The year is 1999. You’re at school swapping gel pens and writing in your Lisa Frank diary. The girl you just met at recess hands you a colorful friendship bracelet adorned with plastic beads that spell out “BFF.” You realize that this is, in fact, the peak of happiness. While ‘99 feels like a lifetime ago, the nostalgia lives on thanks to one of the latest style trends to emerge this year — a little something we’re calling “kindergartencore.” The beaded jewelry trend is giving me major summer camp vibes, and my nostalgia-loving heart is here for it.
It’s no secret that many trends from the ‘90s have made a huge comeback in recent years, from neon colors and Y2K styles to the return of bucket hats, low-rise jeans, crop tops, and more. Similar to the summer-inspired coconut girl trend, defined by bright colors, funky jewelry, and floral patterns, kindergartencore offers a dreamlike escape into the past — along with a much-needed burst of color, especially given the doom and gloom of the past year and a half. Kindergartencore is all about incorporating your favorite childhood traditions (think: alphabet necklaces, string bracelets, beaded chokers, charms, DIY) into the here and now.
Bella Hadid rocks kindergartencore with a stack of colorful rings and beaded bracelets. Emma Chamberlain opts for flower power. Dua Lipa lounges poolside with layered beads, neon sunglasses, and a barely-there bikini that is etched into my memory forever (the bravery is real). Vanessa Hudgens embraces kindergartencore too, and gives it a sophisticated spin while on vacation in Italy. Spend a few minutes on TikTok and you’ll see that everyone is channeling the kindergartencore aesthetic, from creators like diss track queen Alyssa McKay to Matt Taylor, AKA @mattheperson.
If you’re wondering why nostalgic trends keep resurfacing, consider the cyclical nature of fashion and phenomena like the 20-year rule, where trends supposedly make a comeback every 20 years or so. If you think about it, 20 years ago, the fashion world saw the rise of the Y2K aesthetic, and you guessed it — now it’s back. If you grew up in the ‘90s or early ‘00s, you probably showed off your beaded accessories on the first day of school. And thanks to the kindergartencore trend, your time has come again.
Interestingly, we’ve also seen a resurgence of DIY culture over the past year. That’s right, it’s cool to make your own stuff again. Want to crochet your own crop top? Gen Z is already on it. Want to reconstruct a vintage look? Depop has you covered. We also can’t forget Tom Daley knitting his way through the Tokyo Olympics, or the rise of “sew bros” during quarantine. Whether it’s the fact that Gen Z continues to be wildly innovative or the fact that we were cooped up in our houses for way too long last year, the kindergartencore trend has everyone getting creative again with playful, DIY accessories that I hope will stick around for a bit longer.
While some say it’s time to let ‘90s trends stay in the past, I beg to differ. The fashion world could use a bit of optimism these days, and the brightly colored beads of kindergartencore are enough to make anyone smile. Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind a summer camp-inspired blast from the past, or an excuse to reminisce about what it was like wandering around Limited Too and Claire’s with my friends in an attempt to put together the perfect first day of school outfit. After a pretty serious year, kindergartencore reminds us that it’s time to play again. Because let’s be real, we could all use a little recess.