The hip-hop 2000s fashion took the world by storm at the beginning of the 21st century. Men and women from all over the globe couldn’t get enough of wearing baggy pants with basketball shoes, not to mention all the different caps, sweatbands, and durags they’d cover their heads with. Those keen on learning what to wear to a 2000s party, read on!
Defining Hip-hop Style: What Was 2000s Men’s Fashion?
The old-school hip-hop style we’ve come to know and love was at the height of its game between the 1990s and the 2000s. Pioneers would get up on stage or release music videos dressed in baggy, oversized clothing — all while decked out in huge golden chains and many different kinds of headwear. Ever since rap had entered the mainstream, artists like P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West played monumental roles in popularizing their respective looks, defining an entire generation of hip-hop fashion.
In order to define the hip hop style, it’s important to look at the different trends that were popular in the 2000s — as well as what caused these trends to begin with. Most of the aesthetic carried over from rappers in the 1980s, and the 1990s is complete with jerseys and basketball shoes. Overall, it made for a “tough” and “urban” look that was easy to move around and dance in.
Hip-hop 2000s Fashion Trends to Look Back On
When you think of old-school hip hop, you think of big expensive jewelry, swanky headgear, and big, baggy pants with jerseys and sweatshirts. Rap is all about swagger and confidence, and that means putting on loud and attention-grabbing clothes and showing off your wealth and status.
If you’re keen on cooking up 2000s outfits inspired by some of the hip hop greats like LL Cool J and Wu-Tang Clan, then look no further. Here are some of the most iconic hip-hop style fashion trends to grace the public eye in the early 21st century.
Sweatbands are sporty accessories beloved by many rappers, and they were a standout amidst many hip-hop 2000s fashion trends for their athletic look. These accessories came with the practical benefit of absorbing sweat. However, there’s no denying that they make for an active, sporty aesthetic that works exceptionally well with throwback jerseys and basketball shoes.
For many hip-hop artists in the 2000s, having a signature look that made one feel like part of the streets was essential. Sweatbands were a surefire way to achieve that. Rappers like 50 Cent, P. Diddy, and Nelly made it a point to rock sweatbands around their heads and occasionally their wrists whenever they made appearances in public.
What made baggy clothes prominent amongst people in the hip-hop scene was how oversized clothes were seen as an integral part of 2000s urban fashion. For many artists, baggy clothes were a way to shift the listener’s attention away from the musician themselves so that they could focus on the music they made instead. Baggy clothes were popularized by rappers and groups like Chamillionaire and the Wu-Tang Clan.
For other artists, baggy clothes were simply comfortable and easy to move around in. Hip hop dancers needed clothes that were large enough to accommodate their movements. Breakdancing required a lot of mobility, and the bigger the clothes, the more exaggerated the motions. This is essential for dancers trying to show off their moves.
Durags, also known as do-rags or dew-rags, are one of the most iconic articles of hip-hop clothing. This cloth was first used by African American men to help their hair maintain wave patterns. Durags also kept long hair out of the way, absorbing the sweat from your forehead.
This form of headwear was a hallmark in African-American fashion for decades. It remained in the public eye up until the late 2000s. Though the durag was first used to help maintain hairstyles, its use has diversified since its creation. It quickly became a fashion statement. Durags were popularized by rappers such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and even Eminem.
Once a prominent accessory in the 90s and the 2000s, the bucket hat has made a surprising comeback in recent years. What makes this headwear so attractive is how different from the norm it is. Anyone who wears one can expect to stand out. It has a simple design. However, its distinct silhouette differs from the average cap greatly. In fact, it differs so much that it makes for a cutting-edge and stylish look.
Bucket hats came about in the early 20th century and were commonly worn by farmers and fishermen due to the protection they offered from the rain. Given their make, they were waterproof and could be easily cleaned. Eventually, they became a notable fashion accessory among prominent musicians in the hip hop scene, such as LL Cool J and Jay-Z.
Sneakers and Basketball Shoes
Rappers have always used extravagant footwear to accentuate their hip-hop style. As a result, sneakers and basketball shoes have become an important part of hip-hop culture. What makes this footwear fun to use is how they’re big, they’re loud, and there are many ways in which a man can style them.
