Silly Fads or Fascinating Cultural Statements?

Each of us has at least one fashion aesthetic. We may choose a fashion aesthetic unintentionally by always defaulting to the same style, or we might purposefully choose a style or a range of styles we feel suit us. Fashion magazines heralded current fashion aesthetics in their day, but the internet with fashion influencers on Instagram and TikTok has replaced fashion magazines with instant recognition and promotion of new trends.

An aesthetic is a style that defines your personality traits, color palette, music, clothes, and make-up.  It seems to me that aesthetics are either very edgy, or they are more sophisticated and buttoned up.  Confident dressers can mix the two basic styles, edgy and more traditional, with great results.  Age plays a large role in settling on your personal style.

Fashion aesthetics are constantly changing, sometimes at a rapid clip.  They often incorporate an entire lifestyle, and they can also be revivals of former popular trends.  Former aesthetics you will remember are goth (black clothes, black nail polish and lipstick), hippy (bright, loose fitting, bell bottoms, tie-dyes), vintage, and Mod (began in England in the 1960s).

Here are a few 2022 aesthetics that are currently the most popular and continuing to gain traction. Some you will never have heard of some will explain what you’ve been seeing on the streets, and some might be an intriguing addition to your own wardrobe. I’ve only identified nine here.  There are at least nine others that are not mentioned.





Soft Girl – This is a very popular aesthetic and uses lots of pastels, emphasizes floral and gingham patterns, pleated skirts, cardigans, and very ‘cute’ looks. Make-up is minimal with rosy cheeks.


                                                                                                      Photograph from The TrendSpotter

E-Girl – This style was born on TikTok during the COVID lockdown. It has been popularized by Dua Lipa among others.  Very stylized make-up, dyed hair, mesh clothing, silver jewelry, plaid skirts.





Twee – popularized by Zooey Deschanel among others, featuring Peter Pan or statement collars, full skirts, fun tights, and flats. It has its roots in the ‘60s and ‘70s and is considered ‘quirky’.  TikTok has brought it back in a big way, especially the nostalgic aspects.




                                                                                                       Photograph from The TrendSpotter

Cottagecore style involves prairie dresses, breezy nightgowns, Nap dresses (see ASE article) and adorable cottages with gardens. It presents a romanticized simple life, living in the country and reading all afternoon.



Grand Millennial or Granny Chic has popped up in home decorating for a little while now, as trends like wallpaper and use of color has come back in popularity.  In fashion, one description might be vintage and vintage inspired.  Look for crochet sweaters, long dresses, colorful patterns, pleats, flouncy floral dresses, puff sleeves and yes, pearls!  It crosses decades, picking up a little here and a little there.  TikTok has a plethora of videos on Grand Millennial chic if you need outfit ideas.  StyleCharade and Born on Fifth are two websites with Grand Millennial fashion ideas.



             Photo from





Academia comes in two forms – Light Academia and Dark Academia.  The light version features light beige tones and white, and the dark has a darker, mostly brown, sometimes black palette. Favored clothes for both are tweed blazers, sweater vests, turtlenecks, tailored trousers, straight skirts, anything that prep school students would wear.



                                                                                                                                                                                      Photograph from The TrendSpotter






Coastal Grandmother  features linen above any other fabric. Think Diane Keaton.  Straw hats, button-down, loose-fitting blouses, white turtlenecks, relaxed khakis, or blue jeans.  The style screams a certain lifestyle – a slowing down attitude, ‘smelling the roses’, enjoying life, long walks on the beach, and getting better with age.



                                                                                                        Photograph from The TrendSpotter

Artsy represents a lifestyle as well a clothing style.  Nature, art, and beauty.  Followers wear dungarees, jumpsuits, boiler suits, berets, and primary colors.


                                                                                      From Novembre magazine. Photo: Nicolas Coulomb

Normcore is almost an anti-aesthetic style.  Simple, basic outfits, very normal, down-to-earth clothes, like what Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Jobs would wear.  Plain, flat non-styling. It screams practical, unpretentious, and no-nonsense.


If you are interested in choosing a fashion style for yourself, think about any celebrities whose styles you admire.  Music can also influence your style. What culture do you identify with?

Experts suggest these five steps to identifying your style:

  • Look in your closets and bureau drawers – what do you wear often, which clothes make you feel attractive, which make you happy and which make you feel very comfortable. What do they have in common?
  • Which of your friends’ styles do you like the most?
  • Create a Pinterest board of every ‘look’ that appeals to you.
  • Try to identify your style personality – are you traditional, unconventional, eclectic?

This quiz is fun and came very close to identifying my style.  On Buzz Feed.