Remembering The Noughties – That Never-Ending Season Of Bad Taste

Photo: J. Vespa/WireImage/Getty Images
The year: 1999. The date: 31st December. The colour of my 10-year-old vomit: a stunning pastel pink after a night of drinking not one but two (!) pink fizzy wines at my grandma’s NYE millennium bash while watching a Eurotrash special in her top room as she and her boozy mates swung like swingers to the trills of my confusing pre-teen sexual obsession, Cliff Richard.
It was the dawning of a new age. Jesus had been dead/alive(?) for 2,000 years and we asked questions like: Will the world end? (Yes, probably.) Will I lose my virginity in this upcoming decade? (Yes, definitely, if the world doesn’t end.) And will technology consume us all? (It hasn’t yet, unless you want me to go on and on about how we’re all glued to our smartphones – but frankly that’s fab! That’s what the noughties would have wanted!)
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The defining factor of the noughties was that it was the never-ending season of bad taste. It was just post the e-fuelled, Europe-centric '90s, just pre the plague on all that is beautiful, otherwise known as normcore/athleisure/influencers/the Tories. It was the lost decade: the one full of bad ideas, of bringing back shit from the past that should have died with Thatcher’s prime-ministership and hashing it together in the most tasteless of ways. Skirts over jeans? Inspired. Plastic hair extensions in a range of colours, clipped in by a plastic daisy? Visionary. The death of culture? Stunning.
It was the decade of celebrity, of Paris Hilton, of Britney Spears’ nervous breakdown; a decade that culminated in a return to Tory rule. It was a decade on which we look back wincingly, barely remembering what and definitely not remembering why, realising our vile misogynist treatment of all those celebrities, our absolute disengagement from current affairs, our desperation for lava lamps and blow-up chairs, trembling at how many dreadful mistakes we made. "That’s gay!" I would say in the noughties about anything that wasn’t apathetic, or made of plastic. And I’m gay!
It was a decade of reckless decisions: we had nothing left to lose. All ideas were formed, all unnecessary wars were being fought despite a larger than ever public outcry. And so we decided that it was fine to wear the ra-ra skirts of the '90s atop an '80s stonewash jean atop a '20s camisole plus bucket hat plus a fucking Motorola Razr.
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Photo: J. Vespa/WireImage/Getty Images
Personally, that decade would see me make some of my boldest fashion choices: remember G-Star 96 jeans? Vile. Remember Diesel jeans? Mine were intentionally splattered with paint. Remember All Saints? All my necklines were loose and baggy, for which I was a little too breast-heavy (this was pre body-posi, okay? I’m fine with my body now!). Remember that shoe shop Dolcis? Remember bootcut jeans atop square shoes that your uncle who makes you feel uneasy still wears? Remember under-18 club nights? Remember alcopops? Remember necking Jacob’s Creek White Zinfandel Rosé? Remember Kate Nash? Remember pre-Twitter and Instagram? Remember yearning for a Mulberry Mitzy tote? No, you don’t remember any of it? That’s because your brain was so addled from all of them shit mags ("I’m going to London to buy Heat magazine!") that it retained not even a bean of actual information from that decade.
It was the decade in which all state schools became colleges; mine – O! joy – a sports college. It was the decade in which I would score nine out of 50 in a football assessment because I wore thigh-high Converse in hot pink (which I’d hidden from my mum) and decided to cheerlead the boys instead of kick the ball, which would lead to me being pinned down and having the ball kicked at me, repeatedly, in the face because I was literally so gay.
This was supposed to be an article about noughties fashion — and yes, it was bloody good, and yes, no matter how hard you try Urban Outfitters/Dua Lipa, you’ll never quite get it right. And why? Because we’ve all woken up from our cultural wastemanship and engaged. You can’t have the noughties without the apathy; you can’t have the aughts without social media activism; you can’t have the zeros without a space in which to make a shit ton of style mistakes that only your friends can half recall; you can’t have the 2000s without an All Saints 'Jesus Rocks' studded belt.
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It is a dead decade. It was humans screaming into the void of an unknown future, the void answering back: "Wear the shag bands, that’s the answer."
The truth is, you were a mess then. So was I, so was that person sat next to you on your lunch break right now at Chop’d. But what did we know? The world was going to end, Cliff Richard had just hit number one with his vile take on the Lord’s Prayer, Eurotrash had ended and we were heading for war with Iraq. So you made a few mistakes? If penance is what the Lord Jesus would have wanted for all these sins, then your Saucony sneakers and your social activism and your inevitable veganism will most definitely make up for your decade of dodgy apoliticism and even dodgier fashion choices.
Here lie the noughties.
2000 — 2010.
It was good while it lasted.
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