It may soon be 2022, but ’90s and Y2K fashion is back, local retailers say

Brace your cozy self. After two years of comfy, covered-up clothes, a slew of Long Island retailers and designers assert that spring/summer 2022 is all about the big reveal. According to many, women are ready to peel off those easy, homebound layers and finally flaunt it.

Much of what is newest is, well, a riff on the old — late 1990s/Y2K style. Think micro-minis, torso baring crop tops and bralettes, slashes, cutouts and peepholes everywhere, the return of the low-rise jean (OMG), wild prints and an eye-popping, vibrant color palette.

A LOOK TO 2022

“The buzzword for next season is ‘sexy.’ It’s back,” declares Afshin Haghani, the owner of Gallery Couture in Manhasset. “We have been cooped up in our homes for what seems like forever and the fashion Gods are saying ‘let it out.’ ” He adds that Y2K styles and back-in-the-day muses such as Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are strong influences.

Designer Stacey Bendet of Alice & Olivia definitely got the memo for spring/summer 2022 that skin is with her tiny minis. Credit: alice & olivia

“Skin is definitely in and I think we’re doing a late-’90s flashback,” says Jenny Montiglio, owner of Ooh La La Boutiques, in Babylon, Long Beach and Sayville. “For the past couple of years, everything has been lounge, lounge, lounge. What we’re seeing now is the total opposite of that. There’s more of a demand for attention and some of our customers are excited to undress.”

For her part, Joanna Mazzella, owner of Mint boutiques in Mattituck, Southampton, Stony Brook and West Hampton Beach likens next season’s fashion to “a renaissance. It’s all so much sexier. We’ve had two or three years of living on our couches in our cozies, undercover. People want to channel a new excitement and energy that says, ‘let’s get past this.’ “

Class Rings

Likewise, at Penelope in Woodbury, where owner Gabrielle Banschick believes that “everybody wants to show off what they’ve been hiding for the past two years. They’ve been in a cocoon and now they’re turning into butterflies. In fact, we even have a butterfly print blouse to prove the point.”

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For those among us who may not relish (read: fear) wearing an ab-baring crop top, a thigh-high mini, or a low-rise jean and the resulting return of the muffin top, Adam Glassman, the creative director of Oprah Daily and special correspondent Extra TV offers a calming voice.

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“My advice is to ignore extreme trends if you’re not comfortable with them.” To update, he says, “The most relatable trend is a new focus on optimistic, joyful color and you don’t have to wear it head-to-toe — buy a blouse, a jacket or even a shoe in a vibrant, fresh shade. They’ll be available everywhere from Saks Fifth Avenue to Target.”

He adds, “Some people may want to peacock, but there’s a way to do it with colors, prints, and interesting hemlines that feel more directional than what we’ve been wearing for the past year and half.”

For those in search of one strong piece, Glassman suggests a new blazer. “Blazers are back on every level and are a wonderful silhouette. They instill a certain confidence and you can wear them to the office or out at night.”

Here’s a breakdown of what to look forward to (or dread) for next season.

Mini skirts

“I can’t express the importance of the mini enough. And when I say mini, I mean mini,” says Montiglio. “It’s straight-up leg.” This applies to the new “power suit” too and unless the jacket is paired with pants, the matching bottom is either a mini or shorts. “Plaid is big and there’s a whole ‘Clueless’ thing going on,” she says referring to Alicia Silverstone’s character, Cher Horowitz’ plaid little suits in the movie.

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“I can’t express the importance of the mini enough. And when I say mini, I mean mini,” says Jenny Montiglio, the owner of Ooh La La Boutiques in Babylon, Long Beach and Sayville.  Credit: Ooh La La Boutiques

The jean scene

Skinny jeans are still out, and mom jeans are still in, though legs have gotten wider and shorter … but the comeback kid is the low-rise. “Low-rise with belts are big again,” says Banschick who currently offers several styles. On the flip side, “The whole ’90s look includes a baggier jean paired with a fitted shorter top,” explains Mazzella.


Bralettes and belly-baring crop tops were shown on spring runways everywhere and retailers are buying them up, but are hesitant to say that the appeal is universal. Haghani believes his younger customers will embrace the look while others will “Modify the crop. You’ll want a new jean that’s high-waisted, wider through the leg and a shorter top that meets the waistline. Or wear a dress with a little cropped cardigan over it,” he explains.

Slashes and cutouts and peepholes, oh my

“Key, key, key point of next season are cutouts,” says Haghani. “And I do not mean the cold shoulder … put that in the back of your closet.” He says the midriff cutout on maxi dresses is particularly popular while Montiglio says she’s seeing back peepholes, and shoulder slashes “on almost everything we have.”

“Key, key, key point of next season are cutouts,” says Haghani who will carry all kinds including from brand Cinq à Sept such as this flowy number in marigold featuring a cutout back.  Credit: Cinq à Sept/Pamela Hanson

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Blasts of color, wild prints

There are “fearless” amounts of color and prints, says Banschick, calling them, “playful and fun. People want to stand out.” Montiglio adds, “Nothing I’ve seen is muted. Everything is popped, almost solar-like bright oranges, pinks and yellows.” Haghani will sell pant and skirt suits in neon shades such as lime green, orange and fuchsia which he says can be worn to work.

By Anne Bratskeir
Special to Newsday

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