In fact, sneakers have become so prominent in the 2000s hip-hop scene that rappers have dedicated songs to them. Nelly, for instance, released the hit song “Air Force Ones” in 2002 to pay tribute to one of his favorite basketball shoes. To this day, hip-hop artists carry on the tradition of wearing sneakers and basketball shoes no matter the occasion.
As for their practical use, basketball shoes are perfect for hip-hop artists who dance. They’re durable and designed for maneuverability. After all, it’s a lot easier to breakdance or pull off wild moves with shoes that can keep up with you.
Not to be confused with the culinary device of the same name, grills are a form of metal jewelry that goes over your teeth. These accessories, also known as fronts or golds, have been worn by hip-hop artists since the 1980s. Their popularity spiked in the 2000s as music like rap entered the mainstream and became hallmarks in pop culture worldwide.
Grills are often made of expensive and rare metals like silver, gold, or platinum. They are commonly decorated with jewels and expensive stones. Usually, grills are accessories that can be worn. Much like how we adorn our fingers with rings, you can decorate your teeth with grills. Despite this, grills can be permanently attached to your teeth. Rappers like Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Ludacris, and countless others have all rocked grills in the past.
Timberland boots, also known as timbs, were once a symbol of wealth in many Black social circles. In the past, such footwear was typically marketed toward blue-collar workers who needed them for heavy-duty work. This made them a popular article of clothing for people in the hip-hop scene.
Timbs were a huge part of hip-hop 2000s fashion, especially among artists like Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, and Kanye West. Though this footwear was designed with construction in mind, that didn’t stop rappers from making the look their own. The shoes made for a rugged look, which alluded to of the edgy and dangerous lives hip-hop artists lived.
There’s no denying that gold, gigantic jewelry, and bling are some of the most iconic accessories used by hip-hop artists in the 2000s. The main purpose of wearing oversized jewelry is to show off wealth. A gigantic necklace made of gold and diamonds is impractical and uncomfortable for everyday use. However, they’re attention-grabbing and fun during shows and concerts.
You’ve likely seen rappers rocking unconventional, oversized jewelry in the past. Accessories like golden chains were seen as indicators that you’ve made it as a rapper because they were flashy, expensive, and extravagant. Hip-hop 2000s fashion trends weren’t exactly known for their subtlety. Giant golden jewelry was perfect for showing off their fame and fortune.
Shutter shades, also known as slatted shades, are unique in how they serve no practical purpose. Instead, they’re bold fashion statements. Since most shutter shades lack lenses, they offer no protection from sunlight. Shutter shades don’t even have grades to help people see more clearly. They’re loud, stylish, and never fail to draw attention. This is what made accessories like these so appealing to hip-hop artists in the 2000s.
Arguably, the man who managed to bring shutter shades back into the hip-hop 2000s fashion scene was none other than Kanye West, who rocked the look in the music video for his hit song, “Stronger.” Though the look was once incredibly popular during the 1980s, it fell out of the public’s eye. Fashion, by its very nature, is fleeting. Despite this, certain looks don’t have to remain obsolete and out of date. Looks that were trendy before can easily become trendy again.
It wasn’t uncommon for hip-hop artists to show off which teams they were backing during shows. Rappers would slap football, baseball, or basketball jerseys over their undershirts. Like sweatbands and sneakers, athletic clothes were a huge part of what made hip-hop 2000s fashion trends so iconic. The trend began in the 1990s, but it continued to the 2000s and even grew in popularity.
Though throwback jerseys have fallen out of the public eye recently, there’s no denying that it was impossible to go around without seeing people rocking them back in the day. The hip-hop duo Outkast have rocked these jerseys in the past, along with the Wu-Tang Clan.
Like most athletic wear, clothing and accessories associated with sports have become hallmarks in hip-hop and urban fashion. Many rappers are proud to wear clothes representing their favorite teams to show off who they’re backing and which sports they’re following. Musicians like Jay-Z have rocked baseball caps several times, representing the New York Yankees.
A rapper’s headgear choice tells of their personality and how they carry themselves. It’s what makes them identifiable. More often than not, the unique accessories they wear become integral parts of their identities.
