Trend prediction: The comeback of the Y2K ironic slogan tee
By Maia Penny
The fashion of the early 2000s is taking the world by pink, glittery storm. The hottest of the hot for any Paris Hilton devotee twenty years ago is a guaranteed 2022 must-have. Think rimless glasses, low waisted trousers, tracksuits, rhinestones, Uggs, micro skirts, skinny scarves, the list goes on.
The nostalgia factor undoubtedly contributed to the resurgence of these trends. We all want to take a trip down memory lane to revisit a less serious, more excessively sparkly fashion era. In general, the inclination towards colour and fun seems to be a reaction to the late 2010s preference for minimalist, ‘tasteful’ aesthetics. But the obsession with the early naughts didn’t appear all at once, the likes of baby tees and flares were the first to be adopted by the fashion forward. These safer, more subtle nods to the era of excess were later followed by full blown rhinestone mania.
We’ve yet to reach skirt-worn-over-trousers level of crazy, but one trend making a comeback is the trusty ironic graphic tee. Modelled best by female Hollywood stars such as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, and naturally, Paris Hilton, these tees are the cornerstone of an off duty 00s celeb look.
An audio clip of Paris Hilton proclaiming her love for 2000s fashion and listing her do’s and don’ts went viral on TikTok, spawning hundreds of 00s inspired fashion videos. One of the items she mentions is: ‘Graphic tees. T-shirts are the best way to show the world your most profound thoughts’. The irony in her answers is an example of the sassy 00s girl mentality, embodied in slogans such as ‘Don’t be Jealous’, ‘Queen of the Universe’, ‘Got Blow?’ and ‘Stop being desperate’, which was famously edited to read ‘Stop being poor’.
Although Paris used to be known as a shallow heiress, famous for her role in the reality TV show The Simple Life, she has claimed that her persona is predominantly fabricated for the camera. Her intentionally trashy, party girl image went hand in hand with the hyperbolic phrases and humorous slogans that were emblazoned across her chest in the noughties. The revival of 2000s trends, like ironic graphic tees, is aligned with the re-examination of major female tabloid figures. The internet is saturated with discussion and support for women who had been condemned by the media in the past.
The ‘Free Britney’ movement along with TikTok trends like ‘bimbofication’ prove that women are fighting back against being put into boxes and taking back the femininity they have been mocked for previously. Ironic 00s t-shirts then, with their slogans alluding to a girly, bimbo-like attitude, are a big middle finger to those who might roll their eyes at a beautifully made-up blonde. She might as well be wearing a bedazzled ‘I heart me’ t-shirt if the critics are already watching.
Britney Spears’s most iconic slogan t-shirt moment was when she wore the ‘Dump him’ tee after splitting from Justin Timberlake. In an era when tabloids were everything, and the age of social media was not yet upon us, the slogan tee was a great way to make a statement. In this case, a picture really was worth a thousand words, or just two biting ones in Britney’s case.
The social media of today grants celebrities a degree of control over their own image which was not a possibility in the 00s; but a t-shirt could show the world a message quickly and easily when captured by the paparazzi. Other examples of her finest ironic t-shirt moments are ‘I am the American Dream’, ‘Move Bitch’ and ‘The bigger the better’. The satiric tone of the slogans gives a funny twist to comfortable everyday wear, and the phrases perfectly encapsulate the slightly absurd and overzealous excess of McBling fashion.
If you’re inspired by these noughties icons, the best way to find a similar t-shirt would be an online shop like Etsy, or if you’re looking for the real deal, you can find plenty of real vintage shirts on Depop and Vinted. Alternatively, you could try scouting out your local charity shops, and look out for a pair of low-waist bootleg jeans while you’re at it.
If Paris was advising you, she would probably tell you to style your graphic tee with Juicy Couture tracksuit bottoms for maximum 00s value, but she maintains that you must ‘always wear ones that are colourful, or else you’ll actually look like you’re going to the gym. Ew’. I’m not sure if our fitness-crazed society in 2022 would still agree with Paris that going to the gym is ‘Ew’, but some of her advice is certainly worth taking: ‘last, but literally never least, 2000s babes always look like they’re having fun. And if you’re not having fun, then just leave’.