How to Style Y2K Fashion Trends

The late ’90s and early 2000s period brought with it some truly unforgettable changes in music, art and perhaps, most notably, fashion. Some truly notable trends from what is referred to as the Y2K era include tinted eyewear, mesh, low rise pants, micro mini skirts, baggy jeans and bedazzled everything. The clothes were colorful, experimental and fun. In the fashion world, Y2K style was marked by a juxtaposition of extremes. This is seen in classic Y2K-inspired outfits featuring pieces like wide leg, baggy pants paired with barely-there spaghetti strap tops, for example. 

Now, Y2K style is back and better than ever. The ’90s kids are reliving the glory days and an entire younger generation is experiencing these trends for the very first time. No matter where you fall on the generational spectrum, you can wear and enjoy these fashion trends in your own way. If you’re looking for Y2K styling inspiration in 2021, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to style some of the most popular Y2K fashion trends in the present. 

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Y2K Staples: Whether you’re looking to give a subtle nod to Y2K style or fully embrace it with open arms, you can prepare by noting a few staple items that were (and still are) easily found. Now that Y2K fashion is buzzing once again, it’s easy to find these items online or in retail stores, but it’s also worth scouring a few vintage and thrift shops to find one of a kind items straight from the early 2000s as well. 

As with any well-stocked wardrobe, a great pair of women’s denim shorts is a must-have item. Y2K women’s fashion trends commonly included super-short jean shorts with an infamous low rise, but modern alternatives could include acid washed denim with a higher rise or frayed edges at the cutoff. Other staple bottoms might include a denim mini skirt or super wide leg jeans. While camisoles, tiny t-shirts and even scarves became popular Y2K fashion tops, there are also options with more coverage. A fitted cardigan that ties in the front is a great way to utilize a staple piece from the era while getting a little more coverage. Other go-to staples might include a pair of chunky sneakers, velour sweats, a baguette purse and colorful hair accessories. 

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Styling Y2K Trends: Unless you want to, you don’t need to look like you stepped straight out of 2003 to pay homage to Y2K fashion. Small, easy switches within your outfits can make a noticeable difference while balancing your personal style with these previous trends. With colder months on the horizon, outerwear is a practical and simple way to add some Y2K inspiration to your outfit. Pieces like cute jean jackets, puffer jackets and others with a general oversized or boxy fit will do the trick. Pair your Y2K inspired jacket with your regular clothes underneath for a subtle look or add a pair of tiny sunglasses and a bucket hat for instant Y2K energy. 

In addition to outerwear, you can show your love for early 2000s fashion trends by rocking some well-known styles on your layering pieces as well. For example, you can combine the famous velour tracksuit trend with your current athleisure obsession by incorporating elements of both into a hybrid outfit. Start with a velour zip up jacket and instead of choosing a skin-tight option a la Paris Hilton, you might make it more current by sizing up for a comfy, oversized fit. Layer an edgy graphic t-shirt or a ’90s baby tee underneath. On the bottom, break out your best joggers or leggings and pair them with some trendy platform sneakers for a killer “now and then” look. 

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If you’re thinking about Y2K options that are a tad more dressy, don’t forget about mini skirts. Though these are also popular in their own way today, mini skirts made a huge impact on Y2K fashion. From plaid to pleats to ripped up denim, there were many choices when it came to these fun pieces. Thankfully, the mini skirt hasn’t gone away. You can create a wonderfully chic outfit with some Y2K flair by starting with a statement mini skirt in denim, leather or a cotton print. Take a page from this fashion era’s book and add something loose-fitting on top, whether it’s a big flannel, oversized menswear-inspired jacket or even a roomy sweater vest. A pair of kitten heels will add drama and elevate the look overall while ankle boots will add a bit of edge to the outfit. Don’t forget to accessorize with clips or a scrunchie! 

As Y2K fashion trends reemerge with impressive impact, you might start to see more of them in your favorite stores. Find which fits and styles you love and stick to them. If there are certain Y2K trends that don’t strike your fancy, take inspiration from the above styling examples and switch it out for a more recent style that makes you feel great!