Y2k fashion and pop culture: top trends of 2021 (and 2022 predictions)

1. Baked feta pasta

The baked feta pasta dish was so popular that the hashtag #FetaPasta had more than 1.1B views on TikTok. What made the dish so appealing? The easy effort. All you had to do was toss a block of feta, cherry tomatoes and olive oil together in a pan, throw it in the oven until softened and then mix with pasta and fresh basil. According to Google Trends data, “TikTok pasta” was the top trending recipe of 2021.




2. Olivia Rodrigo (drivers license)

Every teenager was singing the same sad song at the beginning of 2021. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and broke a Spotify streaming record along with millions of TikTok lip-syncing and cover videos. It’s hard to resist jamming out to the dramatic chorus of “Red lights! Stop signs!”







3. No Bones Day

The trend began with TikTok user Jonathan Graziano and his pug, Noodle. Every day, Graziano would see if Noodle would stand or not stand and flop down like a noodle. It’s the TikTok version of Groundhog day, where people could predict their day based on whether or not it’s a bones day.



4. Taylor Swift’s 10 minute music video

Taylor Swift gave fans what they didn’t know they needed: an expanded, re-released album of Red. Red became the most-streamed album in a day from a female artist on Spotify with nearly 91 million global first day streams. After watching the 15-minute-long film “All Too Well, Swifties took it to Twitter to write scorching, yet amusing tweets about the song’s supposed subject, actor Jake Gyllenhaal. 






5. Starbucks drinks

Thanks to TikTok, Starbucks baristas were making all sorts of drinks. People were treating themselves to a sip of:

  • Iced White Mocha with Vanilla Sweet Cream Foam and Caramel Drizzle
  • Pink Drink with Vanilla Sweet Cream Foam
  • Iced Matcha Latte with Chai
  • Iced Chai Latte with Brown Sugar Syrup 
  • Puppuccino (for pets)

6. Zoom meeting fails

The transition from in-person classes to virtual classes because of COVID-19 meant that students were able to mess around online, particularly with a viral TikTok audio. This audio sounded like a lag, similar to when the wifi cut out. When students were called on, they used this audio to avoid answering.




7. Thrift Flip

Thrifting was a capsule of creativity and vintage style that had people hustling to their Goodwill and Salvation Army. Thrift flipping is when you purchase items from thrift stores with the intention of reselling them for a profit. Depop became especially popular, where people could sell their thrifted items as well as buy them from others.



8. Shein

TikTok influencers like Addison Rae and Lil Nas X have worked with the Fast Fashion company Shein to make it a Gen Z favorite. There’s a reason for the popularity—the prices—tops for $7, dresses for $12, jeans for $17 and coats for $28. And not just any clothing, but dupes for trendy pricey pieces.




9. Photo Dump

No one had much to dress up for or do during the pandemic, so photo dumps became the new thing on Instagram. Posts were coupled with casual selfies, food, sunset and candid shots that gave a “low-effort” vibe. It was almost like a digital diary, like a Gen Z scrapbook or like an aunt’s random Facebook album.




10. Y2k fashion

Y2k style came roaring back. 2021 went back to 2003. Paris Hilton once again became the IT girl. This meant Von Dutch trucker hats, Prada handbags, Ed Hardy tees, low rise jeans and Juicy Couture zip-ups. Girls also raved over the small top, big pant combo so much so that it was nearly impossible to get your hands on a pair of wide leg jeans from stores like Zara.



11. Inverted filter

TikTok users freaked out over the inverted filter, taking selfies to the next level. It flips the front-camera, showing how you appear to others as opposed to how you see yourself in the mirror. People began rethinking their whole life, questioning how people really saw them.




12. Astrology, crystals, tarot cards and TikTok readings

Some call it pseudoscience, but some take it seriously. TikTok “For You” pages were promising a whirlwind of love and changes. Will my crush like me back? Will I get accepted to that college? Leave it to TikTok to answer those questions. People are even taking it to the next level by checking how compatible they are with their crush.



13. Curtain bangs

People were pinning this bangin’ trend all over Pinterest and TikTok. Unlike the straight-across bangs, the curtain bangs are a little more non-committal. It frames your face with long fringe pieces when parted in the middle, so it compliments any face shape.





14. #TikTokFashion

Give it to TikTok to run the fashion industry. Not only did TikTok become a platform for top brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior to stream their fashion shows and products, but users have also been scouted from modeling agencies like IMG Models. Girls also began wearing trendy clothes like corset tops, yoga pants, tennis skirts, Doc Martens, La Manso rings, varsity jackets and leather pants.


15. Outerbanks

The Netflix hit-series Outerbanks made a comeback with a season 2. Guys obsessed over Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline) and girls obsessed over JJ (Rudy Pankow) and Rafe Cameron (Drew Starkey). So obsessed that they began dressing as the characters!




