In the library this week, my friend Kathy was talking about trends. Both of us were wearing thrifted turtlenecks underneath oversized sweaters, a look we used to see on older women that’s since become popular again. “It’s funny how that works,” Kathy said. “This is something our grandmothers used to wear, and we thought it was ugly. Now, we’re wearing it because we think it’s cool.”
Indeed, I can think of a few items my grandmother and mother used to have, things I once thought were outdated that I would love to get my hands on now — my grandmother’s cotton crewneck sweatshirt that had embroidered cardinals on the chest, her collection of leopard print long-sleeved shirts, a pair of biker shorts my mother had from the ’80s that had one purple and one pink leg.
As a child, I didn’t think much of their style choices. They didn’t know what was cool. Their fashion was a far cry from what was popular in the early 2000’s elementary school world — low-rise jeans, ruched dresses and wedge flip-flops, skinny scarves, and capris. I would wrinkle my nose at my mother’s suggestion to wear a turtleneck to school because it was cold outside. Even in high school, when skinny jeans and side parts were the rage, and turtlenecks were ugly and only worn when you were trying to hide a hickey. Now, a turtleneck is a symbol of fashion and sophistication.
But it’s not only the “grandma-chic” look that’s popular again. Early 2000’s trends have made a full comeback. Last weekend, I saw a girl wearing a dress over a pair of jeans in Goodwill. Go to any fast fashion website and you’ll find a section for ruched dresses. Chunky jewelry, tube tops, chokers, Crocs, yoga pants, tie-dye, silk scarf headbands, puffer jackets, blazers, cargo pants, and frosted lip gloss have all swarmed back into popularity with a vengeance.
Even Juicy Couture is back in business. The underwear brand Parade, popular with Generation Z, recently came out with a Juicy Couture collaboration that features sustainably made panties with the iconic “Juicy” logo bedazzled on the back. The matching sets for which the company became famous are also hurtling back onto the scene. Many clothing sites are dipping their toes into the idea of matching sets, and although most of them are different from the original Couture set — halter crop tops and legging as opposed to velour pants and zip-up sweatshirts — the idea is still the same.
Early 2000’s celebrities are also resurfacing with increased attention and newfound sympathy. At the end of last year, “This is Paris” was released — a feature-length documentary about Paris Hilton and the trauma she endured from years in the domineering swarm of the early 2000’s paparazzi craze. More recently, Hulu just released the New York Times’ investigative documentary about Britney Spears called “Framing Britney,” in which reporters explore the #FreeBritney movement and the circumstances surrounding her conservatorship. The popular “Leave Britney Alone” YouTube video from 2011 that condemned people’s public scrutinization of Britney and quickly became a meme is now flooded with comments apologizing for past behavior and sympathy for Britney.
Those on the older side of Generation Z — the 1999-2002 babies — are fast approaching our early twenties in an even more terrifying and bewildering way than usual. It’s almost comforting, then, to see the trends we were once so familiar with circulating back into our cultural sphere. Maybe we won’t ever get to be children again, but at least we can dress the way we did when we were young.