It’s hard to believe the end of the 2010s is almost here when I can still remember the 2000s as vividly as though just yesterday I was screaming the lyrics to “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” with my friends at lunch. With that said, looking back at the early ‘00s fashion, some of it seems bizarre to my eyes, like the ubiquitous and (in retrospect) very revealing combination of extra low-waist trousers with crop tops, or the less revealing but significantly worse pairing of dresses with flared bottom jeans.
Then again, many looks, especially from the late part of the decade, seem like they could have been put together today. I’ve selected the best looks from the noughties, though the meaning of ‘best’ changes from look to look: some of these looks are iconic while others are just plain cool, and don’t worry, I didn’t forget the key alternative styles of the naughties!
Before we get into it, a fair warning to other Millenials: you might not be able to handle this retrospective if you haven’t reckoned with being a full-grown adult yet! I can guarantee you I haven’t, and I’m feeling all kinds of uncomfortable.
Early 2000s: Hollaback Girl
Is there anything more quintessentially 2000s then Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl? Her look in the music video encapsulates so much of the early 2000s fashion. The low-cut baggy trousers and beanie imbue this look with a bit of hip-hop flare, while the tanktop folded up to show off the midriff is exactly how teen girls got around restrictive school dress codes.
Early 2000s: Velour Athleisure
I guarantee this is not a list of 2000s celebrities, but love her or hate her, Paris Hilton was a naughties fashion icon. Note just how low those bottoms are sitting on Hilton’s hips, and give a second look to those thick-soled flip flops.
Chances are that, like me, you were scoffing at anyone wearing a velour tracksuit, but for a few years this was the look, and there are even rumors that it might be coming back.
Early 2000s: Embellished Flared Jeans
I remember coveting Christina Aguilera’s lace-up jeans from the cover of Stripped. With looser trousers on the way out but before skinny jeans could explode, low-rise flared jeans were the go-to pants for a large part of the aughts.
Mid 2000s: Dresses Over Jeans
Dresses over jeans never became a 100% acceptable styling choice in the 00s, but it got close, as this Dolce & Gabbana look implies.
Even celebrities like Britney Spears and Jessica Alba experimented with the look, and on the red carpet nevertheless! With the subtle flare on the jeans and the velour tracksuit jacket, this is the mid-2000s in a photo.
Mid 2000s: Leggings as Pants
While this look from the 2006 runways doesn’t instantly scream naughties, there are a few things that make it wholly of that era. First, there are the leggings worn here instead of pants, a styling decision that remains controversial to this day.
Next, the thick belt worn around the waist was definitely a staple for the entire second half of that decade.
Mid-Late 2000s: Emo
Now, this is more of the 2000s as I’ve experienced them! It seems to me as though the emo look emerged from goth as a more wearable option for those of us who were almost but not quite hardcore enough.
The main elements of the look were tight band T’s, the first pairs of skinny jeans, pencil eyeliner for all genders, and side-swept black hair straight out of the box. Also, My Chemical Romance and Death Cab for Cutie on repeat!
Mid-Late 2000s: Scene Kids
After emo, came the scene look. The two styles had similar silhouettes, and there was quite a bit of overlap in the subcultures.
The main difference is that whereas emo was mostly black, the scene kids couldn’t get enough color: neons and pastels ruled. While the style is oddly cutesy, it often featured weapon-related accessories that gave it a certain edge.
Mid-Late 2000s: Goth
Goth came to be well before the 00s, and the subculture has easily outlasted that decade, but this photo manages to illustrate the mid-2000s look beautifully.
Black platform boots are still a goth staple, but the chain-covered raver pants, the black tank top that is almost short enough to be a crop-top, and the arm warmers are exactly how every Hot Topic goth dressed in 2005 -- I’m pretty sure I had that very pair of arm warmers myself!
Mid-Late 2000s: Boho-Chic
The boho-chic look predates the 2000s, but in this photo, the Olsen twins do a remarkable job of showing what it looked like back in ‘04, with flared jeans and a white peasant top that every good girl owned, but only a fashionista would wear semi-open over a tank top with so many necklaces.
Late 2000s: Skinny Jeans
With a potential reboot coming soon, talking about the fashion in Gossip Girl feels timely. Most of the looks on the show were aspirational and few people actually dressed like that in real life, but Jenny’s look in this episode illustrates the late ‘00s quite well.
The tanktop silhouette gets extra long, as though to make up for years of crop tops, though it is still paired with an extra-short cardigan, while on the bottom she is rocking skinny jeans, which, by the late 2000s, have beat out flared jeans.
If you remember the noughties, how did you dress back then? Do you think we missed out on any iconic looks from the 2000s? Comment on Facebook and let us know!