Normcore: A trend that isn’t about clothes

Ivy Obonyo dresses "normcore." Photo by Noelle Royer
Ivy Obonyo dresses “normcore.” Photo by Noelle Royer
Nicholas Arman dresses “normcore.” Photo by Noelle Royer

By Noelle Royer

Individuality is getting old. While the fashion industry has been telling us that style is about standing out (in a good way), a rising trend called normcore is bringing plain to the fashion world. A combination of the words “normal” and “hardcore,” normcore embraces uniformity. It is a fashion trend that is less about clothing than it is about the wearer.

According to Vogue, dressing normcore means “dressing in an utterly conventional, nondescript way.” Since it is inherently plain, lacking logos and showy details, normcore is “a barely audible style that suggests ingrained authority and inner confidence.”

Intentionally dressing normcore is a stylistic statement itself, despite being what Vogue calls an “anti-style.” The most interesting aspect of the trend is not the appearance of the clothing, which is entirely normal, but the fact that it is being worn with stylistic intent. Your everyday plain clothes are not normcore unless you wear them normcore.

The Cut describes normcore as “self-aware, stylized blandness” characterized by “ardently ordinary clothes.” The fashion blog praises the artistic influence of the trend: “Normcore is a blank slate and an open mind – it’s a look designed to play well with others.”

Steve Jobs represented normcore values – though perhaps unwittingly – when he dressed in a purposefully casual manner for his public presentations. His signature outfit, a black turtleneck and washed-out jeans paired with traditional sneakers, took a backseat to his confidence and personality. His clothes didn’t make a lasting impression on his audience – he did.

Beyond fashion blogs, few people seem to be aware of the term. Of students interviewed on campus, none had previously heard of the trend. Even those dressing in normcore-esque clothing were doing so unintentionally. Je Ru Lee, a junior psychology major, pointed out that it would be difficult to notice that a person is dressed normcore unless they told you. Perhaps this is the reason why many people do not know about the trend.

Freshman business management major Gabby Tharkur said the trend “makes sense.” She explained that some of her friends decided not to buy certain clothing in order to avoid paying for a brand.

“I would be flattered if someone said [I look normcore] because then I’d feel like I’m doing something right,” Tharkur said. “People don’t think I’m just dressing to wear what everyone else is wearing.”

“I like the fact that it’s making people feel comfortable in what they wear, if that’s their style, even if it is like everybody else,” sophomore education major Monique Hawkes said.

“I feel like a label doesn’t really represent a certain fashion statement,” sophomore Claire Young said. “I think it’s more about the clothing itself, so I think your clothes should express you instead of the label expressing who you are.”

Although it is based on normality and anonymity, normcore is an exceptionally unique trend because while most fashion trends suggest that a person is a canvas for style, normcore demonstrates that style can be the canvas for a person.

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