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Terrible Fashion Trends Everyone Thought Looked Good in the 2000s

Ugh, as if! These terrible fashion trends of the 2000s need to stay in the past.

When the Y2K bug failed to wipe out technology on the eve of January 1st, 2000, humanity was ushered into a glorious new era. Marked by the rise of the Disney Channel, the prominence of boy bands, and the groundbreaking invention of the selfie, the decade that ushered in the 21st century was truly a golden hour for mankind. When Millennials gaze back on their childhood days, their throwbacks are filled with sunny memories of Tamagotchis and Easy Bake Ovens.

Unfortunately, the absolutely horrendous fashion of the 2000s easily overshadows all the good the decade brought to the people. Best described as horribly impractical with a dash of uncomfortable and confusing, 2000s fashion was simply not at the forefront of couture. Luckily, the technology of the 21st century has preserved all the fashion faux-pas of the 2000s forever on the Internet, making it possible for us to peek back now to a much simpler time. 

Excessive Layering on Top

In the 2000s, less was almost never more. The goal of any outfit was to display as many items of clothing as humanly possible, resulting in incredibly excessive layering that presumably cut off the circulation to the brain. Every hip tween had every color of spaghetti strap tank, which could easily be paired over a simple crew neck t-shirt for the ultimate day-to-night look. Particularly for those of us who suffered under an oppressive middle school dress code, layering was the perfect way to show off that cool new halter top from Limited Too without getting written up by a teacher. Disney Channel child stars such as Ashley Tisdale are absolutely to blame for these terrible fashion trends, as the producers of the beloved childhood shows clearly took covering up to the extreme.

Excessive Layering on the Bottom

The only trend worse than layering a tank top over a t-shirt was wearing a shirt or a dress over jeans. Wearing jeans under a dress is not only incredibly stuffy and uncomfortable, but downright confusing. While layering tops was not cute, at least there was some justifiable purpose for pairing that tacky graphic tee with a another top. To really maximize the potential of an outfit, celebrities often paired these two trends together to create the perfect storm of chunky layers. 

Non-Functional Accessories

The 2000s continue to be known as the era of illogicality, particularly with these terrible fashion trends. From accessories to clothes, no piece of any outfit served any comprehensible purpose. The epitome of this impractical trend is mini shoulder bags. Approximately the size of a small brick with about the same fashion functionality, these tiny totes had the capacity to carry about one single lip gloss and a flip phone if you were lucky. The most coveted mini shoulder bags were decorated by colorful company logos such as Louis Vuitton and Coach, creating the illusion that they were actually expensive. As a general rule of thumb, the more a purse looked like it belonged to a small child, the better.

Non-Functional Sweaters

Along the same vein, the shrug was perhaps the worst fashion invention of the 2000s, and yet still managed to serve as a fashion staple for nearly a decade. Essentially a cropped sweater with t-shirt-length sleeves, shrugs provided warmth to only the wearer’s shoulders while maximizing tank top visibility. While some 2000s wannabes powered through the elements to ensure the quality of their ensembles, the true trendsetters amongst us knew that the ultimate power move was to layer a regular cardigan over a shrug, creating a perfect trend inception. 

Non-Functional Winter Wear

Just like all accessories in the 2000s, winter wear was not immune to the wave of impracticality. As a result, the skinny scarf was born. Consisting of a lightweight fabric, thin and quite pointless material was wrapped once tightly around the neck before draping down to the knees like a waterfall of pointlessness, providing no protection from winter weather vs our skin. Everyone who was a teenager during this period can attest that the trendiest "It Girls" at school seemingly had hundreds of these flimsy things, often wearing one around the neck, one as a purse accent, and one around the waist, which can only make us wonder how many yards of fabric the fashion industry wasted during this decade.

However, while many girls identified with the skinny scarf movement, the true heroes were the girls rocking the pashminas. Essentially a glorified skinny scarf, the pashmina truly separated the women from the girls. This high-quality accessory was the mark of a well-traveled teen, or at least one with a high allowance. 

Unflattering Jeans

Denim will remain a fashion staple no matter the decade, but jean styles come and go as easily as a good boy band. The 2000s were all about the low-rise bootcut, which was guaranteed to add about ten pounds to your hips. Despite the growing significance of Elle Wood’s signature bend and snap, low-rise jeans ensured that any downward motion would result in a massive whale tail. To make matters worse, everyone was too lazy to get their bootcut tailored to their actual height, meaning just about every girl tripped over her own hem twice a day. It's safe to say this trend definitely did not make the cut for sexiest jeans ad this century. Thankfully, the rise of the skinny jean in the late 2000s cured this horrendous tragedy.

The Micro Mini

Although not exactly pants, the prominence of the denim micro-mini warrants a mention as some of the most unflattering denim pieces of all time. Popularized by the street style of the era, the micro mini was essentially a glorified belt, typically complimented by even more layers underneath. Sitting even lower on the hips than low-rise jeans and covering pretty much nothing, the only true purpose of a micro-mini skirt was to upset your mother. 

Questionable Headwear

These disgusting hats must have squeezed the heads of fashion experts just a smidge too tight. While the Paris Hiltons of the world sported the classic Von Dutch denim trucker, the musical lovers followed after fashion icon Ryan Evans as he braved East High in High School Musical in his bedazzled newsboy cap. Those afraid of compromising the visibility of chunky highlights often opted for soft headbands worn in the middle of the forehead, which would inevitably leave a massive dent for the next day. These fast fashion trends were incredibly inexpensive, making it possible for every It Girl to have matching headwear for pretty much every single outfit. 

Clothes as Other Clothes

Image courtesy of Mikail Duran via Unsplash 

In addition, clothing items were used for a variety of different purpose and in different places. While a belt could be worn to hold pants up, it could also be used to cinch a cardigan at the waist or lie over a layered tee look for even more depth. Scarves were particularly versatile, as they could be tied in a variety of locations to further accent any outfit, essentially serving as the utility belt of the modern tween.

Anything but Clothes

Finally, the 2000s was an era of fashion experimentation. In this decade, any household item could be transformed into a contour statement. Found an extra seatbelt in your car? It’s now a stylish chunky belt. Remember that old bandana from camp last year? With a few safety pins, it can easily be a crop top capable of showing off that brand new belly button ring. Even bikini tops could become daytime appropriate shirts when layered correctly. As long as it covered the top while keeping the midriff exposed, clothing options were absolutely limitless.


The 2000s were a crucial time for today's young adults. From getting a flip phone to picking out an outfit for the very first time, the nostalgia of the 2000s is something that many hold near and dear. Nevertheless, while many trends may cycle back into fashion design, it is obvious that the most prominent movements from this decade should be left in the past. The game of feminism and fashion has changed, evolving out of these terrible fashion trends and making sure to squelch a potential comeback forever. Fetch is never going to happen, and neither is a 2000s fashion revival.

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