I've worked in fashion long enough to realize that trends work in mysterious ways. Initially, we cringe and reject certain styles, but after seeing them over and over again — often on our favorite celebrities — they begin to grow on us. Pretty soon, they've invaded our wardrobe, and then we find that we can't even imagine living without them.
That's sort of how I feel about the '90s and '00s resurgence, which is seemingly being led by Gen Z, who didn't experience these questionable looks the first time around. At first, I, a millennial, disapproved; were we really about to bring back bulky socks, boot-cut jeans, and tiny monogrammed shoulder bags? It felt like a flashback directly to my awkward stage. But, the more I saw modern outfit ideas and new ways to style trends I once considered 'bad' (like, bad), I became curious. Eventually, I was convinced I needed a cute bucket hat and wanted to layer with a mesh turtleneck. I even debated styling dresses over pants.
Of course, there's also a long list of subtler Gen Z-approved trends that I've now fully embraced, all of which are a bit more classic than extreme and are nostalgic in a less obvious way. Take a look at eight that I feel are worth investing in — right after you ditch your skinny jeans.
Perhaps it's partially due to the pandemic and the rise of comfy sweats over everything, but I've seen so many graphic sweatshirts as of late. All those random vacation souvenirs and college pullovers are now considered cool, and they can be worn with everything from skirts, to leggings, to structured trousers. I'm fully on board, and also love the preppy turtleneck layering trick for cooler days.
Schoolcore surprisingly took off as a top trend last year, and the key to nailing the look was a plaid, pleated, uniform-like skirt. While this piece no doubt works for dressed-up and professional occasions, the modern way to wear it is casually, styled with a sweatshirt or tee and your favorite sneakers or loafers.
I definitely remember when showing your sock was a huge faux pas, but these days it's all about bulky, chunky, and eye-catching ankle warmers — and it's a smart move. Now, shorts, skirts, and even sweatpants have added interest at the ankle, and if you opt for a pair that isn't white, it's a quick way work color into an outfit.
You don't have to give up on skinnies completely, but there's no harm in adding other cuts to your collection, such as mom- or boot-cut jeans. They're slightly looser (which is way comfier, in my opinion) but still just as versatile, and if you're struggling to find footwear, a pair of classic Converse will work every time.
Strappy, Cutout Pants
While I'm not quite ready for the return of low-rise, I find myself drawn to thong pants. They're kind of like the best of both worlds: While many options are high enough to hold me in, the cutout lends a sexy, skin-baring twist. Plus, this detail is included on so many stretchy, yoga-like bottoms, taking the comfy staple well beyond loungewear.
If you were a teen or pre-teen in the early '00s, you probably owned a similar bag, possibly made by Coach. Well, it's time to go digging through storage, because following the popularity of the micro-mini purse, baguettes have fully returned. Thankfully, there's enough room to just hold all the essentials, so it's a wise choice if you tend to overpack (guilty).
If you love puff-sleeves and polka-dots, this trend will fit right in with your whimsical wardrobe. Novelty prints are like graphic sweaters but often depict a handful of quirky images or even a full scene. And, since this piece is such a throwback, you can find a ton of vintage ones on Etsy for a reasonable price.
Lug sole boots, chunky heels, flatforms — as a petite person, I'm all for added height without the pain of a classic pump, and I'm especially fond of platform sneakers. You can throw them on as easily as your typical kicks, but the thick, eye-catching bottoms add something special to your outfit, and '90s kids finally get to live our their Spice Girls fashion dream.
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