Y2K Fashion Is Back - Here's How To Style It In 2022

If you've never heard of the Y2K style, you're missing the fashion trend that has been making a sensation on social media for some time now. The very colorful and retro looks of the 2000s have made a comeback in a major way and can be found in almost everyone's wardrobe, especially celebrities. Among them, we can count Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Bieber as those who have posed on Instagram with their most iconic Y2K looks. But the question is: what is this trend and how was it born?

Many of today's fashion trends emerge on TikTok, making the social media app a real gold mine for inspiration. And it was on TikTok that the Y2K trend gained popularity. Y2K style mixes touches of sexiness, doses of color (especially pink!), tons of eye-catching accessories, and touches of kitsch that were all big during the late 1990s and early 2000s. It's the perfect recipe for making a big statement. In fact, when Y2K comes to mind, it makes us immediately think of the people who defined pop culture during the aughts: Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, and the movies "Clueless" and "Mean Girls" (per Editorialist).

So now that we know where this trend began and what defines it, let's embrace the Y2K aesthetic with the different ways to achieve the style.

Shine brightly with rhinestones

If you thought you wouldn't glow with the Y2K look, you were wrong. Rhinestones and glitter are an integral part of the trend and can be put in the hair, on the eyes, and can even be bonded to teeth (via Bella Arte Tattoo). And of course, they should also be prominent in clothes and accessories (via L'Officiel USA). 

Shine is everywhere in Y2K fashion. To start working the style into your life, looked for bedazzled pieces that will make a difference in your outfit, such as blue jeans with glowing letters on them and butterfly tops adorned with dozens of rhinestones.

Whether you add some subtle glimmer or go full-out attention seeker with gems prominently displayed all over, there is a way to work some shine into your look, no matter your personality. For her take on a bedazzled Y2K look, fashion designer Cynthia Abou Nassar shared an outfit on Instagram with her 131,000 followers that consisted of a pair of black parachute pants, matching heels, and a black butterfly top adorned with silver rhinestones.

Start a baby tee collection

Tiny, tiny, tinier! The farther back in time we look, the smaller the t-shirts are. Crop tops were trendy a few years ago, but now even shorter tops are taking over, thanks to the Y2K influence. We are talking about baby-size t-shirts that are so tiny they look like they have shrunk in the washing machine after being cleaned in a too-hot cycle. 

According to InStyle, Christina Aguilera showed us how to rock the look in the early 2000s, and now today's top celebrities are teaching us how to style baby tees again. Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Dua Lipa fill their Instagram pages with photos of belly-baring outfits borrowed from the '00s. Some feature slogans written on them to add a little spice to the day, the most iconic example of this being the "Dump Him" graphic baby tee Britney Spears wore in 2002. Baby tees can be combined perfectly with a pair of low-rise (bedazzled) jeans for a totally Y2K-inspired look.

Look through colored-tinted sunglasses

It's no longer about wearing basic frames and opaque black lenses that don't reveal the color of your eyes. Tinted retro glasses — beautiful thin metal frames and XXL lenses tinted in pink, purple, or yellow — are the perfect way to add color to your life and will turn any outfit into a complete Y2K look. "Thick acetate frames with fun and vibrantly tinted lenses are the year's must-have item," Beth Kanfer, fashion director at Nordstrom, told The Zoe Report

Combine them with a few Y2K-inspired hairstyles such as space buns, flipped ends, or high pigtails, and reproduce a look that is straight out of the '90s and '00s in just a few minutes (via Mane Addicts).

Downsize to a mini bag

Out: tote bags that are able to hold your entire life. In: cool, trendy, colorful mini bags that can only contain the bare minimum. If you want to style yourself as a Y2K trendy girl you'll have no choice but to travel light and choose a handbag that's barely big enough for more than your smartphone.

Baguette bags — small rectangular-shaped purses with a unique strap that can be worn on the shoulder or held in your hand — were the It bags during the 2000s, according to Forbes. Similar micro-bags share the same features: small, flat, and narrow, and available in fun colors and textures (faux fur! faded denim!) that go with any outfit. Case in point? Dua Lipa showing off her matching pink mini bag and pink outfit on Instagram. Toss an ultra-shiny lipgloss into it, and off you go.

