In [Sort Of] Defense of NORMCORE


Normcore (noun) 1. A fashion movement, c. 2014, in which scruffy young urbanites swear off the tired street-style clichés of the last decade — skinny jeans, wallet chains, flannel shirts — in favor of a less-ironic (but still pretty ironic) embrace of bland, suburban anti-fashion attire. (See Jeans, mom. Sneakers, white.)
2. A sociocultural concept, c. 2013, having nothing to do with fashion, that concerns hipster types learning to get over themselves, sometimes even enough to enjoy mainstream pleasures like football along with the rest of the crowd.
3. An Internet meme that turned into a massive in-joke that the news media keeps falling for. (See below).”
Above is the New York Times definition of “normcore”, from an article published in April of this year called The New Normal. After the word was picked up by New York Magazine originally in February of this year, and it was originally generated by trend forecasting group K-Hole, which is based in New York City.

Some more research dug up the original K-Hole report from October 2013, in which the term “normcore” was first used. In fact, upon reading it, it became clear that the New York Times was in fact right that the media kept falling for this massive in-joke. But why was it an in-joke? It’s because the majority of the fashion sites reporting on the normcore trend appeared to have never read the original piece on normcore. Said piece so deftly displayed normcore as a societal concept and attitude that reflects in consumer purchases such as clothing, but not a trend merely based on the clothing itself.

Everyone knows the idea of individuality- that everyone wants to be different and have original traits that distinguish his or herself from the pack. As people become more and more desperate to be original, they need to search harder to find the most miniscule of traits within themselves that are not duplicated in anyone else. This task, as everyone is searching to become a true individual, becomes practically impossible. Thus, the idea of normcore, or accepting a place in the crowd, with everyone else, without setting yourself out or defining yourself as a specific member of any group. K-Hole described normcore as free, non-exclusive, and complex.

The result of this attitude towards life and towards ideas of individuality and differentiation reflect onto consumer ideals and appearances, which is where media outlets such as Elle Online began picking up the term “normcore”. At the end of 2014, more and more articles begin returning to the subject of normcore, wishing that it will be a trend that disappears in 2015. I must point out the true basis of this normcore idea that is not just the typical “Seinfeld outfit” that the media has portrayed it as. Recall the ideas of freedom and non-exclusivity mentioned before, and think: if you had to embody those two traits in an outfit, what would that outfit be? The likelihood is that you would choose a simple look, one that would allow comfort, some style and that could be adjusted depending on mood, event, day or person.

In fact, you just may imagine something similar to the countless street style looks fashion media outlets have categorized as normcore. Simple silhouettes, tees, boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, basic jackets, flannels, beanies, leather booties and sandals have all been categorized this way, especially frequently when many of these items are worn at one time.

I fully understand the lure of the normcore style, which I think many people are missing out on.  It has been described as being 90’s based, Seinfeld-like, and sloppy. However, the best description is that it is plain and simple.  Every person has that drive to dress as though they don’t care about how they look, or about what people think of them. They dress for ease and comfort and have a largely nonchalant attitude towards the opinions of others. Normcore reflects those traits, both in ideology and in presentation. The availability of different forms of casual clothing allow the wearer to have simple, comfortable options, as well as not subscribe to any particular style at all if they don’t want to.
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