It’s easy to see the appeal. A search for ‘Morgan de Toi’ (aka Morgan) on eBay delivers 30 results: enough to justify a browse, but not so many that it’s overwhelming. For £17.95 I could buy a black mini that bears a very close resemblance to the style I wore on my 16th birthday. It’s like falling down a Y2K rabbit hole: one search leads to another. For £20, there is a Jane Norman corset dress (very Bridgerton-esque), and I’m rather tempted by a black Maharishi jacket for £55.
But should I, a non-celebrity, non-model, nearly 40-year-old woman with two kids and a job (albeit one in fashion), really be attempting to wear the same things I did when I was in my teens? Usually I’m all for a little fashion nostalgia, but I don’t think the turn of the millennium was its finest hour.
Everything was kitschy and garish and over-the-top. It was the era of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in matching double denim. It was Mariah Carey in her Ungaro butterfly top. It was Alicia Silverstone in Clueless with her yellow tartan suit, flip phone and fluffy pen. It was diamanté embellishment, candy-coloured velour and Ugg boots.
But it could also be argued that we need a little light sartorial relief right now. Elsa Schiaparelli famously said, ‘In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.’ And what could be more difficult than a global pandemic?
Like me, Avigail Collins, a celebrity stylist who has dressed Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Lorde, remembers the Y2K trend the first time around. Unlike me, she has no reticence about embracing it in 2021. ‘It’s such a fun look and I think especially right now people are wanting to have fun with fashion as we all just spent way too long in sweats,’ she says.
For her, this is an aesthetic imbued with good memories. ‘I get a rush from finding key items that I wanted or had when I was a teen. It feels very nostalgic and thrilling to find a piece you remember being popular the first time around.’