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Occasionally, when I am deeply procrastinating, I browse through the archived photo albums on my rarely-used Facebook profile. The titles are a combination of inside jokes from my teenage years and lyrics from songs I used to love (likely a remnant from the Myspace days, before Zuckerberg). The photos, taken with a digital camera that I brought with me on every night out, may appear slightly blurred now in comparison to the high quality of an iPhone. However, they are still clear enough to spot all the signature fashion trends of the 2000s in every group picture.
There are worn-out pairs of ballet flats, numerous strands of imitation pearls, unbranded slouchy Ugg boots. Shiny, high-waisted disco pants that reflect the flash of my camera. More waist belts than an average episode of “Gok’s Fashion Fix.” I can almost smell the burnt scent of overly straightened hair. All very reminiscent, all very cringe-worthy, and thankfully now a thing of the past. Or so I previously believed. Fashion’s continuous trend cycle eventually catches up to us all, and this year it seems to have settled on the nostalgia of 2007.
Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski were spotted walking around New York City wearing beige Uggs. Waistcoats are now considered fashionable, even for a fancy night out, and are no longer just seen on Steve Arnott from “Line of Duty.” The more practical version, the gilet, is also making a comeback, ready to keep your torso warm while leaving your arms chilly. Kylie Jenner is rocking disco pants with tops of unknown length. And the most distressing news of all? Beloved Scandinavian brand Ganni is now selling a high-end version of the ballet flats that I used to wear until they fell apart after only two months of use.
It was inevitable that the trends I experienced during my teenage years would be adapted for a new generation in the future – that is just how fashion works. However, I did not anticipate it happening so quickly, or causing such a stomach-turning feeling of dizziness. The situation has only been made worse by several cultural figures from that time period resurfacing in the public eye. Peter Doherty, once revered as the poet of “try-hard” indie teenagers, is appearing everywhere (“ARE YOU WATCHING PETE AND LOUIS THEROUX????” my lifelong best friend frantically messaged me the other night, reminding me of my teenage obsession with the band The Libertines). Iconic pop group Girls Aloud, known for their waistbelts and body-hugging outfits, may or may not be getting back together (hopefully they will!). And, surprisingly, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron is making a comeback in politics. It’s enough to make you feel like a time portal has opened up, similar to something you would see on Doctor Who (coincidentally, David Tennant, who played the Doctor in the late 2000s, will be reprising his role later this year).
Fashion from the early 2000s is making a comeback in recent on-screen productions. In Emerald Fennell’s latest film, “Saltburn,” Barry Keoghan portrays Oliver, a lower-class student at Oxford who befriends Jacob Elordi’s character, Felix, from a wealthy family. Felix later invites Oliver to spend the summer at his family’s estate. The film is set in 2006-2007 and the characters are seen wearing authentic fashion from that time period, including popular brands like Jane Norman, Juicy Couture, and Jack Wills. They also sported beaded necklaces and yellow LiveStrong charity wristbands, which were a trendy accessory at the time as a tribute to cyclist Lance Armstrong (who has since been disgraced). These wristbands were in high demand and often sold out quickly, leading people to go to great lengths to get their hands on one. I vividly remember sending a stamped envelope to a friend of a friend of a friend and receiving a rubber bracelet in the mail about a month later. While I didn’t know much about Armstrong at the time, I liked the vibrant color it added to my wrist alongside my white “Make Poverty History” band.
To achieve the desired look for a particular time period, Sophie Canale, a costume designer from Saltburn, created mood boards using her friends’ drunken photos on Facebook as inspiration. She shared with Women’s Wear Daily that this approach resonates with her personally. Similar to Canale’s characters, Fennell’s characters also have a fondness for Uggs or similar styles. In fact, I was so attached to my tan knock-off Uggs that I continued wearing them even after undergoing knee surgery at 16, making quite the fashion statement with my crutches and fake Uggs combo.
My physical therapist was appalled – and with good reason. In 2010, the British College of Osteopathic Medicine released a statement urging teenage girls like myself to stop wearing poorly-made imitation boots, citing potential damage to the ankles, knees, and hips due to lack of foot support. Dr. Ian Drysdale, the organization’s former head, cautioned that just because something is trendy or fashionable does not mean it is beneficial or appropriate. While his words were wise, I likely would have dismissed them at the time and continued my search for the perfect footless tights to pair with my cozy shoes. Ballet flats, which also lacked foot support, were similarly detrimental to podiatric health, but many of us were willing to endure the discomfort in order to emulate Kate Moss’s style. Unfortunately, this pursuit of looking good often came at a cost – after attending a friend’s 16th birthday dinner, I had to go home and lie down in pain due to indigestion caused by a waist belt.
Mossy, the influential figure of 2000s fashion, was a key inspiration for Canale in dressing the students of Saltburn. The designer sought out pieces from the model’s initial fashion collection for Topshop, which were highly coveted during the film’s time period. Even now, after 15 years, I can still vividly remember each item because of my strong desire for them: the shimmering halter-neck dress, the bold red skinny jeans, and the printed shorts that begged to be worn with 60 denier opaque tights. I’m certain that these designs are also etched in my mother’s memory, as I sent her on a mission to scour all the Topshops in Liverpool in search of the popular pansy print tea dress from Kate’s line. Why didn’t I do it myself? I was too preoccupied with hiking in Snowdonia, attempting to achieve a bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, convinced that it would impress university admissions staff like a mini Miranda Priestly.
Unfortunately, she was unable to locate the dress. However, I was able to obtain one many years later when Moss re-released some of her most popular designs for her last Topshop collection. The dress did shrink to a size that was not suitable for wearing after a few washes, but I still proudly display it in my wardrobe as a small floral keepsake.
In the future, I may decide to sell it on Vinted to a member of Generation Z who may not have experienced the 2000s but appreciates the retro look. However, if I do sell it, I will have to mention that it is “used with some minor fake tan stains”. But most likely, I will hold onto it. The clothes we wear when we are unsure of our identity or purpose in life may be cringeworthy, but they also hold a certain charm. Despite my rational mind being horrified by its strange shapes and accessories, I will always have a fondness for fashion from the 2000s – although you won’t catch me wearing a waistcoat anytime soon.
The source of this article is “The Independent” website.