The Best and Worst Trends of 2018

With 2018 coming to a close, it’s time to look at the trends that squashed the competition and the trends we’d rather forget. This year, trends from the mid-’90s and early ’00s made a resurgence. Whether or not they were welcome is an entirely different conversation.

From Clueless plaid to “alternative facts,” 2018 was one for the books. Pop in your old VHS of Spice World and get acquainted with the era where fake news and the Tide Pod Challenge reigned supreme.

Are you tired of people still saying “it’s lit”? Us too.

Tiny Sunglasses

Claudio Lavenia / Contributor

Verdict: Worst

In June, Cosmopolitan begged its readers to question “why have sunglasses gotten so tiny?” The truth is, the whole thing is perplexing. In the whirlwind of awful that is 2018, Matrix-esque, tiny sunglasses have somehow crept up on Hollywood trendsetters without anyone noticing they’re absolutely heinous.

Most of us could blame Bella Hadid or Kylie Jenner, who were among the first to boldly squint at the sun because their sunglasses were too small to actually be functional. Then, there was Kanye West, who famously told Kim Kardashian that she shouldn’t wear big sunglasses if she wanted to be cool (though, he’s been known to make equally ill-advised comments such as “slavery was a choice,” so his opinion is definitely worth questioning). Either way, a whole generation of Instagram models spent 2018 walking around looking like Neo. Ladies, please unplug yourself from the Matrix and see the truth: those sunglasses look crazy.

Clueless Plaid

Paramount Pictures

Verdict: Best

Don’t remember yellow plaid ever really being a thing? It wasn’t. This boldly colored pattern was shown in just single scene of the 1995 Alicia Silverstone film Clueless, yet exploded onto runways and fashion retailers more than 20 years later.

A matchy-matchy, yellow plaid set is bold. It’s arguably just the thing bold enough for 2018, a year where YouTubers can make multi-millions by hanging out online pretending to eat Tide Pods. From the bargain bins of Forever 21 and Boohoo to Balenciaga runways and Iggy Azalea music videos, yellow plaid is definitely a thing in 2018, at least if you don’t want let everyone know you’re a virgin who can’t drive.

Calling Things “Lit”

Flickr / Jeff Turner

Verdict: Very not lit

It’s lit, guys. Like totally litty. No, everyone in 2018 doesn’t have a bizarre appreciation for a well-lit room (though, let’s be real: well-lit rooms should be a mega-trend because not being able to see in a restaurant is kind of the worst). In 2018, everything was “lit” (i.e. hyped, outstanding and awesome) without really being “lit” at all. Remember, parts of Puerto Rico still don’t have power after Hurricane Maria, which is decidedly not lit — both in the typical sense of the term and millennial slang.

According to ABC News, the phrase was popularized by rapper Travis Scott, the dude set for life because he’s Kylie Jenner’s baby daddy, then adopted by brands trying to look hip on Twitter. Can we stop yet?

Is this color over done or a timeless trend?

Millennial Pink

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Verdict: Getting tired, but at least it’s soothing.

In 2016, Pantone chose Rose Quartz as their color of the year. Two years later and the blushing, soft pink remains a force to be reckoned with. It has become so popular that it’s been dubbed “Millennial pink” and has graced everything from album covers and clothes to cell phone accessories and hair.

Part of millennial pink’s appeal is the fact that it’s got a lot of depth. It can be an almost-nude with a tiny flush of pink. It can be a watered down bubblegum or a sugary sweet cotton candy. Millennial pink knows no bounds, and somehow shatters the stereotypes of toxic masculinity. The trend is so huge in menswear that it’s been outlined in GQ and Esquire. Today, it’s starting to feel a little tired, like we’ve chewed on a piece of bubblegum long past its lost its flavor, but it’s definitely got a few good chews left.


Instagram / Mamabreexy

Verdict: Couldn’t Kanye have ruined something else?

It took us over a decade to get the painful memory of Adidas “adissage” slides out of brains. Remember those painful slides you wore in middle school that had the little nubs to poke your feet when you walked? Adidas called this a massage, but we know the truth. In 2018, slides have come back with vengeance. Thankfully, most of them don’t make it feel like you’re walking on glass.

Slides aren’t an inherently terrible trend, but 2018 saw athleisure dip into smart-casual territory. Is there ever an excuse to wear slides with a dress? Even worse, why are we pretending fuzz-adorned slides aren’t just slippers? When Kanye donned a pair of ridiculously oversized slides alongside Lil Pump in the video for “I Love It,” it was really the nail in the coffin.

Holographic Everything

Instagram / Shop.Micle

Verdict: Beam us up!

The year 2018 has been serving up that Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century realness — and we’re obsessed. The holographic trend purveyed through fall’s 2018 runway shows with designers like Tom Ford, Jeremy Scott and Balmain championing the iridescent, reflective color story.

