Then and now: The return of the 2000s

Article by Fashion Quarterly


It’s time for a new millennium.

Picture a velour, Juicy Couture tracksuit. A pair of mesh, Chinese-inspired slipper slides. A tube top and a head scarf in clashing patterns. No, it isn’t a Buzzfeed listicle of the most cringeworthy trends of the early 2000s, it’s the highlights of the spring/summer 2017 collections.

The tracksuit is Vetements and the slipper slides are Gypsy Sport. The tube top and headscarf combination is Miu Miu. Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner is wearing a Von Dutch trucker cap and Rosie Huntington-Whitely is an ambassador for Ugg. Welcome to the 2000s redux. That’s right, grab your Nokia 3315 and your Fendi baguette, we’re going back to the future.

Over the course of fashion’s history, the period between 2000 and 2006 is the one many of us would most like to forget. But perhaps destroying all those photos of ourselves wearing kitten-heel jandals and denim miniskirts over ¾ leggings is where we went wrong – those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, after all.

Paradoxically, we cling to the pop culture of this time like nothing else: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is set to be the television event of the summer, and any mention of a Sex and the City reunion has us cueing up S06E01 and mixing cosmopolitans like they never went out of fashion. Before we begin adorning ourselves in new-season Lanvin corsages like the second coming of Carrie Bradshaw, however, should we consider saying ‘no’ to nostalgia?

For starters, the 2000s style revival feels a little premature, falling short of the typical 20 years it takes for most trends to come full circle. Perhaps it’s a function of our increasingly limited attention spans in this age of too much information and instant gratification. Certainly fashion’s current obsession with the ’90s is on borrowed time, there being only so many more mom jeans and mules and microflorals we can work into our wardrobes.

But if we are already taking inspiration from Mischa Barton circa The OC (skinny scarves! babydoll dresses! hipster jeans!), does that mean that this year’s biggest trends – pyjama dressing and deconstructed shirting – will be resurrected by 2025?


The question of whether it would pay to hang onto these items raises another: is an item ‘vintage’ if you pull it out of storage after less than a decade? And if it’s on-trend enough to be put back in rotation, are you wearing it ironically or in earnest? With Henry Holland having just cooked up a new batch of his famous slogan T-shirts featuring updated tributes to models of the moment Gigi and Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Kendall Jenner, those of us that kept our Agyness Deyn and Hedi Slimane versions from 2007 will soon find out.

The more immediate problem we face is how to negotiate this millennium minefield. Sure, there are certain things that we would gladly have back from the early 2000s – Marc Jacobs’ entire AW04 collection for Louis Vuitton being one of them. But there are other trends that we are simply not ready for. The bubble-hem skirts. The sparkly boleros. The fedoras. The flagrant displays of midriffs and pelvic bones. All of the superfluous layering.

Unlike the Y2K bug, this is not a drill. The 2000s revival is here, the question is how we deal with it. Fashion is meant to be fun – and let’s not pretend we didn’t all have a blast in our glitter denim flares and our asymmetric going-out tops the first time around. As 2000s icon Paris Hilton once wisely said: “If you don’t even know what to say, just be like, ‘that’s hot’,” and maybe this is the attitude we all need to take.
Just not when it comes to Crocs. Sorry, Christopher Kane – they weren’t hot in 2006 and they aren’t hot now. Stop trying to makes Crocs happen.


Business shirt + bustier

Cinq à Sept SS17. Lindsay Lohan in 2003.

Lindsay Lohan in 2003.
Now: Cinq à Sept SS17.
Verdict: The noughties weren’t always nice for LiLo, but if this is a style crime then throw the book at us too. We know exactly what we’ll be wearing in our mugshot.

Prairie layering

Ashley Tisdale in 2005. Zimmerman SS17.

Then: Ashley Tisdale in 2005.
Now: Zimmerman SS17.
Verdict: Ethereal fabrics elevate this look from High School Musical to high fashion. Lose the chunky belt and you’re already winning.

Denim debutante


Then: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in 2001.
Now: Carolina Herrera SS17.
Verdict: The internet said ‘Never again’, but someone didn’t get the memo and you know what? We ain’t mad.

Cowl neck cowgirl


Then: Destiny’s Child in 2001.
Now: Ralph Lauren SS17.
Verdict: Ralph might be ready to get back in the saddle but no disrespect to him (or the supreme sewing skills of Beyoncé’s mum), we’re going to let this rodeo ride on by.

Cream capris


Then: Jennifer Lopez in 2004.
Now: Dior SS17.
Verdict: Jennifer Lopez and Maria Grazia Chiuri share an uncanny ability to mix style and utility. That’s not to say we’re ready for the return of cargo pants and crossbody bags.

Handkerchief hem halter


Then: Jessica Alba in 2004.
Now: Balenciaga SS17.
Verdict: The spaghetti strap halter is a welcome update to the dress-over-pants trend and a novel way to nail smart casual. Dark Angels, you heard it here first.

Strings attached


Then: Paris Hilton in 2002.
Now: Alexander Wang SS17.
Verdict: If you can handle the tan-lines, a super strappy swimsuit is fine for the beach, but a bikini in the club? You’re entering togs, togs, undies territory.

Miniskirt for all seasons


Then: Nicole Richie in 2003.
Now: Tommy Hilfiger SS17.
Verdict: Who’d have thought adding a few centimetres to the hem would take Nicole’s denim belt from trailer park to Central Park? Love it.

Words: Phoebe Watt
Photos: Getty Images