The Ultimate Guide To Achieving A Trendy Normcore Aesthetic

TikTok cycles through fashion trends so often that keeping up with what's in or has reached peak cheuginess sometimes feels like a full-time job. But the influx of trendy aesthetics like cottagecore and fairycore offers a bit of something for everyone and makes it much easier to expand your closet and see what works. These trends also provide an opportunity to experiment with styles you may have never thought of trying before. However, if you're someone who doesn't really follow what's trending and will pick a basic T-shirt and comfortable jeans over a more dressed-up look every single time, your style might just align with the overall normcore aesthetic.

If you've been debating updating your style but haven't found one that fits your down-to-earth personality, the low-key normcore aesthetic is right up your alley. Continue reading to learn how to incorporate the popular normcore trend into your own style portfolio. 

What exactly is normcore?

If you're looking to master the normcore trend but still aren't sure how to pull off the look, the first thing you'll need to know is the basics. So what exactly is normcore? Well, according to Stitch Fix, understanding the meaning behind the aesthetic is as simple as its name suggests. The core element is looking low-key and embracing simplicity, so you'll want to blend in rather than trying to stand out in the crowd. The more basic, the better, and one big thing that true normcore fashionistas do is avoid anything that's name brand or boosts logos. Likewise, the trend is considered seamlessly genderless: Anyone can easily rock the aesthetic and find inspiration for their look from anyone and anywhere.

Similarly, Vox noted that the intentionally average style initially started on October 19th, 2013, when trend reporting group K-Hole published the "Youth Mode: a Report on Freedom." The group's goal with the trend was absolute anonymity, blending in with the crowd in what they called "the new world order of blankness." Additionally, K-Hole's publication stated that to truly embrace normcore, a person needed to realize that normal is a subjective term. Vox added that the trend has been expanded upon and altered by pop culture since its conception. One example is a statement from Erica Ceurlo for Vanity Fair, who said that normcore isn't about blending in but standing out when everyone around you is decked out in designer gear.

What are considered normcore essentials?

Once you realize the idea behind normcore, you'll probably want to know what everyone rocking the trend has in their closet. According to Stitch Fix, ambiguity is at the core of this aesthetic, so you'll want to avoid pieces that appear traditionally gender-specific, like dresses or neckties. Instead, you'll want to focus on unisex styles. The outlet stated that one of the essentials you'll want to have is a great pair of jeans that conform to normcore ideals. This means avoiding skinny jeans and focusing on high-rise, relaxed fit styles (think mom jeans). Of course, in keeping with the trend, you'll also want to avoid flashing any labels, so carefully remove any logo tags on the jeans.

Likewise, another normcore must-have is a plain, crewneck T-shirt. While any neutral color will work, the outlet stated that a white tee would be perfect. Other essentials you'll want in your closet are mock turtlenecks and solid-colored pullover sweatshirts. Likewise, basic fleece pullovers or windbreakers are also a must for cooler weather. As for shoes, chunky-sole sneakers — aka the ultimate dad shoe — are the perfect way to finish off a normcore look. Additionally, ASOS has declared that true normcore is all about wearing low-key outfits with a '90s edge. The outlet recommended having items like zipped fleece sweaters, lo-fi sneakers, dad jackets, oversized hoodies, denim jackets, wide-leg trousers, tracksuits, and track pants in your wardrobe rotation.

What are normcore no-nos?

A wide array of wardrobe staples conform to the normcore trend. Still, some of those eager to show off the style wonder what items should be avoided if they genuinely want to be normcore. According to Vox, it can be difficult at first glance to tell if someone is truly following the trend or if they're simply a fan of certain basics. For example, someone rocking a pair of high-waisted khakis, simple frame glass, and a white tee can be unintentionally normcore, but normcore nonetheless. But still, those deliberately rocking the trend will want to make sure to avoid these notable normcore don'ts.

For example, you don't want to wear any bright non-neutral colors or anything that identifies with a specific brand. Similarly, the Los Angeles Times has said that you need to avoid logoed sneakers and declared that you should avoid purchasing off-brand pieces and instead focus on more high-end brands that only appear to be everyday basics. While the latter can seem somewhat confusing for a trend that's all about looking as average as possible, sticking to the normcore mantra appears to be the key. Don't wear anything flashy; avoid dresses, skirts, ties, or anything that in any way stands out. 

How to wear normcore

Even after learning the basics about the intentionally average trend that is normcore, you might still be a little confused about how to wear this nonstyle look. According to Popsugar, it's not uncommon to get confused by the ins and outs of this trend. The outlet said that those needing some seriously stylish normcore outfit inspo should remember to focus on these five components: neutral colors, relaxed fits, dad denim, sporty designs, and white sneakers. Furthermore, you'll want these pieces to exude a '90s sense, or even better, actually be vintage items from the '90s. Finally, when combining these staples, you must remember to focus on comfort above all and end with a look that screams "effortless."

Similarly, The Zoe Report has declared that keeping your outfit simple and subtle is key to creating a perfect look for being just another face in the crowd. One of the normcore looks they suggest for inspiration is the tried and true classic '90s dad look. To emulate this style to normcore perfection, you'll want to embrace vintage-cut sweatsuits and chunky sneakers in addition to wearing intentionally oversized pieces. A basic trench coat is also a must. You can also look to sweater vests — a normcore favorite that helps you embrace your inner grandpa. Finally, if you want to go more for more of a simple schoolyard look, you can try adding a plain trucker hat or loafers to complement your favorite basic white T-shirt.

The best brands for normcore fashion

So you've found out all you can about how to rock the normcore look, but now you're looking to fill your closet with neutral basics but don't know where to start. Well, according to Grailed, there's no shortage of brands from which to shop. For example, if you're looking to rock some normcore footwear, you can always check out the Birkenstock brand. The outlet said that Birkenstock earned popularity with the normcore crowd and also picked up plenty of collaborations when normcore became prominent in the fashion world. Another brand that the write-up recommends is Gap, which dominated the '90s with its classic look. As normcore focuses on simple '90s style, buying pieces from Gap is a no-brainer.

Then there's Hanes, which the outlet declared the ultimate basics label, offering everything from crewneck T-shirts to socks and undies. The easy access to the affordable brand undoubtedly makes them an excellent choice for picking up normcore staples. Likewise, the write-up recommended looking at Levi if you're looking to stock up on jeans. Levi is known for its iconic denim, and the classic 501 cut perfectly embodies normcore. For cooler climates, those looking to stay on trend should check out Patagonia. Finally, for sneakers, the write-up suggested shopping New Balance. The brand's simplistic comfort-focused style and wide range of appeal make it an obvious choice for normcore.

Some celebs love normcore

It isn't just the everyday person that's been captivated by the effortless style that is normcore: Plenty of celebs have been snapped showing off their trendy casuals. As noted by HighSnobiety, actor Shia LaBeouf has wholeheartedly embraced normcore. From his fondness for stonewashed military garb to his outdoor tech-wear and hiking boots, the former Disney star is an icon in rocking the trend. Some of LaBeouf's best normcore moments include his nomad look, which featured a well-worn Patagonia hoodie. Also, his plain white sweatshirt, cutoff sweatpants, socks-and-Crocs ensemble, and his comfort dad look (which featured a vintage-style T-shirt, worn dad cap, sweatpants, and a pair of Uggs) are wholly normcore.

Of course, LaBeouf is far from the only star hop on the trend. Footwear News has stated that celebrities like Jonah Hill, Ben Affleck, James Corden, and Leonardo DiCaprio are all casual wear kings. Likewise, Vogue reported that actress Dakota Johnson is another one to watch if you need some star-studded normcore inspiration. According to the fashion-focused outlet, the "Fifty Shades of Grey" star showed off some discreet style when arriving at a Los Angeles-area airport. Johnson was spotted sporting a menswear-inspired jacket, vintage-style tee, and basic black jeans. She finished off the look with a simple pair of Adidas Sambas. Vogue also declared that the beloved normcore staple, dad caps, have been popping up on plenty of celebs like Justin Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski.

Who else is wearing normcore?

With plenty of celebs and fashionistas embracing normcore, plenty of people are left wondering if the trend is meant to appeal to a specific demographic. Well, according to The Cut, back when normcore was first starting out, it would occasionally pop up in real life and on social media as the cool kids' trend for those who wanted to emulate the ultimate tourist style. Of course, by 2013, normcore was in full force and could easily be spotted on the street. While normcore has continued to evolve from its original intentions, the outlet said that the trend's demographic is heavily Western millennials and digital natives. Likewise, the write-up reported that normcore provided its followers with the ultimate unassuming trend that can appeal to anyone.

Similarly, Styled noted that before it became normcore, the style was rocked by people who didn't care about being trendy and focused on comfort. However, when the trend began to circulate among the masses, it was hard to tell who was intentionally following the trend and who wasn't. Still, the essentials that have become the trend's aesthetic are pieces that have existed since the early 1920s, when ready-to-wear clothing became popularized. But, of course, this was long before anyone ever uttered the word normcore, and everyone was simply wearing what everyone else did because it was affordable.

Not everyone is a fan of normcore

While plenty of people enjoy rocking normcore, not everyone is a fan of the aesthetic, and some still have criticisms about it. For example, writer Lauren Sherman's article for Elle boldly declared normcore a fraudulent trend, despite Sherman's admittance to fully adopting the aesthetic. While explaining the reasoning for critiquing the trend, Sherman stated that the notion that normcore is easy to pull off is utterly ridiculous. Likewise, Sherman added that the real problem with normcore is that most women don't want to look average but instead to appear chic. With that statement, Sherman insisted that normcore does nothing to help ladies achieve this goal.

Likewise, The Cut reported that designer Alexa Chung found being labeled as normcore insulting despite being into casual fashion. Chung said she didn't see her style as conforming to this trend and added that she knew plenty of people who didn't want their look to be called normcore. Then there's Barneys' Simon Doonan, who, according to Racked, hates this trend. The outlet reported that while chatting with Slate, Doonan offered a harsh take on normcore. He boldly said that normcore "appears good-natured, but, as I will illustrate to you, it can be deadly and venomous." While this take might sound extreme, Doonan went on to say that normcore is awful because you can't tell who's following fashion and who's happens to look on-trend.