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Raid Your Parents’ Closet and Keep What You Find: The Twenty-Year Cycle

Photo by Miguel Hochleitner. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. The image has been cropped and compressed.

Roar writer Kiren Graziano discusses the twenty-year cycle and its role in the recent resurgence of early 2000s fashion trends.

If you’ve been paying attention to fashion trends over the last couple of years, you will have noticed one thing in particular; the early 2000s have come back in full swing. From the bright colours to the low-rise everything, fashion in the 2020s is extremely influenced by the trends of the early noughties. This is what’s called the twenty-year rule. Trends emerge cyclically, and 2020s fashion exemplifies just that.

Mini Skirts and Low Rise Jeans

The resurgence of the mini skirt typifies the twenty-year rule. This piece was a staple of any early 2000s outfit. It was part of every mean girl’s uniform in Y2K films and a staple of fashion at the time. The early 2000s were marked by this piece, but the trend didn’t start here. It was seen on 80s icons like Cyndi Lauper and, before then, on supermodel Twiggy in the 60s. 

English designer Mary Quant and French designer André Courrèges are most commonly accredited with the advent of the mini skirt in the early 1960s. In this era, the mini skirt was a new trend in fashion, and it snowballed with Yves Saint Laurent launching a line of minis and Paco Rabanne doing the same. The mini skirt cemented itself as a moment in fashion. 

Today, it has been given a new life. Miu Miu’s 2022 Spring Summer collection shows that these tiny skirts are back in. From the runway to Urban Outfitters, and even to SHEIN, there has been a clear renaissance of the mini. The twenty-year cycle has worked its magic on this fashion staple. 

Another trend that has come back into style is wearing low-rise jeans. Much of this return can be attributed to celebrities of today, with Bella Hadid’s streetwear being highly reminiscent of Christina Aguilera’s low-rise looks in the early 2000s. This is yet again an early noughties style that has seen a resurgence twenty years later, following the cycle perfectly. 

Bright Colours, Blocking, and Patterns

Loud shades and colour blocking have returned to the fashion scene in the 2020s. This trend can easily be traced back through fashion history, following the twenty-year cycle of course. 

In the early 2000s, bright colours and colour blocking were all the rage. Celebrities like Paris Hilton and films like “Jawbreaker” solidified this trend at the time. People weren’t afraid of contrasting colours, as opposed to the 2010s when much more muted tones took the lead.

Such colours were an absolute must in Y2K fashion. Yet, when thinking about this trend, for many of us the first decade that comes to mind is the 80s. In this era of fashion, the designer Claude Montana gained a lot of leeway in the industry. His use of bold colours and colour blocking defined much of fashion in the 80s. These high saturation fashion moments trickled down into everyday life; as can be seen in the Jane Fonda workout tapes of the time.

This trend, yet again, comes from the 60s. With the popularity of mod fashion, a style coming from London youth and spreading across the globe, bright colours and colour blocking were as huge in the 60s as they were in the 80s. 

Now, bright colours are making a comeback. Valentino and Versace’s Spring 2022 collections show this return of vibrancy perfectly.

It’s not only high fashion that’s bringing back loud colours and blocking, stores like H&M and Zara are doing it too. Both stores have seen a rise in bold pinks, greens and blues in recent years; no doubt due to the twenty-year cycle.

The last trend that so obviously adheres to this fashion rule is the use of prints and patterns. Celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo are consistently wearing bold designs on their clothing, a trend which dates back to the 60s yet again. This is something that has gained traction on sites such as SHEIN and Zaful, hence why it has become such a big trend in the 2020s. 

All of these trends can be connected to the fashion of twenty years prior. While this cycle may be speeding up due to social media and microtrends, the twenty-year rule has held up in the fashion industry for a long time, so think again before you donate your brightly coloured tops or your low-rise jeans. 

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