Growing up in the early aughts was such a wild time. Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and boy bands like NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys filled our Hip Klips. The coolest Bratz dolls were dressed in the most iconic 2000s fashion trends, inspiring us to unlock our inner rock stars and our passion for clothes. Chunky platforms of any style were magic, and mini bags for Tamagotchi toys were necessary. To top it off, the combination of low-rise bottoms or baggy, wide-leg jeans and an off-the-shoulder top was a must.
We often lose sight of what was once trendy. But, after some time, it often comes back in style with a brand-new take. Right now, the 2000s are proving to once again shine, as seen on all the today’s most fashion-forward celebs. For those of you who want in on the fun, we dug the best early aughts trends from what may feel like a time capsule—but fret not, they’re just as fashionable today as they were back then. Shop them all below.
At this point, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to sunglasses. Big frames are back en vogue, as are teeny tiny lenses. Dark, light, colored, bedazzled, heart-shaped, reflective, futuristic, funky—nothing is out of bounds. Revel in it with a semi-clear pair adorned with gems, because why not?
If you ask us, it was unjust for cargo pants to ever go out of style. Literally everyone loves pockets, and the more the merrier. While in the early aughts, you might have rocked cargos à la Avril Lavigne with sweatbands and skater shoes, modernized silhouettes such as cropped tops and fitted bodysuits help give the style a contemporary twist.
Growing up, we all had our favorite pair of ballet flats—sparkly, classic, or doll-like (or maybe all of the above). This season, these flats are back to elevate our outfits and perhaps keep us off our toes. We may not be wearing them like Ashley Tisdale anymore, but let’s be real, who doesn’t wanna feel like a ballerina?
There’s a Goldilocks metric to be used when it comes to purses. Some are way too big, others way too small, both of which we had way too many, stuffed into the nooks and crannies of our closets. But a small-to-medium baguette that fits perfectly under your shoulder? Just right.
Velveteen tracksuits were a truly unexplainable phenomenon of the 2000s. Everyone seemed to know how absurd they were, yet they blew up in popularity regardless. The sight of one still harkens back to the Mean Girls era. The resurgence of the monochromatic tracksuit in recent years is a testament to the status symbol that Juicy Couture remains. And honestly, respect to Juicy for having that kind of staying power.
Low Rise Pants
Divisive, we know, but there’s enough room at this party for all varieties of waistlines. While we’re not sure we’ll ever fully integrate back to the lower-belly baring cuts of the early aughts, it certainly is a fun style to mix into your wardrobe every now and then.
This comeback is a personal favorite. Flaunting shirts emblazoned with “MILF in training” or “I’m a Virgin! (But this is an old T-shirt),” Britney Spears was the bona fide queen of snarky tanks and baby tees. In more recent history, Gigi Hadid rocked a “lol ur not zayn malik” shirt in reference to her at-the-time beau, and wild child Cara Delevingne sported one that read, “Twerking is not a crime.”
Obviously, these hair accessories have never really gone out of style, but they’re having a moment right now, nonetheless. Whether you opt for a larger, more artisan adornment or go for the traditional small plastic butterfly clips, these are simple ways to add flair to any outfit.
Camouflage has been in for decades and continues to make us pretend we’re incognito (if only, right?). In the 2020s, we believe camo is best paired with a kitten heel and a tube top. Or, turn those baggy pants into a stunning streetwear vibe with a great pair of sneakers and an oversized jacket.
Kind of a random trend, no? Still, the mesh paneling of a trucker hat is incredibly reminiscent of the early aughts. Top off your pink highlights with a Von Dutch hat, throw on some DC skater shoes, charge up your Sidekick, and you’re ready for a baller night with your peeps.
Admittedly, the 2000s were a pretty toxic time for women’s beauty standards. Point blank. Let’s not regress in that direction. But! One redeeming quality of the decade was that stylish women often experimented with menswear or menswear-inspired looks. Case in point: vests. Today, wear one with matching suit pieces or on its own.
While waist beads are far more than a trend for many cultures (namely, West African ones), they have come and gone from the popular zeitgeist throughout the years. They’re back, obviously, or else they wouldn’t have a spot on this list.
In the same vein as vests, neckties are another garment traditionally associated with menswear that ladies of the 2000s made their own. All we have to say about ties is this: Don’t knock it ’til you try it. They’re surprisingly flattering and have the potential to be oh-so-chic.
Hold for applause. Yes, mini skirts! They’re everybody’s favorite. As Shania Twain so poetically sang in “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” there really is something about a short skirt that feels simply feminine in all the best ways. All leg and sex appeal.
We never thought we’d see the day when UGGs looked appropriate for New York Fashion Week, but I guess that’s what I get for underestimating Elsa Hosk. There’s no denying that the UGG brand practically owned the 2000s. The way these boots and slippers had a grip on American youth…
Rhinestones, gems, sequins—all that glitters is sartorial gold. Cross your fingers and hope your mother didn’t toss your bedazzler in the giveaway pile because this trend is alive and well, my friends.
You may have called them gauchos or even high-waters. Essentially, they’re wide-legged capris. Post-aughts, sporting a pair probably would have been considered less than fashionable, but not anymore. A flowing pant that hits mid-calf is now considered whimsical and cool.
When I think of cowl necks, I think of the ladies of Sex and the City. As a show that started just before the turn of the millennium and ended in 20004, it’s is invariably linked to the fashions of the early 2000s. Like…wildly so. If you’re looking for a sign of the times, you know what to stream.
Faux Fur Coat
Almost Famous has sprung up our inner Penny Lanes, and we are ready to make a statement. Fall is here, so why not stay warm while looking as chic as miss Olivia Rodrigo, who has literally poured her GUTS into the 2000s? You already know her tour will be filled with the best Y2K pieces.
It’s giving manic pixie dream girl; it’s giving Amanda Bynes in What A Girl Wants; it’s giving leftover Chinese takeout in the fridge because she’s quirky. Slip skirts are the key to channeling your inner chaotic cool girl.
Any trend that hinges on multi-use items or DIY-ing is sure to be a winner. A top that’s also a scarf, hair wrap, belt, bag accessory, and sarong? Say no more. We hereby declare that scarf/tube/handkerchief/halter tops shall never go out of style.
If you look up “bandage dress” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Serena van der Woodsen in a Hervé Leger dress. Okay, not really, but you might as well. These dresses and skirts were everywhere—and I can’t stress this enough: everywhere—in the late 2000s. It appears their time has come again, as Herve Leger and Law Roach recently collaborated on a resort 2023 collection.
Hot Pink Everything
Before there was Barbiecore, there was just plain pink. We could try to make up a name for when it trended back in the day, but let’s just call it like it is. Pink is all-powerful. Pink is everywhere, everything, all at once. Pink is then, now, and forever.
Because why wouldn’t you want to look like you just left the boardwalk with a sweet personalized hoodie?
Associate Fashion Commerce Editor
Meg is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at ELLE.com where she researches trends, tests products, and looks for answers to all your burning questions. She also co-writes a monthly column, Same Same But Different. Meg has previously written for Cosmopolitan and Town & Country. Her passions include travel, buffalo sauce, and sustainability. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.