Today, we’re breaking down balletcore and its role in the ever-evolving fashion trend landscape. In Anatomy Of An Aesthetic, Her Campus dissects the latest style trends to tell you where they came from, why they matter, and how to DIY.
What do Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Cassie from Euphoria, and your athleisure-dominated closet have in common? They’re all examples of the balletcore aesthetic, TikTok’s latest fashion craze.
Inspired by dancers both onstage and off-duty, balletcore is a cross between the slouchy loungewear we’ve been wearing since 2020 and the hyperfemininity pushed by older trends like twee fashion. You can make the trend as dressy or casual as you want to, depending on what ballerina vibe you’re trying to emulate. The elegant stage princess? Try a tulle skirt or a pearl headband. The hardworking girl at rehearsal? Throw on some leg warmers over your leggings, and cover up with a loose waist-tie sweater. Oh, and — of course — ballet flats are your new best friend.
If you need any proof that balletcore is blowing up, look no further than TikTok, where the trend’s hashtag has over 9.4 million views and counting. Or how about Gen Z darling Olivia Rodrigo, who wore a baby-pink ballerina outfit in her music video for “Brutal”? Others have pointed out Sydney Sweeney’s Cassie in a light blue wrap sweater early on in Euphoria Season 2, with loose tendrils of hair to match the delicate elegance the trend demands.
Ballet’s entanglement with fashion stretches back to the 19th century Romantic era, as reported by W Magazine. The 1930s saw the white-and-pink ballerina crossover into mainstream fashion, and when paired with today’s newly revitalized athleisure trend, it was a perfect storm for viral style success. However, the trend is not without criticism.
The ballerina has long been viewed as the ideal feminine form. But, as pointed out by Glia on TikTok, that “ideal feminine” was almost always thin and white. During the pandemic, however, the dance world underwent a shift away from traditional beauty standards onstage because of the lack of live performances and extra time for reflection on how harmful upholding an expectation of perfect, thin, white bodies is for dancers, according to the New York Times. So balletcore, while emulating the aesthetics of the traditional ballerina, has also given itself more room to play: People of any size and ethnicity are trying out the trend, and rather than having a strict boundary line, balletcore’s edges are fuzzy, allowing for permutations like the “edgy ballerina,” which seems to borrow from the trashy-chic aesthetic, and “light academia balletcore.”
All told, balletcore opens up a world of possibilities for dressing up (or down) to your comfort level, and can add a bit of elegance to your everyday wardrobe. Want to try it out for yourself? Look no further.
- Ballet flats
Could this be any more of an obvious shoe choice for balletcore? Ballet slippers aren’t practical to wear outdoors, so try an elegant but comfortable pair of flats instead — these come with wraparound ankle straps that will keep your shoes from sliding off and emulate the ribbons on a true satin ballet slipper.
- Wrap sweater
The wrap sweater is a casual-chic ballerina staple, and looks even cuter in a soft pastel color like this baby blue one. The waist tie elevates your basic everyday sweater, and with its lightweight fabric and cropped fit, it’s perfect for that in-between spring weather.
- Flowy midi skirt
A full tulle skirt can be a bit expensive and formal for your everyday look, so a pleated A-line midi skirt is a great way to try out the trend without fully committing to all those ruffles. This one has a barely-there polka dot pattern for an extra feminine touch, and can be dressed up or down to your preference.
A rehearsal must-have in the closet of every ballerina, a leotard or bodysuit is perfect for wearing under a cardigan, with leggings or bike shorts, or with a fuller skirt if you want to opt for a more romantic look. Try it strappy and sleeveless, long-sleeve with a scoop neck, or even with a turtleneck — the possibilities are endless.
- Leg warmers
This may not have been first on your list of 2022 fashion trend predictions, but leg warmers can definitely be worn outside the dance studio. Slouchy, casual, and fun, you can contrast them with some dainty heels or black boots.
Leggings-as-pants enthusiasts, congratulations — you win this round. Leggings are kind of a cross between pants and tights, making them perfect for a functional balletcore outfit. But rather than the logo-ed, workout-ready variety, balletcore places an emphasis on the comfy legging, made of cotton and usually one solid color. You can never go wrong with black.
- Pearl accessories
I bet you thought you’d seen the last of pearlcore. With its focus on femininity and elegance, balletcore was bound to bring pearls back into the fold. Whether you choose a thin pearl headband or hair clip, a classic choker necklace, or pearl buttons on your blouse, this gem is a perfect match for this aesthetic.
- Shrug or bolero top
Layering, layering, layering. That’s what balletcore is all about, and while a shrug or bolero top may not make too much sense on its own, it’s an ideal fit for both the ballerina’s closet and that sort-of-hot, sort-of-not spring weather. Wear it over your trusty bodysuit and you’re good to go.
- Flowy mini dress
Flowy, airy silhouettes are the easiest way to nail this aesthetic as a going-out look. A tiered ruffle skirt and a bow to knot it all together? Even better. If you’re feeling more “fairy princess” than “Black Swan,” try out a lighter and brighter color to match the spring season.
I know, I know. A corset in 2022? When athleisure remains king of everyday fashion? Hear me out: Olivia wore one in the “Brutal” music video, and you’re probably deep into your Bridgerton Season 2 phase, where Regency-era fashion (aka, corsets) is all the rage. It’s a cute way to add structure to an aesthetic otherwise focused on loose, flowy fabrics, plus you can play around with lace and other fun textures.
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