If you don’t really know your sense of style or fashion aesthetic, TikTok might be able to help.
The Internet has drastically changed the pace of fashion. No longer is our inspiration limited to our geographic area and the pictures we see on TV and in magazines of models and celebrities. Instead, we can get inspiration from girls and women whose style resonates with us in mere minutes.
You’re probably pretty familiar with the Instagram influencer and even style types like the girly girl, preppy, boho, or grunge. But TikTok has taken style aesthetics to a whole new niche level. Marian Park of the WGSN trend forecasting agency has noted that the phenomena of TikTok aesthetics is really a continuation of something that’s long been true, and that’s “the greater movement in youth culture towards niche aesthetics and sub-cultures.”
In my opinion, it all really comes back to the very natural desire of youth and teens to try to find themselves. A personal style or aesthetic that you can group yourself into can give youth the sense of belonging they so desperately seek. But as people get older, I think we naturally realize that you don’t have to fit completely into one box. You can take inspiration from all sorts of interests that you have and put them together to create a look that’s unique to you.
One nice part of the TikTok aesthetic is that because all of the pieces in an aesthetic fit a particular theme, finding an aesthetic you like can be a good guide when trying to build a cohesive wardrobe. The epitome of personal style is having someone look at an item and say “that’s so so-and-so.” TikTok aesthetics can help you achieve just that. So let’s get to finding one that might suit you!
I personally love the cottagecore aesthetic. It’s very feminine and pretty. The aesthetic is based around this idea of a girl who lives in a cottage, picking flowers in a meadow in a gorgeous dress. Hello, dream life, am I right?
But as traditionally feminine and pretty as this style aesthetic is, dressing like this is actually a fairly bold style choice today because of how casual the average person’s day to day wardrobe is. Meanwhile the cottagecore looks like something straight out of Little Women.
I know, style goals! But just beware that any style aesthetic that looks like the clothing from a Civil War era movie is going to catch a funny glance from time to time. There will be almost as many compliments though, so if you love it, then wear it!
If this style aesthetic resonates with you, you’ll also have a very famous fellow cottagecore adherent in your corner because none other than Taylor Swift has really embraced and popularized the aesthetic.
Normcore is a fashion aesthetic all about being unfashionable. No, really! The term was first popularized by trend consultants at the trend forecasting collective K-Hole. They created a report defining exactly what normcore is. It gets a little confusing, but don’t worry, I read it so you don’t have to. Or you could watch the creators themselves explain it in this video that Alexa Chung (whose style is to die for) hosted.
They defined the rise of normcore as coming out of globalization and the increasing difficulty of being different, so people can opt-out of it by dressing super basic or normcore. Think dad shoes, sweatshirts, baseball caps. It's a fancy word for dressing the way the everyday person who isn’t interested in fashion dresses. Seinfeld vibes, anyone?
I would describe dark academia as a dark version of preppy. The idea is to look like a dark and mysterious girl who loves books. It’s a lot of plaid, sweaters, all the basic preppy items, but in dark colors. You get the picture. The aesthetic has actually extended beyond just fashion and into living the “dark academia” lifestyle.
Light academia is essentially dark academia but with light colors. It’s all the same sweaters and plaid, but instead of dark, moody tones, it’s lots of light colored neutrals. But all the interest and literature that seems to bond people from these two aesthetics is still there. And like dark academia, it has a very old world vibe to it.
And I ooop! I’m pretty sure that everyone is familiar with this one. Obsessed with scrunchies, her hydro flask stickers, big sweatshirts, and overall SoCal inspired style. For a while, all the memes and mocking videos online made this the new Starbucks and Uggs basic white girl stereotype.
I can’t really talk about TikTok aesthetics without bringing up the e-girl. This is a version of grunge with very thick eyeliner and goth elements thrown in. Definitely not my cup of tea, but one of the prominent subcultures of the day that thrives on the Internet.
Ah yes, the soft girl. This is essentially the Gen Z version of the girly girl aesthetic. It’s all about pastels and ultra cute outfits, generally in soft textures so it’s still pretty casual and comfortable. Hair accessories and cute makeup are a must!
Glam and Y2K
The glam and Y2K is about everything glamorous and over the top. Long acrylic nails, glitter, platform heels, hot pink, and all the 2000s trends like Juicy Couture tracksuits. So if you’re looking for an over top blast from the past, then this aesthetic is for you.
TikTok aesthetics are really all about today’s teens finding themselves and what they like. So much so that there are even a lot of TikTok videos about not knowing what aesthetic to pick. The best part is that as you experiment with different looks you can create your very own aesthetic that’s yours alone!