Last year, we asked ourselves: What comes after Y2K fashion? This year, it became clear: more Y2K fashion. Trends throughout 2023 have involved a plethora of born-again, solidified, 2000s-era staples, like ballet flats, low-rise jeans, ribbed tanks as statement pieces, unbuttoned pants, chunky belts resting on hips, and peekaboo bras. While these are all new to younger fashion fanatics, some older millennials have done a double take. While the ghosts of this year’s Y2K fashion resurgence take their final, rattling breaths within the trend cycle, let us send them off with a eulogy to match their resiliency. It takes a tenacious fad to make it into the Zeitgeist once, but it takes a legendary one to do it twice. While I, as always, encourage you to continue wearing what feels right for you and your style, here are the Y2K trends that got a second chance at life in 2023.
Ballet flats ruled supreme
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ballet flats are a beautiful atrocity and must be worn with caution. Their first iteration years ago involved sweaty feet sliding around in smelly slippers and a complete lack of arch support. We have, now, become a wiser bunch. This time around, we choose to wear them with precious little crew socks, and the smart ones among us have ventured into nearly, if not fully, orthopedic flats.
Peekaboo! It’s my bra.
What was more freeing than wearing a white tank top with black bra straps poking out? Speaking from experience, nothing. One might imagine Sydney Sweeney, Scarlett Johansson, or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley felt similarly when they attended the Cannes Film Festival wearing dresses with their bras exposed via their necklines. Zoe Saldana wore a similar silhouette by Fendi to the Oscars. While all of their looks sparked controversy online (would you or wouldn’t you let the world in on the BIG, GIANT secret that women wear undergarments?!?!), it was a bonafide nod to peekaboo queens who came before. It’s always a bit funny that each time this trend comes around, it garners much attention and many pearl-clutches. Surprise, people wear bras!!!!!
Ribbed tanks took over
While most of us, especially in New York City, have been on the ribbed tank train for some time, this year, Jeremy Allen White turned this trend into a lifestyle. That man is carrying tank tops on his back both figuratively and literally. There hasn’t been a place where he and his generously bulbous arms have not been photographed in a little undershirt-as-a-real-shirt. Sorry, but I do support it! And may we continue this pattern well into 2024!
Juicy Couture sweats rose again
We have Ice Spice to thank for many things: highlighting New York’s drill rap scene, popularizing the term “munch,” gluttonous Dunkin drinks, and most importantly, reminding us all of Juicy Couture sweatsuits. The certified princess of New York is famous for her Juicy sweatsuits, even wearing them for her photo shoot for our fashion issue earlier this year, and I understand why. Wearing a little velour or terry-cloth sweatsuit that says “Juicy” splashed across both your back and butt feels both comfortable and empowering. They serve no purpose beyond serenity: You can’t really work out in them, you can’t be too mobile on account of how low-waisted they are, and you can’t be too rough with them due to the rhinestones ready to pop off at any second, and yet, they persist.
The great Ugg Renaissance
Bella Hadid utterly shifted the trend cycle last year when she was photographed eating pizza wearing platform Uggs. The shoes immediately sold out and the moment made way for a complete Ugg renaissance. This year, I’ve seen the slipper-esque shoes both reclaim their spot as a casual, bodega run shoe as well as fully turn into a daytime going-out shoe, paired with jeans, skirts, and dresses galore. While I know damn well some of you aren’t wearing socks with your Uggs and the insides of them likely smell like the sheep pasture from whence they came, there is something completely comforting about walking around in the city and seeing people wearing their little boots and slippers out and about. Perhaps that stems from a sense of nostalgia for me, but is that so wrong?
Dresses over jeans, once more
Katie Holmes is either a fashion prophet or the most unbothered person in the entertainment industry (or maybe both). Late last year, the actress wore a tight, tube-top dress over a pair of jeans and created a media frenzy. Every fashion outlet, celebrity tabloid, and the New York Times was writing about the trend whiplash we were all simultaneously experiencing via Holmes. Was it ugly? Was it cute? Was she a disruptor? Was it intentional? Slowly but surely, the trend leaked back into the mainstream throughout this year just as it did in the early aughts. But this time around, most dress-over-pant moments looked a bit more streamlined. Those taking part went for monochromatic or tailored approaches. I even wore a little slip dress over jeans during Fashion Week earlier this year, and it’s one of my favorite, most comfortable looks to date. Thank you, Madame Holmes!
We’ve turned a corner on low-rise jeans
I know this has been a contentious point in the frivolous Gen Z versus Millennial internet beef, but I for one am GLAD we have rediscovered low-rise jeans these past few years and that this trend has persisted well into 2023. I was one of the many that was fooled into thinking I looked best in high-rise denim only to discover jeans that sit just above my hips are my personal golden ticket. Who knew American Apparel would have led me astray all those years ago?
And (some) even embraced unbuttoned jeans
Kim K has always been one for Wearing Things (derogatory), including leaving her jeans unbuttoned as a fashion statement. While I am always a proponent of exploring yourself in fashion and styling, this was a trend I sat out. But you do you, I guess, Kim.