straight-leg pants, a western-inspired belt and futuristic shades. Continue to apply their audacious aesthetic to your fashions with a zebra-print bucket hat and a strapless sequined crop top styled with playfully-printed flare pants. The outfit is further enhanced with a swipe of a bronze-colored lipstick.
R&M LEATHERS hellion buckled halter, $372. randmleathers.bigcartel.com; Miaou marco pant, $395. miaou.com; Toga Pulla black double buckle belt, $179. ssense.com; DAMES New York flashpoint safety glasses, $150. damesnewyork.com. CELINE Homme logo-print cotton-gabardine bucket hat, $475. mrporter.com; Commando sequined stretch-jersey bandeau top, $88. net-a-porter.com; Ottolinger line graphic-print flared trousers, $468. farfetch.com; MAC frost lipstick in bronze shimmer, $21. maccosmetics.com.
Real Love For Retro
Always ahead of the curve, Mary J. Blige rocked the retro fashions Y2K style savants love today. From classically cute berets to racing jackets, the “Real Love” songstress crafted trendsetting looks. Follow in her footsteps with a vintage-esque ensemble featuring a leather biker jacket and black sunglasses, accented with gold hardware, along with a strapless low-cut corset. Match the thick frames with a pair of gold chain link hoops to tie it all together.
Keep in step with Mary’s styling with a white beret paired with a white cotton-blend blazer for a monochromatic moment. Enhance the ensemble with mirrored square-frame sunglasses and a bold beauty look by way of a subtle red lippie.
GIVENCHY biker jacket, $479. etsy.com; Versace medusa biggie sunglasses, $345. versace.com; Paco Rabanne chain link earrings, $195. farfetch.com; KNWLS leather cropped top, $535. farfetch.com. Off-White katoka square-frame sunglasses, $436. farfetch.com; Kangol tropic 504 ventair, $50. kangol.com; MM6 Maison Margiela fitted-waist-single-breasted-blazer, $455. farfetch.com; Byredo liquid lipstick vinyl in reasonable doubt, $50. byredo.com.
Tune into Lifetime’s music-minded films, starting tonight to catch how TLC and Mary J. Blige’s, the latter whose films start premiering June 10, irrefutable influence goes beyond fashion and impacts all things pop culture.