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Dos and Don’ts: Here is What You Need to Know About Y2K Fashion

Photographed by Joelle Beauchamp of Charlize Wright, Kailyn Walsh, Robert Murray

By Jack Turpen

When it comes to fashion, almost everyone is worried about trends. People naturally desire to look well and indulge in their wildest fantasies. Fashion is the fuel to our fantasies. The focus within fashion is how one chooses to present themselves to the rest of the world. How they do so is often determined by those trends. Trend cycles are vicious and fast-moving, which is one of the most thrilling parts of the fashion industry. These trends in today’s world come and go. An outfit is mirrored in one thousand different iterations, all dependent on who was seen wearing it and when they wore it. The fashion world has a tendency to look to the past. Time creates fashion. The early 2000s, often known as the Y2K movement, are one decade in particular that has drawn widespread attention and began to trend.

Y2K stands for “the year 2000” as well as a computer bug scare of the early 2000s. The K represents a thousand, so it reads as the year 2K, or 2000. The early 2000s were filled with interesting fashion. John Galliano was designing for Dior, creating bold runway shows that had never been seen before. Paris Hilton was at the forefront of fashion, known as the decade's number one ‘It Girl’. The fashion was extremely distinct, yet at the same time, incredibly simplistic. It is practically a parody of a laid-back aesthetic. It utilizes different extremes in a humorous way. However, the question remains: how does one put together the most fashionable Y2K-inspired outfit?

The Dos
Early 2000s fashion was based on simplistic garments with brighter, glitzy, and layered accessories. Y2K is cozy and laidback, it is one of the first decades to make comfort fashionable. No matter how much it cost or how long it took to put the outfit together, it feels effortless. How can someone look that fantastic and make it look so easy? This is the ultimate fashion statement.

Sweats are the ultimate comfort, but there is a negative connotation surrounding them, whether it be that they are not to be worn outside, or they cannot be dressy, however, the 2000s found the secret to dressing them up; a matching set. The ultimate Y2K statement is a juicy tracksuit a.k.a elevated sweats. Juicy tracksuits were simply adorned with trucker hats, wraparound sunglasses, and a bag. Staying comfortable while looking chic is like winning the lottery, honestly. When it comes to sweats, matching sets are always a plus. They look intense, it makes a statement, and are often vibrant in color. How can someone look so good while being that comfortable? It is obviously magic and genius. Wearing sweats is not just about a matching set, but all about the way the garments are accessorized. As long as it looks even slightly cohesive, there is nothing to worry about.

What accessories should one choose with all the chatter about accessorizing? Regardless of a garment's simplicity, accessories can make or break an ensemble. Y2K shoes are all about height, particularly with platforms. Platform sandals ruled the early 2000s. The height makes the look elevated from just a regular old sandal. Some other examples of Y2K shoes are: jelly sandals, Ugg boots, moon boots, and kitten heels. Though Air Forces are not innately Y2K, they can be styled to fit that aesthetic. Adding some colorful beads to the laces is an easy way to take a more universal shoe and make it Y2K. An essential to Y2K accessories are sunglasses. The best way to keep within the early 2000s realm is to wear wrap-around sunglasses. Wrap-around sunglasses are larger and cover up more of the face. Getting a pair that has some kind of design on the sides of the frames, really amps up the Y2K energy. Y2K jewelry is primarily silver with bright colored pendants. Colorful beaded necklaces and resin rings are also a staple. Another accessory that rose in popularity during the 2000s are trucker hats. Specifically, Von Dutch hats were everywhere in the early 2000s. Although your hat’s brand is not the most important part of this accessory, it is more the style of your hat that really matters. When your outfit might be needing that extra touch, a purse is a great way to add to your outfit. Brands like Coach and Juicy were extremely popular in this decade and we see these bags coming back as the fashion cycle repeats itself once again.

In terms of silhouette, it is the safest bet to pick a lane. One can either wear something tight or baggy, not in between. It is best to either pair a tighter top with baggy bottoms, or vice versa. A tight top might include a tube top or tank top, usually with graphics. Any top with bold text on it is a plus. Paris Hilton wore an absurd shirt that read “stop being poor”. Sounds insane, but again, fashion in it of itself is ridiculous! The more outlandish and funny the text, the better. Even a poorly made shirt from a gift shop is seen as edgy and fashionable. Baby tees and scarf tops are a Y2K staple, pair them with the perfect pair of low rise pants and your outfit is the epitome of 2000s fashion. Low-rise anything is a must. Baggy cargo pants and printed denim are definitely in. Longer and shorter skirts are Y2K as well, but again it is all about the extremes. The skirt should either be floor length or very short, there is no need for in between. It is all about utilizing those extremes in an almost humorous way.

The Don’ts
Being that Y2K fashion is so in style, companies are doing everything they can to replicate it. But, inevitably, there are a lot of questionable styling choices being made. An outfit need not be associated with a particular era; it can be anything. Style is everywhere; it only takes a little ingenuity. That said, many are quick to label things as Y2K, when they may not be. As result there are just as many don’ts as there are “do’s.

First and foremost, style is objective. It’s all about the comfort of the actual person. But fashion is cruel; that’s how the game is played. Y2K has been blown out of proportion, and it is hard to know what does and what does not fit the aesthetic. Y2K is so broad that there are many options to help create your perfect look. However, the secret to capturing this look is in the details.

Y2K is not simply putting on a pair of pants. When the amount of denim is changed, it turns into Y2K. Doubling the amount of denim makes it more in tune with that era. For instance, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears’ all-denim attire at the 2001 American Music Awards was utterly Y2K. It was an exaggeration of denim, almost absurd in a sense. As exaggeration is the focal point of Y2K, denim is the perfect way to take your outfit to the next level.

The use of butterflies is not innately Y2K. Again, it is all about how it is used. The early 2000s fashion was not centered around the use of butterflies. Though implementing butterflies in an outfit was a common choice, the use of them does not make an outfit Y2K. A purse shaped like a butterfly is Y2K, and is, again, making a more dramatic statement. So, though it is not wise to rely on butterflies to make a Y2K outfit, they can be helpful, and frankly really cute.

Within this Y2K phase, we are seeing logos coming back better than ever. However, logo mania does not make something Y2K. Though certain brands from that era make an outfit more like the early 2000s, it should not be the focus. The early 2000s was more about prints and patterns, busy florals and bold patterns were very prevalent in that era. Just because the outfit reads Juicy Couture head to toe, does not mean the outfit is Y2K. The focus should be on finding ways to piece things together in an outlandish way. It would be more Y2K-like to wear a graphic tee that says something crazy on it. Again, one should never worry about not wearing enough labels when it comes to Y2K styling.

The early 2000s is an interesting era in fashion history. It is a fun look to try and is fairly easy to reproduce. It is all about creating a stylish authentic and almost ‘extra’ look. Graphic tees and low-rise pants are the way to go. Over-accessorize in a bright and youthful way, and don’t be afraid to stand out, and of course never be boring In the words of Paris Hilton, “the only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go”.

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