Cozy up in velour

If you're looking for THE ensemble that will make you nail the Y2K trend, look no further than velour tracksuits. You know, the ones popularized by Paris Hilton in the '00s? In fact, the now-41-year-old businesswoman told Women's Wear Daily that "tracksuits have been iconic since the early 2000s and remain a staple in [her] wardrobe to this day." She was right to keep them in her closet because they are even more popular today than they were back then. 

Today, there are multiple ways to incorporate the trend into your wardrobe. You can go with a velour jacket embellished with rhinestones and style it with low-waist jeans or pair velour joggers with a baby tee. Fun colors matter also. Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé have all worn tracksuits in green, pink, and blue. Which color would you choose? 

Get grandma-inspired crochet

Was crocheting one of your grandmother's favorite activities? Back in the day, you may not have wanted to wear the sweaters she made you, but believe it or not, the crochet look is no longer just for the 70-year-old and up crew. It's now the latest Y2K-inspired trend. 

A true example of circular fashion, crochet clothing was popular in the '70s, fell off before becoming trendy again in the 2000s, and is now making another comeback — and not just during music festivals all around the world. According to The Everygirl, there are so many ways crochet can be incorporated into fashion pieces, whether it's a bag, flared pants, or a cardigan à la Harry Styles, as seen in Teen VogueBella Hadid and Hailey Bieber are also fans of the look and both rocked crochet bucket hats on Instagram within the past year.

Add whimsy with butterfly clips

Y2K hair trends are just as popular as fashion trends, with little hair clips and barrettes making a sensation all over social media. Remember when we all wore them in our hair at school? (And often lost them, too.) Some were flat, while others took the shape of insects such as butterflies, which, according to NSS G-Club, is a symbol of resurrection and metamorphosis. 

The butterfly trend actually started in the early 2000s on t-shirts, and quickly expanded to hair accessories. Butterfly hair clips in bold colors and shapes have reached the manes of celebrities like Doja Cat and Olivia Rodrigo. And Dua Lipa even made the butterfly her mascot for her collab with Puma (per The Face). Whether adorned in a braid, added as a surprising finishing to a sophisticated hairstyle, or simply scattered on your hair like influencer Shantal Martin showed off on Instagram, it is easy to give off a whimsical effect with these small hair clips.

Go for low, low, low rise jeans

To really commit yourself to the Y2K trend, you have to ditch the skinnies and high-waisted jeans. The era was all about flared silhouettes and low rises that show off the waist and hips. They should be worn with a baby tee and a thick, blinged-out belt to recapture the feel of the times past. The perfect example to channel? Britney Spears in her music video for the song "I'm a Slave 4 U."

If you bet your best friend they wouldn't be in style again, you owe her one, because low-rise jeans are among the denim trends that will dominate this fall. "Love it or hate it, there's no denying that more people are trying out low-rise denim again," Kesha Linder, a merchandiser at online retailer ThredUP, told Refinery29.

Adorn yourself with body chains

Body jewelry originated in India and is still worn today by belly dancers and brides (via L'Officiel). The trend spread across the globe and was adopted by fashionistas in the 2000s and mostly worn with low-rise jeans and velour tracksuits.

Do you want to make your body sparkle? Chains are extremely simple to style and can add a little Y2K touch to your outfit. With just a few of them strategically draped over your body, it will be as if you went straight back to the aughts.

And while you may only associate them with beachwear today, as seen on Bella Hadid on Instagram, body chains are a fashion accessory that can be worn everywhere because they are so versatile. You can go full-on bold with a glittery neck-and-belly-chain-combo, as Cara Delevingne did at the 2022 Met Gala (via TikTok). Or take the simple route with just a single chain or two, like influencer Dimitra showed off on Instagram.

Rise up in platforms

Platforms were long forgotten, giving way to skinny stilettos, sensible pumps, and kitten-heeled mules. But if there is one artist who has been a long-time devotee of Y2K-inspired platform heels, it is Ariana Grande. And she is very on trend because the sky-high shoes are back on the map. Nowadays you can't walk down the street without seeing at least a pair of platform heels on a passerby's feet.

