Gen Z’s 11 most popular Y2K-inspired fashion trends
September 21, 2023
The kids aren’t playing — they’re slaying.
Leading the charge as tastemakers of the day, teens and twenty-something fashionistas have mastered the art of resurrecting dead ‘90s and early 2000s style trends, giving the oldfangled looks new life — and forcing Millennials to rummage through the backs of their closets for once-sacked Y2K finery.
“Gen Z is moving the needle in fashion because they’re young, fresh and all about looking cool and casual,” NYC-based celebrity stylist Samantha Brown told The Post. “They’re determining what’s in style and watching the ‘IT’ girls, who are making each [resurfaced] trend their own.”
A-list avant-gardists like Sydney Sweeney, 26, Bella Hadid, 26, Sophia Richie, 25, and Kendall Jenner, 27, have set the bar high for fellow fashion enthusiasts, rocking Gen Z-approved looks such as the “exposed bra” trend, the “micro-shades sunglasses” trend and “jorts.”
And it seems the new millennium mania is here to stay.
Here’s a look at 11 Gen Z fashion trends we can’t escape.
Don’t button up, buttercup. Intrepid trailblazers are unfastening their jeans, skirts and slacks in the name of fashion. Gen Z’s undone, or unbuttoned, pants trend sees badass belles such as Millie Bobby Brown, 19, Doja Cat, 27 and even Gen Xer Kim Kardashian, 42, let the wind hit the skin between their belly buttons and bikini lines.
Showstoppers such as Sydney Sweeney and Scarlett Johansson have recently been celebrated for showing off more than their sublime acting skills. The silver screen sirens sent fashion bells ringing when they each gave fans a sneak peek at their very visible bras during the Cannes Film Festival in June. The look, which was fast-adopted by youthful fashion fiends on social media, is virally being hailed an “international wardrobe malfunction.”
Gen Zs are immensely proud of their busts — and they’re saying it with their chests. No longer willing to bind their bountiful bosoms up in uncomfortable contraptions, such as underwire underwear, women in their early twenties are ditching their brassieres to let their breasts hang loose. “Let them be free,” shouted an advocate of the mammary-liberating movement on TikTok, where the #NoBra stamp has amassed a massive 691.2 million views.
Jeans and a nice top
Keep it simple sweetie — that’s the style vibe of the late ‘90s and early 2000s “jeans and a nice top” fad that’s now getting a second chance at life. The Paris Hilton-inspired vogue, which the now 42-year-old diva donned religiously in her 20s, has been embraced by today’s young spotlight-stealers such as Kendall Jenner, Sophia Richie and even Taylor Swift. Participating hotties appear to have a penchant for slaying the trend with a pair of baggy jeans and a snuggly cute crop top.
Micro-shades on the tip of the nose
Gen Z grandees can be shady, honey — especially if they catch you wearing your shades the wrong way. Something as innocent as popping on a pair of sunglasses can and will be used against anyone over the age of 27 if the frames are either too big or placed too far back onto the fashion perpetrator’s face. Online, a hapless Millennial woman was mercilessly “bullied” for wrongly positioning her sunnies by a much younger gal pal, who scolded her for failing to perch the pair towards the top of her nose. In addition to proper placement, haute hot tickets like Bella and Gigi have basically made micro-shades — small sunglasses made popular in the ‘90s — mandatory for the modern bombshell.
Y2K lovers waisted no time reviving the funky chunky waist belt trend. The look has seen the glitzy likes Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa and Vanessa Hudgens donning a huge strap atop their hips in a fashion that was previously made popular by style icons Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz in the 2000s. Thanks to the look’s resurgence, Gen Zs on social media are now scrambling to make their own fashion statements with statement belts.
What’s better than a pair of jean shorts that cut off just above the knee? Well, if you ask chichi trendsetters like Gigi Hadid, 28, and Emily Ratajkowski, 32 — nothing. The sultry starlets are among the many who’ve recently been spotted sporting the once-spurned cargos, which have recently taken over 736.6 million fashion fans under the TikTok hashtag #Jorts by storm.
Wife pleasers (née wife beaters)
Nothing beats throwing on a fitted, lightweight tank top and hitting the town — especially if you’ve revamped the look’s name to sound more like a chic treat and less like a brutish nightmare. Although Gen Z is fond of the sleeveless tee — which earned the controversial moniker “wife beater” in the early 1950s, but has been on modern-day heartthrobs such as “The Bear” star Jeremy Allen White, 32 — they’ve launched a viral push to swap out the word “beater” for “pleaser.” Gen Z fashion influencer Jace Martinez previously told The Post, “In 2023, it doesn’t sit right with a lot of people to casually throw around the term … in a culture that no longer normalizes domestic violence.”
Tastemakers with a taste for the 2000s are head-over-heels for the freshly revived dress-over-jeans trend. With a name that couldn’t be any clearer, the Y2K style craze sees fashionmongers slip a flouncy frock atop a pair of flare or fitted denim trousers. The outré outfit, which was first popularized by Kelly Clarkson after her 2002 American Idol win as well as the Disney Channel likes of ex-child stars Miley Cyrus and Ashley Tisdale, has regained its chokehold on glamor girls of the day — both online and in Hollywood.
Now this one gets ‘em panting. Hot-to-trot hunnies who can’t be bothered with bottoms are boldly baring bare legs for all to see as a part of the fashion-forward “no pants” movement. Supermodels Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid helmed the pants-less panache in late 2022. But it was the ultimate Gen Z icon Kylie Jenner, 26, who sent the leggy look soaring into the social media stratosphere when she stylishly showcased her stems on Instagram in a pair of sheer stockings, captioning her proactive post: “No pants, no problem.”
Underwear as outerwear
Under no circumstance are Gen Z stunners shy about showing some skin — which is why the underwear-as-outerwear trend, also known as naked fashion, is so in. Giving onlookers an eyeful, unabashed brick-houses are letting it all hang out in visible thongs, see-through bras as shirts and Victoria’s Secret lingerie sets. The fashionable nod to public nudity, with NYC-based belles as young as age 19 at the forefront, is all about having outrageous confidence. “For me, naked fashion is about owning the desire to turn heads,” a Lower East Side party girl told The Post.