How to Wear Y2K as a 30-Year-Old Without Looking Like Your Teenage Self

The year 2000. We’ve been there, we’ve lived it, and I know I'm not alone in remembering the fashion wasn’t all that. I personally remember wearing a blue puffer coat, some low-rise boot-cut jeans, platform trainers and my Specsavers glasses to ring in the new millennium—not exactly imitation-worthy. That was (scarily) over 20 years ago, though, and in the way that fashion does, those noughties trends we thought we’d buried have well and truly come back around as if they’d never left.


(Image credit: @theindiaedit)

The resurgence may have been started by Gen Z in the depths of TikTok and Depop, but thanks to celebrities like Hailey BieberBella Hadid and Dua Lipa sporting everything from baby tees to Juicy Couture, the Y2K trend is now a full-blown, very-hard-to-ignore thing. According to Lyst’s Year in Fashion report, the #y2kfashion hashtag has now generated more than 220 million views on TikTok, while searches for "Y2K” on its platform increased 389% year-on-year in 2021. It even began permeating the S/S 22 collections, as we saw Christina Aguilera–style micro pleated skirts on the Miu Miu runway, stringy halter-neck minidresses from Nensi Dojaka and platform boots galore already all over the high street.


(Image credit: Miu Miu S/S 22; Courtesy of Miu Miu)

No matter how much we might joke about its return in our grown-up WhatsApp groups, the truth is Y2K culture has permeated the world of fashion so much this year that even we 30-year-olds are coming round to the idea. The nostalgia is real right now, with Carrie Bradshaw back on our screens, Britney Spears back in action, Paris Hilton getting married and even Lindsay Lohan returning to acting. So as the popular adage goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

But how do we do it in an age-appropriate way? Well, there are certain trends we should be leaving well and truly behind us—Von Dutch hats and pubic bone–skimming Miss Sixty jeans included. But believe it or not, there are ways to navigate Y2K trends into your current wardrobe without looking like your teenage self. Keep scrolling to find out how.



(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Perhaps the easiest Y2K trend to master is loose wide-leg jeans. Not only do they instantly transform a basic outfit, but they're also comfy. Lucy Williams show us how to do it like a pro here, but if you're not up for baring your midriff, simply balance out the volume with all those second-skin tops and slim-fitting vests you've got. Go all out with platform trainers or boots, or for a more refined look, pair with party heels or heeled boots instead. 



(Image credit: @theindiaedit)

Ah, crop tops. For those of us who feel more comfortable covered up, don't be afraid. Just pair with high-waisted jeans or tailored trousers with a slither of skin showing. Long sleeves will also help offset that naked feeling. Zara's millennium-ready sparkly crop top has been spotted on lots of influencer's this party season and is more flattering than you might think thanks to the loose way it falls. 



(Image credit: @annelauremais)

If you're just looking to dip a toe, claw hair clips are the perfect nod to Y2K without having to overhaul your whole wardrobe. (You might even have one in a drawer somewhere.) Like any good accessory, you can have fun with them—embrace you're inner "groovy chick" and choose an embellished or striped style from Tort. Otherwise, a classic tortoiseshell version like Arket's pairs expertly with relaxed tailoring. 



(Image credit: @slipintostyle)

Okay, we've been doing the platform-ankle-boot trend for a while now, so this one should be easy to incorporate into your wardrobe. Y2K stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Bella Hadid are rarely seen without their stomper boots, so whipping out those old Dr. Martens should do the trick. The Row's ubiquitous zip-front ankle boots are of course the more upscale version. The latest updates to the trend are knee-high lengths and heeled platforms like Nodaleto's—both already being adopted by fashion people of all ages.



(Image credit: @abimarvel)

One of Y2K's more elevated, minimalist options is the ribbed knit. Hence it's one of the more wearable trends for trying in your 30s. Ideally, this would be a thin cardigan style, cropped or worn with the top and bottom buttons left open. Tie-front options are there for the more adventurous, though. Pair them with your baggy denim for weekends or over slip dresses or strappy tops for more coverage in the evening.



(Image credit: @katherine_ormerod)

If we're breaking it down, Y2K is really all about playing with proportions. Wide-leg jeans are worn with tight or skin-showing tops; miniskirts go best with something oversized or covered-up on top. The kids might be wearing them with crop tops or baggy band tees, but for a more mature look, balance them out with your favourite chunky knit (like Katherine Ormerod does here), slimline polo-neck or loose blazer. They can feel casual with platform ankle boots, or add knee-high boots for an elevated take—opaques optional. 



(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

Another simple way to nod to the Y2K trend is something you probably already own. Shoulder bags have been popular again for some time now and were perhaps the first sign of the noughties resurgence to come. The ultimate is of course Fendi's baguette (vintage for extra points), but Prada's Re-Edition tote takes a close second place. The beauty is you can pair these with any elevated basics and be instantly transported to 2001. 



(Image credit: @sophiet)

Thanks to the LVMH Prize–winning Nensi Dojaka, the phrase strappy top took on new meaning in 2021. As we've reported before, all the coolest girls are wearing these seriously stringy styles. Thanks to a combination of the return of going-out out and the rise of Y2K fashion, the designer is well and truly on a path to stardom. Although perfect for that noughties red carpet jeans-and-a-nice-top vibe, her barely there pieces aren't for the faint-hearted, and a more covered-up option with string detailing also does the trick. 

Next up: 8 Easy Outfits Every Fashion Girl Should Try This Winter 

Emily Dawes
Affiliate Editor

Emily Dawes is the very definition of a fashion multi hyphenate. An editor, stylist and writer with over eleven years’ worth of experience in the industry, Emily is known for her impeccable taste, elegant outfit choices and being able to spot the next big thing in fashion from a mile off. Our readers loyally trust her advice and shopping suggestions; so much so she began her own column documenting the most expensive-looking pieces on the high street, which has become a top-performing piece of content for the Who What Wear brand.

Emily has worked for Who What Wear UK since 2020 in a myriad as roles, spanning from contributing editor and branded content editor. Now, she holds the position of affiliate editor and is responsible for the brand’s overall affiliate strategy, ideation and content execution. Working closely with Who What Wear UK’s affiliate manager, Emily has been instrumental in securing and nourishing brand partnerships, surpassing her goals as standard. Leading the team in tentpole shopping moments including Black Friday and Peak Trading, with Emily’s guidance and leadership, team Who What Wear is in a stronger affiliate position than ever before.

Prior to joining the Who What Wear team, Emily served as YOU Magazine’s acting fashion editor where she managed the fashion team and oversaw all fashion content output for the fast-paced weekly title. Emily is a stylist in her own right, having worked with a slew of VIP clients including writer and television personality, Elizabeth Day, as well as styling and art directing several celebrity cover shoots for glossy print publication, Grazia. Her adept fashion knowledge means brands regularly sought out to work with her as a consultant: previously she has developed marketing and content plans for brands for Cocoon and Edge of Ember. Before entering the industry, Emily obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies with International Study from Nottingham University. Fun fact: Emily spent a year studying in America which saw her join a sorority during her time there.

When she’s not working or tracking down the chicest, new-in items to share with our audience, you’ll find Emily bestowing her East London home with her stylish flair, reading everything from the classics to cowboy romance novels and escaping to the country with husband, baby boy and dog, Roo, whenever she can.

Emily is currently on maternity leave.