Picture this: The year is 2003. Britney Spears’s masterful In the Zone is climbing the charts, social media has not yet taken over our lives, and Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are taking over our TV screens on The Simple Life wearing Von Dutch trucker hats. These were simpler, sillier times! Sure, Y2K fashion gets a bad rap in general, and it may have been gaudy at times—remember when we wore huge belts with literally everything?—but it was earnest and less produced than the average celebrity ’fit you see today. More importantly, it was fun, which is what getting dressed should be all about right now. But don’t get too sentimental about fashion of the past—because in 2021, like it or not, early-2000s style is coming back with a vengeance.
The early aughts fervor was first ignited by Gen Z last year, when they began rocking bootcut jeans and silk scarves as tops on TikTok. Soon after, we saw the aesthetic pop up on the runways too, where labels like Blumarine have debuted ruffled minidresses, blingy belts, and low-slung denim (“My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier,” said creative director Nicola Brognano). And now, the trend is gaining momentum on the streets as well. Over the summer, stars like Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, and more have been dusting off their best Y2K wears and giving them a new, modern feel. Let’s explore their various outfit propositions, shall we?
One of the biggest tacky-chic accessories of the era that we’ve seen come to the forefront is the trucker hat. With a mesh back and graphic front, it was all the rage in the early 2000s. Justin Timberlake is largely credited with starting the trend when he wore a Von Dutch hat to the Grammy afterparty in 2003. Ashton Kutcher, Gwen Stefani, Lindsay Lohan—they all wore them, especially if it was by Von Dutch, the It label of the time period. Eighteen years later, in April 2021, Rihanna stepped out in a new take on the look, sporting an Esso trucker hat with a tracksuit and Prada bowler bag. Earlier this month, Hailey Bieber also headed to Vegas in a lime green trucker hat, styling it with a white tank and classic jeans.
The consensus seems to be to let the hat take center stage, and to keep the rest of your fit simple. Whereas Y2K stars wore their Von Dutch trucker hats with extremely maximalist outfits—think with ripped jeans, camo tees, and bejeweled sunglasses—now it’s all about balancing out the gaudiness of a trucker. If you’re in the market for one, cool indie labels like Beepy Bella have released their own take on truckers, including one in denim and covered in luxurious Swarovski crystals. “I always love to play with nostalgia and retroness within my work,” says Beepy Bella designer Isabella Lalonde. “What I love about [our] truckers is that they are a storybook for your head. There are secret messages embedded throughout the cap, especially when you turn it upside down. People feel the love when they wear them.”
Ed Hardy tees—a fad that burned bright in the 2000s—are also having a bit of a revival. Printed with skulls and tigers, and embellished with rhinestones, the flashy tops have been recently sported by Bella Hadid and Addison Rae (she wore her pink Hardy tee as a dress, with platform flip-flops for the full Y2K effect). On Depop, vintage styles are now going for upwards of $200, and Ed Hardy is so in-demand that it even launched an offshoot streetwear line, called By Appointment Only. The concept of these tees, mostly associated with “divorced dads” and former Jersey Shore cast mates, becoming popular again was pretty unthinkable until recently. Yet, like all fads do, it seems we’ve come around again, and emerging labels are now even channelling the Ed Hardy look, albeit in a more artistic, refined way. Juliet Johnstone, who hand-paints baby tees and pants, certainly captures the graphic feel of those infamous tees with her own pieces.
Even the trickiest Y2K fashions are coming back too, including low-rise jeans and midriff-baring scarf tops (remember when Christina Aguilera wore a barely-there one to the VMAs in 2002?). These two trends, as polarizing as they are, have been on the rise for a few seasons now, showing its first hints on the runway as far back as 2017—but with stars now on board, their presence is undeniable. This weekend, Dua Lipa uploaded an Instagram fit pic of herself rocking a pink scarf top, worn with baggy jeans; it’s very 2000s, but also slightly ‘70s in feel, for those who are a bigger fan of that era. Bella Hadid has also worn low-slung denim on multiple occasions, and brands like Knwls are declaring it the summer of skin as well with its ultra-low-rise jeans and exposed thongs. Sure, the low-rise jean is a tricky piece to do right, but TikTok stars like Shy Smith somehow pull it off by fully leaning into the look (she pairs her low-rise skirts with tight tees and Juicy Couture zip-up hoodies).
Now, we’re aware this is all a whole lot of statement looks to take in. But when done right, a strategic Y2K piece can infuse your look with fabulous flair. The trend is certainly not for minimalists, so just remember it’s not to be taken too seriously. Let your inner 2000s teen go wild! It’s particularly ideal for a night out, where you can even infuse some Y2K beauty to complete the look—space buns, colorful eyeshadow, and all. You’d just need a Motorola Razr or T-Mobile Sidekick to complete the look.
Originally Appeared on Vogue