In case you missed it, early last year, the New York trend forecasting agency K-Hole coined the term, Normcore, to describe the way young hipsters were dressing, in eighties-style mom jeans, sneakers, and ill-fitting white tee shirts (a la Seinfeld Show.) Apparently, the young and the cool were “exhausted with trying to seem unique,” and were “moving away from a coolness that relies on difference” to a bland, fitting-in-with-the-crowd form of dressing. In her excellent article for last March, Aimee Farrell said that the inspiration for this anti-fashion “movement” can be found in the William Gibson novel Pattern Recognition, which deals in part with the commercialization of art, and in which the main character carefully dresses in logo-free, white tee-shirts and oversized jeans. You can read Farrell’s article “Meet Norma Normcore” here. Supposedly Normcore dressing is about “anonymous detail-free design” that “suggests ingrained authority and inner confidence” instead of flashy, designer duds which say: look at me, I’m a fan of crassly conspicuous consumption. Okay… pendulums swing in fashion as in everything else.
But Farrell also goes on to discuss how the mainstream fashion world then co-opted the movement. She quotes designer Richard Nicoll, of the British clothing brand Jack Wills, as saying of this new aesthetic: “I’ve been inspired by my idea of The Special Normal and the Perfect Boring.” (please excuse my snort, here) And, although I chuckle at his pretentious oxymorons, who can disagree with his idea of “trusty wardrobe staples that last?” Not me. I think we should all build our wardrobes around trusty staples that last.
It looked as if Normcore had gone totally mainstream when Gap ads last fall were all about “dressing normal.”

But whatever “trend forecasters” are calling it, comfort has become fashionable. And dressing down is the new way to dress, and even dress up… if you follow me. Although I’m not sure that sneakers with a lace evening dress is something I could embrace. Even if I wore lace evening dresses, which I don’t.

I’d say Normcore is still alive and well in 2015. If a bit more “high street” as the Brits would say. A bit more tailored and polished. Still unflashy. Minimalist in its aesthetic. And wearing comfortable shoes.

I found this Romanian fashion blog The Stunning Look on my internet travels. It’s clear that blogger Silvia Cristescu has that mainstream Normcore, minimalist vibe going. And without donning mom jeans, or a baggy Hanes tee-shirt.

I’d also say that Normcore, or its more restrained high street cousin, is something that women of any age can embrace. And do. Phoebe Philo’s been dressing this way for years.

I do love the pairing of sneakers with slim tailored pants. The difference between what Sylvia is doing here and some other Normcore looks, is that her clothes fit well and she looks polished, and at the same time totally casual and comfortable.

And have a look at this street shot from Vogue UK… I mean, tie up the shoelaces and lose the toque and I’d wear this outfit. Okay…maybe NOT with hightops. This girl looks lovely, doesn’t she? Cool, and pulled together without looking like she spent two hours deciding what to wear. Maybe that’s one of the things about Normcore. Looking like you’re not trying too hard.
Some of my favourite brands have been embracing the Normcore aesthetic. These athletic inspired pants by Vince are very cool. With the loose sweater and slip-on sneakers, this look is totally Normcore comfort. But that fabulous coat takes the outfit up a notch, to chic.
And Natalie Ratabesi, head of women’s wear at Vince, seems to embody the look of the company she represents: pared down, casual, polished. Effortlessly cool.

Many of J Crew’s cool, classic pieces fit the Normcore mold. Like these “drapey chinos,” which look like track pants to me. But, the slim leg and heavier fabric save them from looking sloppy. Instead they’re polished, while still being casual. And they’d be equally great with a tee shirt and sneakers, or a structured jacket and heels.

And like Natalie Ratabesi, Jenna Lyons, creative director for J Crew is her company’s best advertisement for their products. She always looks effortlessly elegant, chic without being flashy. And so cool.

