Confession: I’m Still Not Over Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Outfits from a Decade Ago

Confession: I’m Still Not Over Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Outfits from a Decade Ago
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Photo: Getty Images

Few things in this world hold quite as much significance for me as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen did in the early to mid 2000s. As a preteen, I collected Two of a Kind and So Little Time books and read every single one; I watched “Holiday in the Sun” so religiously that I can still quote the lines with more accuracy than I could “Mean Girls”; I seethed with jealousy at anyone whose parents shelled out for a “Sail with the Stars” cruise.

As a teenager, my obsession shifted over to their style (slightly more socially acceptable, but still a little creepy in retrospect). I joined forums such as Trenchcoat Twins, Olsen Paparazzi World, and The Fashion Spot—the latter of which, at least, I credit for getting me into fashion in high school—and racked up thousands of posts; I trawled vintage stores and flea markets for slouchy T-shirts, slipdresses, and cowboy boots; I even ended up at New York University (OK—I didn’t really apply because that’s where they went, but I can’t pretend it didn’t plant the seed).

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If Instagram had been around back then, I definitely would have run one of those outfit ID accounts to document every last piece in their closet, so important did it seem to know exactly where they bought their clothes. If only I could imitate their wardrobe, I believe the thinking was, then maybe I could harness whatever it was that made them so captivating. Even back then, they were starting to become less accessible—they grinned less on the red carpet and hid from the paparazzi behind giant Balenciaga City bags (oh, to own one of those; the real American dream)—which, to a generation of teenage girls, made them all the more enigmatic.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only one obsessed: This spring, a couple of Brooklynites opened a pop-up museum dedicated to the twins, with rooms filled with binders of magazine clippings, a giant prop Blackberry and Hermès handbag, a re-creation of Mary-Kate’s cigarette-filled wedding, and walls of paintings by artist Laura Collins of the Olsens hiding from the paparazzi.

Today, Ashley and Mary-Kate turn 30, and they’ve clearly worked hard this past decade to shrug off their child-star image (and get everyone to stop calling them “the Olsen twins,” goddammit). With the success of their brands the Row and Elizabeth and James—not to mention their impressive commitment to never smiling in photographs—it’s safe to say that by now, there’s no danger of them not being taken seriously.

And while I’ll still reliably love anything they wear today, there’s a part of me that misses the much-maligned “bobo” days (“bohemian” meets “hobo,” for those unfamiliar) of absurdly oversized sweaters, ripped jeans, and circle scarves. So, in honor of their birthday, we’re taking a trip back in time to 2004–2008, when Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s outfits reigned supreme.

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So rude that these ended up covered in green slime.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards, 2004

Photo: Getty Images

They may look nondescript, but these were low-key two of the Olsens' best outfits ever. Ash's blazer was from the boys' section at Ralph Lauren (genius! If that fits you…) and the horn necklace trend trickled down big time in the ensuing years.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the US Open, 2004

This was the dress that launched a thousand tabloid headlines about Mary-Kate's weight, which is really too bad because UGH SO PRETTY.

Mary-Kate and Ashley receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2004

Twelve years later and I'm still forever on the lookout for Magda Berliner's lace dresses because of this outfit.

Ashley Olsen at the "Troy" premiere, 2004

Photo: WENN

Back then, I was obsessed with MK's vintage dress from the sadly now-defunct Paper Bag Princess in Toronto; these days, I'm impressed by how well Ashley's Calvin Klein slip holds up more than 10 years later.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen at the premiere of "New York Minute," 2004

We didn't get "TRL" in Canada, which never seemed more unfair than when this episode aired.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on MTV's "TRL", 2004

Every NYU freshman I knew wanted nothing more than to be regulars at Pastis, and the Olsens were almost entirely to blame.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen leaving Pastis, 2004

Photo: WENN

Yes, this is an ad for milk. Yes, I ran out and bought an Andy Warhol banana T-shirt immediately after seeing it.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in a "Got Milk?" ad, 2004

Photo: WENN

Step aside, NYPD. MK coming through.

Photo: instagram

Ah, the good old days, before half the front row was contracted to wear a single designer from head to toe.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Marc Jacobs fashion show, 2004

Photo: Getty Images

Pointy flats and low heels were the twins' staple before the Balenciaga hoof boots era, and the granny vibe is totally working for them here.

Mar-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2004

Photo: WENN

Imma let you finish, but the Olsens are the real Queens of the Met Gala.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Met Gala, 2005

Photo: WENN

It's hard to pinpoint what it is about this outfit that makes it so universally beloved among MK&A obsessives, but I can tell you that after searching high and low for a "proper" circle scarf, I eventually gave up and sewed two ends of an H&M scarf together. Worth it.

Photo: instagram

Remember when ripped tights were cool? Let's bring that back.

Mary-Kate Olsen at a basketball game, 2005

Photo: Getty Images

This was an archetypal MK-at-NYU outfit; the cowboy boots; the American Apparel hoodie; the Venti Starbucks (look to the left of her feet).

Mary-Kate Olsen at the Imitation of Christ show, 2005

Photo: Getty Images

The thought of a celebrity today accessorizing with something other than Chopard diamonds—never mind a full arm of vintage bangles—on a Cannes red carpet is practically unthinkable. Plus, that red jacket is killer.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen at the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala, 2005

Photo: Getty Images

Haters gonna hate; this look was it in '05.

Photo: instagram

Still have yet to look this chic while out shopping—and not for lack of trying.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen shopping in London, 2006

Photo: WENN

2006 #hairgoals, as they say.

Mary-Kate Olsen at the Independent Spirit Awards, 2006

Photo: WENN

Paparazzi pics from Paris: the gift that kept on giving.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in Paris, 2006

Photo: Getty Images

A white tee has never looked cooler.

Mary-Kate Olsen leaving a "Conan O'Brien" taping, 2007

Photo: Getty Images

Feathers! A smile!

Mary-Kate Olsen at the Met Gala, 2007

Photo: WENN

These shoes! I would never in a million years wear them—mostly because I'd be a) six-foot-two and b) in a lot of pain—but that doesn't mean they don't haunt my dreams.

Mary-Kate Olsen at the Seventh on Sale event, 2007

Photo: WENN

Black tights, high heels, can't lose.

Photo: instagram

I'll always be an Mary-Kate person, but I'll admit that Ashley pulls off all-black like nobody's business.

Ashley Olsen at "The Late Show with David Letterman," 2008

Photo: WENN

Before every hipster you knew swapped out their skinny scarves for keffiyeh.

Photo: instagram

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