In Victoria Monét‘s “On My Mama” music video, the Atlanta native paid homage to the era-defining stylings of the early aughts, giving much-deserved nods to the tall tees, baggy jeans and jersey dresses that solidified themselves as fixtures of the Black style zeitgeist. While she is not the first to reference this pivotal era of urban fashion, her execution, some of the best we’ve seen, in my opinion, calls to front the importance of recognizing where all these trends started.
It is next to impossible to ignore Y2K’s placement as a sartorial muse for the current trend cycle. Whether it be the low-rise jeans taking over TikTok For You Pages everywhere, the resurgence of chainmail as a go-to material for going out tops or the return of velour tracksuits, all of the styles that were taking over for the ’99 and the 2000 are back like they never left.
But this blast from the past represents more than just our love for all things vintages; it’s a stylistic tribute to the pioneering styles of our R&B faves.
A few years ago, the idea of wearing baggy, characteristically unflattering jeans would be guffawed at, but now the next generation of style crusaders seems to be embracing the style of loose-fitting jeans made effortlessly cool by the late Aaliyah. The Detroit-raised singer’s style is almost as prolific as her celebrated vocals, and some of her most iconic looks, like the iconic yellow and black Roberto Cavalli dress she wore to the 2000 MTV Music Awards, are still being used as fashion reference today.
Similarly, R&B darlings 3LW were known for their fitted tank tops and wide flared jeans, and if “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)” were to drop today, save for a few technological discrepancies, most of us would not notice a difference, certainly not from a fashion perspective.
Even beyond the clothes, the makeup stylings of the time, which prioritized thinner browns and a starkly contrasted lip liner, are back in aesthetic favor. I’m reminded of such when I watch back videos from beloved girl group 702, namely the looks served in the “Where My Girls At” video, which is full of timeless face beats I would recreate in a second and have pulled influence from in real-time.
Of course, much can be said about a perceived lack of originality regarding the fervent referencing that fuels much of what we wear today, but there is something so beautifully evocative about being able to see a new generation directly or inadvertently extolling the style moments birthed from the pioneering intersection of R&B and fashion. If imitation is truly the highest form of flattery, then it seems unlikely our R&B faves will be descending from grace anytime soon.