Britney Spears (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)

We owe Britney Spears more than we know. As today’s It-girls usher in a resurgence of late-90s and Y2K trends, it’s best to remember that Britney did it first. Giving credit where credit’s due, Spears served as a catalyst for the majority of these throwback style references—she drew the map. There’s much to be said of the early-aughts tastemaker, but throughout the height of her immense fame, the pop princess spearheaded many of the nostalgic fashions we covet today.

Toeing the line between childhood innocence and a sultry stage persona, Spears garnered an immense amount of scrutiny in the public eye. As a child, the Louisiana native came up in the Mickey Mouse club alongside stars like Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling. In 1998, her hit single “…Baby One More Time” was released, catapulting the 16-year-old starlet to an unimaginable caliber of celebrity status. 

Growing up in the limelight, and in the misogynistic media-sphere of the era, Spears’ image teetered between a wholesome, virginal figure and a ruthlessly lambasted sex symbol. With her debut music video tapping into the suggestive schoolgirl trope, her degree of innocence was publicly contested, as was whether or not she was a suitable role model for young children. Some argued her potent sensuality would have a detrimental effect on the youth. As a little girl growing up at the dawn of the new millennium, this writer rocked braided pigtails, tied knots in my t-shirts, had Britney’s face plastered on my lunch box, and knew every word to the pop legend’s first three albums. And I like to think I turned out just fine.

Relentlessly questioned on her choice of clothing, Spears said during a 2001 Good Morning America interview, “Everybody’s going to have an opinion. You can’t please everybody but as long as you’re comfortable, I say wear what you want to wear.” While Spears may have pushed the boundaries and grew into her sexuality through her sartorial choices, no one would even bat an eye at her ensembles by current standards. While once upon a time, crop tops, belly rings, and ultra low-rise jeans may have caused puritanical parents to shake in their boots, today’s hottest stars have taken the shock value out of many of these trends Spears put into motion, and made them commonplace.

Britney Spears at the 30th Annual AMAs held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA., January 13, 2003. Photo by Kevin Winter/ABC/Getty Images

With Grammy-nominated Olivia Rodrigo skyrocketing to pop stardom this year, the singer-songwriter is constantly taking pages from the book of Britney. From braided pigtails to retro newsboy caps, the teen pop star’s inspiration is obvious. In the music video for her song ‘Brutal,’ Rodrigo has an archival fashion moment in the very same Spring/Summer 2003 Roberto Cavalli chiffon corset dress donned by Spears nearly a decade earlier. A-listers from Kendall Jenner and Normani, to Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, and Hailey Bieber have all referenced the millennial superstar through their wardrobe choices, with the latter even paying tribute to Ms. Spears on Halloween this year.

The fashion zeitgeist of the late nineties and early-aughts can be visually summed up with a walk down memory lane of Britney’s most iconic looks. From crimped hair and baby braids, to bicep cuffs and tube tops, Spears exemplified the times. Donning Juicy Couture tracksuits, kitschy slogan tees, denim on denim, Von Dutch trucker hats, newsboy caps and more, all of these trends have managed to come back full force. 

With her abusive conservatorship officially coming to an end after 13 long years, Britney Spears has been liberated just in time for her 40th birthday. While the pop legend enjoys her newfound freedom and begins a new chapter in life, trends from her height of fame continue to gain traction and permeate the present. As the noughties and Y2K continue to be resurrected by our favorite celebs- scrunchies, fairies, and butterfly motifs abound- recognize that before them, it was Britney, b*tch.

Here, GRAZIA revisits the top ten Britney-led trends gaining momentum today.

Full Denim 

Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake of NSYNC at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Juicy Couture Tracksuits

HOLLYWOOD, CA – February 14: Musician Britney Spears shops in Calypso at the Sunset Plaza on February 14, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Tube Tops

BRITNEY31c/C/28JUL99/DD/LH–Britney Spears at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. POP PRINCESS BY LIZ HAFALIA/THE CHRONICLE ALSO RAN: 09/03/1999, 3/7/2000 (Photo By LIZ HAFALIA/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Baby Braids

Britney Spears (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)

Low-Rise Bottoms

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 17: Britney Spears attending the premiere of “The Four Feathers” in Westwood, CA 09/17/02 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

Slogan Tees

Britney Spears (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage)

Newsboy Caps

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Photo of Britney SPEARS (Photo by Christina Radish/Redferns)

Fashion Floss

Twist Tie Crop Tops

Britney Spears rehearses at the American Music Awards, Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage)

Colored Shades

399810 03: (U.K. OUT) Singer Britney Spears leaves the Mandarin Oriental Hotel January 18, 2002 in London. The pop star is on a two-day visit to the U.K. to promote her latest single “Overprotected.” (Photo by Steve Reigate/BWP Media/Getty Images)
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