Today, we’re breaking down how Y2K trashy-chic fashion became en vogue 20 years later. In Anatomy Of An Aesthetic, Her Campus dissects the latest style trends to tell you where they came from, why they matter, and how to DIY.
If you’re searching for the next trend to come back around in fashion, look no further than your TV screen: Shows like Euphoria and Pam & Tommy are being credited with bringing back the trashy-chic aesthetic of the 2000s.
“Trashy-chic” sounds like an oxymoron, but the aesthetic is characterized by mixing flashiness (think bold makeup, rhinestones and diamonds, faux fur) with lowbrow pieces like super short cut-off shorts and velour tracksuits. E! Online points to the Von Dutch trucker hats of the early 2000s as a prime example — did they look kind of trashy? Yes. Did some of them cost over $100? Also yes.
If you need a clearer picture of what “trashy-chic” looks like in action, let Urban Dictionary break it down for you: “A girl with a Coach purse, White Jeanz, Real diamond earrings, a draw-string backpack, and a Razr is an excellent example of the Trashy-chic movement,” reads the “trashy-chic” definition. It was added to the site in 2006, when the trend was arguably at its peak. But how has trashy-chic come back around almost two decades later?
Well, 2022 TV might be responsible. Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, set in the ’90s, shows Lily James as Pamela Anderson in latex dresses, lots of mini skirts, and heavy eye makeup. Euphoria, arguably Gen Z’s favorite show of the year so far, finds its trashy-chic Y2K icon in Alexa Demie’s Maddy Perez, who was often seen in Season 2 donning bodycon dresses, fur-lined cardigans, and low-waisted skirts.
Her Euphoria co-star Barbie Ferreira also showed love for “trashy-chic” and “trash-camp” aesthetics in a February 2022 interview with Vanity Fair. Speaking about makeup artist Kali Kennedy, who’s made over both Demie and Ferreira (and was responsible for Ferreira’s pearlcore Met Gala 2021 makeup look), Ferreira said, “She’s also so creative and knows how to make something that’s either trashy-chic or really kind of fantastical. … I don’t even know how to say it, it’s the darker side of everything.”
In the same interview, Ferreira also gave credit to John Waters for inspiring trashy-chic. Waters is a film director of the ’70s and ’80s, who was behind the original 1988 Hairspray movie, as well as more transgressive projects like the aptly-named Trash Trilogy and Polyester, the latter of which starred drag queen Divine. “I love John Waters,” Ferreira said. “Divine has inspired so many of my looks. John Waters is so iconic. Polyester. The original Hairspray?! I literally don’t know what to say. That’s the kind of camp I’m in for. That is, like, trash-camp and that is my ultimate goal.”
Bustle similarly credits John Waters with inventing trashiness through the aesthetics of his filmmaking, so if you want to trace trashy-chic back to its source, his films are probably your best bet. (Warning for X-rated content!) Waters has claimed bad taste is dead as recently as 2021, so what better time than the present to try out trash for yourself? If you don’t know how to bring a little bit of trashy-chic into your wardrobe, these 10 items will get you started.
- Cheetah print mini skirt
Mini skirts are all the rage when it comes to trashy-chic, and why not show your style off with loud and proud animal print? The larger the spots, the better. (The Cheetah Girls would’ve nailed trashy-chic, just saying.)
- Faux fur-lined cardigan
Just like Maddy’s fur-lined cardigan on Euphoria, this sweater combines an over-the-top neckline and sleeves with a tighter, cropped silhouette. You can keep it buttoned-up, or leave it open at the bottom for a playful peek of skin.
Eye makeup is the name of the game for this aesthetic, and eyeliner might just be the MVP. Whether you opt for a razor-sharp wing or a smudged, smoky eye, this affordable and easy-to-use liner will be your new BFF.
- velour sweatpants
Okay, fine, we all mocked them 10 years ago, but the 2000s are back and that includes sweat suits, baby! You can go full-on Paris Hilton with a pink one or opt for a deeper color like these navy pants, for something (ever-so-slightly) less obvious.
Urban Outfitters, $99
- Cropped ribbed white tank top
If you need something under your fur-trimmed cardi or to pair with your mini skirt of choice, there has never been a more perfect basic staple than the cropped, ribbed white tank. It’ll pull your whole outfit together without drawing too much attention, and best of all, it’s pretty darn comfy.
- Leather bodycon
If you want something for a night out, this bodycon will have eyes on you with its oil-slick shine. This admittedly won’t be as comfortable as, say, a Juicy tracksuit, but you could always layer some faux fur over it — the sleek black color makes it super versatile.
- Trucker hat
Don’t knock it until you try it. Trucker hats are camp, people! You can choose from a range of fun colors, have a smiley face decal on them — anything that adds some “tacky” fun to your overall look. Luckily, you don’t actually have to pay for a full-price Von Dutch if you want to try this accessory out; there’s plenty of affordable options.
- Daisy Dukes
If the lyrics “Nice legs, Daisy Dukes, makes the boys go—” unlocks a memory for you, I know you grew up at the height of 2000s trashy-chic. As the weather gets warmer and you start breaking out your shorts, opt for a pair of frayed and distressed denim shorts if you want to try this aesthetic on for size.
- Low-waisted skirt
You might have seen the Miu Miu micro skirt all over your Instagram feed this year so far — low-rise is apparently here to stay, for better or worse. But hey, pair this with a cute crop top and honestly? It has all the chic trashy-chic has to offer.
- Makeup rhinestones
Euphoria eye makeup has become a cultural moment all its own, and that includes rhinestones around the eyes. You’ll be catching the light like a disco ball if you add these to your beauty routine — the best thing a party girl could ask for.
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