Reclaiming and Restyling the Early 2000s

Caitlin Bright

Do we all have a shaky relationship with the trends that defined our coming-of-age eras? I’ll rock acid wash from the 80s and crop tops from the 90s without hesitation, but when it comes to the low rise jeans and bedazzled graphic tees popular during my teenage years in the 2000s, I cringe. After the rampant 90s nostalgia trending recently, I knew the 00s were logically up next, but I couldn’t get back on board. Every fiber of my being was confused and repulsed by Google images of style from that era — the dresses over pants, the large unflattering belts serving no real purpose — it was all too much.

Image of Ashley Tisdale (sorry Ashley) via Harper’s Bazaar
I was happy to live in a world where what happened in the 2000s stayed in the 2000s, until, during a bout of pandemic related anxiety and insomnia, I fell down the rabbit hole that is the @thankyouatoosa Instagram account. It is an ode to teen magazines of the 2000s and Editor in Chief Atoosa Rubenstein. The account was created by Casey Lewis, who had a stint at Teen Vogue and is now an editor at The Strategist. Poring over Casey’s content from her personal magazine archive (many issues of which I remember from my own collection, gathering dust in my teenage bedroom) soothed my apprehension in a way I did not expect. Being transported back to the early aughts reminded me of the reasons I got into fashion. Several hours of scrolling later, armed with a folder of screenshots and a renewed crush on Adam Brody, I was ready to interpret 2000s trends for a modern world.

@thankyouatoosa forever in my search bar

I dipped my soon-to-be-french-manicured toes in the water by stocking the Y2K tanks. With lacy straps and ruched bodices, they are so Limited Too it hurts, but I felt I had finally cracked the code. Our preteen and early teenage years are often such a tumultuous time, fraught with insecurity. Reclaiming and restyling clothing from that period can feel powerful. My finger hovered over a pink dress with a polo collar. Were we ready to bring back polos? I thought of the multi-polo look, with more than one collar popped toward the sky, and shuddered. But a flawlessly styled photo of Mischa Barton that I remembered loving back in the day had me clicking “add to cart.”

Polo princess Mischa Barton as Marissa Cooper on The O.C.

Sometimes it can be cathartic to revisit your former self and have a conversation with her. Mine said, “Lacy tank tops and polo dresses are fine, but we’re not doing low rise jeans again!” If you’re ready to reclaim and restyle with me, or if you’re diving into 00s nostalgia for the first time, shop the Y2K tanks and Mischa dress online now!

Y2K tank in cocoa (also available in heather) via Wallflower Vagabond

Mischa dress via Wallflower Vagabond

Feel free to reach out and discuss your thoughts, too. I would love to talk about your teenage style choices, and crushes obviously. (I suddenly have this inexplicable urge to give Adam Brody my AIM screen name, even though he’s married now and AIM no longer exists.)

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