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19th Feb 2024

The ghosts of fashions past: Are we ready to forgive our styling regrets from the ’00s?

Jody Coffey


It appears we’re about to meet more ghosts of fashion this year

We already knew, and maybe even accepted, that fashion foes such as low-rise jeans and peplums were coming back.

What we didn’t foresee was the revival of Y2K fashion such as the ‘whale tail’ or the ‘cold shoulder’ top.

Yet, here they are, back in a very real way and being donned by influential and high-profile celebrities such as Dua Lipa.

Funnily enough (or perhaps not funny at all), the ‘cold shoulder’ tops and the ‘whale tail’ were voted as the 6th and 7th most regretted fashion choices of the ’90s and ’00s, respectively, according to a study conducted by Freemans.

Halle Berry at the 9th Annual MTV Movie Awards in 2000. Credit: Getty

The ‘Whale Tail’ Trend

At the Grammys earlier this month, Dua Lipa had three outfit changes, one being a black, long-sleeve, floor-length gown, featuring an evolution of the ’00s whale tail for the Gucci afterparty.

Dua Lipa and Beyoncé attend the 66th GRAMMY Awards. Credit: Getty

The ‘whale tail’ trend was a popular layered clothing trend choice in the early 2000s.

While it was defined by wearing hip-hugger jeans or skirts, a crop top, and high-riding thongs, it seems to be coming back with a more subtle touch.

Celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry, and Gillian Anderson all helped to popularise the trend in the early 2000s.

Gillian Anderson attends the Vanity Fair magazine party at Morton’s in 2001. Credit: Getty

Despite the influence, the trend began to fade in the mid-2000s. We turned back on these trends and leaned more toward high-waisted trousers and cardigans over exposed midriffs.

However, over the last couple of years, the ‘whale tail’ has slowly been creeping back onto the red carpets and runways through the likes of Alexa Demie, Bella Hadid, and more recently Dua Lipa.

Alexa Demie at the LA Premiere Of HBO’s “Euphoria” at The Cinerama Dome on June 4, 2019 
Bella Hadid walking the runway at the Versace fashion show during the Milan Men’s Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 on June 15, 2019  Credit: Getty

The ‘Cold Shoulder’ Trend

To me, this was called wearing an ‘off-the-shoulder’ top, but its trend name was the ‘cold shoulder’ for obvious reasons.

Dua Lipa, during the debut of her new song, Training Season, at the Grammys, also took inspiration from the ‘cold shoulder’ top.

The Dance The Night singer arrived on stage sporting a strappy leather look with bare shoulders.

Dua Lipa performs onstage during the 66th GRAMMY Awards on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Getty

The ‘cold shoulder’ tops were often accompanied by exposed bra straps throughout the 2000s something Dua Lipa’s performance attire included.

For many of us, we may remember the early-2000s version of the fashion foe like this:

Despite placing 7th on the most regretted fashion choices from the noughties era in the UK, the trend seems to be on the up, but with a twist.

People are now wearing the cold shoulder look without the bra straps on show.

These days, the ‘cold shoulder’ has been revived once more by the likes of Meghan Markle, who seems to renew its popularity with every outing.

Meghan Markle at the 2023 Variety Power Of Women at Mother Wolf on November 16, 2023 Meghan Markle at The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in the Digital Age during Project Healthy Minds’ World Mental Health Day Festival 2023 at Hudson Yards on October 10, 2023. Credit: Getty