Barbie Aesthetic and Y2K Fashion

If you have ever met me in person, then you would know I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Barbies were a childhood staple and the fashion scene was filled with low rise jeans, cargo pants, micro mini skirts, crop tops and chokers. Needless to say I was not a fan of the fashion and struggled to find clothes I liked – and honestly it was probably one of the driving factors that lead me to work in the fashion industry.

The return of the Y2K fashion trends has not been something that I have been thrilled about, despite the fact it makes me reminisce of singing and dancing along to spice girls with my childhood bestie, and the sweet freedom of our youth. The styles were never flattering on me and my short, petite frame. I didn’t enjoy the crop tops, the extra long, wide leg pants made me look shorter and I’ve never liked shirts with rhinestone slogans. Maybe the only trend I really embraced was the plaid mini skirts over leggings, and the sparkly belts, I have a soft spot for those.

But the return of the Barbie aesthetic I am receiving with mixed emotions. It takes me right back to my childhood and the excitement of birthdays or Christmas and my love of Barbie and her outfits. I didn’t make many clothes for her, but I did make some and maybe if I think of it, I was always destined for the fashion world.

With her recent return to the forefront, Barbie has inspired quite a few designers to bring out new collections. So far I am loving the more elegant and classic, 1950’s inspired pieces that are coming out, the sweetness and innocence of Barbie that comes through in her candy coloured accessories that we can again now get in life size versions. I have always been a bit of a sucker for the fashion silhouettes that are feminine, flirty but definitely more traditional.

Forgetting about all the negative comments that get made about Barbie’s body shape and the “unrealistic standards” being set for girls (which to be honest I never even saw or thought of as a child) what I’m really not so sure on is all the plastic. I mean, I know Barbie girl is living in a Barbie world, and her life is plastic and she thinks it’s fantastic. But in 2023, we know plastic is not that fantastic, and we need to be stepping away from it, not re-embracing it with childlike adoration. And if you’ve read any of my posts before, you will know I’m pretty passionate about sustainability – so I won’t go on about it here.

While I’m not a fan of wearing hot pink, I do love bold colour so I can back Barbie and her bold fashion choices. It’s nice to have some colour in our lives again. Neutrals will always be classics and wardrobe staples but colour is life and I refuse to live without it!

I am hoping the Barbie aesthetic stays a little more on the classic side for a while at least. It’s refreshing to have some more timeless silhouettes to choose from, as they are the basis for sustainable shopping and wardrobe curation. You want to invest in pieces that will stand the rest of time and you will wear for years to come, instead of spending only on trends that come and go quicker than the season change. I’m not saying traditional silhouettes are for everyone, just that it’s nice to have more options.

Beyond the aesthetics of it all, I believe Barbie represents many qualities that I appreciate in fashion and life – beauty, femininity, adaptability, courage, aspiration and the possibility to be whatever you dream to be, no matter what the world says.

I feel like there is plenty to be said around Barbie, the controversy and how she has evolved over the many years; but there are many others talking about that. I’d rather remember the Barbie from my childhood who was fun, had a bright future of possibilities and brought joy to my world and a smile to my face.

And maybe after the last few years, what we need is a blast from the past, a walk down memory lane, to remind us of the good years and how beautiful life can be. Whether it’s the childhood joy of dressing up Barbie and taking her for a drive in her corvette, or singing along to a Britney Spears CD while sharing headphones on your friends Walkman after school; there is a real magic in the way fashion takes us back to moments in time. And if Barbiecore and Y2K Fashion can take me there (even if I’m traumatised by low rise jeans), I’m here for the ride and thankful for all the happy memories.

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