6 millennial trends that are still cool—no matter what Gen Z says
Bury me as I lived… in skinny jeans.
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There’s a war being waged on TikTok right now, and even if you didn’t know it, the targets are mounting. Pretty much, Gen Z—a.k.a., anyone born between 1997 and 2012—thinks millennials are uncool, and our love of ugly side parts, skinny jeans, and other passé trends proves it.
This isn’t the first time millennials—the generation born between 1981 and 1996, and that killed mayonnaise, Applebee’s, and brought you Lena Dunham (sorry)—have been on the receiving end of a rough time. Boomers have been ragging on millennials for the better part of a decade over basically everything, from our love of selfies and avocado toast to our work ethic and constant need for validation.
True or false, nobody could have predicted that in the year of our great lord Beyoncé 2021, the intergenerational mud-slinging would get so heated. As a younger millennial, I’ll admit, my generation isn’t perfect. It’s true, we did help kill casual dining (to be fair, so did COVID-19). But we millennials crawled in our high-waisted skinny jeans so Gen Z could dance in their mom jeans on TikTok, and some of our favorite stuff is just as good now as it ever was.
So, sidle up and get our participation trophies ready, because here are six millennial trends that are still 🔥 (no matter what the youths have to say about it).
1. Side parts
Side parts are over, say Gen Zers. Cause of death? The times, they are a-‘changin. Among millennials, side-parts have a storied history. Some of us have been rocking one since our scene kid days back in the mid-to-late 2000s. Yes, that’s not exactly a winning endorsement, but there are still ways to make a side part work without seeming dated, especially if you’re someone with a square, diamond- or heart-shaped face, as swoopy side-parts may help to soften and frame the more angular features of your visage.
Fans of the middle part say it’s better for overall facial symmetry—and that’s accurate, if you have a round or oblong-shaped face. This style also has a reputation for looking youthful, and who doesn’t love that? But on the flip side, middle-parts can be severe and hard to pull off if your hair doesn’t already go that way (which is a thing), or if you have curly or natural hair, as you have to work with different types of texture. Another hazard of middle-parts is that they can leave your forehead feeling like a five-head.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where you land on the great side-part vs. middle-part debate of 2021 though, because hair is a weird and wonderful expression of self, and there’s no one right way to wear it. Something like the Revlon One-Step, the cult-favorite hair dryer that beauty experts are obsessed with right now, can give you fantastic volume and the blowout of your dreams, regardless of which way you part your locks, and that’s good enough to bridge across all generational divides.
2. Skinny jeans
Here’s the thing that you gotta understand: If you came of age in the era of low-rise jeans, you’d know that skinny jeans—and in particular, high-waisted ones like these beauties from Madewell—aren’t just a fashion trend or choice, they’re a rebellion. They’re a way of saying to the world, I deserve to be comfortable and look great in denim, even if I’ve got curves. And on both fronts, skinny jeans still deliver.
Unlike the low-rise jeans we millennials grew up with—which were notorious for creating muffin-top and issues with plumber’s crack—skinny jeans are almost universally flattering on all body types. Why? Because they make your butt look good and your legs seem even longer, which all helps draw the eye away from the belly area and give the illusion of a slimmer silhouette.
Loose-fitting denim, especially the wide-leg and flared jeans that are huge with Zoomers right now, don’t do that. If anything, they make your legs look bigger yet also stumpier. No thanks, sis. Another benefit to skinny jeans is that they cover your ankles and are easy to tuck into a pair of killer boots, which is near-impossible to do with floods or flares. If you still don’t get the appeal of skinny jeans yet, that’s cool. More for us.
It’s not easy living through two once-in-a-lifetime economic collapses before the age of 40, but millennials have done it. In part, we’ve managed by battening down the hatches, and, well, “adulting,” which Oxford Languages describes as “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” (Ouch.)
While “adulting” and phrases like “I did a thing” might seem cringey and overused—and to be fair, they are at this point—they reflect a very real need among us millennials to celebrate the fact that we’re still over here, existing and doing our best.
