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Sideline view of the cores: the A to Z of fashion aesthetics


Sideline view of the cores: the A to Z of fashion aesthetics

As obscure styles hit runways faster than you can keep up, here is a look at social media’s leading micro-trends

A model presents a creation by Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquiere at the Musee d'Orsay during Paris Fashion Week.
THE CORE OF THE ACTION A model presents a creation by Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquiere at the Musee d'Orsay during Paris Fashion Week.
Image: Piroscka van de Wouw/Reuters

Before social media, fashion was often dictated by what people wore on the streets, how subcultures expressed themselves and runway shows that trickled down into fashion magazines.

The rise of platforms such as Tumblr and TikTok has allowed small fads and movements to make it into the fashion zeitgeist more quickly. While a trend’s usual life expectancy was at least one season, they can now boom in a day and return the very next year as an aesthetic.

Typically on TikTok, these different aesthetics have inspired fashionistas of all ages to participate in micro-trends that are often built around a certain look or ideal. Not sure which one you fall under? Here is our comprehensive look at the leading fashion core aesthetics so far.


Artcore is all about self-expression. The style also has a retro sensibility that favours Doc Martens or colourful plimsolls.

The style is colourful with a focus on decorative pieces. Staples include mom jeans, often with patchwork all over. The dishevelled aspect carries the stereotypical idea of what an artist would look like while creating a masterpiece.


While older generations might shudder at the thought of ballet flats trending again, they have been a big hit with Gen Z, who can’t help but revive yet another blast from the past.

This style features pieces from other popular trends of our times, such as shapewear and large cardigans in cool tones. It’s like dressing up for ballet class — but chic.


The colour best associated with the world’s most popular doll has to be pink. The style mirrors the playfulness of the doll’s clothing with plush furs and plastic accessories. Micro bags that have been a favourite for many in the past couple of years are also an avid choice for Barbiecore lovers.


One of the popular aesthetics to come out of TikTok, cottagecore is best described by its sister aesthetics, farmcore and countrycore. It’s a look inspired by women who lived in the countryside during the early modern era to the 19th century.

The earthy palette favours browns and pastels. The dresses are often flowy and knee-length with gingham as the go-to textile. Because it is so referential, most items are often thrift-shopped.


No, you will not be dressing up as an unfriendly mythical creature. Goblincore is like cottagecore but with a more dedicated approach to earthiness.

Wearers of the trend have also been known to break gender roles, with men opting for 18th-century chemises alongside combat bootsand hats varying between beanies, deerstalkers, or ones that are relevant to the period they are referencing.


Another trend similar to the cottagecore revolution. The aesthetic is hugely inspired by picnics — and almost quite literally. Part of the subculture is all about making fresh jam, while the clothing consists of gingham and poufy dresses. Most of the silhouettes mirror that of a Dutch milkmaid’s. .


While most of the trends on this list surround an aesthetic people partake in intentionally, Karencore is usually used to mock or dress up as a parody of a very specific type of woman.

Asymmetrical bobs or haircuts have become synonymous with the style. While their hair is greatly inspired by the 1990s, the beauty aesthetic comes from the mid-2010s soft beat. Butterfly or oversized sunglasses are usually preferred.


Trends birthed in the 2020s have been known to be colourful. One of those organic creations is kidcore. Mostly inspired by cartoons and art from the 1990s, the style features figure-hugging items seen in most urban styles or preppy get-ups, as well as oversized and baggy hip hop-inspired apparel that can carry the eccentric prints.


The oldest on our list, normcore, came to popularity with the many billionaires and tech gurus who prefer the aesthetic (thanks Steve Jobs). It’s all about a relaxed and simplified sense of ease with a focus on the sneakers, which tend to be the latest designs or carry streetwear notoriety.

Winter looks are often warm and feature parkas or bulky sweaters that accommodate the unisex appeal. Summer looks feature loose-fitting, long-sleeved checker print shirts, baggy tees and formal trousers with chunky sneakers.


The cosplay aesthetic is inspired by Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings character, a “ranger”.

The aesthetic is very image-based, so its wearers are often being shot in photos where they are riding horses in costumes with hooded capes.

Think Robin Hood or Green Arrow.


The environmentally friendly thrifting trend has gone into darker territory with thriftcore. This involves bulk purchases of thrifted items being part of your style.

It features most of the fads of our time such as vintage merchandise T-shirts and plaid pieces.

Unique finds that go with the muted tone of the style are often praised and have a dystopian vibe that pairs well with high-end pieces from designers such as Rick Owens or Kanye West’s Yeezy.


Taken from 1980s and 1990s streetwear, urbancore is inspired by gritty city architecture that is usually dilapidated and features a lot of graffiti.

The style is meant to complement the surroundings rather than imitate them.

Skinny jeans are usually used in understated looks that feature plain black caps or knitted beanies. Primary colours or saturated tones are usually avoided.

Vacation Dadcore

A grown-up and male-orientated version of the coconut girl aesthetic, this trend is inspired by older men’s penchant for Hawaiian shirts when on holiday.

While the messier styling features tan shorts and socks with sandals, a more refined “Yacht Dad” version features Polo shirts and woollen sweaters tied at the neck with designer sunglasses.


Yet another pink-crazy trend, Y2Kcore takes its inspiration from the 2000s obsession with all things pretty and futuristic. The trend also brings back bedazzled garments and super-long bling nail art. Body jewellery and bold makeup separate it from the Barbiecore trend, as well as striking hair-colour trends in lilac, lavender or neon pink.


New York has long been revered for its incredible streetwear culture, and in the age of TikTok it still reigns supreme. The trend is inspired by Dr Zizmor, a dermatologist who had multicoloured adverts on the subway.

It’s similar to normcore, with much more room for expression.


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