Fashion Trends That Completely Took Over The Past Decade

Fashion trends come and go in style — often fading in popularity faster than you can say "butterfly clips." Generally speaking, this is for the best, as many clothing and accessory trends inspire a sense of retrospective embarrassment years later. That said, the 2010s were a decade jam-packed with fashion trends that we're hoping will withstand the test of time.


While the past decade did see a couple of fashion trends we'd love to leave behind in 2019 — like those tiny sunglasses seemingly only fit for a supermodel's face — the 2010s also saw plenty of trends we'll happily be sporting well into the new decade. From cozy clothing, to stylish and loose-fitting retro-inspired wear, the past decade's fashion trends taught us that we don't have to sacrifice comfort in order to be fashionable. Here's a closer look at some of the most popular fashion trends from the past decade. 

Athleisure was the most comfortable fashion trend of the past decade

Out of all the fashion trends to spike in popularity throughout the 2010s, athleisure was perhaps the most comfortable of them all. Even if you haven't yet been introduced to the term "athleisure," chances are you've been sporting the trend without knowing. 


According to The Atlantic, athletic apparel brand Lulelemon — best known for its yoga pants — "sparked a global fashion revolution sometimes called 'athleisure' or 'activewear,'" and "blurred the lines between yoga-and-spin-class attire and normal street clothes." In other words, athleisure is comfortable enough to wear to the gym, and stylish enough to wear to brunch. 

In the past decade, athleisure has become so popular that even Merriam-Webster felt the need to define the trend, calling it "casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use." Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor at market research firm NPD Group, revealed in a 2018 report (via Forbes), "I often get asked whether the bubble around leisure will burst anytime soon, and the answer is no." Powell continued, revealing, "Athleisure rules the runway." Who says you can't look comfy and cute?


Mom jeans made a major comeback as a fashion trend in the past decade

Fashion trends don't last forever. That said, the best trends (or worst, depending on your personal taste) usually come back around eventually, causing an entire generation of people to go digging for treasure within their parents' wardrobes. This has certainly been the case for "mom jeans," which inspired perhaps one of the greatest SNL sketches of all time. 


Mom jeans are typically defined by their high waistline, relaxed zipper area, their straight, structured legs, and the way they tend to elongate the wearer's rear-end. 

Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at the market research firm NPD, told Today Style that mom jeans are popular because they're "easier to wear." Cohen continued, "[The style of mom jeans] is different enough to warrant buying a pair, and more people can wear higher waists without fear of 'tushy cleavage.'" Emma McClendon, the author of Denim: Fashion's Frontier, offered a possible explanation for the mom jeans revival, telling The Atlantic in 2019, "Clothes that were otherwise considered frumpy 10 years ago are now being picked up and championed."


The past decade saw plenty of belly buttons thanks to a crop top fashion trend

In a November 2019 appearance on Ellen, fashion icon Victoria Beckham was asked by Ellen DeGeneres to name a fashion trend she just doesn't get. "Crop tops," the star quickly retorted

Unfortunately, we have bad news for Beckham — the crop top likely isn't going anywhere anytime soon. With the rise of high-waisted skirts and pants, the short, belly-baring shirt has potential to flatter every body type. In a 2013 piece, Teen Vogue noted that crop tops were taking over, thanks to starlets like Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens — and the trend only grew in popularity as the 2010s progressed. In fact, the shirts saw such a resurgence throughout the past decade that even men jumped on the crop top trend. 


Of course, the male crop top is far from a new idea. As a self-proclaimed "crop top historian" explained to BBC, the male crop top saw a spike in popularity in the 1980s, before falling out of society's good graces sometime in the '90s. However, if retailer ASOS has anything to say in the matter, male crop tops are here to say. 

Cardigans provided plenty of coziness as a fashion trend this past decade

The cardigan is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing a wardrobe can have — and, while they've gone in and out of style as a fashion trend throughout the years, the 2010s saw cardigans make a comeback in a major way. 


"The cardigan used to be something to keep you warm in the work place," fashion writer Teri Agins told NPR. She continued, explaining, "It was not really an accessory you left on — unless you wore it as part of a twin set." However, according to industry experts, the cardigan saw a spike in popularity in the 2010s thanks to none other than First Lady Michelle Obama. As noted by Agins, the stylish first lady would often wear cardigans with her dresses. Many times, Obama paired her cardigans with a belt, adding a bit of figure-flattering structure to the piece. 

Of course, there's more than one way to wear a cardigan, which only adds to the cool weather staple's appeal. A good cardigan provides endless styling opportunities, making it perfect for the preppiest of wardrobes, as well as your free-spirited friend's boho-chic closet


The past decade welcomed the fashion trend of ripped jeans with open arms

Much to the confusion of grandparents everywhere, the 2010s saw a rise in distressed fashion, or clothes that looked as if they'd been well-worn for years — despite being brand new. Particularly, pre-ripped jeans became a closet staple for both men and women, prompting some people to question the appeal of spending major bucks on torn and tattered clothing.


