The most accurate way to describe the early 2000s in terms of fashion and pop culture is to quote Charles Dickens. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Worst because G-string thongs were worn as decoration above low-rose jeans and Marissa Cooper died; best because Fantasia Barrino won American Idol, Paris Hilton published a book, Swarovski crystals covered everything and I had a much faster metabolism.
In fact, it’s that latter point that led me to consider a new extreme diet in order to reach my second tier goal weight: The 2000s Cleanse, where I aimed to rid myself of modern toxins and terms known to cause bloat, like “’90s redux” and “millennial.”
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Where does one even begin? I gradated from 8th grade in the year 2002 and from high school in 2006. I consider this period to be the Golden Age of the Early 2000s. Tom Anderson started the whiteboard trend; emo music was in its prime. Missy Elliott dropped hit after hit after hit. Juicy Couture was the people’s choice of athleisure. The entire world’s favorite Christmas movie Love Actually came out in 2003; Mean Girls came out in 2004. Do you know what our equivalent of this is over the most recently passed four years, including 2016? Literally fucking nothing! Beyoncé doesn’t count because she is technically a 1990s import!
But I had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was my closet.
A little known fact about me is that my AIM and MySpace name was AmeliaandFitch, stylized with the ampersand like the brand that inspired it wherever early coding allowed. I was not about that Hollister life. No American Eagle for me. I was loyal in a creepy way. I had an embroidered moose on everything in my closet. Where there wasn’t a moose, there was a Lacoste crocodile (one for every nine hours of babysitting). Because I am deeply nostalgic and possibly a hoarder, I knew there was still some “vintage” Abercrombie hanging out at my dad’s. Bless that man’s soul, he dug through the attic and retrieved the remaining items: a maroon polo, a striped button down, a white puffer and perhaps the most important part of the A&F experience: THE BAG. In pristine condition. In keeping with my diet’s regimen, I promptly hung it on my wall.
It is here that I would like to publicly apologize to my dad for the hours he spent in the Abercrombie store with me, asking the sales children for their assistance in finding another size, drowning in the smell of Fierce and 8, scents that linger on clothing for days like campfire smoke or, I don’t know, stripper glitter. The poor man. He endured the same thing during my earlier Hot Topic phase, but I know he liked the music in that store better. To most ears, metal is more manageable than untz-ing.
Here is my attempt at styling an Abercrombie puffer to look like Fall ’16 Balenciaga. My apologies to you, Cristóbal.
My Northface was easily integrated into my morning wardrobe, and proved excellent for commuting to and from the gym. So, too, was the music I listened to: a wonderfully mope-y blend of Deathcab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional and Something Corporate. I was sad, however (cheer up, emo kid!) that I no longer owned the Burberry scarf and giant black Chanel sunglasses (with the pearl CCs) and Tiffany’s necklace that I used to pair it with. It took two Christmas gifts and two birthday presents to create that gem of an outfit.
Remember that in the early 2000s, it was important to let everyone know what labels you were wearing. There was no Instagram back then. You could not just “tap for credits.”
If you are wondering about the Lacoste polo in the first photo — Marissa Cooper’s collared shirt of choice — I have, in my later years, been known to wear it for certain activities. The layering tank top underneath is a pajama shirt that I had to improvise with, but never forget: you always matched your flip flops to your layering tanks. (Raise your hand if you had a pair of Rainbows and/or are getting sick reading this.)
Speaking of my girl Coop:
Here I am in my A&F rugby shirt that I am so glad has made a comeback from the dead. I am always sort of re-watching The OC (and Friday Night Lights) so this was the easiest part of my diet. One day can we have a Hot Dad Dueling Match? Who would win? Sandy Cohen or Coach Taylor? Don’t make me choose.
Don’t worry. I watched a lot of Laguna Beach reruns during this diet, too.
Another thing I did that was very early-2000s is commute to school (work) in a backpack. I swapped my purse for one during the course of this diet and forgot how convenient they are. I also forgot how awkward they make you run when you’re late to something (sloped forward like you’re chasing a nap) and how much they hurt your shoulders.
I never got around to finding myself a chihuahua (the French bulldogs of 2003) like Paris Hilton, but I did wear a Juicy Couture hoodie and a pair of UGGS for two consecutive weeks. There is a reason those things were popular beyond our sick consumption: COMFORT. I think we should truly bring these back, even if it’s just in private. I’m wearing them and an American Eagle cardigan that I found in the office (I know what I said earlier) as I write this.
To be completely honest, I’ve never so easily slid into a diet. It became, as diets are “supposed to” become, a lifestyle. Not sure what that says about me, so instead, I’d like to end this the way I began and quote a literary genius: “Where are we, and what the hell is going on?” — Imogen Heap, “Hide and Seek,” as made popular in The O.C.’s Season 2 finale.
(^That’s the Abercrombie button down, by the way. And the face I used to make in every high school MySpace photo.)
Feature photo by Krista Anna Lewis.