According to CR, kitten heels were the most followed trend of 2020, but it is now platform heels that reign supreme on store shelves and in closets. Popularized during the Versace Fall-Winter 2022 Women's fashion show, and again during the Valentino show (via AnjaLiesa.com), platforms can be worn with all kinds of outfits: flare pants, ultra-short skirts, and even socks. It's time to soar to the clouds in these doll-like shoes, so add a few extra inches with platforms in bold and daring colors this fall.

Accessorize with claw clips

When you want to adopt the Y2K style from head to toe, start by accessorizing your hair. We've already learned that the butterfly clips were an integral part of the 2000s style, and claw clips are included in the same boat. Called "the lazy girl's go-to accessory" by hair experts at Mane Addicts, claw clips are still incredibly stylish. Today, you can find them in the shape of a flower or a butterfly, they can be completely transparent, have polka dots, or be fluorescent — the options are endless. And to make things easy, there are claw clip hacks for how best to wear them. They are a great way to embrace the Y2K trend without overdoing it and the perfect touch to add to your hairstyle.

Make it mesh

According to Fashionista, some materials are directly associated with certain eras. For example, tulle will always remind us of ballerinas in the 1700s. As for mesh, it is directly associated with the 2000s. The material — frequently used in sportswear due to its excellent breathability — is very light and comfortable to wear and made a statement at the beginning of the millennium, before re-emerging into our lives today.

The material is very simple to style. Today you can find mesh outfits printed with different types of designs, as a one-piece bodysuit or as long-sleeved tops, and in varying levels of transparency. Kourtney Kardashian is a big fan and does not hesitate to wear mesh outfits on the street (per The Zoe Report). There really is no limit. Anything is possible!

Live in a colorful world

If the 2000s had a color palette it would be neons, brights, and metallics. To embrace the trend, what better way than to incorporate these colors into your style? As the character Karen Smith declared in the movie "Mean Girls:" "On Wednesdays, we wear pink."  

Look for clothing featuring vibrant colors such as green, pink, or blue. Or try metallic holographic pieces that are also a nod to the Y2K era. "This trend is very nostalgic," graphic specialist Kate McInnes told Envato Blog.

And don't be afraid to mix and match and combine uncommon colors together. Whether it's your sunglasses that are holographic or your complete outfit that is screaming "Barbie," there is always a way to make trendy fashion pieces work for you and for your life. From your earrings to your socks, let your imagination run wild as you layer colors and patterns into your outfits.

Lace-up your top

The 2000s was a time when people viewed entering into a new millennium as being synonymous with renewal. According to The New York Times, women saw the era as a time to have fun and express their personality and sexuality with a completely offbeat style of dress. This is exactly why front lace-up tops were quite popular two decades ago.

While midriff-baring crop tops were trending everywhere not too long ago, today the tops that are making a comeback are lace-ups. The trendy, slightly rebellious cool girl look from the 2000s has dared to re-emerge for a whole new generation to enjoy.

While your personal comfort level will dictate what you wear with a lace-up top, the Y2K way is to wear it without anything underneath at all. Rock the top with a low-waisted skirt and loafers with socks for a school girl-inspired look, or with high-waisted jeans, accompanied by a loose jacket, to give off a more casual vibe.

Add texture to your life

Remember that particular top we all had when we were younger that was so stretchy it could be put on in a fraction of a second? Its material was reminiscent of popcorn, with small 3D-like spikes that added both futuristic and retro dimensions to an outfit. 

According to L'Officiel USA, the unisex "popcorn shirt" is back in fashion and has been spotted on the likes of Dua Lipa and Machine Gun Kelly. As a t-shirt, a vest, or a sweater, the look is so popular and there is tons of inspiration on social media on how to style it today.

Before you scour shops looking for this Y2K piece, take a dig through some of your old bins of clothing. You may end up face-to-face with a popcorn top. One thing is certain, because its material is so stretchy, it will likely still fit you like a glove. That's a timeless piece for you.