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 Vogue.com 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."
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 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 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?
Which isn't a bad thing.
What do you think?
Linking up this week with What I Wore, Style Me Wednesdays, Passion 4 Fashion, Fun Fashion Friday