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Welcome to Normcore: Why Ugly Clothes are Cool

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BC chapter.

Trends are often hard to keep up with. They seem to change every bleeping day, and are often kind of stupid. What if, however, there was a trend that was more than a trend? A trend that transcends trends? Something so edgy that it was…unedgy? Say you could wear something so hideously ugly that your sartorially challenged uncle wouldn’t even put it on and, at the same time, be rocking one of the hottest looks in New York and Paris? If you have a hankering for mom jeans and classic white Reeboks (or Adidas track pants, crewneck sweatshirts, and generic baseball caps), then you might be ahead of fashion itself. You may be Normcore, and fashion kids love it.

Normcore is hard to describe. Like a chic club with no name on its door, you kind of have to already know about it to be apart of it. Vogue girls parade around SoHo in attire that could be mistaken for shoddy tourist outfits. Models in Paris don high-waisted, light wash jeans that make the rest of us yearn for the 90s. Normcore started in these high fashion cities, and has since traveled across the country to LA, Boston, and Chicago. The “stylized blandness,” as New York Magazine calls it, of Normcore is its greatest value. In a culture that strives for difference, uniqueness, and personality, Normcore slaps fashion hardos in the face with its sameness and ordinariness (ordinariness? Is that even a word? My computer thinks it is, so I’m not questioning it).

If you need a more concrete example of what I’m talking about, envision the chicest of Downtown Manhattan it-girls in stonewashed denim, Birkenstocks, Patagonia fleeces, and off brand baseball caps. This may be an outfit you’d more easily associate with your frumpy High School gym teacher on his days off, but these days Normcore makes such an outfit desirable. Cool. Chic. Whatever you want to call it (ironically or not), Normcore is the thing.

The nondescript anti-fashion of Normcore has, since its debut in the early 2010s, made its way into high fashion labels such as Isabel Marant, Céline and Alexander Wang. The look is Steve Jobs, Jerry Seinfeld, or the mom from Boy Meets World (what’s her name, again?), but instead of a statement on the wearer’s ignorance in regards to fashion, it says, “I know more about fashion than you do. I’ve gone beyond trends.” Aficionados take clothes that are traditionally “ugly” and make them “cool,” which, when you think about it, is what the fashion world does all the time. Normcore isn’t that out of line, and to be honest, I really dig it.

In a Tumblr generation, styles like this take over more quickly than ever. We’re a digital generation, in case nobody has told you this before, and one post on Instagram suddenly finds its way into thousands of wardrobes. One reblog on Tumblr, and suddenly we’re all racing to Goodwill or Savers, scouring racks for high waisted Levi’s and nondescript cotton T’s. I, personally, plan on bringing my Birkenstocks back to school after Easter Break. They’re currently sitting, humiliated, in my basement closet. “You’re so lame,” I told them last summer, but now I take it back. To be cool, we have to be “Norm,” as my boyfriend has taken to calling it.

I guess it’s time to hit the “reset” button on style, and travel back to a time when tourist apparel was actually in style. You could call it a 90s revitalization, but really, it’s more than that. Trends like this one takes what we’re familiar with and turns it on its head; it’s a creative reinterpretation of what we’re used to seeing on the street. It may be done slightly ironically, but I’m all about it. See you in mom jeans, BC. I’ll be the one wearing them proudly (and probably with a scrunchie in my hair).


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Maddie is a senior at Boston College, where she spends her days fawning over literature and Art History textbooks. She was previously an editorial intern at Her Campus, and is now a HC contributing writer and blogger. Follow her on twitter @madschmitz for a collection of vaguely amusing tweets. 
Meghan Gibbons is a double major in Communications and Political Science in her senior year at Boston College. Although originally from New Jersey, she is a huge fan of all Boston sports! Along with her at Boston College is her identical twin, who she always enjoys playing twin pranks with. Meghan is a huge foodie, book worm and beach bum