2000s Paris Hilton, Your Unlikely Style Icon

Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Before the reality-television and celebrity-fragrance booms, Paris Hilton was a blip on the radar of mainstream pop culture. Then, she fueled the party girl-heiress archetype, leapfrogging from one club to the next, turning up on red carpets, riding in cars with boys. Now, she's...retired, so to speak, and dancing to a different tune — or just not on a table. And though she wasn't often commended for her style in any of those eras, we decided to look again in hopes of finding a sliver of taste, and boy, did we ever.

The early days of Hilton's fashion sense were strange yet brilliant. The bandanas, bandeaus, and boots of today's Brooklyn raves — a sort of high-low, luxury meets trash, mismatched aesthetic of late '90s grunge and classic Americana — all make appearances. This, of course, was the precursor to phases two, three, and four of Hilton's style: Swarovski crystal bottle girl, die-hard Juicy Couture tracksuit fan (the byproduct of her Simple Life days), and finally, prom-dress shop owner who considers sequins to be a way of life.

And all of that would inherently make Paris Hilton a style icon — right? When we talk about fashion leaders, we're talking about women who are fearless with their clothes; those who takes risks and own it, whether it lands or not. And she did just that, over and over again. If you can reconcile with the missteps along the way, the outfits of Hilton's early days were rooted in something that is so now. And for someone who spent much of her life tricking people into underestimating her, we're not surprised she came out on top.

Ahead, we bookmarked all of the looks that we couldn't get out of our heads. There's enough glitter belts, baby bags, newsboy caps, and platform sandals to go around. Plus, if you pay attention, you'll spot Tinkerbell, and even a couple of cameos from sister Nicky, who, while remaining way less wild about the whole thing, always had a strong showing, too.
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Harley Quinn pulls an all-nighter.
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Photo: Michael Smith/Newsmakers.
A Marc Jacobs muse in the making.
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Before you judge, you know these slip dresses with lace detail are a hot ticket these days, right?
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Perfect outfit for the mall, or Les Deux.
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Photo: Doug Piburn/WireImage.
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Photo: S. Granitz/WireImage.
It's too bad Pokémon Go wasn't around during this time. We bet Paris would have had a ball catching 'em all (not Nicky, though).
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Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.
When prom is at 7 p.m., but you have to churn butter at 6:55 p.m.
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Photo: Newsmakers.
And you guys freaked out over the furkini...
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Feature the bag, duh.
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Photo: Randall Michelson/WireImage.
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Photo: Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison.
Twinning à la Cruel Intentions.
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Photo: Albert L. Ortega/WireImage.
#FeelTheFringe.
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Photo: Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison.
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
This look says: "Waiting for my Range Rover at the valet."
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Okay, this top most likely wasn't purchased at Strawberry, but we're going to pretend that it was.
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Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images.
Very ladies who brunch meets Romy and Michelle meets Richie Rich.
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Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage.
Ah, the ol' one-piece (We think?) under jeans trick. See? Trendsetter.
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Photo: Amy Graves/WireImage.
A little velour never hurt nobody.
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Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic.
Fake belts, for the win.
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Photo: L. Cohen/WireImage.
The Poison Ivy vibes are out of control.
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Photo: L. Cohen/WireImage.
Very campaign-season.
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Photo: Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.
The bow is a nice demure touch.
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Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic.
Remember those Samantha Thavasa x Nicky Hilton bags?
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Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic.
Unfortunately, zebra print is still zebra print no matter what colors it comes in.
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Photo: SGranitz/WireImage.
Epic.
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Photo: SGranitz/WireImage.
For some reason, this makes us think of Tan Mom (sorry, P).
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Photo: Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.
You know you remember these Abercrombie shirts.
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Photo: Dave Benett/Getty Images.
It was her birthday and she could wear whatever she wanted to.
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Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.
And when she couldn't decide on one outfit, she threw another birthday party.
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Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.
And, because she's that rich, and was pretty much on top of the world at the time, she went for a third.
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Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images.
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Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images.
So meta.
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Photo: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect.
Who knew Paris was so patriotic?
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Photo: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect.
"That's hot."
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Photo: David Keeler/Liaison.
If this shirt were around today, it'd probably be one of those Forever 21 snafus.
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