Why Y2K Keira Knightley Will Forever Be Our Jeans-And-A-Nice-Top Icon

Your long weekend wardrobe, sorted.

Keira knightley

by Laura Antonia Jordan |

A luxurious ‘activity’ idea for this Easter weekend: an anniversary viewing of Bend it Like Beckham – Gurinder Chadha’s seminal film has just turned 20 – accompanied with some Mini Eggs (and have you tried the Mini Eggs Chocolate Bar? Not an #ad, just a Public Service Announcement).

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley ©Getty

Perhaps, however, the prospect of an unlocked down long weekend has you raring to go out-out. Understandable; nothing promises to get you revved up like the prospect of four whole days to sleep off a hangover, of course.

But what to wear? Sartorially speaking, Easter weekend is a funny little holiday to dress for. It doesn’t invite the OTT sparkle and shimmer of Christmas; it’s not warm enough yet for the barely-there dresses of high summer bacchanals. What you need is something casual but with a bit of an out-of-office twist, something breezy but not freezing, something pub-appropriate for the day and night. What you need is Keira Knightley’s failsafe outfit formula circa 2003: Jeans-And-A-Nice-Top. Jeans-And-A-Dressy-Top, as you might have actually known it back then. A Friday Night Top.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley ©Getty

Hot off the heels of her role in Bend it Like Beckham, Knightley landed a plum part in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. For the world premiere of the first film she wore a diaphanous off-the-shoulder white top with jeans – super low-slung and boot-cut ones, obviously. Think how many gowns you’ve seen on the red carpet in the intervening 19 years – or even just the last week – and how many of them fade into obscurity almost immediately. This, however, was and is a memorable look.

Knightley clearly looked – and felt – good in it. Two weeks later she revisited the same formula for the British premiere, this time with a cold-shoulder, black top. For the Love Actually premiere later that year? Black jeans and a crisscross lace-up corset.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley ©Getty

And now, two whole decades later, the look has come full circle and has big 2022 energy. Not surprising given the unceasing appetite for all things Y2K. But a friendly note to any of our gentlemen friends reading this: the seat-belt belts Knightley’s then-boyfriend Jamie Dornan favoured are best left in the past.


SEE: The Best Noughties Fashion Trends

Jennifer Lopez's Cropped Cargo Pants noughties fashion
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There's a lot to breakdown in this outfit. Highlights include cropped cargo pants, a jaunty crochet beret, a sequin shrug AND a 'Passion' logo bag.

Victoria Beckham's Sunglasses noughties fashion
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This whole VB era is iconic. The bigger the shades the better - and we stand by it.

noughties fashion  Nicole Richie's Headscarf
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This whole outfit from Nicole is everything. The neon boob tube, the cross-body bag, the headscarf, it's peak 2000s.

noughties fashion Leighton Meester's Jeans And A Nice Top
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The ultimate 'It' girl combo; unbelievably low jeans and a pretty little top. She gets bonus points for the dangly earrings, teeny bag and cork wedges combo.

noughties fashion Beyoncu00e9's Pink Shag Bands
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The polka dot two-piece is '00s enough, but throw in some neon pink accessories and the whole thing falls into place.

noughties fashion
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A moment for this whole outfit. The fitted shirt. The wrap-around sunglasses. The chain belt that does absolutely nothing. Perfect.

noughties fashion
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Another entry for pointless belts - and this time it's the sparkly scarf version. Warning, do not go near these with any kind of jewellery: these scarves were snag city.

noughties fashion  Atomic Kitten's denim
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Aren't Natasha's slim-line pedal pushers a thing of '00s beauty?

noughties fashion  Kate Mossu2019s yellow dress
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When Kate Moss collaborated with Topshop on a collection inspired by her greatest wardrobe hits, every cool-girl queued up for the little yellow dress. Psst - it's still available to buy on Vinted and eBay.

noughties fashion Lucy Liu's halter top
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The mid 2000s saw Liu become a halterneck connoisseur. This strappy black number is a particular highlight and wouldn't look out of place in 2022.

noughties fashion  Mary-Kate Olsenu2019s cowboy boots
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She's one half of the twin powerhouse behind Manhattan's most minimalist luxury brand, but back in the early noughties, Mary-Kate Olsen's wardrobe was all tangled necklaces, laddered tights and knee-high cowboy boots. I still remember making scrapbooks out of her courtside outfits on my bedroom floor. Sigh.

noughties fashion Zoe Kravitzu2019s waistcoat
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I also remember wanting a school friend's collection of waistcoats. Weird, but true, although Zoë Kravitz's, paired with a tank top and bootcut jeans for an early red carpet appearance, is kind of ticking all the boxes. Right?

noughties fashion Nicole Richieu2019s headband
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Another Nicole Richie appreciation entry. Post-The Simple Life, AKA the Rachel Zoe years, Richie's style was an endless goldmine of boho inspiration for noughties teenagers. Who else remembers trying, and failing, to make a headband across the forehead look this cool?

noughties fashion Ariana Grandeu2019s tattoo choker
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Chokers have been 'back' for years, but nothing will ever live up to their first incarnation - stretchy bands of plastic that looked a little like neck tattoos. FYI, you can still buy a pack of three from Claire's for under a fiver.

noughties fashion Rachel Bilsonu2019s bootleg jeans
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They're so much more flattering than skinnies, but the word 'boot-leg' is still enough to strike fear into the hearts of most. This wasn't so in the early noughties, with The OC's Marissa Cooper and Summer Roberts both paid-up fans of the flaring cut.

noughties fashion Beyoncu00e9's boob tube dress
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Another entry for Queen B. Beyoncé wore one, and so did Carrie Bradshaw, yet a stretchy boob tube dress seems vaguely terrifying now. Who knows? If combat trousers and bandanas can do it, maybe boob tubes are due a comeback.

noughties fashion Melissa Joan Hartu2019s leather coats
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Hands up if you used to daydream about being able to change outfits like Sabrina? We'll also take Melissa Joan Hart's burgundy leather coat. Thanks.

noughties fashion Tia and Tamara Mowryu2019s baker boy hats
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Of all the questionable hats belonging to the noughties hall of fame, the baker boy is perhaps the most underappreciated. Spotted here on Sister Sister's Tia and Tamara Mowry, we're thinking it's ripe for a renaissance (outside of Peaky Blinders).

noughties fashion  Cameron Diazu2019s strappy top
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Oddly enough, Cameron Diaz's strappy top, metallic mule sandals and low-slung jeans could be part of Hailey Bieber or Bella Hadid's Instagram-approved wardrobe in 2022 .

noughties fashion Halle Berryu2019s tinted sunglasses
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Halle Berry's sunset-coloured shades - note, without rims - were the cat's eye of the early noughties.

noughties fashion Reese Witherspoon's polo neck
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Ah 2000, when celebrities wore (at least what looked like) their own clothes on the red carpet instead of gowns. Case in point, Reese Witherspoon's wardrobe of black polo necks and caramel leather trousers that defined the era's dress code: don't try too hard and definitely don't wear a dress.

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