One of xoJane's favorite sites, Refinery 29.com, recently interviewed me for a great story they did on trends in the early 2000s, the '00's', or as they call 'em, the "aughts." Yes, everything moves at the speed of light these days, even flashback nostalgia.
I started making a list of what trends I thought were cool in the early 2000s to prepare for my interview, and then suddenly realized everything on it was actually from the late 90s! The aughts were like your annoying middle aged aunt who still tries to act hip and cool around the young 'uns. Even your grandma is cooler than the 00s.
For starters, the "aughts" is a terrible name. It's basically a bastardization of the actual English word for "nothing." There is no real consensus as to what to call the years from 2000-2009. I like the term "Y2K decade," but I also don't believe anyone remembers the Y2K hype -- because remember the part where NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENED??
Refinery 29 didn't have the space (or, obviously, the desire -- can you blame them?!) to print my interview in it's entirety, so I'm sharing it with you here because I'm interested in hearing what trends you guys rocked in the aughts, which ones you still wear, and what you're ashamed of having ever been seen in. (I personally can't believe I used to leave the house in a crocheted halter top like it was just something acceptable to do at 2 pm on a Wednesday.)
R29: If you were going to an aughts party, what would you wear? What trends or pieces stand out to you from the aughts?
AF: First I would pull my T-Mobile Sidekick out of the dresser drawer where it’s been languishing for the past 6 years and activate it just for the night. That flick of the wrist when you pulled your Sidekick out was so boss and so aughts. I miss it!
The early 2000s were really the beginning of having an electronic device glued to you 24/7. My career as a costume designer took off in the years between 2004-2006 due to my ability to look up stuff, reply to emails, and send pictures of costume ideas faster than my peers.
At this aughts party, I’d for sure one-handedly text people on my Sidekick while wearing the crystal encrusted Balmain band jacket from Spring 2009 that an actress gifted me, and carry my favorite lucky “FAKE” Louis Vuitton Murakami bag from 2003.
I'd also ring up Jane and make her let me dig around in her closet for something to wear. It’s a perfect time capsule -- you’d die of jealousy if you saw it in person. Jane has a ton of early 2000s iconic collector’s pieces by Marni, Prada, and Phillip Lim -- many of them sentimental items given to her by her fancy celebrity pals.
R29: Do you think any aughts trends or pieces were a flash in the pan, or actually memorable?
AF: Well, that Balmain band jacket had mad staying power. You still see knockoffs of it everywhere. I'm a bag hound, so what really defined the aughts for me was the “It Bag” trend. So many handbags that debuted then are still relevant today: The Chloe “Paddington” bag (2003), the Fendi “Spy” bag (2005), the Balenciaga “Motorcycle” bag (2001), and the Marc Jacobs “Stam” bag (2005).
R29: Can you describe why you think the following things were popular? In other words, who or what helped make these trends: the trucker hat, heavily whiskered denim, Uggs?
AF: The aughts were really the start of celebs having the power to validate fashion trends. All it took was a photo of a celeb in a trendy item and suddenly it was poppin’ off. When Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie wore Von Dutch trucker hats on The Simple Life, it instantly boosted the brand into the stratosphere. (I still have a dirty denim Von Dutch miniskirt from 2005 that I wear regularly. TRASHBALL!)
I think the horrible fake-y “whiskered” denim trend was an unfortunate trickle-down effect of the vintage denim craze of 1998-99. There wasn't enough true vintage pre-worn in denim to go around, and what was available was costly, so designers just faked it. Whenever we need to dress a character on a TV show like a douchebag, we just go buy a pair of heavily whiskered True Religion jeans. Every time, I marvel that they are still being made, sold, and worn today!
I’d try to think of something to say to slam Uggs, but fashion snarking is really a dead, boring art, and fuck it, they are warm as shit. I plastered mine with rock patches and pyramid studs past the point of recognition, and wear them to walk the dog on really cold mornings.
R29: Do you have anything else to add to that list?
AF: The aughts were seriously the golden era of the Target designer collabs -- Erin Fetherston, Alice Temperly, Libertine, Luella Bartley, and Tracey Feith. Nothing they’ve done since has come even close. I still have pieces from all those collections that I wear constantly.
I’d consider the resurgence of skinny jeans and leggings to be the very best style to come out of the early 2000s -- they have really changed the trendy silhouette, seemingly permanently. I also love that ballet flats came into their own in the aughts, as I stand on my feet all day at work!
R29: The aughts had this strange mix of futurism and nostalgia. We saw lots of metallics, but we also saw a return to Americana, vintage and selvedge. Why do you think this was? Where did the rift occur? Why?
AF: When I was a kid watching the Jetsons, I thought that the 2000s would come complete with flying cars. Instead we got communication technology flying faster than the Jetsons could have ever dreamed.
I think the rise of metallics in the aughts was a nod to the idea that we were entering a fabulous new millennium, but the reality of the September 11 attacks and the mortgage crisis made everyone crave classic, safe, comfortable looks. Nobody but denim crazed Japanese tourists knew what selvedge was before 2003! Then BOOM, everyone was rolling up their cuffs to see those good old American made seams.
R29: How did music play into the way we dressed?
AF: The intersection of fashion and hip-hop was the biggest style story of the aughts. I worked on a dozen Roc-A-Fella music videos from 2003-2007, and have the Rocawear velour track suits to prove it. Streetwear brands legit blew upduring the early 2000’s. Jay-Z sold the rights to Rocawear for a cool 204 million bucks in 2007!
It became de riguer for fashion designers to be name checked in a hip-hop song in the aughts. Rappers started lavishing cash on name brand, luxury fashion. Suddenly an entirely new segment of the population became luxury goods consumers. Magazine editors were no longer the only fashion know-it-alls. Musicians (and the music itself!) as arbiters of fashion is true democracy in action.
R29: Who was the biggest tastemaker during that era? Who do you think defined our time?
AF: Gwen Stefani really blazed a style trail through the early 2000’s. She literally imported Japan’s Harajuku girls to the states and made the style absolutely iconic. L.A.M.B. took niche So Cal fashion styles (rasta, chola, skater) and distilled them into looks that mall shoppers ate right up.
We also have Rachel Zoe to thank for driving boho-chic back into the forefront of fashion, on the heels of Cameron Crowe’s "Almost Famous" hitting theaters in late 2000. (The lovely Kate Hudson was Jane Magazine’s November 2000 cover girl!) Nobody personified boho-girl fashion in the early 2000s like Kate did.
But the defacto “tastemaker” of the era has got to be legendary costume designer Patricia Field. "Sex and The City" and "The Devil Wears Prada" literally defined aspirational fashion in the aughts, period.
R29: How did politics and social movements play into our sense of fashion? War, 9/11, the recession, reality TV?
AF: I can’t imagine any presidential campaign in the future ever inspiring fashion as much as Obama’s 2008 run did. You couldn’t turn the corner without running into someone wearing a “HOPE” T-shirt.
xoJane has performed it’s famous “Makeunders” on more than one reality TV starlet of the aughts. I was an intensely dedicated watcher of "The Hills" from 2006-2010. Lauren Conrad’s classic California style launched a thousand imitators, to be sure. There is something poetic to me about the fact that when the aughts were over, "The Hills" disappeared with ‘em.
I just couldn't think of any really GREAT 00's trends that hold up today. Can you? I mean, what the hell were you wearing from 2000-2009 that was so special? And what on EARTH were you up to at the time? I was following my musician boyfriend around the world. The worst use of a decade, indeed.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison