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22 April 2015

Normcore and sartorial self expression

Pic // Nymag

I realise normcore is probably, what? So 2014 - if that's even a thing yet. Nevertheless I'm going to divulge some thoughts on it anyway since I'm renowned for being a bit slow on the uptake and you'll probably forgive me at some point for bringing it up again. I was reading an I-D article alluding to Cindy Sherman and came across something mentioned about her views regarding fashion that stood out to me; it was on Sherman's reluctance to the way that fashion can shape our sense of self (the plethora of selves she takes on in her own art seems a fairly poignant example of this) and while looking at some of the Pre-Fall collections something sort of sprang to mind (queue sarcastic light bulb above head). We spend so much time wondering whether personal style is an expression of our selves, or whether it is the selves we want to be- perhaps normcore is our way of explicitly trying to navigate away from the idea that our persona's are so intrinsically linked to how we dress ourselves at 7:30am when it's probably dark outside and life seems a bit shit because you even have to be awake at 7:30.

While I'm all for not having judgements made about my self based on decisions made pre-caffiene on a Monday morning (cliche but so freaking true) as it would probably lead to the assumption that I'm edgy because my socks don't match when, in reality, I just couldn't find two matching socks. Regardless it's an interesting notion for reasons beyond my own inability to match make undergarments accordingly. In the same way that Sherman both embraces and scolds fashions' ability to affect our sense of selves, making us feel more confident or more obscene or cooler, normcore seems to be rejecting the association of the labels and brands we wear to our persona's and I dig that. There's something humble in celebrating the idea that we aren't what we wear; that we could emulate our father in the late nineties and it be acceptable and not related to our character. The clothes are a blank canvas which requires no elaboration. That being said, maybe rendering such a colourful and artistic industry will hinder our ability to express who we want to be, or who we are, or what we like through clothing- maybe that's too key of an aspect of fashion to aspire to lose.

Going even further, the unisex aspect of such a trend is yet another way of separating fashion and styling from society; the branding of gender. It is, almost, entirely brand neutral. The entire grounding of normcore seems to be a complete lack of expression; and when tied to gender that is fairly monumental. It's one thing for women to embody a stereotypically masculine style via the use of tailoring and tradition male attire but an entirely new accomplishment when an entire trend is unisex. No appropriation (not a neccesarily negative term) of another gender's sartorial stereotypes but the simple act of wearing clothes, regardless of gender and charachter and person. Just. Wearing. Clothes. While we might like to invest a lot of our personality in our clothing choices, or we might not, the fact that there is neutral ground at all seems to be worth discussion. When in the past has clothing not been used to allude to something beyond the clothing? If we're losing the desire to self-express through our wavey or preppy or masculine or feminine garms (to coin a Bristol phrase) what does this mean for brands who themselves try to emulate and project a certain aesthetic and personality? Maybe people are bored of buying into a persona.

Pre-Fall collections by the likes of The Row that display plain polo shirts, cropped pants and button up shirts; plain, simple and generic. Steps like these seem to be a blunt reaction to the mass media frenzy regarding branding (see: Moschino by Jeremy Scott, Chanel's supermarket). It takes fashion back to a base level whereby label is almost irrelevant, both by making the biggest of statements by denouncing materialism in branding and the subtlest of victories by celebrating normal-ness (not a word but let's run with it). It is not showy, it is the statement that I am not what I wear. Normcore borders the line between lazy and dull, to fresh and is representative of a generation who are not concerned with gender, or labeling but something further. Maybe normcore is old news, but are the motives that started the trend gone, or are we on the brink of a sartorial revolution? *cue dramatic hand gesture* *drop mic*

*I use the word sartorial for the express reason that it makes this sound more intelligent.


  1. what a great post

  2. Great post! X

  3. This was such an interesting article to read: I loved your appreciation of Normcore as pure 'Bah, I don't care if my fur jacket screams '70s, I just wear it and if it says I'm edgy/vintage/trendy/whatever screw it'. Lately I have been thinking about this concept too, but didn't associate it to Normcore until reading your post! You'll definitely be in my favourites this week, drop by my blog if you'd like to see :) x

  4. I think it's kind of funny that you reference the Row in the final paragraph and being a reference to norm core and then go on to add that it's anti-materialistic. Seeing as a bag from the Row costs a couple thousand quid... I find it difficult to see how that isn't materialistic? Surely part of the appeal of norm core is that it's about investing in really good basics. Sure, there aren't any labels but it's still expensive. It's not as if norm core advocates going out to Walmart and buying clothes from there. It's still expensive high fashion, just stripped free of adornment and fuss. That doesn't seem anti-materialistic to me. Rather it's just an ironic form of materialism where you still crave things and stuff but just now in a showy way.

    My fear (ok, it's not really a FEAR as such but more a thought) is that the backlash to norm core is going to be something completely extreme but in the opposite direction. There's always a backlash to trends and maybe the next big thing is going to be super fussy and full of lots of frills. I hope not though. Personally, I love norm core. I've probably always dressed pretty normal so this suits my taste perfectly.

    Love this sort of post by the way. Keep them coming.


    1. I think you're absolutely right in terms of the price issue- but I suppose my main idea was that the concept itself isn't based on materialism, rather than individual items- or to be more specific, materialism with regards to branding and self expression. I think you're right in terms of the idea that we still crave things, and maybe we're just trying to seem less concerned with materials, but it's interesting how what we crave changes. I'm really interested by our generations desire in general to move beyond labels and see how that translates into the fashion industry through trends like normcore. I hope we continue to move in this way, to be honest.
      Thanks for a great insight and I'm glad you like the post ! x

  5. Perfect jeans!

  6. Scandinavian style is always on point. Love this look and your blog, as always. xx

  7. I find Normcore funny as a trend because for me it so clearly shows that what makes something look desirable is so often who is wearing it. I love the simplicity of so much of the normcore trend, and like you said, I like that it is almost unplaceable in terms of gender, or class. But I laugh when I realise that the reason I am lusting over an outfit is nothing to do with the clothes themselves. Put them on a slightly frumpy person who is less sure of themselves or has less spark and they lose their appeal, they are just everyday, just clothes. It is what they embody on particular people that I want. The people who really wear normcore well and don't look like just everyone else on the street who isn't engaged in fashion or trends, are those who have that intrinsic magnetism. I guess, fashion is so often about its potential for transformation, it sells us the idea that the clothes will make us the kind of person we want to be, and yet somehow it never does. All the more amusing when I often berate myself for not being 'fashionable' enough to be a style blogger, thanks to the fear of wearing outfits that are too simple. Maybe that fear is more about being scared I'm intrinsically just not one of those cool girls than it is about my wardrobe choices... Ah fashion and its myriad of feelings! Thank you for the time out and the thoughts Camilla, my apologies for the ramble!
    Chambray & Curls

  8. Such an interesting article, I've never thought of normcore in that way before

  9. This was such an amazing article to read. Mostly because I had this idea of writing about the whole Normcore thing (even though it appeareda hot minute ago). Loved the position you brought and couldn't agree more. You have such a lovely blog, definitely one of my favourites.


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