So Nostalgic

25 Wonderfully Chaotic Fashion Trends From The Early 2000s

They’ll make you miss your tattoo choker.

by Katie Hoffman and Alyssa Lapid
Originally Published: 
Style stars rocking Y2K trends.
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Get in Y2K girlies, we’re going down memory lane. Though some may cringe at the truly chaotic and ever-so-divisive fashion of the early aughts, those years were a glorious heyday for experimenting with one’s identity and style. Think: wearing dresses over pants, donning chunky belts that weighed your outfit down instead of keeping your bottoms in place, and bedazzling just about everything.

The era’s styles, from fashion to beauty, were a complete swerve from the minimalist looks of the decade prior. It made new it girls out of up-and-coming celebrities including Paris Hilton, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, and even the fictional Lizzie McGuire.

While some Y2K trends are better left in the past (looking at you, Von Dutch trucker hats), there are styles worth returning to. Luckily, contemporary fashion icons like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid have been consistently harkening back to the popular styles of yore — rocking everything from butterfly clips to low, low-rise jeans — catapulting them right back into the zeitgeist.

Ahead, take a look at some of the biggest 2000s fashion trends that are so nostalgic, they’ll make you want to unearth those decades-old gems from the back of our closets. I say: do it.

Rugby Shirts

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Rugby shirts (those chunky striped collared tops) became a preppy Y2K staple worn with breezy skirts and low-rise jeans.

Patchwork Jeans

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Another denim trend of yore? Patchwork styles. Pairs run the gamut from all-jean fabrics to a mishmash of materials and colors.

Airbrushed Shirts

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For several years, it seemed like every mall had a kiosk where people could airbrush custom T-shirts. Most people got one with their name on it (à la Tyra Banks), while couples would even get matching tees.

All Denim Everything

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The Canadian Tuxedo got its moment during Y2K after former lovebirds Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake debuted matching all-denim looks at the 2001 American Music Awards. History in the making, people.

Whale Tails

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As we know, the whale tail was a favorite of the era. Everyone from Halle Berry to Christina Milian to The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson took part in the trend. It transcended genres and industries — everyone wanted to wear one.

Massive Belts

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Belts were one of the hottest details of this era — both the earthy leather variety (often worn over low-rise maxi skirts) and Hot Topic styles embellished with silver pyramid studs.

Butterfly Clips

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I would go so far as to say everyone owned hair clips during the early 2000s — they were just that popular. Thanks to the likes of Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion, they’re fluttering right back into the mainstream. And it’s about time, don’t you think?

Low-Rise Jeans

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At the turn of the millennium, waistbands dropped. Low-rise jeans were ubiquitous and became one of the more divisive Y2K trends. (Some even let go of waistbands altogether.) While they were great for midriff flaunting, they made bending over feel like a Cirque de Soleil routine.

Trucker Hats

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Trucker hats — particularly Von Dutch hats — were once the clunky headgear of choice. They sat upon the heads of countless stars including Missy Elliott, Lindsay Lohan, Gwen Stefani, and Nicole Richie.

Lace-Up Jeans

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Lace-crotch jeans were huge back in the 2000s. Why have an easy-to-maneuver, nondescript zipper, when you can make your fly closure infinitely more interesting (read: complicated)? The tied look even branched out to other parts of the pants, including the flare leg.

Popcorn Shirts

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Remember those scrunchy shirts that look like they were made for a toddler, but somehow expanded into a normal size when you put them on? In 2000s fashion, popcorn shirts were where innovation met elegance.

Pocketless Jeans

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By now, you already get that early aughts style wasn’t meant to be functional. Case in point: jeans without back pockets.

Jeans With Bedazzled Pockets

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If you had to have pockets, the very least you could do is bedazzle ‘em. Embellished, crystal-encrusted jeans were every bit as trendy at the time. Style stars rocked butterflies, flowers, or whatever print they could get their hands on. Jennifer Lopez, for example, had a rhinestone-encrusted “J.Lo” stamped on her buttock, lest you forgot who she was.

If you were a fan of this trend, I’ve got news for you. These sparkly denim baddies are coming back in style, especially after Taylor Swift was spotted in a pair.

Tattoo Choker Necklaces

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Choker necklaces — especially those stretchy, plastic tattoo ones had everyone in a chokehold — were the sister accessory to the Avril Lavigne-era jelly bracelet.

Halter Tops

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If you weren’t flaunting your bra straps under tanks, you were fully exposing your shoulders by way of halter tops — a major silhouette in the ‘00s.

Pants With Messages On The Butt

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Whether you had “Sassy” in purple cursive or the word “JUICY” in glittering all-caps, advertising your personality traits (and brand affiliations) on your butt was the coolest of 2000s fashion.

Palazzo Pants

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Before tapered, fitted yoga pants took over gyms worldwide, loose, wide-leg stretchy bottoms (with the folded waistband) were the go-to route. While wearing these pants, it felt like my lower body was ensconced in a very forgiving cloud of fabric and mystery. Petition to bring these back.


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Whether you rocked sunglasses lined with faux gems or tops that were fully bedecked in sparkly crystals, back then rhinestones were equivalent to 14-karat diamonds. The blingier, the better.

Baby Tees

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With a slightly cropped silhouette, cap sleeves, and often a pointelle design, the baby tee is peak 2000s. If you want to wear the look today, style your simple top with everything from a silk midi skirt to cut-off denim shorts.

Baguette Bags

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Carrie Bradshaw was responsible for many trends that spurred from the Y2K era, but none as enduring as the baguette bag trend. With a flat silhouette and a profile that sits comfortably right beneath your armpit, it’s a great grab-and-go bag. For the ultimate Carrie accessory, consider the Fendi Baguette.


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In 2002, you needed a tiny cardigan to go with your tiny jeans and tiny tank.

Claw Clips

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Tie your hair in a knot and open up a tortoise claw clip. The easy twist-and-go hairstyle solution that you loved in the 2000s is back in the zeitgeist, worn by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and Bella Hadid.

Camisoles (AKA “Camis”)

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It could be a “going out top” or an undergarment, depending on your mood. Usually constructed of a super stretchy acrylic jersey weave or silk, trimmed with lace, these babies were a necessary — yet, totally unnecessary — layer for all seasons.

Tunic-Inspired Dresses

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Often accentuated with a ginormous statement belt, these earthy dresses were a staple at Bar Mitzvahs, proms, formals, and more. My girl, Ashley Tisdale, a Y2K icon in her own right, even took the trend to red carpets.

Kitten Heels

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Kitten heels were massive back in the day. These were likely your first pair of “real” heels. They were styled with everything from the aforementioned formal dresses to jeans, of course.

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