Fashion Trends From the Early 2000s – Should They Come Back?

Early 2000s fashion on a clothesline
Y2K fashion keeps popping up, but some of it is pretty questionable! I thought we were done with trucker hats and tracksuits... right?

The early 2000s. What a time for fashion.

It was a lawless world filled with folded-over Soffe shorts and Ugg boots. We were wearing velour tracksuits as we headed to the tanning bed, and we showed off our whale tails with pride.

Luckily (and I use that term loosely), all those great Y2K fashion trends have been resurfacing. Yes, the fashion trends from the early 2000s are making a big comeback. Ranging from the cute to the questionable, it seems like I keep running into people wearing things I distinctly remember owning.

But, really… should they?

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest fashion trends from the early aughts, and talk about whether or not they deserve another round in the spotlight.

Wearing Pants and a Skirt at the Same Time 

Ashley Tisdale

The early 2000s was a time of weird, mismatched layering. Nothing made sense. It was kind of like the wild west of fashion. People were wearing two polos at a time (both collars popped), formal ties with informal t-shirts, and pants under skirts. It was completely unnecessary, and everyone kind of ended up looking like they got dressed in the dark.

Look, no one needs pants under a skirt. No one. Kind of like how no one needs to wear multiple polos with popped collars, or ties as necklaces. These lawless mismatched outfits don’t need another day in the sun.

VERDICT: Should never, ever come back.

Ugg Boots

Uggs were actually introduced in the late 1970s, but they definitely had a moment in the early aughts. Why? Well, I don’t really know. But there was something about a self-proclaimed ugly shoe that seemed to go with just about any outfit (because they didn’t really match anything, if we’re being honest) and they were so comfortable. The Ugg craze definitely faded for a long time as people moved on and focused on other footwear trends, but these days, I see plenty of Uggs. There are more than just the signature fur-lined boots, too. The brand now also includes plenty of other offerings, like sandals, sneakers, slides, and more.

VERDICT: Ugg boots are here to stay.

Related: The Hottest Footwear Trends of 2022

Extremely Low-Rise Jeans

low rise jeans

Low-rise jeans aren’t inherently bad. As a person of smaller stature (aka I’m really short), I can definitely appreciate a good pair of low-rise jeans so I don’t feel like I’m wearing my pants around my ribcage. But in the early 2000s, we started taking low-rise to new heights – or lack thereof, actually. Our jeans got so low that it made it difficult to wear underwear. Jeans were so low that we had to do some extra hair removal. And you know what? It made everyone’s torso look extremely long and weird.


Visible Thongs

Hey, while we’re talking about ultra-low slung jeans, we should also mention the trend that happened with undergarments. Specifically, there were a lot of people rocking visible thongs that hung out of their pants. Sure, some people didn’t mean to show them off, it was just a side effect of their pants not being big enough to cover what they were supposed to. But eventually, people started showing off those thongs on purpose. Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, and Christina Aguilera were just a few celebs that rocked the “whale tail.”

VERDICT: Let’s try to keep our underwear in our pants.

Tube Tops

We freed the shoulders in the early 2000s, by ditching the whole tops of shirts. And then we spent the entire day pulling them back up every five minutes. So annoying! But hey, it was a price we were willing to pay to get that ultra cool (and slightly risqué) look. Unfortunately, this was one of those items that only looked good on a select few, and left the rest of us looking awkward… and with that weird, tight line across the top of our busts where it clings on for dear life.

VERDICT: Alright, tube tops are mostly acceptable. But only because they’ve seen major updates since the 2000s.

Tanning Beds

Paris Hilton

The early 2000s were a big time for bronzed beauties. Okay, there were some orange beauties, too. Everyone turned their heads and ignored the skin cancer warnings as they slathered on the tropical-smelling tanning lotions and slid into a tanning bed a few times a week. Hey, don’t forget your Playboy bunny sticker to show off how dark you’ve gotten! And on days you didn’t hit the glowing bed, you were slathering on self-tanning lotion and putting bronzer on your face.