Some of the world's most recognizable celebrities seem to be big fans of the fashion trend, including Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner (via Fashion). And, as royal watchers likely remember, Meghan Markle made quite a splash when she sported ripped denim to the 2017 Invictus Games during her first official public outing with Prince Harry. 

Tony Glenville, a creative director at London College of Fashion, told The Guardian in a 2017 interview that the popularity of ripped jeans and other distressed clothing items could perhaps be attributed to consumers' desire for authenticity. Designer Virgil Abloh echoed this sentiment in Vogue (via The Guardian), saying distressed clothing is appealing because "no one wants to look like they're trying too hard."


Jumpsuits made a major jump in popularity as a fashion trend

How many times have you tried on that blouse with those pants, those pants with this sweater, this sweater with that skirt — only to arrive to work 15 minutes late wearing the sweater and pants you started with? Fortunately, thanks to one of the past decade's most popular fashion trends, selecting a stylish outfit from your wardrobe has never been easier. By combining the one-piece ease of a dress with the range of movement provided by pants, the jumpsuit has become a fashion go-to for women of all body types. 


Tanya Gill, Jane Fonda's stylist, told Vogue in a 2019 interview that jumpsuits are "the epitome of a modern woman's wardrobe." And, according to design director Vanessa Spence, 2019 jumpsuit sales at retailer Asos were up 70 percent from the previous year (via The Guardian). 

Additionally, one of the decade's most iconic television fashion moments featured this fashion trend. The sleek, sultry jumpsuit worn by Phoebe Waller Bridge in the Season 2 premiere of Fleabag singlehandedly started a fashion movement, selling out within a day after the episode premiered (via Harper's Bazaar). 

The past decade saw this fashion trend give us a break from skinny jeans

For years, a quality pair of skinny jeans has been a fashion staple, able to be dressed up for work or dressed down for a casual Saturday grocery store run. However, as proven by the rise of relaxed, loose-fitting denim throughout the 2010s, many people have started to make comfort a top priority. Of course, this new attitude led to the revival of mom jeans. However, the comfort-over-fashion trend also ushered in the rise of boyfriend jeans


Boyfriend jeans can best be described as the lovechild of mom jeans and the bootcut denim style popularized in the '90s. Unlike mom jeans, however, boyfriend jeans aren't characterized by a high waist. Instead, this fashion trend can be high-waisted, mid-waisted, or low-waisted — as long as the overall structure of the jeans is ultra-relaxed and loose-fitting. Essentially, as implied by the name, boyfriend jeans are supposed to look as if you threw on a pair of too-big jeans you found in your beau's closet. Pair them with pointed-toe heels and a blazer for a sleek casual Friday look or an oversized sweater for a cozy weekend outing. 

Pleated skirts made twirling a lot more fun as a fashion trend this past decade

It's difficult to deny the appeal of a skirt that twirls around with you on the dance floor (or in your kitchen — we're not here to judge). Lucky for us, the pleated skirt saw a spike in popularity throughout the past decade — and, while this is likely due to the skirt's styling versatility, its twirl factor is certainly an added bonus to this fashion trend's appeal. 


Pleated skirts started trending early in the 2010s, with fashion bloggers praising them for their flattering silhouettes. That said, the later part of the decade truly saw the pleated skirt hit a new high. Who What Wear called the skirt a "cult buy," noting the clothing item's sudden spike in popularity. However, the pleated skirt would be nothing without, well, the pleats — a seemingly small detail that sets this fashion trend apart from other skirts. In an August 2018 piece, The Guardian credited pleats with improving the midi-skirt, describing them as "one of autumn's most pervasive details, particularly on mid-calf skirts — last autumn's style — whose grip on womenswear grows tighter each season." 


Metallic shoes made the past decade shinier as a fashion trend

Your personal style should be a reflection of who you are; however, if "who you are" is a flashy fashionista, your personal style might not be completely appropriate for your day job. After all, unless you're Lady Gaga, showing up to work dressed in shiny silvers and golds will likely get you a few looks from your less-daring coworkers. But you shouldn't have to completely sacrifice your sense of style for your workplace dress code. Fortunately for those people with an "all that glitters is gold" personal fashion philosophy, metallic shoes saw a rise in popularity throughout the past decade, providing a safe-for-work way to subtly express their innermost rockstars.


Metallic footwear started to trend in the early 2010s, with designers debuting metallic heels, flats, and wedges on the Fashion Week runway. And, in 2019, the trend was still going strong. Detailing the hottest shoe fashion trends of 2019 for Today, stylist Laurean Ossorio explained, "Whether you prefer bronze, silver or gold, booties, heeled platforms, or sneakers, [metallic shoes are] an easy way to assure your outfit will be a scene stealer."

