Oops! We did it again: Y2K fashion in full swing


"Year 2000 Compliant," was a phrase most older generations had ingrained in their heads in the final years of the 20th century. If something wasn't "Y2K Compliant," (meaning that electronics had the ability to handle going into the year 2000 without breaking) how could they possibly prepare themselves for the new millennium? Or even worse, the infamous "Y2K Bug" that everyone had been talking about?

On that final day of the 20th century -- December 31, 1999 -- many people were left to their own devices: some holed up in their basements fearing the end of humanity, some turned off their computers in hopes that their home electronics wouldn't be damaged, but most simply just celebrated New Year's Eve like any other.

Although nothing too bad actually happened when the clock struck midnight, the event now known as "The Y2K Problem" became a defining moment in the early 21st century. So, when the term "Y2K" gained a new meaning in the early 2020s, it offered up that once-familiar phrase for the last time: Is Gen Z Y2K Compliant?

For sophomore Audrey Brown, she considers herself more than ready for the new millennium … aesthetically speaking, at least. Y2K, in its new Gen Z-given meaning, is seen as an alternative fashion and music subgenre that's sweeping the nation, rather than a 1990s internet hoax. "I think it is awesome how old styles are coming back because the clothes are absolutely adorable," said Brown. "Although some of the clothes are questionable, like extremely low-rise pants, I think that our generation has taken the clothes and turned them into something else. It is more an inspired aesthetic than copying."

As Gen Z takes inspiration from this specific era and runs with it, English teacher Michelle Cheek, who was in high school from the years 2001 to 2005, finds the Y2K movement fascinating. "I am ecstatic for it [Y2K trends]," said Cheek. "The velour suits and the Juicy Couture [suits] were part of our style and we couldn't wait to have the newest color and newest version of it."

Cheek anticipates the trend will grow as more people jump on the bandwagon; however, she also believes that Gen Z should take caution in romanticizing the past decades. "I think it is done quite often to protect ourselves from some of the traumas we experienced during that time," said Cheek. "That was something coming off of Columbine and then looking at our nation being attacked [on 9/11]. You have to rationalize reality to not be so lost."

Social studies teacher Curt Benge, who began teaching at Plainfield in the fall of 1994, was also around to see three decades worth of iconic trends. "I don't know that I totally understand them [cyclical trends/decade revivals]," said Benge. "I think that we all think that things were better in the past."

Although it may be something that he doesn't quite understand, as a history teacher himself, it sparks interesting discussion. "I think that's cool that they [students] engage in different decades and understand things other than the time period that they're living in," said Benge. "But on the other hand, I really don't think it's always as different as they want to make it out to be. People are people. The clothing they wear or things that they listen to may change, but the way we process it remains consistent."

Whether it be the new music or the clothes supplied in clothing stores, Y2K will be yet another fad that will be remembered as a defining moment of the 2020s, just as the Y2K Problem was in the year 2000. But for now, low-rise flared jeans, tube tops and baggy cargo pants will rule the locker-filled halls and busy city streets.

Brown, who often dresses Y2K, shared some tips that could help someone gain their ideal Y2K fashion style. "Pinterest is a great resource for finding outfits that you like," said Brown. "Thrifting is such a great way to get cute clothes for a cheap price, and some of the clothes you can find are definitely from the '90s and '00s. Try to integrate a couple of Y2K pieces of clothing into your wardrobe, but you don't have to go all out until you are certain you love it."

Story by Cameron Haughawout