Fellow millennials, we have had a rude awakening over the last couple of years. We are no longer the youngest or coolest people on the internet.
We know, it’s a hard pill to swallow. But that’s the way it is. And Gen Z make the rules now.
In fact, they have decreed that noughties fashion is cool again. Low-rise jeans, flares, shoulder bags, chunky trainers. Think Paris Hilton, or the early years of Girls Aloud.
Millennials will remember wearing these trends the first time around, as fresh-faced youths – which might be why it feels particularly jarring to try to reintroduce butterfly clips and waist belts to your wardrobe now you are approaching your 30s.
But if you want to stay ahead of the curve, and avoid being branded ‘cheugy’ by kids on TikTok, then it’s probably time to bring some of these fashions back into your wardrobe.
We spoke to a couple of fashion experts to figure out the best way to wear these noughties classics in a more grown-up way.
‘With the likes of Hailey Bieber flawlessly styling low-rise jeans, style-conscious youngsters have been swayed, meaning they’ve made an unexpected comeback,’ says says Nicole Street, co-founder of luxury handbag brand Duchy.
‘After years of high-waisted alternatives being our go-to choice, we’re now favouring lower cuts.’
However, Nicole says there are styling dos and don’ts when it comes to this trend – and she has some styling suggestions to make sure you feel confident bringing back your love for low-rises.
‘Firstly, low-rise jeans look fantastic and chic when paired with a blazer and simple handbag,’ says Nicole.
‘I’d personally recommend opting for a leather (or leather-look), medium size bag with delicate detailing; its subtlety will complement the bold, stand-out appearance of low-cut jeans perfectly.
‘You want your low-rise jeans to pop. Therefore, if you’re wearing a longer top, casually tuck the front in to highlight your favourite new jean style.’
When it comes to shoes and low-rise jeans, Nicole suggests opting for classic court heels with a point, or embracing a grunge look like Bella Hadid, teaming your jeans with a crop top, sunglasses and biker boots.
‘If you’re new to the world of low-rise jeans, or are feeling apprehensive about reigniting this style in your wardrobe after decades of low-rise jeans being a fashion no-go, then embrace the trend slowly,’ says Nicole.
‘Gradually opt for lower cuts, or pair your jeans with longer tops to make the style subtler. You don’t need to pair your low-cut jeans with a boob tube if you don’t want to, there’s a happy medium for those with a more laid-back style.’
‘Shoulder bags are returning as a summer staple this year and our inner Mary Poppins couldn’t be happier; they’re insanely practical, making their in-vogue status particularly convenient,’ says Nicole.
While they might seem a touch immature for those of us who swear by backpacks and cross-body bags, Nicole says you can find beautiful shoulder bags and style them in an eye-catching, contemporary way.
Practicality and beauty needn’t be mutually exclusive,’ she adds. ‘With shoulder bags you really can have it all, you just need to be smart when you shop.
‘My first styling tip for shoulder bags would be to find one that’s versatile. For example, be choosing a shoulder bag that also comes with a strap you open yourself up to an endless pool of potential outfit combinations.’
Nicole suggests choosing a bag in a neutral tone; this way, it’ll go well with almost any ensemble you put together.
‘A black shoulder bag is perfect alongside a chic mini dress on your next night out, whilst a quilted, coffee-colour bag pairs well with a black blazer, boyfriend jeans and heels.
‘Shoulder bags are quite possibly the most versatile bag style, so don’t be afraid to embrace them.’
Most-frequently associated with 1970s style, flares also made an appearance in the early noughties… and now they’re back again.
‘Flares were quite possibly the most unexpected style return – thanks to Gen Z,’ says Nicole.
‘Although, when styled well, they can make for sassy, unforgettable looks. For example, flares look great when paired with cropped blazers and wedges. Meanwhile, they look great alongside smaller handbags with more intricate designs. This completes the stand-out look flares help to create. They also look fantastic with clutch bags on a night out.’
Nicole suggests finishing your flare look with heavy jewellery, a sleek ponytail and an over-sized shirt.
Butterfly hair clips
We loved these colourful, girly and adorable plastic accessories when we were in school – but can we really wear them as adults? Nicole thinks so.
‘When you heard that butterfly hair clips were making a comeback you were probably very confused – they don’t exactly sound stylish. However, thanks to Gen Z’s creativity they can look fantastic, creating unusual, summery looks that are perfect for the season,’ she says.
‘To achieve this, you need to think beyond one lonely butterfly clip in your hair; create a cascade of butterflies down one side of your hair, sprinkle them randomly throughout your curls or consider using them to give your braids a finishing touch. Sometimes the most unexpected of accessories look the best.
‘As an adult, this notion might feel a little ridiculous – butterflies, really? Trust me, they can look great.
‘Imagine a pastel-colour slip-on dress, sandal heels and a couple of dainty butterflies dotted throughout your curled or Molly-Mae inspired crimped hair – modern, mature and fun.’
Big trainers are back. Think Spice Girls platforms, enormous soles, the chunkier the better.
‘Chunky trainers fill us with endless 90s nostalgia; made with bold designs and often bright colours, they’re stand-out to say the very least,’ says Nicole.
‘You can modernise their appeal and bring them into your present-day wardrobe. For example, chunky trainers look great alongside a casual mini dress, over-sized tee and shorts, or a feminine, long maxi-dress.’
Nicole adds that the key to a great outfit can be clashing styles, pairing edgier items with traditionally ‘feminine’ pieces of clothing.
‘I’d suggest pairing your chunky trainers with a chic, modern bucket bag. Like your trainers, they’re traditionally practical with an edgy twist – they’re made for each other.’
How not to feel ridiculous if you wore them the first time around
Fashion is meant to be about having fun and expressing yourself, and age is really no barrier. There’s never really any cut-off point for when you can wear something, as long as you feel happy in it.
Karine Laudort is an expert fashion commentator, she says there should be no shame in exploring different looks, no matter what stage of life you are in.
‘Try to always update your look with newer items or brands that are more in keeping with your overall style as the most important thing is for you to feel comfortable and confident,’ she advises.
‘If you do not feel comfortable in what you are wearing, it will show. The best advice I could give is to mix and match: something old, something new and maybe something “pre-loved” (vintage), therefore your overall look will be retro and trendy.’
In order to keep noughties styles more adult, Karine suggests that you make sure your jeans are well-fitted to you and flattering for your figure.
‘Longer flares with heels, platforms, spartan flats or trainers, will look more sophisticated than shorter flares which are showing ankles,’ she says.
‘The type of shoulder bag you will choose will also add to your look. Try to opt for more elegant or designer shoulder bags, it will instantly age your look a bit more.’
And remember, you don’t have to adopt a style just because you’ve seen it on TikTok. If butterfly clips and low-rise jeans just really aren’t your thing, don’t force yourself into it. You do you.