Hold onto your butterfly clips: Y2K fashion is here to stay.

by Afterpay
Mar 23, 2023      7 min read

Ahh, the 2000s: a much simpler time when heiress socialites were getting papped leaving the club at all hours. The pants were low, and the tops were high. And butterflies adorned every piece of clothing and accessory that we wore.


The latest millennium has made its mark in fashion history, no doubt. So, with the emergence of Y2K fashion trends hitting TikTok and Insta, we’re not surprised to see this fun style return. Thankfully, though, it’s left some of its gaudiness behind.

Today’s Y2K aesthetic borrows all the best bits (think: metallics, mesh, wide legs and baby tees) for a more modern feel. And it still relies heavily on tech and pop culture inspiration mixed with fun and flirty designs.

Head back to the future of fashion as we discover the pieces capturing the trend today. Plus, find out how to replicate this nostalgia-inducing style on any budget (no Y2K bug included).

What is Y2K fashion, and why is it back?

The late 90s and early 2000s (aka the Y2K era) were a wild time to be alive. Social media was still relatively unused, celebrities were gods and we lived on a steady diet of emerging tech and pop culture.

Y2K fashion was a look that’s somehow futuristic and retro at the same time. Tinted sunglasses, velour tracksuits, butterfly clips and small shoulder bags were everywhere. And don’t get us started on the plastic, mesh, fur and metallics we used in abundance.

But most importantly, this fashion era was all about having fun. Nothing was overly produced or put together. Instead, it was a playful style that was accessible to everyone. And like other stellar fashion trends of the past, the Y2K aesthetic is proving itself worthy of being cyclical.

Hot off the heels of millennials loving the return of the 90s, we’re now embracing the 00s. We’re welcoming back crop tops (like Hello Molly’s Sweetest Babe Crop Top) and vibrant colours – this jalapeno popper green Glassons Rectangle Claw Clip, anyone? It’s just got a slightly different aesthetic.

The low-rise pants aren’t quite as low (phew). And instead of pairing an Ed Hardy cap with Ed Hardy diamante sunglasses and a Juicy Couture tracksuit, we pick one main star and let it steal the show.

A quick look at your TikTok and Insta will show you that the Y2K clothing trend is going off. And as a fun, accessible style, it doesn’t take much for you to make it your own.

Defining Y2K designs.

The early aughts have a few key pieces that make this fashion era instantly clockable. Low-slung and loose-fitting jeans, crops, baby tees, shoulder bags and super short skirts are just a few. Ally Fashion’s Mesh Baby Tee Angel is a peak Y2K example, but with a freshness we adore.

Aside from the staple garments, a few undeniable Y2K fashion elements are reigniting. There’s shiny metallics, bold colours, mesh, lace, denim, flashes of skin and a general tacky–chic vibe we’re living for.

To sum it up: if it was good enough for your Bratz doll, it’s good enough for you.

And as the spirit animal of the Y2K aesthetic, butterflies have also made a serious comeback. Poppy Lissiman captures their appeal perfectly with their Dream Lover sunglasses. Orange gradient lenses, butterfly-shaped frames and gaudy-yet-chic gold hardware – it’s everything the naughties were about.

Getting your hands on a few key pieces is the best place to start. But there’s more to emulating this style than throwing on a bunch of Y2K clothing.

Y2K but make it 2023.

Will someone have to pry your high-rise jeans from your cold, dead body before you give them up? Same.

But Y2K fashion today is a little kinder than it was back in the bad old days. The low-rise jeans are a bit higher, and everything is designed with a more refined and sophisticated edge (while still being a whole lot of fun).

This iteration of the early 2000s means toning it down – just a tad. So rather than going OTT with maximalist Y2K outfits and butterflies from head to toe, one or two strategically placed pieces are all you need.

A pair of low-rise jeans, like MOOD.DNM’s Stassi Low Rise Utility Jeans, work with just about everything. Otherwise, start with a baby tee or tie-front top to complement your favourite modern bottoms. When you feel a little more rebellious, consider adding some butterfly clips or khaki cargo pants. Make Lindsay proud.

And if you're not ready to go full-tilt naughties, a few accessories can help. Shoulder bags (like Bilini’s Sienna Shoulder Bag) take you back to the early 2000s in a more fashion-forward way. Colourful tinted sunglasses can give the nod to the naughties without making it look like you fell out of an Ed Hardy commercial.

Striking a balance between nostalgia and newness is what the Y2K trend is all about.


Blow that inflatable furniture back up because we’re entering our Y2K era. It’s never been easier to stay on trend with these modern takes on the naughties. Shop your favourite Y2K fashion pieces with Afterpay.

More Articles