During the 2000s, many rappers dressed in nicer, less casual clothing to spruce things up. Smart and business casual clothing was much more form-fitting and “sensible.” Examples of smart casual clothing include button-up shirts, sweaters, and slim-fit jeans. These looks sharply contrasted with the baggier, more athletic outfits worn by other rappers from the same era.
Smart casual outfits were most commonly worn in the 2000s by hip-hop artists like Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Outkast for their music videos. Eventually, in the late 2000s, hip-hop apparel would diverge from the gold chains and sportswear in favor of more slim-fit styles. This is undoubtedly the result of the experimental smart-casual outfits that became popular in the hip-hop scene earlier in the decade.
Trucker Hats and Vans
While many rappers would prefer to wear baseball caps and basketball shoes, others opted for a more lowkey aesthetic. Rocking sporty clothes has been a hallmark of the hip-hop aesthetic for decades. Despite this, there are many different kinds of sporty clothes. Trucker hats and Vans appeal to the skater demographic, creating a different look that manages to remain trendy and athletic, from what most 2000s rappers wore.
Trucker hats can be distinguished from baseball caps by the plastic mesh on their backside. On the other hand, Vans are easily distinguishable from basketball shoes, thanks to their sleeker, slimmer look — not to mention how many come in unique patterns and styles that make them eye-catching and trendy. Knowing how to lace Vans is also important, as many different lacing methods and techniques exist. Vans were popular enough to get lauded by the hip-hop group The Pack, in their hit song “Vans.”
There’s no denying that wearing extravagant clothing like fur coats is problematic, especially considering that many animals would have to die to make them. This doesn’t change the fact that many hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and Lil’ Kim rocked their coats despite complaints from the general public during the 2000s.
Cam’ron took it a step further during his career early in the 21st century, proudly flaunting his pink fur coats to dispel the belief that pink was an effeminate color. Following Cam’ron’s bold fashion statement, rappers began wearing fur coats for their attention-grabbing nature — pink or not.
Controversy aside, their unique texture and warm feel make fur coats so appealing. It’s hard to feel cold when you’re wearing a fur coat. They also tend to make their wearers look larger than life. They look rich and regal, and they’re stylish to boot. In the past, people wore fur out of necessity. In countries with heavy snowfall, fur clothing helps stave off sub-zero temperatures. Eventually, as fashion evolved, fur became a symbol of power and wealth as it is expensive and difficult to work with.
Though not as prominent as some of the other types of pants by rappers like baggy jeans, cargo pants became a large part of the underground hip-hop scene. What made cargo pants so attractive was how they came with many pockets. This made them practical and effective at carrying all sorts of things. You could fit all your gadgets and gizmos like your mp3 or your iPod in one place without worrying about having enough space for your wallet and cell phone.
The best part? Cargo pants were spacious, meaning hip-hop artists had a lot of room to maneuver and dance while wearing cargo pants. Though their popularity peaked in the 1990s, these pants carried over to the 2000s before fading from the public eye once again. However, in recent years, thanks to the resurgence of 2000s fashion, cargo pants are becoming big once again. Since their fall from grace, they’ve managed to become an integral part of modern streetwear fashion.
Much like how smart casual clothing grew in popularity as a response to the oversaturation of baggy clothes in the hip-hop scene, skinny jeans entered the mainstream to go against the grain. It was a risky move at the time, especially considering how skinny jeans were perceived as less “masculine” than the norm. Hip-hop and rap are all about rugged machismo, and skinny jeans make your legs smaller, therefore, less manly.
However, the general hip-hop looks evolved in the 2010s, and this is when skinny jeans took center stage. Rappers who wore form-fitting clothes grew in popularity. This caused trends to veer away from baggy sportswear to a much “softer” look. It’s widely believed that this paradigm shift was brought about by Sir Michael Rocks and the Cool Kids in the mid-late 2000s.
Rocking Hip-hop 2000s Fashion in the Modern World
You’ve brushed up on all the different 2000s hip-hop fashion trends. It’s time to decide if you’re content with just reminiscing. Feeling nostalgic over looks that have long since exited the public eye is one thing. It’s another to try and go against the grain and bring a look back. If you’re feeling brave, then up your fashion game by rocking a bucket hat or another old-school trend.