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The Top and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

In 2004, we welcomed styles ranging from scant to prim, gentle and flowing to rigid and edgy. Fashion, it seems, was as split as the nation during the presidential election.If fashion reflects our cultural atmosphere by capturing ideas of status, revolt, and conformity, what did 2004's looks say about us?

Last year, we continued to be obsessed with cosmetic surgery. Hit reality television series showed women  and some males  transforming their natural skins into imagined ideal shapes using silicone, nose jobs, or sucking fat from their hips and putting it back into their lips to obtain the perfect physique. Meanwhile, organic foods and natural cosmetic items had a significant influence on the marketplace.

As the right to homosexual marriage divided the country on both sides, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" made the meat-and-potatoes guy ponder plucking his brows or swapping his tighty whities for a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs.

A previously obscure S&M accessory known as a nipple shield entered the American vernacular after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunctioned at halftime at the Super Bowl.

At the same time, pop artists who rose to prominence with exposed innies and outies have lately switched from belly rings to floor-sweeping dresses (Christina Aguilera) and hefty fur-lined Ugg boots (Britney Spears).

These and other fashion statements, or misstatements, as the case may be, caused us to reflect on ourselves, sparking anything from ethical arguments to public policy and even a few laughs.

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Best and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

Dude, where is my moisturizer? A profusion of male grooming products have reached the market, enabling guys to step out of their fashion closets and feel more at ease plucking, preening, and waxing. Shows like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" inspired shlumpy guys to clean up their residences with the newest furniture designs and not be afraid to wear color. Brad Pitt and soccer player David Beckham exemplified male beauty, and they weren't scared to look as good as Jennifer Aniston and Posh Spice.

80s Fashion

The Top and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

Indie musicians like The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand revived 1980s glam with bad-boy stovepipe pants, shaggy hair, and an affinity for eyeliner. Get ready for more 1980s kitsch as Kangaroos, the colorful footwear with an impossibly tiny zippered pouch, is about to reappear. Asymmetrical off-the-shoulder dresses with bright vertical stripes and pointed flats were also seen last year.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Brooches, ribbon belts, tweed, and capelets who knew there was such a thing before this year? Because exposed body was no longer surprising, celebs who were tired of revealing plunging decolletage often startled us by covering up. Ella Gunderson, an eleven-year-old from Washington state, sparked a nationwide conversation about the trashy condition of adolescent apparel after she complained to Nordstroms that there wasn't anything to conceal her belly or rear end. The department shop reacted by providing more options and larger skirt lengths.

Nip and Tuck

The Top and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

The plastic-surgery mania reached new heights, or maybe new lows, as popular new series such as Fox's "The Swan," ABC's "Extreme Makeover," depicted above, and E!'s "Dr. 90210" celebrated defying nature. Age seems to be the enemy, and women (and men) will go to any length to regain their youthful appearance. On the plus side, studies suggest both men and women are taking better care of their skin, with more encouragement to apply sunscreen to avoid skin cancer and premature aging.

Preppy Love.

Movies like "Mona Lisa Smile" and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" praised Muffy and Biff's blueblood manner both then and today. Blazers, layered polo shirts, and madras shorts made a comeback, as did designer Lilly Pulitzer, the queen of Palm Beach-inspired resort clothing, making hues like turquoise and melon fashionable again. This preppy combination includes a patchwork halter dress, a Pulitzer cardigan, and a Kate Spade straw purse. 

Read alos: Trends spotted at the Spring-Summer 2024 Fashion Week

Charity Bracelets.

The Top and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

Even when every Tom, Dick, and Kerry wore Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong wristband, you couldn't be too irritated since the bright yellow bracelet helped cancer research. Other organizations followed suit, offering pink bracelets for breast cancer and orange bands for diabetes.

Hip-Hop Grows

Hip-hop musicians are waving goodbye to baggy pants and sports jerseys, owing to Sean Jean's and, as shown here, Phat Farm's fashion creations. Last year, rappers Andre 3000 and Usher embraced tailored pants, cashmere V-neck sweaters beneath a suit jacket, as well as cravats and walking sticks.

Sex on Heels

Carrie's stilettos were destroyed when "Sex and the City" went down in flames. Sure, millions of women continue to like them, but other foot-friendly shoes, such as ballet flats and Uggs, have gained popularity.

Viva Los Ponchos.

Ponchos, which first appeared late last year, are still popular today. Grandma's blanket has never looked so appealing. The style is a change from cardigans and pullovers, but its pervasive presence in department shops means it will be consigned to the 70% off clearance area in a few months. 

Also read: Schiaparelli Spring Summer 2024 Couture: A Vision of Artistry and Elegance

Fussy Jeans

The Top and Worst Fashion Trends of 2004

Enough with the rips, fading, stitching, buckles, and rhinestones. What happened to the days when you could wear the same trustworthy pair of Levi's till you had that beautiful worn-in look? Clothing businesses sucked the pleasure out of it, to the point of absurdity. Pre-faded crotch lines, anyone? Yikes.

Logo Bags

We didn't feel bad about carrying a $1,000 expensive purse since we were wearing our charity bracelets. And just in case you didn't identify them as status symbols, Gucci, Chanel, and Dooney and Burke wallpapered their purses with the insignia, making ordinary people green with jealousy.

Lilac and Carnation.

Last year, not everyone felt wearing a sweater the color of Pepto-Bismol was attractive, but fashion color experts predict that this pretty hue will not go away anytime soon. And take note: Purple and violet came on strong at the conclusion of the year, assuring that everyone would be tired of wearing eggplant by the end of 2005. Jewel tones, a welcome break from black and brown, appeared on runways last year, brightening wardrobe drabs.

Canine Accessory

Peta has not said whether a little dog tied to a celebrity wearing pink booties constitutes animal cruelty, but a miniature Fido draped over the arm or nestled between the breasts was supposedly a fashion "do" for campy diva Paris Hilton and other hipsters, like Bijou Phillips. Although Chihuahuas seemed to be the canine of choice, supermodel Gisele Bundchen loves to bring her little Yorkshire terrier Vida to fashion sessions in a Louis Vuitton dog carrier. 


What was the fashion trend in 2004?

Ruffles galore was INTENSE. Ruffles were everywhere: on shirts, skirts, shoes, dresses, and BAGS—it was too much. I'm not sure what it was about ruffles that had everyone in a chokehold, but the craze continued on and off for years. 

How to dress like 2004? 

In 2004, layering meant wearing three separate lace tank tops, a shirt, a blazer, and a ruffled miniskirt with tights underneath. Layering was done fully out of pocket. Of course, we adore tank tops with lace at the bottom that simply. 

What was wrong with 2000's fashion? 

The horrible fashion. Two decades later, I can confess that our low-rise jeans, expensive embossed handbags, strange graphic shirts, and butt-graphic sweatpants were not cute. This is difficult for me to acknowledge because I adore fashion and looking nice for no one but myself. It wasn't all horrible, however.

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