24 Trends The Olsen Twins Made Us Love

UPDATE: How fast a year goes. Today, everyone's favorite former Michelle Tanners turn 29, which means that we are old. And also, that we must celebrate their continued fabulousness with an expanded tribute to the trends (good and bad) they made us love. Here's to many happy returns, Mary-Kate and Ashley! And to us never again returning to the days of leggings as pants.
Originally published on June 13, 2014.
Yes, there have been some missteps (like Mary-Kate's puffy headband phase). But, for women who have spent nearly every day of their 28 years being photographed (today's their birthday!), they've managed to look not only shockingly good almost all the time, but to also see trends coming at least a year or two before the rest of the world cottoned on. (We admit — we spent most of 2007 trying to copy Mary-Kate's flannel-and-Balenciaga-boot combo.)
So, in honor of the twins' 28th birthday, we rounded up 15 trends that MK+A made us want to try — and that we shamelessly copied, with varying degrees of success. Here's to many more years of round sunnies, cozy-girl layers, and of course, venti Starbucks cups. Mazel!
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Boho Maxi-Dresses
In 2003, while the world was busy creepily counting down to the twins' 18th birthday, the girls were busy subtly defining their own styles after their Two of a Kind days. Ashley's got a beachy, blonde-goddess thing going, while Mary-Kate's darker waves and bell-sleeve dress pretty much portend her witch-woman vibe of 2007. And, let it be known that they're working vintage-style maxis a good two years before Sienna Miller made us never want to hear the word "boho" again.
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Photo: FameFlynet.
Big Pants
By now, most of us are hip to the chic, oversized thing, but in 2010, skinnies still ruled, and if you wore a pair of baggy white trousers in the airport, you risked them being mistaken for sweats. Not that Ash cares — she'd been on the haute-XXL look for years prior to this.
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Photo: Mike Emory/BIG Australia/BEImages.
Giant Sunglasses
From red carpet events to Mary-Kate in her NYU days, the gigantic, round sunnies were the mid-aughts' most powerful symbol of Olsendom. And, along with ratty layers and a blonde wig, the most important elements in any decent Olsen Halloween getup.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
Vintage Gowns
Unlike many starlets whose wardrobes are indistinguishable from the shelves at Saks, the Olsen twins have never been afraid of a little vintage. Here at the 2007 Golden Globes, they make the best possible case for looking to the past when dressing for a fancy night out — You can't beat a plunging neckline, gold lamé, or delicate crystal beading for drama.
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Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images.
Extreme Layers
Can we take a moment to hail Mary-Kate, exalted queen of layering? From her NYU days, when she lived in billowing maxi skirts (and maxi scarves), to today, MKA proves there's something ineffably chic about body-obscuring layers.
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Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images.
The Slouchy Beanie
If you saw this pic of Mary-Kate shopping in Paris in 2006 in the world's most precarious toque, and did not spend the next three years buying knockoffs in every color at Forever 21, and cursing mightily when they slid off your head, you were not really living in the late aughts.

Also, was Ashley waist-training? So #aheadofthecurve!
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Photo: Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.
Sure, everyone and their mom is wearing Birkenstocks now (well, to be fair, moms never stopped wearing them). But, when Ash paired the Gizeh style with her denim-on-denim outfit and luxe knapsack in 2011, it was a giant leap for fancy-lady normcore that we'd gladly wear three years later.
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Photo: Picture Perfect/REX USA.
Babydoll Dresses
We're guessing the twins were super happy about 2005's babydoll-dress mania. It's not easy to make five-foot-nothing look leggy, but this silhouette does the trick. And, can we please take note of Mary-Kate's cork-platform Louboutins and Fendi Spy bag? Certain authors may have spent many an eBay-hour trolling for those.
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Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
Crazy Coats
Yes, these jackets make a statement, and that statement is "IDGAF, I love my Harlequin bolero and faux gorilla-fur coat." Do you, Olsen twins. Do you.
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Photo: Marcel Thomas/Getty Images.
Tights As Pants
Mary-Kate spent the mid-aughts running from paparazzi in oversized flannels, tights, and clunky boots. You either loved this look, tried desperately to follow suit, and learned the hard way that tights-as-pants work best when you have a Fogal budget — or, you lived for the Fug Girls' routine takedowns of this look. We were with you, MK.
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Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images.
Deep-V Tees And Cross Jewelry
In 2007, there was for some reason nothing chicer than a V-neck that went all the way down to your belly button (just ask Dov Charney, who built his fortune on 'em), accessorized with an oversized cross. This sexygoth look alone inspired 50% of the outfits at Misshapes on any given Friday Night.
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Photo: Charles Sykes/REX USA.
Giant Clutches
Tiny though they may be, the twins have always loved going big with their accessories. Case in point: the anything-but-dainty clutch.
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Photo: Freddie Baez/startraksphoto.
Ballet Skirts
Ashley Olsen looks better than most people do at their weddings when she's walking her dog, people. My stretch pants and I give up.
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Photo: Picture Perfect/REX USA.
Witch-Woman Dresses
In 2006, the rest of the world was still wearing filmy prairie skirts, too-long T-shirts, and flip-flops. Meanwhile, Mary-Kate had morphed into a full-on sorcerer-goddess. Your move, world.
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Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
The Cocoon Coat
There was a time when oversized camel coats were associated with 80s moms, but Ashley, in her love of all things oversized and Nü Woman, reclaims the piece as an object of luxury (and lends two other mom staples, the turtleneck and slingback pumps, some style cred in the process).
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Photo: Rabbani and Solimene Photography.
The Summer Scarf
The long, gauzy, skull-printed scarf — you know you wanted one. Sure, McQueen's print started to feel a little played out after years on street-vendors' tables, but nine years is enough of a gap for it to make a comeback, right?
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Photo:Gregory Pace/BEImages.
Leopard Print
The leopard-print coat is a vintage-obsessee style staple, from Edie Sedgwick to Mary-Kate. Also, everything about the twins is perfectly summed up in their matching-yet-not Birkin bags.
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Photo: Charles Sykes/REX USA.
The Lady Suit
Because nothing looks more money than a chignon and a tux.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
Arm Cuffs
In our opinion, Mary-Kate made the hippie-chick arm cuff a thing long before Rachel Zoe told the rest of young Hollywood to get on the train — and the way she wears hers here is a good work-around for those of us with, um, non-Mary-Kate upper arms.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
Little Round Sunnies
First of all, shades on the red carpet is such an Olsen move. They could not be more Olsen-y right now if they were shielding their faces with their 2.55s. While this trend never truly reached the masses like their giant plastic sunnies did, it did look way next-level for 2010, and heralded the arrival of mid-'90s nostalgia.
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Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty.
Monster Platforms
Again, a trend made for — and best exemplified by — Olsens. Nothing like a towering, hot-pink heel to make a girl feel five-foot-four-inches tall!
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Photo: Lawrence Lucier/Getty.
Western-Style Boots
Mary-Kate's style lessons, circa 2006: Always match your Balenciaga Motorcycle bag to your leather jacket. A Starbucks venti cup makes any outfit chic. And, cowboy boots with everything.
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Photo: Charles Sykes/REX USA.
Luxe Gray Sweaters
We can't totally abide by Mary-Kate's floor-length cardigan phase, but a mid-thigh version looks luxe, not boring, when you stack it with your best mismatched jewels and expert raccoon eye.
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Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
The Eyebrow-Obscuring Scarf-Hat
Just kidding. You're on your own with this one, Ash (still love you tho).

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