You can tell a lot about a decade from its fashions. The 60s were defined by free love and hippy frocks. The 70s were all about the disco revolution. And the 80s gave us both preppy style and new wave neon. So what will the 00s, or the “noughties,” be known for? Foremost, we saw nods to eras past, with new twists on old looks. Fashion also developed a social conscience, with sustainable fabrics and manufacturing that reflected a greater awareness of ecological responsibility that will certainly carry over into the next decade. And of course, the noughties will be known for its fads. Let’s take a look at the fashion trends that will make it into the history books of fashion design schools, and more importantly, what you’ll wear in twenty years to the noughties party.
Boho chic. This look borrowed from gypsy and hippie influences, and was characterized by loose, flowing tops and skirts, the layering of fabrics and textures, and mixing of prints. The look was completed with oversized sunglasses, coin belts, and vintage beads. Fashion writers called the mishmash trend “heroin chic,” in which people paid a lot of money to look poor. The 60s and 70s-inspired trend remained popular, however, because it gave women the freedom to mix and match as they pleased.
Hip hop style. Urban-influences gave fashion street credibility, and whatever rappers wore eventually made it to runways. Several hip hop stars even launched their ta full form own fashion design labels. But just as hip hop music moved from the ghetto to the mainstream, so did hip hop style evolve. Rapper staples like hoodies, baggie jeans and track suits made their mark in the early part of the decade, but they gave way to the sophisticated dandy look of blazers, pink polo shirts, and cardigans. It was 80s preppy with hip hop swagger.
Form fitting silhouettes. The baggy, loose-fitting fashions from the nineties had to be emptied from our closets as we favored tighter fits. Those old wide leg pants with pleats were out, and the decade ushered in the popularity of the skinny, low rise jean. Drainpipe styles like we hadn’t seen since the 60s were popular for both women and men. The ultimate example of the tight clothing trend was leggings, which made a big comeback in the decade. They were paired with long, fitted tops, baby doll dresses, and even mini skirts.
Celebrity obsession. The past decade saw fashionistas following and imitating celebrities like never before. The paparazzi stalked young Hollywood with a frenzy matched only by fans’ desire to dress like their favorite starlets. We scrutinized the accessories and shoes of fashion forward television characters. Everyone asked, “Who are you wearing” on the red carpet, making household names of previously unknown fashion designers. And finally, reality shows centered around fashion made celebrities out of budding stylists, dressmakers and fashion school grads, so that whatever they created was snapped up instantly by the celebrity and fashion obsessed.
Sustainable materials. The noughties brought with it an awareness of environmentally responsible fabrics and materials. People began asking what things were made of, and how eco-friendly they were. Clothing made with organic cotton, hemp and linen have grown in demand, and will continue to do so. Technological innovations also gave us a new crop of sustainable materials like fabric made from recycled plastic water bottles or carpet padding, and shoe rubber made from recycled tires.
Fair trade manufacturing. Although many shoppers marveled at the low prices of their clothing, they also began questioning the true cost of the items as they asked how and where the apparel was manufactured. Working conditions were scrutinized, and companies that could claim “made in America” enjoyed a competitive advantage. Some companies donated a portion of their sales to environmental causes, and one donated a pair of shoes to a needy child with every pair sold.
Shoes with a gimmick. Their sartorial merits continue to be debated, but some unique footwear made a huge splash this decade. Brightly colored plastic gardening clogs with ventilation holes were wildly popular. Sheepskin boots that were once previously only worn après-ski were displayed après-everything. And shoes with built-in wheels let people glide through the streets straight into their orthopedic doctor’s office.
White trash fashion. True, “white trash” is a stereotype, but hipsters in the noughties embraced it as a badge of honor. Trucker hats, white tank tops and tees, mechanic’s shirts and cowboy boots became the height of fashion. It was a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll.
Shrunken men’s clothes. Grown men suddenly looked like they were shopping in the boys department, as fashion design arbiters favored the shrunken clothing look. Suit jackets were tighter and shorter. Trouser legs broke above the shoe, baring the ankles. And for a brief period, Capri pants for men were even in vogue.
Big belts. Once upon a time, belts were made to keep your pants up. Thanks to the noughties, they’re huge (both literally and figuratively) on top of dresses, t-shirts, and yes, pants (but not necessarily within the loops). They’re also studded with jewels and feature gigantic buckles that rival the size of Rhode Island.