So what has the Normcore movement achieved? Is it even a movement? Is it, as some say, a new “sociological attitude?” Or as Alex Williams deems in his New York Times article, merely “hipster types learning to get over themselves…. or a massive in-joke?” You can read Williams’ NYT article here, and you really should. He definitely takes some of the (hot) air out of all the philosophical posturing. I mean, let’s get real…we’re talking about a bunch of kids (or hipsters, if you prefer) who decide to dress like unfashionable dads from nineties sitcoms. And whose ideas get lifted by mainstream fashion and morphed into something resembling nineties minimalism.
And in the process, we’ve all taken to the more casual aesthetic like a duck to water. And started wearing sneakers with almost everything. Even, like Jenna Lyons, with a men’s tuxedo. And how cool is that? It’s ironic though, isn’t it, that Normcore in its rejection of the drive to be unique, has helped give rise to a plethora of looks, like Jenna’s, that are as fresh and innovative as they are restrained.
And I’m all for restrained innovation. And minimalism. And not trying too hard, as long as that doesn’t mean giving up entirely. And I don’t mind pushing my own boundaries.  Or trying new ideas, as long as they aren’t too ridiculous.
But as much as I love many of the looks that the innovative Olsen twins have turned out with their line “The Row”… I refuse to wear bedroom slippers out of the house. Seriously these looks for Fall 2015 just made me laugh. Really… could they not find shoes for these girls?

So, to answer my own question. Yep, I guess Normcore one year later is still a thing. Still alive and well…and possibly more grown up.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

What do you think?


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28 thoughts on “Is Normcore Still A Thing?”

  1. You are right…dressing down is the thing. I like how much just throwing a denim shirt under your look does. I also think I like the pants which are styled much like workout pants. There are some fun things you can do when mixing the looks. Really enjoyed your post…very informative and well done!

  2. I've always appreciated more minimalist looks. And I'm glad that fashion is embracing comfort (though I'm waiting for the inevitable Corset Backlash). I'm a big fan of Vince, they seem to get the slouchy/structured mix right.

    1. Oh dear…not the corset thing! Or underwear as outerwear…I guess it would be the other end of the pendulum swing. You're probably right!

  3. Always love when you put up a new post whether it's lit travel or fashion related always a pleasure to read. For me you strike a perfect balance between the practical and trends. Your writing is entertaining intelligent and well informed,. You're not selling anything and you're not OTT high on ageing or cats. Thank you for writing. Iris H

  4. I don't always comment Sue but I always read & I do agree with Iris . Love Silvia's outfit .
    Wendy in York

  5. What a terrific post! I love the idea of dressing down, but not giving up. It is not as easy as it sounds.

  6. What an interesting read! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Normcore since I'm such a tailored minimalist…..I've been wondering how to pair the proper sneaker with a slim leg pant and your examples were perfect. Janie

  7. So funny, I literally had the same thought the other day (randomly while driving home, I suddenly thought, 'Wait, remember 'Normcore'? Is that still a thing?'). So I read this with great interest! I have really mixed feelings about it because, while I get the look and I agree that it definitely looks fresh and modern, I am thoroughly a "more is more" kind of person and probably will be until I die 🙂 But I do feel awfully fussy or overdressed at times next to women who have mastered the minimal, effortless look.

    1. I think you gotta be you. If more is more is you.. go for it. Otherwise you end up looking like you're wearing someone else's clothes. I love the look of the new sweatshirt…but it looks silly on me. Like I forgot to take off my sweatshirt when I came in from my run. Not my thing. Thanks for stopping by

  8. I keep hearing people talk about Normcore in different ways, so I think I'm still confused by the term. But pushing that weird label aside, I'm all for the effortlessly chic look. In California it's considered in bad taste to look like you tried too hard, I think! What a great post and a great jumping off point for discussion! Thanks for sharing with Fun Fashion Friday!
    Dawn Lucy

  9. Even though, like Suzanne, I'm not a fan of Normcore proper, I like the looks you are showing here! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xo.

  10. I;ve learnt something new today. I've actually never heard of the term normcore before! I like the outfit that Natalie Ratabesi is wearing but I can honestly say that your look is preferable to me than the street style photos. You look great!

  11. You look great! You make casual look very classy. I think it is the little touches that make casual look great, no wrinkles, simple jewelry, etc. I would definitely wear everything you have on, just like you have it put together! Peace! Cheryl

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