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When I was a wee elementary schooler, nothing—and I mean nothing—made me feel as cool as I did when I wore an anklet. The early-aughts anklets trend empowered me to feel like a beach beauty and badass surfer girl rolled into one. As I lived in middle Tennessee, I was basically never wearing an anklet on or near the beach (or really, anywhere other than Kroger or Target). But I felt cool. I felt transported. I felt like the kind of fashion-forward 8-year-old I knew I was every time I spent hours styling and re-styling my Polly Pocket dolls. 2019’s take on the anklets trend has basically left me feeling the exact same way.
These days, my time outdoors is no longer spent near-exclusively at Kroger and Target. And my time spent indoors is no longer spent near-exclusively styling Polly Pocket dolls. (Don’t fret—I’ve been sans Polly Pocket since middle school. You are not reading a fashion story penned by a 25-year-old who still plays with dolls.) I am still in middle Tennessee, so decidedly far from basically any beach—leaving me anything but a beach beauty or badass surfer girl (or some endlessly cool hybrid of the two). I’m an editor who spends her days writing in coffeeshops, working out at the YMCA and—when I’m feeling fancy—eating at Nashville’s trendiest restaurants. None of these settings lend themselves particularly well to anklets, especially now that I’m a 25-year-old with a full-time job and not an elementary schooler who can basically wear anything she damn well pleases.
It’s been challenging, then, for me to wrap my head around the 2019 anklet renaissance. As a fan of basically every retro revival to hit the zeitgeist, I’m predisposed to love it. But as a bona fide adult with a 9-to-5, I’m perplexed as to how—and where—to wear it. Anklets’ beachy connotations leave them feeling ill-fit for the office—let alone any semi-fancy affair, like a party or nice dinner. But I’ve reached a simple conclusion: Anklets are simply too fun to overthink. They’re abundantly on offer in every fast-fashion retailer imaginable, they’re priced competitively, and they’re fun. They still make me feel cool and fashion-forward, even if I haven’t figured out their best sartorial application. And they still transport me—just in a slightly different way. Instead of making me feel like my toes are in the sand, they make me feel like my toes are in the fluffy carpet that lined the floors of the house where I grew up—or in a pair of jelly sandals, following my mom’s grocery cart as she darted from aisle to aisle at Kroger. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. It’s also a fun thing. And we could all use a little more of that energy in our lives, no?
Your favorite shell-lined anklet, rendered in a punchier palette.
An anklet that blends our current obsession with the celestial with the chain details that defined the aughts.
A lower-key (read: more approachable) way into the trend.
Because of course 2019’s anklets trend is going to take full advantage of the shell jewelry movement. How could it not?
Shells, done the metal way.
Two layers of anklet are better than one.
Kitschy and delightful.
Surprisingly sleek takes on a trend that seemed decidedly un-sleek.
Because you should never have to choose between rainbow and gold. Or shells and tassels.
Part anklet, part toe ring—all aughtsy AF.
Yup, they even make pearl anklets these days.
Your favorite retro locket, rendered in anklet form.
Pearls and shells are an unsurprising match made in heaven.
Layered jewelry, done the anklet way.
The kind of thing you probably made at camp, way back when.
Because it wouldn’t be aughts-inspired if it weren’t totally bedazzled.
An anklet that takes full advantage of summer’s fringe obsession.
Texture on texture.
Sure to play well with every pair of sandals in your closet.
Is it just me, or does this anklet seem entirely going-out-worthy?
Forget friendship bracelets—friendship anklets are on the sartorial menu now, too.
Basically a charm bracelet you can wear on your ankle.
An understated take on an admittedly extra trend.
Another pearl anklet—because you deserve options.
Turquoise beads and a single sleek shell? It’s possible Free People understands my soul better than I do.
Buy a pack of three, and dole two out to your besties.
For the shopper who’s so shell-obsessed they’re not sure if they prefer metal shells or real ones.
Pick one, or wear all five at once.
A less obvious take on shell jewelry.
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