It's hard to believe that the millennial-defining era known as the "aughts" ended, well, almost over a decade ago. So much has changed since Y2K made headlines, including, of course, teen magazines.
For those of us who grew up subscribing to glossies like CosmoGIRL!, Seventeen, and Elle Girl, the 2000s were a magical time when flip phones were the must-have accessory, layering was the law of the land, and Mary-Kate and Ashley reigned supreme. One such reader is Casey Lewis, a 10-year veteran of teen media brands including Teen Vogue, MTV, and Clover Letter, and the creator of the new nostalgic Instagram account, @ThankYouAtoosa, named for Atoosa Rubinstein, the founding editor of CosmoGIRL! and later EIC of Seventeen.
Recently, Casey was at her parents' home in smalltown Missouri and started going through her personal archives—stacks and stacks of magazines dating back to the mid-'90s. She recalled flipping through test issues of Teen Vogue (she got them in the mail as a young Vogue subscriber) and the first issue of Elle Girl (with Julia Stiles on the cover), and remembered feeling like these were the first magazines that didn't talk down to teenagers. They inspired her to pursue her dream job—a career in teen magazines, eventually as editor in chief of a teen mag—but that job no longer exists, at least not as she envisioned it.
While the internet democratized fashion, and Instagram has entirely reinvented what it means to have style, teen glossies of the 2000s were her connection to other "real girls" beyond the confines of her hometown. Thinking about the cessation of Teen Vogue and Seventeen's print issues and the recent ending of Rookie, Casey feels for today's teens who have a totally different relationship with media than she did growing up. Thus, @ThankYouAtoosa, and it's companion weekly Tiny Letter, were born.
Casey explains, "I started this project because teen magazines are wonderful, but it was also so weird to look back and see how things have changed so much, even in just 10 years." The dissolution of storied publishing houses paired with the insatiable force of nostalgia makes 2019 an interesting time to revisit these previously prolific—and profitable—teen titles.
Ripped (okay, scanned—carefully) straight from the pages of Elle Girl, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, and more, @ThankYouAtoosa features pithy commentary on the clothes, accessories, and gadgets given the stamp of approval by iconic teen magazine EICs including Brandon Holley, Amy Astley, and, of course, Atoosa Rubenstein. Below, Casey shares her two cents on five trends that were considered totally cool in the 2000s.
Trend 1: Over-the-Top Accessories
Casey on accessorizing: "I had way too many belts. I think we all did! I own a single belt now, just to keep my jeans up."
Trend 2: Comfy Kicks
Casey on clogs: "I had a pair of Dr. Martens clogs that were backless, almost Mary Jane style—so ugly—and I think my mom still has them! But it's crazy to think that we thought those were cool. I still wear clogs, but cute Swedish Hasbeens ones."
Trend 3: Badass Babes
Casey on celebs: "Hollywood stars weren't as outspokenly feminist then. Not because women wouldn't identify themselves as such, but because it wasn't a topic of conversation the way it is today."
In fact, Casey has yet to come across the word "feminist" in any of her hundreds of back issues.
Trend 4: Constant Connectivity
Casey on cool tech: "A cell phone was an accessory you got to match your outfit. I had a sparkly pink cover on my Nokia flip phone and that was my personal statement."
Trend 5: Real-Girl Style
Casey on style spotting: "The first wave of 'real' style came from street photographers before it became an Instagram thing. In the 2000s, you wouldn't see girls style from Copenhagen or Miami unless they were in these magazines."
Can't get enough of those 2000s style trends? We've got you covered: