Friday, April 18, 2014

Normcore - Rhymes With Bore

So apparently there's this new "Fashion Trend" called Normcore.  Until this week, I had never heard of it, and then a work colleague sent me a link to this article from New York Magazine.  On the same day, Melanie of A Bag and A Beret mentioned it in a comment on one of my posts.  This obviously required further research:

An article in the New York Times defines Normcore as:
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.)

Steve Jobs was Normcore before the word even existed     
So, as I understand it:  wear the most boring, bland, clothing you can find, and claim it's anti-fashion, practical, and unpretentious.   Stop spending all that time and effort to broadcast your identity through your clothing and start looking like everyone else.   It's Jerry Seinfeld as Style Icon, and even Newsweek has written about it.   The term originated with New York-based trend forecasting collective K-Hole, who described it more as a theory instead of a look.  Embrace sameness and find the joy that comes with being part of a group;  conformity over asserting your individuality.  Apparently, if you dress like a schlub, it will allow you to blend in and mingle with people from all walks of life, opening you up to all kinds of life experiences you wouldn't get by clinging to your selfish need to "stand out".   Hogwash.

I would like to point out that this "trend" is being embraced by the 20 - 30 something hipster crowd - I doubt very much you will see any of the women in my blogging circle, or the women that appear on Ari Cohen's blog Advanced Style, climbing onto this bandwagon.

I wonder how the folks who've been dressing like this their entire lives feel about this?  There's a world of difference between the carefully styled, perfectly proportioned versions of "normcore" that are all over the internet, and what a mother of five in a small town in Oklahoma wears to go to the supermarket.

I can understand the style fatigue that may have contributed to this movement.  It takes lot of work and a lot of money to keep your wardrobe current with whatever Vogue Magazine has dictated is "IN" this season.    However, for those of us who aren't concerned with being "IN" or "OUT", and  are quite happy to have our personality reflected in our attire, hell can freeze over before we are going to adopt the bland and boring in order to "embrace sameness".  We spend so much of our lives trying to figure out who we are, and how to feel comfortable in our own skin, that if and when we finally, that is worth celebrating - not covering up with boring clothes that render you invisible.   The outfit I am wearing above, is quite "normal" for me, and is no less comfortable or practical for my day's activities than a pair of faded jeans and a t-shirt would be.

The vest may look complicated, but I just undo a couple of the buttons at the front and slip it over my head.
Oddly enough,  those of us who shop secondhand, make stuff, wear our clothes upside down or inside out, mix old with new, and don't concern ourselves with "rules" about age-appropriateness, pattern mixing, or colour-clashing, are, in fact, embracing our "sameness".  It's about a community of creative, intelligent, free-thinking, confident and .......... women wearing what makes us feel good.

Would you be as fascinated, and delighted by, these women in the photos below if they were wearing jeans and sweatshirts? 


 I think not.  
Clockwise from top left:  Sheila and Melanie, Krista, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, and Vix.  The images are borrowed from their individual blogs (click on their names to see them), except for the one of Jean and Valerie, which came from Advanced Style.


  1. That is a fantastic vest!
    I spent the entire 90's in mom jeans chasing small children. I'll skip this "trend" thanks very much.

    1. Do as you like. But you will have to wait a very long time. Low rise jeans are a trend which is ending, and people are simply going back to normal jeans, the way they were worn in the 20's, 30's 40's 50's 60's 70's 80's 90's…until some raver kid took too many Ecstacy pills and decided pants should hang down the backside. Now normal rise jeans aka mom jeans are back, and here to stay.
      Normcore has nothing to do with blandness or sameness. People make astounding outfits using regular, beautifully functional clothing. The point id to not fogey what clothing is meant to do in the first place. If you like looking like a peacock, thats all good, but I don't see how you can hate on people who are simply celebrating beautifully ordinary items like Eddie Bauer jackets, normal rise jeans, and simple t shirts. I think its the most unique approach to fashion we have had in a while, and hey, i grew up wearing low rise jeans, big statement necklaces, and lots of colorful sunken tweed jackets. No thanks to that.

  2. Your outfit is incredible - I've no idea whether I want to steal your waistcoat or the dress probably both!
    That daft look only works on beautiful young hipsters with bucket loads of cool, any "normal" human being just looks scruffy and dull. Its not a trend - its an abomination!
    Thanks for the mention - I'm honoured to be amongst such fabulous women! xxxx

  3. Did Normcore in my teens. I have no interest revisiting it.

  4. Great post, Shelley. In fact, I heard about Normcore originally from Jean of Dross Into Gold who had read about it in New York Magazine, which I then read. I wonder if the people wearing this composed schlepitude realize that they are STILL fueling the trend industry that is feeding it to them while pretending they're not. A woman I style-eyed once said to me, "Nobody ever crossed the street to meet a personality." So looking the same in fact does not allow your personality to take centre stage - you are often simply ignored. Been there, done that.

    You look dazzling in this. I love your vest contraption and this whole ensemble, but especially the personality in it that makes you wear such joyous attire.

    1. What a great quote, " Nobody ever crossed the street to meet a personality."

  5. You're brilliant, Shelley! I keep seeing references to this Normcore crap - there's a clue there about how I feel about it...
    Oh the irony of hip young things going our of their way to dress in bland, unflattering clothes; how achingly cool! Following this trend isn't so different to following any other, is it? It might be cheaper, I suppose. (But not as cheap as secondhand clothes...)
    Anyway, it isn't for me, needless to say. Where's the fun, the joy, the creativity?
    Plenty of all of those in your outfit, Shelley! Loving that frock, and the fabulous waistcoat. And the women featured in this post? Nothing Normbore about them, thank goodness! xxxx

  6. Great outfit! I agree: joyous.

    I like your open-minded approach to the trend, because, as you suggest, probably half of the people in America wear jeans and tees as part of their every day lives, not as an anti-fashion statement. I doubt any of them would say their dress renders them invisible.

    As a trend, well, I guess I can appreciate the anti-fashion sentiment, but, again as you suggest, the fact that the movement has reached "trend" status means it's morphed into part of the fashion realm.

    I seem to have morphed - out of exhaustion, wanting comfort, and simple lack of time - into wearing outfits that, to me, are pretty basic these days: jeans, vintage sweatshirts, a great scarf and a handbag, albeit, but pretty different from my former days of wild 1970s frocks and sassy work outfits. I don't think I'm invisible, and I guess I wouldn't care if I were as I don't need to stand out. What I need is to be comfortable in my own skin but still feel like there's a wee bit of style left in me! While I miss my former funky vintage-bejeweled self, I'm trying to embrace the fact that, as life and circumstances change, so too can one's style.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This is open minded? You are kidding. No, its not about being comfortable, or about saving money, the stuff is NOT inexpensive, its NOT about avoiding the fashion industry. Its not about blending in despite what some journalists will write. How "open minded" of you to NOT REALIZE its simply attractive and well fitting clothing to many of us. I personally am very exited by a more basic wardrobe. They is so much that can be done with it, and the result is so much more attractive. And NO, people do not become invisible wearing this. Not in a sea of dark wash bootcut jeans that hang low on the unfortunate wearers bottom, a sea of mixed prints, twenty necklaces and scarves all choking people as they tottle around on their absurd stovepipe pants.

  7. O, my, I love this outfit! Those boots and frock are heavenly, and the vest was a real eye opener!!!
    I am so bhind the times, I have not heard of this "normcore".....the trends come and go thick and fast, and I mostly can't keep up! Sounds pretty lame, though.And uninteresting!
    I much prefer goggling at ladies like you and the above pictured; you're all WAY more interesting, and the types of ladies I would rather hang out with! XXX

  8. hubby informed me lately about this normcore trend. he described it as wearing clothes that look like GDR 1982, in a small town, at the gate of a factory...... (we both were born in this gone under country)

    your outfit is totally chic - that vest looks so westwood!

    personally i find jeans the most uncomfortable clothing piece - and i t-shirts do i look than i would smuggle pillows ;-)

  9. The vest is fascinating and amazing and it looks amazing over the orange print dress. Never heard of norm core. However I do know that the reason I follow your blog is because you have your own sense of style. I would definitely cross the street to say hello and ask you where you bought that amazing vest.

  10. All of those outfits took time and effort. That is the difference to just popping on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. They are a direct reflection of the personality and character of the person wearing them. Their inside feelings reflected outward through fabric, accessories and shoes.

    I can still be found wearing a t-shirt and jeans. That would be my home/walking the dog uniform simply because it means less laundry for me, they are comfortable and the dog can come up on my lap when I'm wearing them. But when I go out I want to make an effort and dress up. It makes me feel better about myself and tells people who I am without opening my mouth.

    That wild vest looks like something from Cirque du Soleil.

    I adore that dress. 1960's vintage?


    1. Both the vest and dress were found on the clearance rack at my friends' store, From Mars. They carry a lot of small designers, many of them from Canada. It does look kind of "vintagey", doesn't it? The vest is by Akela Key and I lusted after it ever since it first came in the store, proving that good things do come to those who wait.

  11. this is a trend now? It's the way most of the people here dress, like everybody shops at the Gap : jean, boring t-shirt, sneakers, gray stuff. yuck! And no jewelry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Great post. I am a big fan of wearing whatever one wants, but let's not pretend that a white tee and pair of jeans is a fashion statement. Nothing wrong with it, and I wear it a lot, but I don't think I am a hipster either : 0

  13. I think I first saw this term on That's Not My Age about a month ago. It's certainly stirring up some opinions, which seems to be just the opposite of its purported intention. I think it's funny because if you want to look like you're following the Normcore trend, how will anyone know you're trendy and not just unimaginative? Or maybe they're the same thing!

  14. I read about normcore on Slate recently and had a good laugh about it with L (both of us so far from normcore, it's hysterical). Thank you for the shout-out, my dear! I'd rather reflect who I am, and I am NOT bland and boring by any stretch of the imagination. It kind of makes me sad that people want to project that.

    LOVE that vest - oh, golly, straps and things galore! Fabulous over the diaphanous dress.

  15. Your vest is amazing. Amazing. The pieces underneath it also look great, but my eye is totally being kidnapped by your top piece. It looks like Japanese goth/punk!

    I heard about normcore on Melanie's blog, too. It sounds terrible. o.o Bravo to your attitude and your personal style.

    I can understand being tired of following trends or having to keep up with wardrobes, but reacting to it negatively and making decisions out of that instead of just wearing what makes you comfortable and happy seems... misplaced.

    (Longtime reader, possibly first time commenter, originally made my way over from Patti's Visible Monday. Love your style!)

  16. Oh wow! The front of your outfit was fabulous but the BACK is stratospheric! I am in awe! Shelley, you are inspirational.

    Ummm...if anyone is actually choosing bland and boring as a style to follow then I don't know what to say. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should? And please - develop your own style. You'll feel better. Trust me.

    Personally I think I must be doing something right because I often get Looks whenever I'm out and about. Guess that means that even as a 60-something woman (some might say old lady.) I'm not invisible? Yay! Not that visibility is an actual goal or anything but I just wear what I like and mostly made it myself. Too fun.

  17. I must confess 'd never heard of Normcore till I read this post (although I've certainly seen the uniform). Perhaps it's true that ignorance is bliss. I even have a subscription to New York mag, and I seem to have skipped right over that article. Hmmm…. wonder how that could have happened. I just now asked myself how a trend such as Normcore could have arisen, and this is how I answered myself. "Well, Valerie", says I, every era has its own zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is reflected in the clothes. So for example, the 50s were really uptight, and so were 50s clothes. In the Age of Discovery, fortunes were made in international trade, and clothing became outlandish to match those fortunes. The current zeitgeist could perhaps be summed up by the cell phone, and texting and sexting. Nobody looks at anybody anymore! So maybe that's how we get Normcore - 'cause no one's looking (except at screen-sized tidy whities). Or maybe original clothing distracts people from their cells, and Normcore aids in maintaining focus on your screen. Or maybe it's just that the economy is so bad that no one has the time or money to go looking for anything original. And rents are so high that only chain stores can afford a presence in main shopping areas. And what do chain stores sell to raise their profits and lower their risk so they can afford the high rents? All together now… NORMCORE!!!

    Extra credit question: If Normcore is new, does that make it, by definition, avant garde? And if the avant garde is by definition groundbreaking, does that mean that boring is the new groundbreaking?

    Keep shaking things up, Shelley! (And thanks for the shout out!!)

  18. People are boring on purpose? Ugh! I'd rather have people think I'm weird.
    Your outfit is so cool. I'd love to live close and borrow from your closet!

  19. Normcore as a movement is definitely boring. . . Who would want to always dress like that if they thought about it? But of course, it is practical for so many people.

    Personally, I find that I dress in a huge range of styles--everything from very creative modern ensembles (including some new, some thrifted, and some items of my own creation), to vintage wear, to what I guess is sort of like normcore--I find I really am happy to "dress down" in simple jeans and a tee on the weekends. I sometimes feel schizophrenic because of the wildly different ways I love to dress, and wonder if I should be developing one style personality or another--but where would the fun be in that?

  20. love your fabulous vest and frock and so cool booties, such pretty textures and shapes and colors!!
    And I'm still amazed by the idea of being boring on purpose as a trend. There's too many people boring yet, even hipsters are quite boring sometimes, as they become repetitive and unoriginal. There's no irony, not joy and not fun in this trend, just a gray dust covering everything.
    These days I've been appealed by a certain punk revival trend (whisful thinking?!)

  21. So I wonder how the people who follow this Normcore "trend" get their kicks? I totally agree with Senora Allnut, the look is "just a grey dust covering everything." Thank you so much for your kind words on my last couple of posts, you are a dear, kind friend and oh how I would love to give a ginormous hug one day!! xoxoxoxoxooxoxoox

  22. Your vest is a knock out and the dress divine. I read an article about Normcore, but don't remember where. Obviously It's not for me, as I prefer the style of the gorgeous bloggers that you portray in your post, including you, of course. Love Valerie's comment!

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  24. Thanks for educating me, Shelley! A great conversation was had at home on the subject! Now, how does one tell the difference between Normcore fashionistas and Normcore accidentalists? And does it matter?

    1. oh and is that an example of one, the commenter before me...?