A Simple Guide to Mastering the Y2K Fashion Aesthetic
The Y2K aesthetic started seeing a resurgence in 2020 — a time when we all needed a little optimism in the form of a playful, quirky outfit. It started with sparkly pink bags, fuzzy bucket hats, and butterfly clips popping up on our Instagram feeds. Now, two years in, we've learned how to style these trends like pros all over again.
If you're curious about Y2K fashion and want to know where the aesthetic comes from, think about the most iconic films, TV series, and music videos of the early '00s. Films like "Mean Girls," shows like "The Simple Life," and music videos like "Bills, Bills, Bills" by Destiny's Child and "Lucky" by Britney Spears introduced the essentials of Y2K fashion: crop tops, cardigans, camisoles, low-rise pants, and tennis skirts. Other hallmarks of the era included logomania, scrunchies, bandanas, and butterfly prints — style stars like Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Rihanna, Justine Skye, and Lourdes Leon have all worked these references into their wardrobes. It's worth noting that it was in the 2000s that fast fashion really began taking off. With the advent of e-commerce sites and online shopping at the turn of the millennium, people started to have way too much stuff. So, today's Y2K comeback isn't only about celebrating nostalgia — it's also about using sites like Depop, eBay, The RealReal, and Vestiaire Collective to repurpose the mounds of clothes from the early aughts into more sustainable outfits. Ahead, we break down how to wear the Y2K fashion trends you're seeing everywhere — color palettes, apparel, accessories, and more — giving you plenty of shopping inspiration along the way.
— Additional reporting by Kara Kia
Y2K Aesthetic: Color Palette
The Y2K palette is all about color — particularly pastel shades, pinks, purples, greens, and blues. There's a special place for animal prints, butterfly prints, and logomania pieces.
Staud Cargo Sweater
Probably one of the most famous cardigans on the market, the Staud Cargo Sweater ($145) comes in a classic rib knit and an instantly recognizable colorblock pattern. The poppy and rosebud shades speak to the early aughts and pair well with white jeans or a similarly colored bag.
Y2K Aesthetic: Tops
Camisoles, crop tops, halter tops, and fitted cardigans are key to mastering Y2K outfits.
Y2K Aesthetic: Bottoms
Y2K bottoms include miniskirts, tennis skirts, low-rise jeans, and loose-fitted trousers styled with mesh crop tops (think Aaliyah in the "Are You That Somebody" music video).
Cider Grow Girl Wide Leg Jeans
These Cider Grow Girl Wide Leg Jeans ($38) have the perfect side slit for showing off your shoes. Whether you're sporting chunky sneakers or strappy heels, utilize this smal but significant detail to really play up your 2000s moment.
Y2K Aesthetic: Hair Accessories
Y2K fashion is all about a nostalgic hair accessory. Try bandanas, bucket hats, scrunchies, and butterfly clips to achieve the look.
Lack of Color Island Bucket Zag Stripe Hat
Summer's calling, and it's time to add this Lack of Color Island Bucket Zag Stripe Hat ($79) to your rotation. The colors paint the palette of the early aughts, while the crochet details are a nod to the '70s.
Frankies Bikinis Daisy Dream Scrunchie
Scrunchies add texture to every Y2K-inspired look — even beachwear. This Frankies Bikinis Daisy Dream Scrunchie ($20) can be matched with a wide range of resort-wear staples that are available in the exact same prints, giving you a head-to-toe coordinating look.
Y2K Aesthetic: Jewelry
Gradient sunglasses, hoop earrings, and chunky layered jewelry are some of the most popular accessories for channeling the Y2K aesthetic.
Y2K Aesthetic: Shoes
Favorite Y2K footwear shapes are slinky, strappy sandals; chunky vintage trainers; and midthigh boots.
Abercrombie & Fitch Strappy Heel Sandals
Searching for the perfect summer sandal? Consider these Abercrombie & Fitch Strappy Heel Sandals ($80), which are ideal for wearing with slip dresses and cardigans. They have fuzzy sleeve details for an additional '00s touch.
Coperni Stretch Denim Thigh High Boots
Go with these Coperni Stretch Denim Thigh High Boots ($660) when you need your footwear to do the talking. Impossibly chic, they will work with any miniskirt or minidress in your wardrobe. Add an oversized floppy hat (à la J Lo in 2002) and layer on metallic bangles for a date-night-ready ensemble.
Y2K Aesthetic: Bags
Handbag enthusiasts can indulge in the Y2K love of teeny-tiny minibags, including some '90s baguette styles.
Y2K Aesthetic: Details
Mastering the details takes a Y2K look from gimmicky to glam. Reach for items that feature fluffy trim, diamanté and rhinestones, monograms, and butterflies. When it doubt, go for brands and logos that were everywhere during the 2000s, such as Hello Kitty, Playboy, Von Dutch, and Juicy Couture. Last but not least, a blinged-out flip phone will add the perfect finish touch to your nostalgic outfit.
Y2K Aesthetic: Beauty
A Y2K outfit isn't complete without the proper glam. Try the previously mentioned color palette (powdery pinks, purples, greens, blues) on your eyelids, lips, and nails. French manicures are another popular beauty trend from the era, along with face-framing money pieces, braids, half-up ponytails, temporary tattoos, and super-glossy lips.
Y2K Aesthetic: Vintage
Before buying a new garment, sift through resale sites like Depop, eBay, The RealReal, and Vestiaire Collective for designer pieces that hail from the 2000s. They're the real thing and usually better quality than what you'll find brand new in most fast-fashion retailers.
Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolor Pochette
This Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolor Pochette ($1,985) is from the limited-edition collaboration between the iconic artist and the French fashion house. It's in great condition and calls for little more than your favorite pair of jeans, a white tank top, and rhinestone-encrusted sunglasses.