I, like anyone who lived and wore clothes through the first 10 years of the 2000s, have made countless vows never to speak of that time again. After all, over the course of a single decade many of us committed fashion atrocities for which we can never be fully absolved: multiple polo shirts worn simultaneously, mini shoulder bags, kitten heels, wristlets, scarves as thin as they were long (very). And flip-flops. So many flip-flops. Worn with everything, all the time.
My stance on flip-flops has been sound since 2006. Liz Lemon declared how gross they were on 30 Rock, and soon I too came to condemn them, to detest them, and to write about how unhygienic they were whenever given the opportunity. I hated their sound, their lack of arch support, and the fact that we wore them with far-too-long flares for most of the noughties. They were, I maintained, a reminder of the aesthetic mistakes we made in the past and inevitably go on to make again. Flip-flops were my enemy, and only I could bring them down.
Not that I had totally written off nostalgia in fashion. For years I’d scoured thrift stores and second-hand chains for pieces I cherished as a wee baby teen, since for most of the ’90s, I was too young to pull off (or afford) the majority of anything. (And over the ’00s, I was desperately trying to seem grown-up despite being quite obviously the opposite.) And now brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Fila, Levi’s, and Gap have started releasing styles inspired by their decades-old predecessors.
The abundance of nineties and noughties imagery on Instagram, in malls (my safe place), and even on famouses made my over-romanticization of Y2K-and-beyond feel increasingly justified. At 33, I’ve just started to wear what I want. And sometimes that meant reliving the past.
That was my ethos one evening this past May when I walked into the mall, beelined to a sports store, and in a shocking turn of events, bought the same pair of Adidas slides I’d owned 20 years ago. This time (I vowed silently) I was going to wear them in the cool, casual way I’d seen my aunts or friends’ older siblings pull off. This time I was going to let my love of the nostalgia outweigh my hated of flip-flops. This time I was going to wear what I want.