First things first: this issue is meant to be read with a sense of humor and an affection for Y2K nostalgia. Okay? Okay.
I find myself at an age where I’ve been on the internet long enough that the millennial cultural fodder of my teens and early 20s (my friend Tighe calls it “Internet 1.0”) is now considered vintage enough to circle back around.
It never ceases to amaze me how Gen Z takes Y2K and rebrands it. Tumblr culture has given way to shitposting. Britney’s cool again, but Justin is cancelled. Bucking the smartphone, disposable cameras are back, but this time by choice, not necessity — their spoils un-ironically uploaded as “photo dumps” the same beleaguered way Millennials used PhotoBucket and Facebook albums in college.
Get Z has also taken Lilly-clad prepster of the fratty early aughts and sartorially married her to the Roxy-stickered surf babe: she’s called the “Coconut Girl”, a look pursued as an egalitarian, avant-basic “aesthetic” rather than the adopted uniform of the young WASP.
She basks in the sun, slathered in Supergoop. I bask in an aesthetician’s office, slathered in numbing cream as the sun damage is lasered from my face because I used Australian Gold tanning accelerator in a time before sunscreen was stocked at Sephora.
If you’re new here, I want you to know that I embrace both teen nostalgia and mood boards with great enthusiasm. So this is right in my wheelhouse, and here’s your starter kit.
Hibiscus prints: if you were in middle or high school the first five years of the millennium, then you probably remember the way every teenager, no matter how landlocked, wanted to look like a sun-soaked surfer. It was the era of The O.C., Holiday in the Sun, Aquamarine, Laguna Beach, and shopping mall surf shops peddling the Roxy swimsuits and Quicksilver tees that eventually incepted Blue Crush and later, brands like Hollister. Both then and now, the motif owes a great debt to the native people of Hawaii, who first gave us the Aloha shirt as far back as the 1920s. Fast forward to 2021: the hibiscus has returned to the trend cycle with a vengeance — but with a vintage Lilly Pulitzer lean. Thrift it on depop.
Crochet: not mad at this. Remember the 2006-ish comeback of uber-preppy Bermuda bags? It happened right before Jack Rogers also hit the mega-mainstream, thanks to Y2K teens and college students resurfacing the Official Preppy Handbook and taking it as gospel. Anyway, now we’re getting crochet Bermuda bags. In pink. But at Target, not Snappy Turtle.
(For the sake of this issue, I googled Snappy Turtle for the first time in many, many years and I’m kind of relieved it’s still kicking. When I was 18 and living in South Florida, that shop was my favorite. Though I’m pretty sure if I were that age living there these days, I’d be at LoveShackFancy instead.)
Toy rings: remember how Hard Candy nail polish used to come with the little plastic ring that matched the color in the bottle? This is kind of like that. If it looks like it came out of a gumball machine or a 1999 Claire’s, it’s cool — and that includes glinty temporary tattoos, baby butterfly clips, and *Millenial gasp* puka shells.
Inflatables: when I was in elementary school, I begged my parents for a blue inflatable chair for my bedroom. At least this generation is actually using theirs in the water.
Airbrushing: I’m not talking about FaceTune. I’m talking about the old guy at the souvenir shop kiosk trying to sell you your name on a t-shirt with a dolphin and a sunset. Except on phone cases now.
Pink and green: but like, heady — on hoodies and tees, instead of tight green strapless dresses covered in pink elephants drinking martinis in a very specific example which I definitely did not own *looks sideways*.
Bucket hats: this one hasn’t been exclusively co-opted by the Coconut Girl, but I feel it deserves an honorable mention given it belongs inside a 90’s PacSun or dELiA*s catalog. Hip hop did it first, white girls did it last and thought it was original. What else is new! Anyways, they’re still cute, and if you want one, I suggest you double down and get it in Juicy green terry.
Status-y sunscreens: …which I will go into great detail about on Sunday before we break for Labor Day next week, I promise. Australian Gold no more!
Now here’s the real question: do we tell the Coconut Girls about Gypset, or keep that one for ourselves?