9 Photos That Prove 2000s Denim Trends Should Stay There Forever—Okay, TikTok?
Low-rise jeans should never, ever make a comeback.
I can’t log into TikTok anymore without someone yelling at me about my fashion choices. Like with any trends, fashion changes with the season, and every few years, what was once old becomes new again. Inevitably, that also means that there are people who want to tell others what isn’t fashionable. It’s part of the cycle, and it will never change. The current, ongoing debate between Gen Z and millennials over skinny jeans, though, is tired, and I just want everyone to just let people wear what they want to wear.
We millennials are traumatized by the fashion from our younger years. Traumatized. Our formative years were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and while Gen Z probably won’t recall this, denim at the time followed one extremely specific trend: low-rise. Sure, jeans were cut in other styles, but you weren’t cool unless you wore low-rise jeans—which also meant that our iconic celebrities at the time were wearing them, too.
Here is where we struggled: Low-rise jeans are incredibly difficult to pull off because they’re not meant to be flattering unless you’re very thin. The celebrities of the moment—Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, Paris Hilton, etc.—all looked incredible in low-rise jeans with flared bottoms. But when so many of us average millennial teenagers tried to follow that trend, we quickly realized that it wasn’t so easy. Our teenage bellies stuck out, our hips didn’t quite fit in, and any of the curves we had just didn’t work.
As a teenager in the early 2000s, all I wanted was to emulate what Duff or Hilton was wearing on red carpets, but low-rise jeans were just downright awful. Because with these pants, not only did you pretty much have to be thin, but your thin body was part of the trend. Body positivity hadn’t entered the vernacular yet, so having hips and thighs and butts wasn’t often praised, at least not like it is now.
For us millennials, we had celebrities who were model thin rocking trendy low-rise denim and all it did was give us unrealistic aspirations.
This is not an affront to those celebrities, and it’s not to say we don’t still have thin celebrities today. But when I say I’m scarred from the fashion trends of my youth, I truly mean it, because it can really wear a teenager down.
Gen Z, on the other hand, now has high-waisted, loose-fitting pants and body positivity as their trends. I’m incredibly happy that the tides have turned toward a more body-friendly place and find comfort in knowing that this generation hopefully won’t have quite as harsh body dysmorphia.
But it’s also for this reason that I would love for Gen Z to just enjoy their trends and let us “old” people enjoy whatever the hell we want in return. We’ve been through it. We weathered the low-rise trend and the lace-up trend and the too-long-flares trend. We went through it all and arrived at skinny jeans, so if I want to wear those skinny jeans because they make me feel comfortable and cool, then just let me do that in peace.
I don’t want a repeat of this trend.
I don’t want this look to be cool again. (Even though Ananda Lewis looks flawless here.)
And this should never, ever come back.
Arguing over whose trends are better and who isn’t fashionable is a waste of time, but maybe taking a second to understand *why* we’re not excited about some of those denim trends coming back would be a good idea. As a whole, we’ve made such huge progress in the body positivity front—now praising curve models for being damn gorgeous and pushing brands to be more size inclusive—and some of these older trends feel a little bit like a backslide.
By all means, if you want to adopt an early-2000s denim trend (like lace-up jeans, maybe?), do it if it makes you happy. But we don’t have to shame others along the way.
When old trends start to resurface, just like they always do, there are also some that the elders suggest get left in the past for good. So, Gen Z, take all the trends you want. Have fun with flares, rips, high waists, but please, for the love of TikTok, leave low-rise denim in the early aughts where it belongs. Let’s just let this one die.