For many of us, there was some stress involved when curating our high school wardrobes. After all, there were plenty of associations people could make based on how we presented ourselves in the jungle that was our teenage years. All this leads me to reminisce about summer party clothes from the early 2000s. Once the last final was handed in and you were free for summer break, a couple of things were likely on your mind: How fast you could get your folding chair out of the basement so you could go tanning; what time you could meet up with your friends at the mall; and who was going to have the first summer party.
Rolling up to these summer parties wasn't necessarily an easy feat, though. First, as was tradition, we had to agonize a little bit over our outfits. Would anyone else wear this tank top combo? Who else owns this metallic woven belt? Should I go with the denim skirt or the low-rise jeans? Decisions, decisions.
In honor of those adventures — and in honor of the season that is summer — let's take a look at all the outfits we wore to summer parties at the start of the new millennium. Some of them were pretty, some of them were cringe-y, but all of them are packed with nostalgia.
1. This Clingy Dress
If there was someone at that party you wanted to impress, a simple pair of capri jeans and flip-flops wouldn't do. You had to pull out the big guns, which happened to take the form of clingy mini dresses. Preferably, you'd rock an off-the-shoulder one for an extra flirty effect. It'd be made out of jersey so the cups of your bra were forever outlined, and cinched with a slouchy, mammoth belt at the hips. Gorgeous.
2. A Tunic With Jeans
Ah yes, the jeans and dress combo. If you weren't brave enough to go all-in and pair a summer midi with your capris, the tunic was the next best thing. And bonus points if it was in the shape of a flowy halter dress. Those were high-grade on the #fashun spectrum.
3. Army Pants & Tank Tops
Don't even try to deny that you owned army pants. I won't stand for it. Paired with a simple ribbed tank top, you'd be ready for your solo cup.
4. Oversized Hoops
A backyard party wouldn't have been complete without a pair of mega hoops, right? It was all about the maximum glamour effect back then. These always added a little extra something to a lacy tank or cotton tee.
5. Striped Flared Jeans
If you weren't one to just show up to your high school party wearing cotton shorts, these might have been your favored alternatives. Asphalt-grazing, low-rise, bell bottom jeans with vertical stripes racing down along the length? Whether you paired yours with a graphic tee or a tube top was up to you. But one thing was for certain: You definitely kept pace with your Seventeen magazines.
6. This Top
Welcome to the designated "let's party" top — it was silky, had a peep-hole for your cleavage, rocked what felt like 100 straps, and flaunted the naughties' favorite fashion detail: draping. Paired with a mini or a short pair of pants, it was kegger perfection.
7. A Denim Skirt With A Graphic Tee
Denim skirts were the crème de la crème of high school girl wardrobes. Whether your had a knee-length one, an A-line option, or a flirty mini, that item was likely selected more times than not through the course of the summer. When paired with a simple graphic tee, one couldn't go wrong. Just imagine how chic you looked drinking Leinenkugel's in your friend's kitchen.
8. The Cropped Sweater
Not everyone liked to push the envelope with their fashion, and for nights like those, you could always reach for your trusty cropped sweater. When paired with our pocketless, ultra-low-rise jeans, the demure cardigan still had a sexy kick to it.
9. This Whole Outfit
This right here is the Holy Grail of the naughties: Gaucho-like pants, a metal Esmeralda belt, a graphic tank with off-the-shoulder detailing, and a slouchy beret. I want to kiss my fingertips just looking at it.
10. An Off-The-Shoulder Top
Speaking of off-the-shoulder detailing, let's glance back at this look right here. Tight and long-sleeved, it gave us the chance to show off our flirty clear bra straps and worked perfectly with a pair of ruched cargo pants.
11. A Slouchy Halter Top With A Choppy Skirt
The slouchy halter was the ultimate cool-girl fashion statement in the high school party world, giving us casual yet flapper-like vibes. Paired with one of the ever-popular choppy A-line skirts, we had ourselves a barbecue outfit that wouldn't quit.
Whether you liked to show up in dresses or graphic tees, all these looks have "teenage years" written all over them.