It was not the year of the bellbottom, or even the year of animal prints. In fact, there's very little to look to as far as signature 2003 fashion trappings. Not that folks were walking around looking bad. Everyone showed skin in the spring and summer months, wore sensible shoes in the fall and winter, and generally kept things admirably functional and classic. Perhaps we were all too busy protesting the Bush administration and perfecting our Friendster profiles. And hey, that's okay! We have a whole new year to be wackier and pizzazier. But, 'tis the season for retrospection, so let's take a look back at some of the limpest trends that took and kept hold in this tumultuous era.
#38. Mesh Trucker Hats: A controversial, yet stylistically benign trend. Often associated with Pabst consumption and other modes of class-privilege tourism.
#37. Formalized Cargo Pants: This yawner of a style got a little refurbishing this year, with extra ties and fancier fabrics like velvet, scrunched demurely over goin'-out high heels.
#36. The Faux-hawk: Although it instantly suggests "pussy," and is the hairstyle equivalent of a stick-on tattoo, this punk-for-a-day 'do turned out to be actually quite flattering on certain malnourished indierock boys.
#35. Leg Warmers: Making their obligatory fourth comeback, these handy little sweater bits let the girls get away with minis when the weather started to turn.
#34. Mullets: Gutsy. Quite a few brave souls carried a permanent air of irony this year, inspiring a wave of "mullet products," from shampoo to chewing gum. (Extra points if it was curly and/or past your shoulders.)
#33. Aviator Sunglasses: They became as much of a staple as flip-flops in the summer. Not very original, but absolutely everyone looks smokin' hot in them.
#32. Debbie Harry Hair: Platinum on top, and black or dark brown on the bottom. Had a major advantage over an all-over bleach because dark roots actually complement the style.
#31. Solid, Brightly Colored Tights: All the fashion mags touted this as a must-have for the massive mod revival that never happened. So we all went and dropped like $60 on hosiery, and now we're walking around looking like junior high girls and wondering what happened.
#30. Hoop Earrings: Easily this generation's best answer to the pearl stud. Always foxy, dirt cheap, and always appropriate. This year saw especially hot competition in the size department.
#29. Steve Madden's "Gipper" Shoes: Inspiring a record number of knock-offs, this feminine, casual design spread like wildfire. You know the ones: Maryjane-esque, with little petal-shaped cutouts at the toe. 2003's triumph over the sneaker.
#28. White Belts: Rarely does an accessory have the power to inspire such volatile reactions, much less become the catch-all term for a social sub-genre. A white belt can get you jumped, instantly included, pigeonholed, and compared to the White Stripes. A dubious power.