Mischa Barton in a pleated, denim mini skirt and slingbacks. Justin and Britney pre-empting “couple goalz” in a mash-up of patchwork denim. Christina Aguilera in lace-up, pube-skimming pinstripe jeans. And don’t get me started on Miss Sixty’s line of statement, low-rise flares. It took me three months to save up for a pair with snap fasteners, which I shared among my best friends (it was the time of B*Witched and Miss Sixty really pulled a number on my finances). Early aughts denim was fucking fun.
And! Now! It’s! Back! 2017 might as well be 2001. My 70-year-old mother even asked me to help her find a patchwork midi skirt to gambol about in for spring. At the prospect of 2000s denim, some of you might say, Cry Me A River. But me? Say I? Hit Me Baby One More Time.
It was while fornicating online with a lace-up peplum top in indigo from See by Chloe that I realized we were in the midst of an early aughts revival. Steve J and Yoni P’s patchwork, straight-leg jeans (identical to a pair I bought in 2000); Mango’s frayed skirt-over-jean combo (an approximation of ‘skousers’ that’s a little too much, even for me); Ellery’s extravagantly flared and ruffled Alejandro jeans with zips; Dior’s denim bustier dress.
Superfluous detailing has, gradually, begun to upstage the vintage-wash and utterly plain Levi’s 501s we’ve championed for the last four seasons (trends aside, they will always be a classic choice.) Thanks to rule-breakers like the young British designers Marques Almeida and Faustine Steinmetz, denim has become ornate — painterly, feathered and shredded; a reworked version of what we once called tacky. This spring, it’s high-octane.
Upon first glance, late nineties/early aughts fashion (as one millennium slid into the next) was diabolical. Rollockingly good fun, as my mother would say, but hideous in its incarnation: all pearlescent makeup, butterfly clips, Stetsons and cargo pants worn with vest tops. But don’t write off the denim based on decade alone. Instead, may I suggest taking inspiration from Bella Hadid. The supermodel has a truly devoted relationship with aughts-skewed denim: fitted denim dresses, belted denim trenches, even a frayed denim string bikini. My favorite lewk is a denim A-line skirt and matching jacket with a newsboy cap. She looks fucking great!
Let’s start with lace-up jeans, which you’ll be pleased to hear are no longer of mid-pubis rise. Groins, rejoice! See by Chloe’s fitted pair comes with a modern twist — that popular cropped flare. You’ll want to keep the blouse tucked in to see the lace-up detail. Lace-up aficionados could wear the set together. If you want to go a bit sccchexier with the lace-up, Paige offers black, lace-up skinny jeans and Frame, a lace-up white denim mini.
Next up, snap-closure flares. Believe it or not, they are ACTUALLY BACK ℅ Mango in ice white — very back-in-the-day Victoria Beckham. They run the risk of looking incredibly naff (which brings me to a whole different theory that tackiness is truly back), but with a dress worn overtop can be actually flattering.
I’m really obsessed with the dress-over-trousers look. It hides the trickiest parts of me (groin, bum, tummy) especially when it comes to white flares, which, let’s be honest, are probably the most globally unflattering trousers of all. My podcast co-host Dolly told me recently that dresses worn over trousers might be the only thing in the world we could truly never agree on.
Back to the snap pants: OHLIN/D, a great resource for 2000s-esque denim, also has a great pair of snap-closure jeans, this time with the snaps trammeling down the front. In addition to the jeans, they have a fitted denim midi dress (a best-seller) which scales back on the details and keeps the denim crisp.
My favorite is the tight denim/loose denim doublet. I’ve swapped Hadid’s newsboy for a scrunchie, but otherwise it’s a straight-up homage (I can’t afford the Dior dress, or I’d be aping her in that instead) to a supermodel two-thirds my age. This Stella McCartney tight, button-up mini dress is perhaps more nineties than it is 2000s (I spent much of my early twenties searching for this EXACT dress on eBay), but the oversize denim jacket and grungy, sheer tights with black boots are synonymous with the slide into the aughts before bohemia (hi Sienna!) properly took hold. As for the tinted sunglasses, I couldn’t resist. They’re Rejina Pyo and I wear them tous les temps.
I could have shot masses more looks for this trend. It got to the point when I was unsure if I was just joyfully replicating my teenage years or making legitimate style choices. Sometimes the two become worryingly interwoven in my mind. That said, the choice was bountiful. I haven’t even paid credit to the A-line denim mini skirt, which never really went away as a trend (see: Alexa’s collab with AG Jeans), but that looks particularly nineties over at Isabel Marant, where I’ve got my eye on a wrap-effect version.
Of all the challenges I’ve accepted from Man Repeller — I’m still getting shit for the Crocs, FFS — I’m going to let you into a secret: This wasn’t a hardship at all. Bella: I hear you, grl.
Photos by Frances Davison.
Formerly the Fashion Features Editor and Wardrobe Mistress columnist at London’s The Sunday Times, Pandora is a freelance journalist, brand consultant, stylist and co-host of news/pop-culture podcast The High Low with Dolly Alderton. Read Pandora’s work at pandorasykes.com or follow her on Instagram @pandorasykes and Twitter @pinsykes.