Everyone is dressing like me!!!!
something weird is going on ... (i'm on substack)
This weird thing is happening where, every time I leave my house or go online, I see another girlie in tights and an oversized blazer and mid-heel loafers and probably bangs, and I’m like, hmm! If you don’t know me in real life, what I have just described is roughly what I’ve been wearing since I was an annoying NYU transfer student in 2011 and discovered jazz and cigarettes to mask my crushing loneliness and low self-esteem. If I couldn’t make “having friends” my personality, then it would be berets!!
Anyway, since then I have written a lot about fashion and beauty despite rarely challenging my own personal style. 80 percent of that is because I know I can’t pull off any of the other billions of hot-girl aesthetics that have come around and back again in the past decade (for your standard boring body-hatred reasons). I did not do the normcore thing, I did not do the streetwear thing, and I only did the athleisure thing out of laziness. Instead I stuck to my uniform, which was largely inspired by hours of longingly scrolling through this website that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore called Lookbook.nu, where really hot European girls would post their outfits. In the early 2010s, some redheaded German chick wearing a wide-brim hat, turtleneck sweater, and a plaid miniskirt was literally the height of fashion, to me, a 19-year-old who spent my entire $10-per-hour work study paycheck at the Buffalo Exchange on 11th Street. Any trend that happened after that, style-wise, has been lost on me. What’s the point of evolving such a perfect and infallible formula?
I’m not trying to pretend that this aesthetic, which I am loathe to christen with a name even though others have certainly tried (twee, dark academia, “geek chic” 🤢) is anything unique to me personally; in fact I would argue it’s the emblematic of the “basic white girl who grew up in New England and harbored an intense obsession with Harry Potter.” You can find its core staples available everywhere from Gucci to the Forever 21 sale rack. A version of it was once described as “every girl’s thanksgiving fit.” And that’s fine!
What I worry more about is it becoming a “type of guy.” You know what I mean. A person whose entire essence can be sized up and immediately ridiculed in a single term. VSCO girls. E-boys. “Epic bacon” guys. Just the other day there was a viral TikTok about something called “warm girls.” Whatever. The point is that once you become a “type,” you’ve effectively been erased as an individual. Instead you’re lumped into a hacky joke that will end up in a parody video on, like, the DuoLingo owl’s TikTok account.
Something I think about a lot is how after Jersey Shore had aired for a season or two, nobody who actually went to the Jersey Shore dressed like that anymore. Too much exposure kills an aesthetic, and beyond the moral ickiness of regular people having to think about their personal styles as self-branding, I simply don’t want to dress any other way! I know, ~people should wear whatever they want~. I am very pro-this take in general, but in practice it can often feel scoldy, like it’s your fault that you care what other people think of you. As someone who deeply values politeness and etiquette (within reason), what other people think of you extremely matters!
This is probably why I have always been fascinated by fashion, or the choices we make when we get dressed and put on our makeup and feed ourselves and post pictures and the general labor of self-presentation. I also really miss writing about it! I still do at Vox, sometimes, but I’ve always wanted to do so in a bloggier, more casual tone, covering stuff that people actually wear and analyzing it in a way where I don’t have to think about the faceless “Vox reader” in mind. I don’t see a ton of people doing this kind of writing in fashion media right now … or what remains of it (fashion: not a lucrative beat!).
That said! I would love it if you signed up for this newsletter, which I am going to treat like a blog: I’ll post when I feel like it, and leave your inboxes alone when I don’t. Joining Substack was not not inspired by what appears to be Twitter’s imminent collapse, but also, I just really want to have this fun little space to think out loud about this stuff!
Oh, and if my aesthetic simply must have a name, as all things on the internet do, may I humbly suggest the title of this newsletter.
Hope 2 see you soon!!
P.S. I’m thinking of having a section where people write in and ask me to find a certain item for them (e.g. oversized platform knee-high boots, indestructible tights) or have me make a mood board of a personal style they want to try. If you have a question like this, email me @ email@example.com!!!
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