In today’s world, managing even routine chores and errands can feel like a Herculean effort, regardless of whether you’re Gen Z or a millennial. If you need a little help when it comes to staying on-task, best-selling daily planners like this one from Journaltastic can help you stay motivated, even when things feel totally overwhelming. More than 3,500 reviewers on Amazon swear by it, as it’s adorable and offers convenient ways to organize events on a weekly and monthly basis.
Judge us not for our duck-face poses, lest ye be judged. Back in the glory days of MySpace, selfies—and in particular, taking selfies from above with your cheeks sucked in and your mouth popped out in a pseudo-seductive manner—were the height of glamour.
While MySpace and our dear old pal Tom aren’t in anyone’s “top 8” anymore when it comes to social media platforms, selfies are just as iconic now as they were in the Aughties, the only difference is that Zoomers—who are equally guilty of taking bad ones—think we're bad at them.
For starters, those MySpace selfies were never cute—they were embarrassing. (Counterpoint: Most millennials would agree and shiver at the thought of those teen-era photos resurfacing someday.) Another millennial offense? Looking straight at the screen instead of at the camera when you’re about to snap a pic. And then, there’s perhaps the biggest problem of all: the term “selfies.” They’re just called pictures or self images now, get it old timers?
Of all the things to mock millennial culture over, selfies are definitely the easiest target. But it’s not like they’re going away anytime soon. Fortunately, there’s a solution for everyone involved—just buy a freakin’ Selfie Stick already. While it might seem goofy, the stick works and can help you capture your best angle from any pose, so whether you’re doing a straight-ahead shot à la Gen Z or a throwback pose from your scene-kid at Hot Topic days, this 4.4-star rated pick has got you covered. P.S., it’s how most influencers are getting those amazing selfies—excuse me, “self-images”—for the ‘Gram, anyhow.
5. Avocado toast
Gen Z hasn’t really come for this one yet, it’s more of a Boomer gripe, but if you ask certain corners of the world, most of the problems millennials are facing right now—major underemployment, lagging home ownership rates, crippling student loan debt—would all go away if we just gave up the one thing that’s been holding us back the entire time: our love of avocado toast.
For the uninitiated, avocado toast is an absolutely delicious treat wherein you smear freshly mashed avocado onto the bread of your choosing (thick, whole-grain bread usually works best). Sprinkle on a little salt and you’re good to go, although you can get fancy with it and add everything from leafy herbs like cilantro or basil to fried eggs, zesty jalapenos, and more. Depending on where you go, it could run you as high as $18, and according to a 2017 report, Americans were spending as much as $900,000 a month on it pre-COVID.
Is avocado toast expensive? You bet. Is it worth giving up completely? Heck no, especially given how good avocados can be if you’re trying to increase your daily vitamin and potassium intake. But there’s an easy workaround to this that most millennials have already embraced (especially in quarantine), and that’s making it at home. The OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 avocado slicer is a handy little gadget that comes highly recommended on Amazon and makes the most annoying part—handling the avocado—a breeze. When we tested it here at Reviewed, we found it to be a perfectly good alternative to using a regular knife, and possibly better, if you’re someone who gets squeamish handling big blades in the kitchen.
6. The 😂 emoji
Face with tears of joy, the official name of the 😂 emoji, has been getting dragged left and right by Zoomers on TikTok, and as both a millennial and a frequent abuser of said emoji, I am shook (a phrase that’s also dating me at this point but 🤷).
As emojis go, this one isn’t cool anymore, which really just begs the question, when was it ever cool? Because using emojis as a language is a fairly new phenomenon—Gen Z speaks it fluently because they grew up with it—it’s easy to understand the divide. For those of us who can remember what it was like to handwrite a letter and use a corded phone without irony, using emojis as a second language can still feel kind of surreal. They’re cute, they convey a point, but at the same time, who cares?
This is one millennial trend that Gen Z is probably right about, but that’s fine. Every generation makes fun of the one that came before it, it’s just part of the fun of being younger. And if you feel like being a good sport about it, you can always gift your favorite Zoomer—or fellow millennial—something tongue-in-cheek, like this set of emoji pillows from Amazon. It even includes a 😂 emoji, so you know you’ll have ‘em ROFL as soon as they see it. Then again, they might not get it. After all, ROFL was kind of our thing.
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