From velour tracksuits to chokers to UGG boots, there are a lot of ’90s and early ’00s trends making their way back into the fashion cycle whether you want them to or not. I honestly thought nothing could surprise me after the yoga pants vs. flared leggings debate on TikTok took off, bring them back to life. But one trend even more polarizing has risen from the dead and is only getting more popular. In 2020, it seems the controversial whale tail trend is coming back. It’s been on the cusp of total return for a few years, but there’s no doubting it anymore: The visible thong is back in style.
You’ll best remember the look from your favorite stars of the early 2000s. Everyone from Britney Spears to Gwen Stefani to Halle Berry rocked whale tails both casually on the streets and at red carpet events. The trend even made its way to Jean Paul Gaultier’s and Gucci’s runways in the ’90s. Even though it did reach the mainstream, the trend was technically never uncontroversial. It faded for several years, and it wasn’t until 2018 that the visible thong started cropping up again.
For me, the whale tail trend’s return felt more inevitable when Maddy Perez wore the Lucid Pant set from I.AM.GIA on Season 1 of Euphoria. The pants have cutouts mimicking a whale tail look. After that, it seemed like an explosion of thong-like cutouts and full-blown whale tails started cropping up everywhere. Hailey Bieber rocked an Alexander Wang backless dress with a matching bubblegum pink thong peeking out at the 2019 Met Gala. Kim Kardashian also dabbled in whale spotting with an Instagram post shouting out Givenchy in October 2020. This revival even has Beyoncé’s stamp of approval, as the singer had a designer thong showing in her December 2019 British Vogue photo shoot.
If this trend hasn’t scared deep into the corner of a room, and you — dare I say — like it, maybe, there are surprisingly a lot of different ways you can get in on the trend, too. You can scrounge up a pair of your old low-rise jeans and pair them with a high-cut thong or go the route of high-waisted pants with whale-tail-esque cutouts. Check out some easily achievable, visible thong looks below if that’s your jam.
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