How Anyone Can Rock Y2K Fashion in 2023
Y2K fashion is not going anywhere. Here are different ways to infuse your usual wardrobe with this fun and enduring aesthetic.
If the divisive popularity of White Lotus’ Portia is any indication, Y2K fashion, or at least its wacky Gen Z version, is here to stay. In the show, she wore mismatched outfits, ruffled socks, bucket hats with – wait for it – headscarves, and logo tees paired with bold prints. The original Y2K aesthetic was “retro-futuristic”: bright, metallic, psychedelic, and playful. With the Gen Z touch, it’s much more easy-going, kitsch, and bafflingly cool.
More importantly, it’s born out of the generation’s eco-consciousness. They shop less and, instead, practice upcycling and thrifting. Beyond copying the look, they literally take it out of the baul and straight into . Here are some easy ways to test-drive the trend without looking like a hot mess.
What Is Y2K Fashion?
The term "Y2K" is shorthand for the year 2000. It's also the name of a computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause computers to crash worldwide at the turn of the new millennium. Fashion-wise, Y2K simply refers to the prevalent fashion during that period, specifically from 1997 to 2005. It is best know for its maximalist aesthetic, popularized by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Paris Hilton.
Dive Into the Y2K Genre
To create an authentic Y2K look, you’ll need some inspiration. Brush up on the entire cultural phenomenon by diving into the most iconic movies of the late ’90s and early 2000s. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a good place to start. Thanks to its diverse ensemble cast, you’ll discover different ways to adapt Y2K fashion to your style. Look to Buffy to channel the early aughts It girl, and to Willow for the ultimate artsy-goth-witch-grandma style.
Other TV shows and films that capture the aesthetic include The Simple Life, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, The OC, Ugly Betty, and Veronica Mars. Better yet, look for Ang TV and TGIS. Do your homework – it’ll be fun.
Start With Your Face
Eyebrows are a huge part of the Y2K look. If you don’t want to commit to full-blown, overplucked realness, try an eyebrow slit instead? Kidding. Please don’t run any kind of blade over your precious brows. You can fake the look with a ruler or a credit card and some long-wearing foundation. Swipe and go.
As for makeup, go for sheer metallics and lots of lightweight glitter (think third-grade arts and crafts). For the lips, try a frosty lip gloss or use dark lip liner over a lighter shade of matte lipstick. Add stick-on gems on your temples and cheekbones if you’re feeling a little extra.
Go Matchy-Matchy or Not at All
Did you know that, according to a market study by fashion shopping app Lyst, searches for Juicy Couture were up by 179% in 2021? That’s roughly when the Y2K fashion revival began, and a quick Google search shows that people are still intent on getting their hands on those tracksuits well into 2022. The plush, matchy-matchy look (complete with chunky, gold hoop earrings) is very Y2K. You can modernize it by going for an oversized version or keep it old-school with a snug fit.
On the other hand, you can also abandon all sense of style and wear clashing pieces. Denim on paisley. Striped shirts and floral skirts. A dress with Birks and frilly socks. Y2K was when everyone thought the world was ending – anything goes.
Unfortunately, Tube Tops
One trend no one hoped would return is the tube top. It’s tricky to pull off, not universally flattering, and so uncomfortable. Imagine, the likes of Paris Hilton wore them with low-rise jeans – a look that Julia Fox proudly recreated, prompting the internet to surmise: skinny is in. Of course, anyone can wear a tube top. The key is being mindful of proportions and prioritizing comfort and fit. Cropped tops and vests are good alternatives. Pair them with a cardigan (the go-to outfit of the women of Charmed) in case it gets chilly.
Keep your skin moisturized and ready for any outfit with a nourishing product like Dove Go Fresh Sakura Blossom Body Wash. It delivers 24 hours of freshness and hydration and comes with a light sakura fragrance.
Get a Pair of Statement Pants
Make a retro statement with your pants. As mentioned above, low-rise jeans were all the rage. In those days, they were paired with baby tees or and further cinched with a wide belt. Boot-cut and flared denim pants are also good options. Check out Dawson’s Creek for Joey Potter’s preppy take. If you, like many women, are now allergic to low-rise jeans, try the more forgiving but equally stylish cargo pants. Wear them with something silky to channel the sexy looks of 2000s R&B stars like Eve, Lauryn Hill, Ciara, and Mya.
Accessorize With Abandon
Remember when Carrie found Fendi baguettes being sold on the street? That was an iconic Y2K moment. Complete your look with a baguette bag – the less it fits, the better. Charmed bracelets, , lucite bangles, and friendship anklets are also key elements of the aesthetic. Finally, try wearing a bandana like stylish Gen Zers and Sydney Sweeney.
Y2K fashion is not one-size-fits-all. You wear different pieces that represent the aesthetic without sacrificing personal style or comfort. Start by adding your favorite elements to your usual wardrobe and build from there.