Rachel Bilson Looks Back on ‘The O.C.’ Fashion & Questionable 2000s Trends

Rachel Bilson knows a thing or two about questionable fashion. The actress, who starred in “The O.C.” from 2003 to 2007, looked back on her early aughts style and the trends that are coming back around now.

“I’ve been so surprised to see things that I never wanted to see again come back full force and I even embrace them, which is surprising. Like the platform flip flop, from Rocket Dog,” she told FN. “There’s things I look back on, like this appearance — this is really going to date me — on MTV’s ‘TRL,’ where I guess I felt like layering was the only way to go. I basically put on everything. I was like Joey from “Friends” in that one episode. This is was really something that I’m like, ‘oh man, God bless.'”

Vanessa Minnillo and Rachel Bilson during John Travolta and Rachel Bilson Visit MTV's "TRL" - February 23, 2005 at MTV Studios in New York City, NY, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)
Vanessa Minnillo and Rachel Bilson during a visit to MTV’s “TRL” on Feb. 23, 2005.
CREDIT: Getty Images

Bilson has been walking down memory lane as of late after launching her “Welcome to the OC, Bitches!” re-watch podcast in 2021, alongside her “O.C.” co-star Melinda Clarke. (Bilson simultaneously has her own podcast “Broad Ideas” also out now.)

“As a whole, I think the characters were really well thought out and the chemistry with everyone, I still think is pretty great. It also has a lot of humor and I think that holds up [20 years later],” she said on the continued admiration for the TV series.

THE O.C., Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, Mischa Barton, Benjamin McKenzie, (Season 1), 2003-2007. © WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection
(L-R): “The O.C.” stars Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, Mischa Barton and Benjamin McKenzie.
CREDIT: Everett Collection

Her character Summer Roberts was certainly a fan favorite — along with her 2000s-themed closet.

“Everything that they were dressing us in was really current and of the time,” said Bilson, adding that she definitely wouldn’t just be wearing bikini tops in her everyday life off-screen. “But I liked fully embracing Summer. She was a beach girl.”

At the time, Y2K style included the aforementioned platform sandals, velour tracksuits, baby tees and low-rise jeans. Bright colored prints were also of the moment, which Bilson remembers fondly.

“I wore this vintage Givenchy dress to one of the proms in the show and I remember loving it. I still love it to this day. It’s magenta and white patterned. It’s so cool. I remember loving that,” she said.

THE O.C., Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, 'The O.Sea', (Season 2, ep. 223), 2003-2007. photo: © WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody in Season 2 of “The O.C.”
CREDIT: Everett Collection

Fast forward two decades and Bilson is still making her mark on the fashion front. The actress has come off a recent press tour in New York — promoting Fox’s crime anthology series “Accused” — wearing some statement looks. (Her episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET.)

ACCUSED: L-R: Rachel Bilson and Jack Davenport in an upcoming episode of ACCUSED. ACCUSED premieres Sunday, January 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
Rachel Bilson and Jack Davenport in an upcoming episode of “Accused.”
CREDIT: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

In one ensemble, Bilson donned gold metallic thigh-high boots paired with a Camilla and Marc sweater dress.

rachel bilson
Rachel Bilson in By Far’s gold boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nicole Chavez

She’s been working with stylist and longtime friend Nicole Chavez since her days on “The O.C.” The two first met during Season 1 of the show where Chavez worked as a set costumer and have worked together ever since.

Times were different in 2003. There was no Instagram, or TikTok, or followers to manage. However, paparazzi culture was in full force, Bilson explained.

“Stylists, borrowing clothes and looks and what bag you were carrying, and all of that, I think really started to amp up around that time,” she said. “In that way, [fame] is different. I’m actually grateful that social media wasn’t around, I feel like it would be this whole other thing with all this pressure added. Personally, it probably would have had more of a negative impact. I was 21, which was super young, but I wasn’t as young as Mischa [Barton], who was in her teens, but it was just a different time.]”

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