Y2K style is trending, but you’d have to be mad (or 13) to try it

Y2K Style | Soho House

Some trends are better left in the past, says Teo van den Broeke

Monday 29 August 2022    By Teo van den Broeke

It’s no secret that trends come around in 20-year cycles. Remember the power dressing thing of the 1980s? Roland Mouret and his Cheryl Cole-beloved Galaxy dress bought the shoulder-accentuating body-con look back with a busty vengeance in the early 2000s. 1970s flares? Bootcut returned in the 1990s, baby. Now, some 20 years since the dawn of the low-slung waist, high-cut crop top look, sported by pop artists and film stars alike at the turn of the millennium, Y2K style is back. And for better or worse, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon.
But why? And, why? Unlike 1970s style, which – as Alessandro Michele has amply proved with his snake-hipped seasonal collections for Gucci – looks good worn by pretty much all ages and body types, Y2K style looks absolutely horrendous worn by anyone who isn’t 16, ripped and as tanned as a tin of Cuprinol. The other reason Y2K-core is such a cluster headache to get right is down to the fact that the clothes which form its constituent parts are uniformly gopping. 
Consider the crop top. Invariably cut to fit tight and often finished with a pair of garrotting spaghetti straps either side of the (inevitably low) bust, the only way to wear one is if you boast less than 7% body fat (you OK, hun?), and even then, you’d be pushing it. Hell bent on exposing muffin tops and slicing through upper arms, crop tops are less items of clothing, more instruments of torture. And we’re only just getting started. 
Miu Miu may have brought back the low-rise look last season by way of its ubiquitous pleated schoolgirl skirt, but the truth is that low-rise jeans, skirts or trousers are universally unflattering unless you have the proportions of a teenager and/ or are a member of 1990s girl band B*Witched. Even Nicole Kidman, who can rock a haircut styled on a Portuguese man o’war (see the recent cover of Perfect magazine for proof), looked a bit scary wearing the aforementioned look on the cover of Vanity Fair. And if Kidders can’t do it, no one can. 
There are countless other tenets of a proper Y2K wardrobe worth its butterfly hair clips… butterfly hair clips being one. Keven Federline-inspired trucker caps and enormous jeans closer akin to leg skirts are two others. The most important, however, has to be the ultra-futuristic, frameless-cum-degradé sunnies, which will have you looking like the lovechild of Sven Goran Eriksson and WAG-era Posh Spice before you can say ‘Findus Crispy Pancakes’. 
Which brings us back to the question in hand. With all those sizable fabric and thread barriers in place to prevent you from ever wanting to consider adopting a neo-Y2K wardrobe, why on earth are so many people right here, right now, attempting to do it? 
Last weekend I went to Field Day, an enormous dance music festival in the far east of London. Terrible sound system and overpriced drinks aside, one of the most vexing things I noted about the event was the fact that pretty much every single person (who looked) under the age of 25 was wearing the same uniform. For the women it was all about voluminous All Saints-style jungle pants teamed with Buffalo trainers, a cross-body bum bag/ fanny pack, a skin-tight crop top (belly button ring optional) and a Croydon facelift with slicked down centre parting. For the lads, it was cargo pants, logo tees, and sets of rimless wag specs. 
The most annoying thing about the deluge of Y2K wannabes in that Hackney field, however, was that they all looked quite good in their low-slung, high-cut, degradé gear. And because they clearly didn’t remember the look when it first strutted across the pages of UK magazines Smash Hits and Top Of The Pops on the backs of Shaznay Lewis, J from 5ive and Mel B, they managed to imbue the stuff with a freshness that got me questioning my distaste for it. 
I even went so far as to dig out my own wide-leg khaki cargo pants, which I bought on a trip to the Gucci outlet store on the outskirts of Florence a few decades ago on a family holiday. Suffice to say, they won’t be appearing again. The Galaxy dress I borrowed from my mum for a Halloween party in 2015, however? Well, that’s another story, pet.
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