VERDICT: Never, ever bring this back. Skin cancer is never fashionable. Sunless self-tanners for vacay glow is fine!


Ah, the matching velour tracksuits. What color did you have? And was it Juicy Couture? Although athleisure is its own category these days – and very much accepted as daily wear – this wasn’t exactly the case before tracksuits took hold. Sure, the sportswear category already existed and all, but athleisure as we know it wasn’t accepted as daily wear like it is now. Enter: the tracksuit. It was casual and comfortable and all around unacceptable to old ladies who got dressed up just to check the mailbox. What a glorious thing.

VERDICT: Bring on the tracksuits!

Cargo Pants

Look, cargo pants may not be the most flattering of all fashion trends, but it is one of the most functional! I don’t even need a purse when my pants consist of 325 pockets. There’s a place for everything here, from my keys to my lip gloss, and even some extra spots for snacks. To help balance out that bulky look, pair cargo pants with a fitted shirt or bralette.

VERDICT: We should bring this one back. I like snack pockets.

Trucker Hats

Ooo boy were trucker hats a thing in the 2000s. These bulbous head accessories were puffy, like microwaved marshmallows covered in trashy stickers. Most of them had a big “Von Dutch” embroidered patch on the front, but there were certainly plenty of other trucker hats out there, too, like the tacky airbrushed name ones. I know some celebs have started dragging these back out again, but the bobble-head look isn’t really a good one. Let’s save these for the truck stops.

VERDICT: Reserved for big burly dudes that can pull off a giant hat without looking like a bobble head.

Weird Belts

ashley tisdale

Historically, belts have served an important purpose: they hold our pants up for us, while looking less dorky than suspenders. In the 2000s, we threw all that out the window, and belts were the ultimate fashion accessory with zero functionality. Some still had buckles, while others laced up and were tied in a bow. All of them were way too big and worn slung around the hip. If you put your belt in your belt loops, you were a dork.

VERDICT: Skip it.

Shrugs and Cropped Cardigans

The early 2000s were a time of experimentation when it came to scale. For instance, why wear a regular sweater or jacket when you could just wear half of one? Shrugs and cropped cardigans were the perfect addition to any wardrobe during this time. I particularly appreciated being able to instantly add sleeves to any tank top or dress that didn’t have its own. Thankfully, the tacky early-aughts version with weird ruffles around the edges is mostly a thing of the past.

VERDICT: Alright, I think we can accept these.

Words Across the Butt

Text across the booty of shorts or pants was at an all-time high in the 2000s. It really clued people in to who you were as a person, as they checked out your derrière. Perhaps you had some Soffe shorts that read “CHEER” across the back (in rhinestones!) even though you had never attempted a High V in your life. Or, maybe you went with the classic “JUICY” brand shout out back there. No matter what you chose, it probably didn’t look as cute as you thought it did to turn your butt into a billboard.

VERDICT: I guess they’re acceptable… if you’re like, 17.

Extremely Embellished Jeans

Booty fashion wasn’t all about the Soffe shorts and velour pants. We also adorned our behinds in jeans that had more embellishments than a politician’s word. Back pockets had intricate details, beading, rhinestones, and embroidery. They were *fancy* and extra. Way cooler than plain jeans, right? All that extra bling meant you could get away with wearing jeans to the club. And when you weren’t in the club, they definitely said, “I go to the club.”

VERDICT: Let’s leave blinged-out jeans in the 2000s where they belong.

Chunky Highlights

Geri Halliwell

I don’t know what happened to stylists during this time, but they decided they were done with tediously foiling in highlights. We wanted big, bold highlights! Look, I can’t really knock chunky highlights. Now, I don’t suggest sticking too true to the chunky highlights of days past. I think we can pay homage to the trend without going full-blown 2003 Kelly Clarkson. Updated chunky highlights include the very-popular-right-now money piece highlights!

VERDICT: Definitely one of the cooler trends to rock.

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