In 2018, pretty much everything is as holographic as aJem reboot (but not the reboot that actually happened because that was pretty grim). Most of us don’t mind because it makes us feel like the rarest Pokemon cards of the bunch. From Anastasia Beverly Hills’ holographic highlighter palette to the infamous (and probably inedible) holographic cappuccino, this glittery trend is here to stay. Why choose one color when you can have every single one of them at once, blinding the eyes of your enemies?

Face Tattoos

Instagram / Post Malone

Verdict: Only if you’re Post Malone

2018 was arguably the year of the Soundcloud rapper, which means it was inadvertently the year of the face tattoo. The trend was widely popularized by celebs like XXXTentacaion and Tekashi 6ix9ine (modern rap’s biggest villains). It ventured of across the cheeks of Noah Cyrus’ short-term beau Lil Xan and graced the face of the lovable, good-humored Post Malone, who racked up more face ink in 2018 then most of us get on our entire bodies in a lifetime. Needless to say, his mom was not thrilled. It seems like we can’t escape it.

Face tattoos are a strong perspective, one very few people can pull off. Unfortunately, this trend is forever unless you really want to go through laser tattoo removal on your face.

Would you wear this next trend?

Intentionally Hideous Sneakers

Instagram / Balenciaga_triples

Verdict: So bad it’s good

This trend is polarizing. On one side, it’s ultra-thrifty to be able to look like one of Instagram’s biggest trend-setters for wearing that oversized, random pair of sneakers that have been sitting in your mudroom since 1991. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to justify spending hundreds on footwear that looks like the kind your mother begged your dad to throw away. Chunky, hideous sneakers are in — and the hideousness is just part of their charm.

Balenciaga can be credited for taking terrible sneakers to haute couture when they released their Triple-S kicks. Couple that with Nike’s M2K Tekno and FILA’s Disruptor 2 and sensible — but ugly — footwear is within everyone’s reach in 2018. If all else fails, you could always raid your local thrift store.

Puka Shells

Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Verdict: The cockroach of accessories

Surfer bros of the early aughts can rest easy knowing they made a lasting impact on society with their positive vibes and terrible choice of accessories. In 2018, puka shell necklaces — like the one you probably bought at PacSun in middle school— are decidedly high fashion.

It’s unclear how puka shell necklaces survived PacSun’s bankruptcy. In 2017, the mall retailers came out of the other side of bankruptcy protection with their surf-inspired vibes in full force. We can’t say they’re the ones who led the revival, but we also can’t say they weren’t. During Milan Fashion Week, Prada adorned their male models with the ill-advised shell necklaces and Louis Vuitton included them in their 2018 collection. Most of us can agree that the puka shell is better left on the dust-filled shelves of a Ron Jon Surf Shop.

The Tide Pod Challenge

Flickr / Mike Mozart

Verdict: Come on.

The Tide Pod Challenge, which saw leagues of teens biting into the liquid laundry detergent pods for Internet likes, was obviously never a good idea. Do it for the ‘gram, right? In reality, the viral trend was also one of those things that wasn’t as much of an epidemic as your local news channel probably suggested. Obviously consuming laundry detergent can be deadly, but as Vox stated, the whole meme “pokes fun at the idea consuming the pods, while (usually) stopping short of actually doing so.”

According to Vice, 100 people still called into poison control over the consumption of the forbidden fruit in January 2018. What a way to kick of the year.

The next trend on our list is actually edible.

Poke Bowls

Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Verdict: Yum

If 2017 was the year of the acai bowl, 2018 was the year of the poke bowl. This Hawaiian dish, which is basically a deconstructed sushi roll, took 2018 by storm. So, what’s the appeal? It’s fast food, but it’s classy.

If you’re not into raw fish, poke bowls are never going to be your deal, but the trendy treat is surprisingly healthy depending on the type of rice and toppings you choose. Think of all the omegas in fish and good fats in avocado. The bowls are also a play on texture and flavor with the crunch of crispy onion, the smoothness of avocado, the kick of wasabi and the saltiness of fresh fish. Plus, it doesn’t look half bad in an Instagram post.

Black Ice Cream

Credit: Instagram / icguys.munich

Verdict: Yes, queens

Black ice cream isn’t exactly a new invention, but there’s no denying the gothy treat took over 2018. It’s just the latest type of Instagram friendly food to go viral, but is it actually good? Yup! As it turns out, charcoal, which gives black ice cream its striking color, doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor. Most black ice creams are flavored like regular ice cream, be it vanilla, almond or rose.

As far as 2018 trends go, black ice cream is a win. Not only is it great for an Instagram snapshot, but who can say no to ice cream?

Plastic Clothing

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Verdict: Spice up your life!

The ‘90s were all about plastic — from tiny plastic backpacks and shiny vinyl pants to the inflatable plastic furniture you begged your mom to buy you from Delias.

