‘Upper East Side Blonde’ is Reviving a Favorite Y2K Hair Moment

The ‘00s archive is open for inspo. Everyone’s renewed obsession with Gossip Girl has given us lots to blog about. In particular, Upper East Side blonde has emerged as the shade that never really fell off our radar, but lately, it’s climbed to the top of our mood board.

For examples, the first place to look toward would be the queen bee of the Upper East Side, Blake Lively. Her hair (and style) is almost as famous as her socialite character, Serena van der Woodsen. Characterized by effortless volume, laidback loose waves, boho glamour, and gorgeous highlights (casually flipped over one shoulder), Serena (and Lively) helped cement Upper East Side blonde as a trademark for early aughts It girls.

What is “Upper East Blonde”?

Upper East Blonde is inspired by the shade worn by the early 2000s socialites associated with the upmarket New York neighborhood. Effectively, it sees a softer worn-in root, paired with bright, warm blondes for hair that looks quietly and self-assuredly expensive versus flashy. “It was the era that brought us balayage,” points out celebrity hair stylist and Living Proof Ambassador, Ursula Stephen, who counts Zendaya, Rihanna, and Rita Ora as clients.

Blake Lively and Leighton Meester in Gossip Girl, circa 2008.

©CW Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

How to get “Upper East Blonde”?

The key is to make sure there’s no stark color transition on the roots and that they blend seamlessly into a brighter hair color. As for the tones they need to feel warm and luxurious (golds, honey, beige) vs too cold and clean. “We’ve moved away from ‘at the root bleach blonde’ to more paired back, old money honey shades applied more freely to keep it very upper east side,” Stephen says.

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