One of the signals of getting older that happens way sooner than you expect is scratching your head at generational lingo. One minute you can relate to most of all references, and the next you’re pulling out your phone to Google the word “cheugy.” It’s almost merciless with Gen Z, the generation that seems to come up with new words and phrases at the speed of light (thank you, Tiktok). As people whose jobs entail staying on pulse with culture, we’re here to help you. Let’s learn some Gen Z lingo, starting with the types of aesthetics that are taking over cyberspace.
6 Gen Z fashion terms you need to learn, stat:
Arguably the most talked-about Gen Z trend is the Y2K movement that invaded everything from Tiktok GRWM videos to high-fashion runways. Although we feel personally victimized by the actual 2000s aesthetic (we know you've archived your Facebook album of digital camera selfies), we do enjoy the more glittering parts of it. Bring on the velour tracksuits and bedazzled everything because we’re here to channel our inner starlet.
Key Pieces: Baby tees, low-rise jeans, micromini skirts, baguette bags, rimless sunglasses
Probably the easiest way to explain Cottagecore is through films like Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, or Taylor Swift music videos (Fearless Era). It sees femininity in a way that’s conventional: soft, frilly, and dainty in every way. Think about flowing hair, ruffled dresses, or anything you’d wear on a romantic picnic date.
Key Pieces: smocked dresses, prairie dresses, puff-sleeved blouses, flowing skirts, bandanas, wicker bags
3. Coconut Girl
If you put pastel pantones, hibiscus flowers, and colorful beads in a blender, you’d have yourself a Coconut Girl smoothie. This aesthetic is all about being that perpetually tan surfer chick who has fun with her style. The most important element of this look is color, which you can get through bright beach dresses, crocheted bikinis, and beaded necklaces. You get bonus points if you wear something that looks like you could’ve made it yourself!
Key Pieces: hibiscus-patterned everything, crochet dresses, three-piece bikinis, beaded necklaces
4. Old Money
As the saying goes, “money screams, wealth whispers.” The Old Money aesthetic is Gen Z’s take on dressing like the old rich of high society. It means embodying a classic, almost collegiate-inspired style that never looks like it tries too hard to impress. The key is wearing timeless pieces that look like they could’ve been passed down by your stylish mother.
Key Pieces: cable knit sweaters, sweater vests, varsity sweatshirts, tennis skirts, pearl jewelry
Branding skin-baring girls on Instagram as “thots” is an attitude of the yesteryears. It’s all about girls supporting girls here, especially in their quest to empower themselves through fashion. A baddie is someone bold, edgy, and unapologetic about her sexiness. The most noticeable elements of this aesthetic is the balance of feminine and masculine, which could be done with a tiny bralette and baggy jeans, or a skin-tight dress and chunky sneakers.
Key Pieces: oversized tees, oversized hoodies, menswear jackets, baggy jeans, chunky sneakers
6. Danish Pastel
If you’ve gotten yourself a wavy bedroom mirror, then you’ve somehow unknowingly ascribed to the Danish Pastel aesthetic. Originating from Nordic influencers, this style sees the dreamy blend of fluid shapes (hence, those wavy mirrors) and soft pastel colors. Although it’s mostly seen in homeware, you can see a lot of Gen Z fashion girls embrace it in their style, too.
Key Pieces: pastel-colored everything, patterned trousers
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