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Y2K Aesthetic

Y2K Aesthetic

Ah, 2000. For most Millennials, it feels like just yesterday we were flipping through J-14 Magazine, listening to the Backstreet Boys, and putting on yet another swipe of glitter-studded Lip Smackers (bubblegum flavor, of course). It was a time of optimism, anxiety, and translucent home telephones, and now it’s back again in all of its glory, thanks to the rise of the Y2K aesthetic.

It was a simpler time, certainly, when Kim Kardashian was Paris Hilton’s personal assistant, and Joe Rogan was just some guy on a tv show where people ate scorpions for cash.

Despite the clear advancements in technology and markedly better taste in fashion that the last decade has blessed us with, Gen Z seems to have an increasing interest in “kaybug” culture.

As someone who considers themselves a connoisseur of all things early aughts, I get the appeal. It was fun for the sake of fun, laden with nostalgic technology that we got to watch evolve into smaller, faster iterations of themselves.

Sure, there was a serious overabundance of velour track suits, but there were also candy-colored iMacs and Polaroid i-Zones. What’s not to love?

Y2K Aesthetic Design Motifs and Themes

  • Color palettes that include chrome, icy blue, orange, bubblegum pink, and purple
  • Techy toys, i.e. Tamagotchi, iDog, Game Boy Advance, Furby, and HitClips
  • Consumerism and maximalism
  • Bedazzling, glitter, and sparkle
  • Pop star worship culture
  • Early social media sites and general excitement over home access to the internet
  • Transparent designs in fashion, home decor, and technology
  • Bold-lined, minimalist iconography
  • Smiley faces, butterflies, and hearts
  • Futuristic fonts and bubble letters
  • Optimistic but cheesy quotes and sayings
  • “Girl power” presented as sassy witticisms and feigned ditziness
  • Pixel art and avatars
  • Gradients and “blobism”
  • Oil sheen patterns
  • Grid patterns

Y2K Fashion

If you weren’t dressed like a spokesperson for the dELiAs catalog, were you really a young person in the early 00s?

Fashion was truly all over the place, and it was rare not to wear head-to-toe accessories to accentuate the crop tops, low-rise jeans, and chunky Steve Madden clogs.

  • Babydoll graphic tees, often with a store or band logo
  • Lingerie daywear
  • Denim-on-denim, AKA the “Canadian Tuxedo”
  • Bandanas and bandana shirts
  • Low-rise, flare-leg jeans for women and JNCO jeans for men
  • Strappy sandals and heels
  • Popped collars on polo shirts
  • Ugg boots
  • Pleated skirts
  • Furry bucket hats
  • Livestrong bracelets
  • Belly chains, anklets, and toe rings
  • Choker necklaces
  • Small, colorful sunglasses
  • Juicy Couture tracksuits
  • Baguette bags
  • Metallic puffer jackets and pants
  • Large hoop earrings
  • Trucker hats
  • Frosted cosmetics
  • Thinly plucked eyebrows
  • Dark lipliner

Y2K Aesthetic Influential Media


“Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years.”

“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.”

“In Atonement, three children lose their innocence, as the sweltering summer heat bears down on the hottest day in 1935, and their lives are changed forever. Cecilia Tallis is of England’s priviledged class; Robbie Turner is the housekeeper’s son.”

“Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted Black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past.”

  • Choke by Chuck Palahnuik

“Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay for elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him.”

“Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.”

“After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives.”


“A smart and cynical girl goes through teenage life as a proud outsider in a world of mainly idiotic adolescents and condescending adults.”

“Four female New Yorkers gossip about their sex lives (or lack thereof) and find new ways to deal with being a woman in the late 1990s.”

“A young woman, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends.”

“Paris and Nicole accept various internships along the East Coast. Hilarity ensues as the girls leave their limos behind and travel by Greyhound bus.”

“Follows the misadventures of four irreverent grade-schoolers in the quiet, dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado.”

“A comedy sketch show centered around All That (1994) alum Amanda Bynes.”

“Doing scary stuff to win prizes.”


“A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.”

“When a beautiful stranger leads computer hacker Neo to a forbidding underworld, he discovers the shocking truth–the life he knows is the elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence.”

“After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.”

“A wealthy New York City investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies.”

“Scientists genetically create a new Pokémon, Mewtwo, but the results are horrific and disastrous.

“Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.”

Y2K Aesthetic Resources and References

Internet Personalities and Social Media

Spotify Playlists

Subreddits and Tumblr Blogs

Pinterest Boards



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