We all had cold shoulders because of this fashion trend in the past decade

The off-the-shoulder fashion trend became so popular throughout the 2010s that The Washington Post felt inclined to explain the trend in July 2016, publishing an article aptly titled "Why the off-the-shoulder top is suddenly everywhere."


According to fashion analytics firm Edited (via The Washington Post), the first quarter of 2016 saw "a 110 percent year-over-year increase in the number of off-the-shoulder tops and dresses arriving online, along with a 218 percent boom in arrivals of cold-shoulder tops and dresses." Divisional vice president of design and fashion at J.C. Penney, Geoffrey Henning told the publication, "To me, this is the best thing that's happening right now in women's apparel."

Kate Middleton is a fan of the cold-shoulder top, as evidenced by the royal blue gown with the cut-out shoulder detailing she wore in December 2016 (via Grazia Daily). Similarly, Middleton's royal sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, seems to prefer an off-the-shoulder look (via Teen Vogue). If these royal ladies have anything to say in the matter, this shoulder-baring trend is here to stay. 


The oversized tee fashion trend totally took over the past decade

The 2010s saw restrictive, skintight clothing begin to drop in popularity as people started to opt for loose-fitting items that provided comfort and range of motion, and were versatile enough to wear to a variety of occasions. Much like mom jeans, boyfriend jeans, and even jumpsuits, the oversized tee is a popular fashion trend born from society's desire for comfort — and, just like Billie Eilish, we're totally here for it. 


In 2015, many of your favorite celebs were spotted sporting oversized tees long enough to wear without pants (via Teen Vogue) — a look we imagine was heavily inspired by everyone's favorite honey-loving bear, Winnie the Pooh. While leaving your pants at home is quite a daring move, the same comfy, stylish feel can be achieved with a pair of leggings. 

Perhaps the best part of the fashion trend is its affordability. As noted by Refinery29, one of items most popular among Instagram influencers in 2017 was an oversized, long-sleeved, gray tee — and, depending on the brand of shirt, it can cost less than $10 to snag the Insta-worthy top for your own wardrobe. 

Fashion sneakers left footprints all over the past decade as a fashion trend

While heels will likely always be a classic closet staple for many, the 2010s proved that sneakers are perhaps the most practical of all footwear choices — and maybe even the most fashionable. 

Dirk Standen, editor-in-chief of, told The New York Times, "A few years ago, if you walked into a certain kind of restaurant on the Upper East Side dressed [in sneakers] and the maître d' didn't know you, he might seat you in the back." Standen continued, saying, "That wouldn't happen today."


If we've learned anything from binge-watching Queer Eye, it's that resident style expert, Tan France, absolutely loves a good fashion sneaker — as the Queer Eye co-host often pairs the shoe with everything from denim, to dresses, to suits. "I have too many pairs of shoes to claim a favorite — literally hundreds," France told InStyle of the fashion trend in a 2019 interview. He continued, revealing, "I love almost all of them, but I do live in a sneaker or a boot." Added the television personality, "I feel most comfortable in a sneaker."

Tiny sunglasses might have been the past decade's most controversial fashion trend

Every generation has a fashion trend on which they look back with a sense of horrified regret. Personally, we've written off the days of bell bottoms and Birkenstock loafers as a years-long nightmare. While the 2010s ushered in plenty of fashion trends that we'll gladly take with us into 2020, one tiny item popularized throughout the past decade has seemingly divided an entire nation. We're talking about tiny sunglasses


Perhaps the most controversial fashion trend of the 2010s, tiny sunglasses saw a spike in popularity among celebrities and Instagram influencers alike — much to the dismay of people who prefer the full-coverage offered by the once-popular, oversized sunnies. Fortunately, some celebrities bravely spoke out against the tiny sunglasses trend — giving a voice to those of us who just couldn't find a pair of tiny sunglasses that flattered our faces. 

"I think we will regret this tiny sunglasses look," Mindy Kaling declared in a 2019 tweet. Posting Kaling's tweet to her Instagram, Anne Hathaway voiced her agreement, responding to Kaling by writing, "I'll sit this one out with you."

The past decade proved Ugg boots are here to stay as a fashion trend

Ugg boots are quite a controversial fashion trend. But it's easy to understand their appeal: their comfort. No matter your personal feelings regarding the Ugg boot aesthetic, the footwear brand's boots have an undeniably comfortable, warm, and cozy feel. 


In 2017, fashion designer Jeremy Scott announced a collaboration with Ugg — admitting that he had his reservations about the popular boot for a long time. "I was an undercover Ugg fan," Scott revealed to WWD. He continued, saying, "They are so cozy and I love the way they look with pants and shorts." Added the designer, "I was like, 'I'm going to do this. I don't care what people say.'" 

While Ugg boots first spiked in popularity in the late 2000s before dropping in popularity, the brand made a major comeback in the 2010s — especially toward the end of the decade. If you're an Ugg fan, you're in good company — Jennifer Lopez, Paris Jackson, and the Hadid sisters have all been spotted sporting the shoe.