Though Delias may have sadly gone bankrupt a few years ago, plastic clothing is apparently eternal. Now, it’s left the mall and hit the high fashion runway. The stuff has been spotted on Spring/Summer collections for major haute couture brands like Chanel, Balenciaga, Valentino, and Isabel. Though Chanel may be out of most of our budgets, we can always settle for a tiny plastic backpack from Urban Outfitters or dig through the closet in our childhood bedroom.

Platinum Blonde


Verdict: Opt for a shadow root to be the trendiest person on the block.

Was there ever a moment in history where platinum blonde wasn’t dripping in bad gal cool? In 2018, the trend has removed any hint of honey and left us all feeling an icy, icy blast of good hair.

There’s a safe bet that if you look around any red carpet, you’re going to see a whole lot of platinum, and we’re not just talking record sales. Taylor Swift tried it. Justin Bieber tried it. Jennifer Lawrence tried it. Zoe Kravitz, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian tried it. Kristen Stewart is currently opting for a bottle blonde crew cut and Gwen Stefani gets her roots dyed every single Monday before taping The Voice (which seems excessive because who has roots after a week?). No matter how you slice it, platinum blonde will always be a color for trend-setters, but beware: the bleach doesn’t just sting your scalp. It stings your wallet, too.

Off-The-Shoulder Smock Tops

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Verdict: We’re bored.

Off-the-shoulder smock tops took 2018 by storm. The Guardian claims they’re the most unexpectedly flattering trend of the summer; however, does no one else see that they almost always look tacky? In middle school, most of us finally graduated out of the stretchy, miniature tops of the early aughts. We thought they were gone for good. This trend puts an even tackier spin on the exposed midriff by also letting our shoulder loose.

At first, the cold shoulder was a novelty, but now it’s absolutely everywhere. No matter how you wear it, it always sort of looks like you’re headed to a pool party or barbecue. Unfortunately, the trend has also snuck its way into evening wear. Maybe it’s time to let this one go. Especially if it has a lettuce hem.

Snap-Up Track Suits

gotpap/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor

Verdict: Mixed.

Much like early aughts, 2018 is all about fun fashion. Though the novelty of bucket hats may have worn off, snap-up track suits have been left behind in their wake. The look was popularized by Sporty Spice, and let’s be real, we could all have a little more Spice Girls in our lives.

Though snap-up track pants are inherently tacky — unless, of course you’re an actual athlete needing to jump in the game in a moment’s notice— they’re almost tacky enough to be totally brilliant. Sometimes we just want athleisure that won’t show a visible panty line (we’re looking at you yoga pants).

Tattoo Chokers

Mauricio Santana / Contributor

Verdict: Leave it in middle school

In an era where face and neck tattoos seem to be a real, actual trend that exists, tattoo chokers just feel a little bit like we’re playing pretend (which by all means, play pretend if it saves you from getting a neck tattoo). When it comes down to it plastic jewelry just feels a little juvenile — like accessories you lifted from your Bratz doll collection.

It’s no secret that chokers remain both flattering and edgy. They’re a trend that 2018 has still not seen enough of. Let’s just stick to something that isn’t made from plastic.

Checkered Trousers

Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Verdict: So good.

By 2018, we’ve seen skinny jeans ad nauseum. Though we love our favorite pair of skinnies, it’s definitely time to try something new. Checkered pants give us something bold that can truly be dressed up or down. It’s effortlessly chic.

Plaid rose from the ashes of ‘90s Grunge, and though we’ve seen the pattern excessively on every other type of garment, it somehow feels fresh on a trouser. It’s a little bit Lizzie McGuire,a little bit Clarissa Explains it All,and a little bit sophistication. It’s everything a millennial girl could want out of a pair of pants.

Unicorn Everything

Credit: Instagram / thebohipstain

Verdict: Over it.

Listen, everyone could use a little bit of magic in 2018, but that sort of magic is something that should come from within. The internet has been rife with unicorn everything — ice cream cones, hairstyles, makeup, clothing, pencil cases. At first, it was a gentle, nostalgic blast of the Lisa Frank binders of our youth, but now, it’s just sort of a sad reminder that we’re 20-somethings, drowning in student loan debt, who will never feel that sort of joy again (probably).

In 2019, let’s make our own magic. We’ll leave the unicorns to the fairy tales we’re no longer holding onto.

Alternative Facts

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Verdict: Burn at all costs

Fake news has been running around for the last two years completely unchecked — from Facebook’s Russian infiltration to Sarah Sanders’ press conferences. It’s not just our reality TV president who likes the idea either as we’ve seen it with Kellyanne Conway, Fox News, your racist uncle who always gets too drunk at Thanksgiving dinner, and that random person from high school you happen to still be friends with on Facebook.

The truth is the idea of alternative facts (i.e. labeling lies as some sort alternate truth) is dangerous, and we’re done with it. By the time a pizza company comes out with an “alternative facts pizza,” which boasts an alleged 0 calories, it’s time to put the nail in the coffin. In 2019, let’s champion the truth. The real truth.