Y2K Style Is Back And Here’s Why It’s The Best Thing Ever

Once again, we've been bitten by the millennium bug

Y2k stands for year 2000, a time when jean waistlines were low but morales were high. In the two decades that have passed since the millennium we’ve grown jaded, seen and experienced more things we had bargained for when we wrung in the iconic year 2000 (we’re looking at you, Miss Rona), the euphoria our adolescent selves felt all those years ago may have faded, but you know what hasn’t? Baguette bags. 

So, where did it all begin – again? While it’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment in time when Y2k became cool for a second time, with it slowly trickling down from the world’s biggest runways to the high street, there is one standout advent that reset us, culturally. I’m of course referring to the moment Kim Kardashian enlisted her party pal Paris Hilton to bring back velour tracksuits.

In possibly one of the most iconic marketing campaigns the world has seen, Kim and Paris stepped out in matching velvet tracksuits for a photoshoot promoting the new Skims loungewear collection. Looking like not a day had passed between now and those pap pics of Paris and Kim running amok in Beverly Hills in the early 00s, in that moment the world felt a shift, and not long after it was out with minimalism and in with maximalism, or something like that anyway. 


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Of course, it was destined to happen all along, fashion is cyclical, it comes in waves of every 20 years. So it was inevitable that baby tees and butterfly clips would make their way back around the trend merry-go-round, but still for many of us it comes as a *slight* shock. For some people, particularly those born in the 1990s, this is the first time we’ve seen an era come full circle. Sure, checked shirts and denim cut-offs had a moment in recent years, but we weren’t actually wearing those in the 90s, we were infants, children, with little autonomy over our daily lewks. But, once the year y2k rolled around we were old enough (and sassy enough) to demand control over our own wardrobes, which meant Mary-Kate and Ashley sunglasses and bubble braids were a go.

So now, seeing those very things come up on our Instagram feeds feels more than just nostalgic, it feels like fate. In my humble opinion the resurgence of Y2k style is one of the greatest things to happen in the 2020s (not like it has a lot of competition though TBF) for multiple reasons, the first, and possibly most selfish being – now 00s pre-teens can look how they always dreamed of.

Sure, the noughties has earned itself a bad rep, and for good reason, I too find it hard to look at snaps of Nickelodeon stars sporting a capri trouser and long dress combo on a red carpet and not wince too, but the 00s style is so much more than a few dodgy outfit choices. You’ll be hard pressed to google ‘Y2k Style’ and not be met with horror inducing headlines urging us to ‘Take Cover, Fedoras Are Back!’, But, I’ll take your fedora and raise you some ballet pumps – you know, the cool, comfy kind that once styled the right way looks incredibly chic. And that’s the secret to the Y2k resurgence, those of us who lived through it the first time around now have the resources to look like the grown-up versions of our childhood icons along with the beauty of hindsight to sift through the trends that’ll age like milk. We now get the pleasure of skipping the horrors and reaching for the more palatable pieces, because inside all of us there’s still an 8-year-old dying to throw on a long-sleeve tie dye tee and glossy lip à la Lizzie McGuire.

The resurgence of Y2k is freeing in a sense, for a time there we were trapped in the lure of the ‘insta baddie’ reign. You know,  the filllered to the nines, snatched to the high-heavens look that was doing the rounds – also helmed by social media royalty Kim Kardashian, so it’s nice to know she’s played her part in dismantling it somewhat. Y2k beauty has a much less structured and much more playful take on beauty. If you’re not into a heavy contour? That’s no problem, swap it for some blush instead! Can’t seem to nail a cut-crease? No worries, opt for sweep of blue shadow in it’s place. 

The pressure of having picture-perfect make-up all of the time has been lifted slightly, making way for a much more forgiving aesthetic, with having fun and being yourself at the forefront, something make-up artist Rebecca Roberts has been taking note of. “In the past year I’ve noticed a big shift in the attitudes towards makeup and what’s trending in beauty. In 2016 it was all about technically precise, theatrical makeup with cut-creases and sharp brows, now we’re seeing makeup much more stripped back. Everyone wants a glossy lip, rosy cheeks and laminated brows.” Explaining what exactly Y2k makeup means in the beauty world, Rebecca says “Really, it’s all about just being you. We’re cherry picking from trends 20 years ago and merging them with today’s styles to make really fun and playful looks. The rise of TikTok and Reels makes seeing these new trends evolve easier than ever, and because of the pandemic people are playing around with their own makeup and style, having fun with it in the process.”

The noughties didn’t always get it right though, and no I’m not just talking about the waistcoats. We may be able to gloss our lips in nostalgic earnest, but we can’t gloss over the fact that this decade was highly problematic too. As pointed out by Gen Z, much of the trends from the 00s were seeped in fatphobia. Low-rise jeans paired with crop tops meant that much of the style from the era was reserved for the ‘cool’ skinny girls, a mindset that was rampant in the aughts. “The most famous accessory of the 2000s was skinny” one TikTok user wrote, a trope that was depicted as a problematic punchline in movies like Mean Girls and Sex And The City 1.

But with Y2k style settling itself into the 2020s zeitgeist now, I’m positive that things can be different. I want to see the modern Y2k slot neatly beside our current body positivity movement, working together and not against one another to create a fashion trend that’s unapologetically inclusive. The catalyst behind much of Y2k’s trends was the start of a new era and the hope for a better future, really, nothing has changed. The generations now fronting this trend resurgence are the same ones pushing back on societal issues with fierce activism.

We all truly care about issues like inclusivity, climate change, and equality, and now we have a trend that at its origins, aligns with our beliefs. The power of making it a success or a failure is in our hands, and luckily for us social media has shifted the gatekeepers of fashion influence from the celebrity into the hands of the average person. With everything on its side, the trend is destined to soar the second time around, so grab your body glitter and hair slides gals, it’s our time to shine.


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