The Beyond Retro Guide to Normcore Style/Fashion

February 10, 2024

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What is Normcore Fashion?

Four years after Normcore came in second place for the Oxford English Dictionary Word of The Year, losing out to ‘vape,’ it’s now time to untangle its surprisingly complex meaning along with its bizarre variations – Menocore anyone?

The Origin of Normcore

The story begins back in 2009 before Instagram even existed. A cartoonist by the name of Ryan Estrada was asked to draw a comic strip for Templar AZ. He drew a comic strip about a discussion of increasingly ridiculous subcultures. The punchline was ‘Normcore. Dangerously regular wears only t-shirts, jeans and slang from other subcultures. But only three years have passed since its first appearance, and just three years after the sitcom that featured it. Estrada quickly forgot about the satirical poke aimed at young tribes and went on with his daily life.

What happened next?

In 2013, the trend forecasting agency K-Hole coined this term in their annual report to describe a youth generation that was over individualisation, and more into belonging. In a NY Mag article, the term was transformed from a pensive way of describing a state of being into a fashion trend that included “stonewash jeans, comfortable sneakers, and fleece” or “off-brand New York Ball Caps… paired up with turtlenecks and sweatpants and boxy denim”. The article cited Jerry Seinfeld to be the unlikely icon of the new trend.

The Backlash of Normcore

By the start of 2014, the normcore fashion style was already being criticized as hipster nonsense. It was a cynical use of pure intentions. A spoof. A fake trend that spiraled out of control. GQ spelled it out in bullets with an article entitled 20 Reasons You Are An Idiot, Normcore Guy’.

Is Normcore Dead?

By 2015, GQ and Highsnobiety, among other fashion magazines, had declared normcore dead. The problem is that no one paid attention. The runways are still awash in normcore elements, and the trend continues to resurface under new forms. ‘Gorpcore,’ was added puffer jackets2017 will bring velcro and a variety of outdoor clothing that is sensible.

In 2018, windbreakers, bumbags, and slides were dubbed “tourist chic”. Dad style was characterized by tucked-in t-shirts and pleated pants. Man Repeller has announced’menocore” this spring. It is a mix between menopause and normalcore fashion. The trick is to dress as if you were a mom from a Nancy Meyers film or an eccentric ceramicist leaving her studio at the beach. linen trousers Tops that are loose can be finished with a scrunchie, bucket hat or a bucket hat.

What does Normcore mean again?

Ok, so. It’s a response to conspicuous consumption and fast fashion of the early 2010, and like the anti-fashion statements made by minimalism and the punk movement before it, this has become a trend in its own right. The aesthetic, as well as spirit, is very nineties, closely related to grunge, slacker fashion, and even heroin chic. Here are some loose guidelines.

  1. Functionality comes first. Trainers, skate shoes, washed denimLow key sportswear WorkwearTurtlenecks, Baseball Caps and if possible, some sort of reusable container for water.

  1. Approved brands include Carhartt,Patagonias are Northfaces, Birkenstocks and Patagonias. Basically, everything your mum wears. You swore that you would never wear it. Vintage, obviously. This look should feel lived-in.

  1. No glitzy logos or anything that looks expensive. The normcore style is all about fitting in, not standing out.

  1. Nostalgia is a big factor. Try to remember what you wore on a school outing in the mid-to-late nineties, and buy adult versions of everything.

  1. If it’s not gender specific, that’s even better.

Three Normcore Inspirations

Phoebe Philo

The former Céline designer embodies the chicest version of normcore, the anti-fashion fashion uniform of loose trousers, turtleneck, trainers and a ponytail.

Shia LaBeouf

@shiasoutfits is a dedicated Instagram account for the fashion icon. Scroll down for daily normcore inspiration.

Your Dad

Seriously. Notice the oversized polo shirts, high-waisted pants and uncool trainers worn by America’s Daddy Barack Obama.

A Normcore Watchlist

Friends’ early seasons

Friends had its own unique take on the normcore style before the group became financially savvy. The show’s styling emphasised how relatable the characters were – their struggles and budgets were realistic. Rachel’s sweater with pyjama pants in The One Where Everyone’s Not Ready, as well as the group’s Thanksgiving football outfit are to be noted.

Funny Ha Ha

The filmic counterpart to normcore is mumblecore. This is a genre of low-budget independent cinema where everyone has very long improvised discussions and little happens. Funny Ha Ha, a 2002 mumblecore film that follows Marnie after college as she struggles to become an adult. Pure normcore. Reality Bites and Clerks are also great sources of retro sartorial inspiration for the slacker look.


Final Girls is a great source of normcore inspiration, as practicality is key in the fight to avoid the masked killer and survive until the end of film. Watch Scream, the ultimate 90s slasher to see Sidney Prescott wear her simple sweater, jeans, and sneakers, as well as boring-chic jackets in leather, denim, and suede. She changes them every part of the film due to the blood stains.

How to Dress Normcore

The normcore trend has evolved since it first became popular. Here’s a guide to the 2018 normcore trend in four easy steps.


Style up for Summer

Style this summer trend with some light wash jeans, an oversize sorbet colored jacket and a light wash denim. polo shirt You can also wear socks over slides if you’re going for a full-on Dad chic look.

Gone Fishin

The trend started with sweatpantsThis season, sportswear is represented by the fishing vest. If there’s a normcore item worth investing in, it’s this one… although a bucket cap wouldn’t hurt.

Mom bags

The bag is the latest accessory for moms. Look for leather brands such as Coach and Dooney & Bourke in sensible medium sizes for your A-Z and wet-wipes.

Make it Girly

Normcore is a departure from its unisex route to include nineties grungy dress and denim skits. Pair the checked shirt with the denim skirt and the plain Champion sweatshirt with the former for a no frills look.

You can get even more 90s Summer Pop Culture InspiringIn this blog, we will discuss our top five tv series that are still popular today.


Words Sarah Cleaver


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Original content by – “The Beyond Retro Guide to Normcore Fashion/Style”

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