16. TikTok dances

People were grooving with their favorite TikTok influencers like Charli D’Amelio. Chances are you’ve filmed yourself dancing to one of these audios like:

“Up” – Cardi B

“Kiss Me More” -Doja Cat

“Corvette corvette” -Popp Hunna


You’ve hit TikTok dance moves like:

Jerk, Dougie, Milly rock and Mob


17. Chrome Hearts

Chrome Hearts was the rage for the streetwear look. This luxury Los Angeles brand was everywhere, from Lil Uzi Vert’s song “Chrome Heart Tag” to Kylie Jenner’s paparazzi pictures to being Off-White creator Virgil Abloh’s favorite brand. What made it so popular was the rhinestone crosses that were stoned onto trucker hats and the signature black hoodie.



18. Sage, brown

TikTok and Pinterest feeds were color-coded in sage and brown that was incorporated in popular aesthetics like cottagecore, grunge and soft. These two colors gave an earthly feel that took style to the next level; the sage green popped of fresh and fun while the brown took it down a notch, making the combo perfect.



19. Acrylic french tips

It has always been the classic white French tips that all the moms got. But, this year, it was different. People switched out white for different colors and intricate designs like cherries, smiley faces and hearts. It’s Gen-Z’s twist on basic nails.








20. Mullets, wolf cuts and buzz cuts

There was a 142 percent increase in searches for the word “mullet,” where the “business in the front, party in the back” look rocked back in style. There was a 100 percent increase in searches for the word “wolf cut,” where the disheveled, wispy shag look blew up. Additionally, the buzz cut look came in hot. Lockdown made it the perfect time to make a bold statement… What could you have possibly lost?



21. Podcasts and reading

With pandemic, we had more time on their hands than ever to listen to podcasts and read books. Trending podcasts included “The Joe Rogan Experience”, “Ted Talks Daily” and “Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain.”   Audio content became the thing because listeners could multitask. But for those one-task-at-a-time people, reading was also a hit. Trending books included “People We Meet on Vacation,” “The Soulmate Equation” and “Klara and the Sun.”


2022 Trend Predictions 

1. Skinny jeans

Let’s talk: skinny jeans. Gen-Z agreed to ditch the skinny jeans when they ditched the side part. Side part is not coming back… But, don’t donate your jeans from 2016 away just yet; they’re going to make a comeback. Popular brands like Zara and Artizia are still keeping skinny jeans up on their shelves, who’s to say other brands won’t start doing the same?






2. Schools shut down

With the new Omicron variant, cases are skyrocketing with teacher shortages and student absences. The University of California system has announced that they would go online, so high schools and lower schools will start following. We’ve gone online once, a second time is a possibility.



3. Apps for meditation, mental wellness and self-help books

With the ongoing pandemic, people will focus on keeping their bodies healthy physically and mentally. This means constant movement: weight-training, cardio, yoga, walking and cycling. Expect a focus on mental fitness too. This means quality time with yourself to: say affirmations, journal, read, reflect and explore self help books.







4. Emma Chamberlain opens a coffee shop

Emma Chamberlain plugs her coffee company in every single YouTube video. In 2021, she did several pop-ups of her coffee for a few days in Los Angeles. For 2022, expect there to be a permanent one, but in San Francisco where she grew up.







5. Bright eyeshadow

2022 will come in bold… starting with eye makeup. 2021 was a very neutral, very “no makeup” makeup look. This new year, the palette will expand with pigmented colors. And for those who don’t want to go all in, colored eyeliner will be popular too.




6. Publishing books instead of starting nonprofits

Over quarantine in 2021, everyone’s Instagram blew up with follow requests from nonprofits that high school students were starting. But, this year will be about publishing books. We’ve already seen some of our own Irvine High School classmates write children’s books… so expect even more.







7. Movies

The Marvel movie Morbius was finished filming in 2019, but has been delayed six times. With so much delay, the hype won’t be as good, and therefore, the movie will flop. But expect movies like “The Batman,” “Marry Me” and Disney’s “Turning Red”.




8. Skincare

People were given facial gift cards for Christmas. So expect that to follow into 2022. People will either go to a professional or recreate it at home with beauty tools such as the gua-sha, derma rollers and mini lasers. It’s also a great bonding experience if you take a loved one, say your mom. Healthy skin and healthy relationships, a 2-in-1.







9. Big bags

2021 went petite, but 2022 will go big… go big or go home! Say bye to mini Prada bags and hello to tote bags and cross body bags. 2021 went for the minimalist 90’s look, but 2022 is going to go for the chic mom look. PURSE-chase these big bags before they sell out.









10. Jewelry

Jewelry is the cherry on top for any outfit. People will be adding charms to necklaces, earrings and bracelets. People will also be stacking jewelry… This means layers upon layers of jewelry. And to make it more interesting, expect people to mix gold and silver too!