5 Abstract Trends and Their Heroines

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Granny style 1

Photo: ELLE

As New York Fashion Week trades zenith for decline, fashion journalism comes up with trend overviews: pastels for winter, feathers, and electric blue? Probably, but why be so myopic if you can look at the bigger picture.

While it is curious to chase micro-trends and details, there are only a few general ideas that span the relevant looks of the moment. And, of course, what’s the fun in a trend, if it doesn’t have a face?

The aesthetic of the movie The Virgin Suicides, a mix of grunge and lolita-esque looks is reiterated over and over again for the simple reason of having unique heroines. The girl wearing the trend is the storyteller. Skip the indifferent runways; seems like it has gotten much more personal.

1. Irony and Self-Deprecation

Long gone are the days of Old Hollywood, all flattering dresses and charming smiles. Fashion humor has come the full circle from genuine enjoyment to ironic appreciation.

“Haute cat-ure,” “I’m so cyood,” '90s shows, and internet memes now influence designers enough to appear not only in college girl-y stores, but also in Moschino collections and fashion blogs. Best worn with a piece of clothing that takes itself too seriously, like a leather skirt and Birkin bag.

Woke Up Like This Tee

Botticelli, meet Beyonce. | (Photo Credit)

The heroine of Irony is an inbetweener, endlessly stuck undecided in front of the subject and its mockery. In a way, she’s defensive. “Did I catch you off-guard?” she asks, “I’m not a commoner, ‘cause I have a Birkin bag, but I’m also not one of those fancy-shmancy, ‘cause my tee has Britney and Justin on it.”

Is she afraid of being either type or is she just having some fun? Only Freud knows. Variations include the artsy-not hipster type manifested in rap lyrics on famous paintings fished out of the Tumblrsphere. “F bitches, get Monet.”

2. Time Travel

I’m not The Doctor, but, oh, how I could have been. What is this nostalgia-filled era, always pining for the best parts of the worse times?

It is the trendiest trend of them all: references to all decades. Ever. Baroque, Rococo, pop art, jazz age, '60s dresses, '80s madness, '90s crop tops, shortened '50s skirts, et al. You name it; we modernize it, and wear it. Oftentimes, many at a time.

Time travel 1

Guess who's back? Back again? The '60s are back. Tell a friend. | ELLE

The time traveler is aware of her nostalgia for a time that didn’t exist, but the pull of make-believe is too strong. This age is all about changing form, so if we add an interesting twist, the whole planet will readily pretend we have something nouveau.

Appropriately scared of what’s going to come after postmodernism, we glance back for safety. I understand. One of the cutest examples is Lolita fashion, a Japanese fashion subculture based on Victorian-era clothing. The escapism is strong in these ones.

3. Contrasts and Contradictions

There are few rules the modern fashion gods have bestowed upon us. One of them says: “If thou combine two opposites, thou will looketh stylish.” Actually, they didn’t have to say it in Old English, but they thought it gave them the illusion of authority.

Everyone knows rough goes with gentle, oversized with accentuating, sporty with dressy, boyfriend jeans with high heels, military boots with dresses, et al.

Contradiciton 1

Delicate lace goes with heavy silver, like Angelina goes with Brad. | (Photo Credit)

This trend doesn’t even have a heroine anymore, as everyone does it. The faceless trend has somewhat lost its allure, but we still do it. For the simple reason that it looks good or maybe to let everyone know that we’re enigmas, thread balls of mood swings and contradictions.

That’s right; no one can figure us out. It is all extremely complicated.

4. Y'all-Wish-I-Cared

It’s like Romeo and Juliet with Sin City 2, Ron Weasley with Tina from Bob’s Burgers, or Megan Fox with Monty Python. The items she chose are from different stories, genres, even worlds, but, damn it, she looks stylish.

The heroine of Y’all-Wish-I-Cared plays close to the edge between hobo and Vogue (yes, I assure you of the existence of this edge). Anything goes: toxic green and Barbie pink, Granny cardigans and shorts, business professional with cowboy boots.

Y'all wish I Cared

Granny style is all the rage. | ELLE

The key to the portrait is a hint, an allusion to everything she could had been. A perfectly applied red lipstick or the beautiful silhouette tells us the girl is a tease. She could easily be your regular belle, a real life male fantasy and the cause of slight female envy, but she has never been about that, really. It’s partly a way for modern girls to get rid of the male gaze. She doesn’t wear heels. She doesn’t curl her hair.

Popularized by the likes of Tavi Gevinson and Lorde, Y’all-Wish-I-Cared is usually the coolest young bright thing around, but you need the character and the wardrobe to pull it off.

5. Normcore

They bore me, those normcore girls, they really do. All the colors/patterns/asymmetries/choices at your feet and you choose gray, black, and average? Whyyyy(‘y’-s tend to infinity)? The saving grace of normcore is the possibility that the wearer is simply beyond fashion (hi to Friedrich).

Contrary to its name, normcore is not the style of normal girls: a little bit of color, but not too much or one pattern per outfit or depressed turtle necklaces from Forever 21. Instead, it is the choice of the hardcore: “I don’t have to advertise for people to be curious about what’s inside,” yuppie-esque “This black tee costs more than your entire outfit,” and “trends come and go, but I will live forever.”

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Even the front row does normcore. | ELLE

I am also envious of normcore girls. They look like they have it together. The normcores have overcome the societal virus “Narcissism & Voyeurism,” even if it meant having less fun being yourself.


That's all, folks. Tune in next time for Introversion, Cultural Shock, Cyber Trouble, and more. Oh, and tell me about your favorite trends from the above-mentioned ones, and whether you agree with my sweeping generalizations. xoxo, Dan Humphrey. :)

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