Embellishing Normcore

"normcore" announced as one of 2014's most googled words



Normcore. The word that lingered on the lips of fashionistas in 2014 and brought fashion down to its most basic denomination. I think fashion people worldwide have long established that normcore really did have its roots in college campuses worldwide. That standard formula of a neutral coloured sweatshirt, paired with loose fit jeans and sneakers (preferably Stan Smiths), topped off with a comfy jacket rings true to college students worldwide. And yet, on campus, I personally see very few female students wearing this “uniform”. Nowadays, I see skinny jeans, checked shirts and generally tight fitting tops with brown boots. Even worse, some students have that sweatshirt look nailed to a T, but choose to pair it with only black leggings. Black leggings. That do not cover their butts. Girls, well-endowed as you may be, there is no need for you to show off your goods (both front and back) to the world. Really. Save that for the gym.

Singapore’s way too hot for sweatshirts, so I chose to pair my slouchy-as-hell boyfriend jeans with a drop crotch. Ever since I have discovered the merits of shopping in the men’s department I have never strolled into the women’s for basic tees anymore. Something about the cut in waist puts extra pressure on me to suck in my belly fat and I just can’t have that when I’m at a buffet can I? As for my trusty Stan Smiths, they’re rotting on my feet as I wear them but I refuse to throw them away. I have Nike Dunks and Air Maxes staring at me longingly, screaming “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WEAR ME” but no. I will literally wear my Adidas until they fall apart on my feet.

I’d like to think the merits of normcore far exceed its disadvantages.


  1. You look like a boy; therefore possibly leading to less male attention.
  2. You look like you didn’t give a hoot about dressing up so less compliments on a daily basis.



  1. Comfy. Nuff’ said.
  2. When perfected, you have the slouchy/casual/effortless look pat down. Which gets you amazing style points in the eyes of the select few who choose to see the beauty in normcore.
  3. It becomes a uniform. People get pleasantly surprised when you show up in skinny jeans or a dress.
  4. You look put together without looking like you tried too hard. Natural beauty at its finest.


I choose to pair a plain tee with boyfriend jeans, sneakers, a textured scarf and a fat jacket with a high ponytail, no eyeliner/eye shadow/bb cream whatsoever. All I put is sunblock and a strong lip colour. I think a pop of fuchsia/orange/red (yes even in the day), makes your face look instantly put together without a hint of makeup anywhere else. It also adds a touch of femininity to the entire tomboy look and creates a pleasant juxtaposition. It instantly creates the impression of being put together, despite what the rest of the outfit might say. This has become my daily uniform and guess what? It takes me only 20 minutes to wash up, get dressed and put on my “makeup”. Efficiency is key in college. Freshman year 9am classes are not the most forgiving, especially when you tend to sit next to impeccably made-up, maxi-dress wearing and  jewelry game strong  girls in class.

I’ve seen normcore being dressed up with a beautiful bag (think Chanel, the Philip Lim Pashli, the Givenchy Nightingale and the Alexander McQueen Heroine), a deep plum or orange or bright red lip colour, a fancy feminine updo or a low-key slick parted-down-the-middle low pony. Seems to be there is no version of normcore that actually looks terrible. Score one for Team Normcore (pumps fist in air while pulling up boyfriend jeans that are sliding dangerously downward).

It’s interesting how normcore is now going off on a tangent, with style mavens putting a quirky twist on well-loved classics. Switching up boyfriend jeans for wide legged, denim culottes with a raw hem, playing up sneaker classics with bluchers or classics in funky colours. Case in point: https://instagram.com/jaimezy/.  That being said, there’s a certain formula to a normcore wardrobe that ceases to be irrelevant.


1. Plain t-shirts in grey, white or black

2. Slouchy jeans in a variation of washes and degrees of rip

3. A range of long outerwear in a variety of neutrals (camel, grey, black, white) and styles(trench coat, parka,boucle, duster etc)


4. Oversized cardigans for the in between seasons

5. Sweatshirts

6. A variety of classic sneakers (Stan Smiths, Air Force Ones, Dunks, Air Jordans, Converses and the like)

7. Ugly Sandals (think Birkenstock and mandals)

8. A timeless LBD

In essence, the question remains: does normcore deserve enough respect to be labelled a trend in its own right? Or is normcore just a feeble excuse for lazy dressers like me?

I believe there are definitely instances where I see normcore being taken too literally. I mean this in the most literal sense; top to toe PJ-worthy garments with too tousled hair. No indicator of these people even making the effort to look a wee bit pulled together. That being said, I see normcore as a palate cleanser. Street style has been dominated for too long by style mavens trying to outshine each other with louder patterns, quirky styling and rich fabrics even for daytime. That’s beautiful, but normcore serves as the Japanese pickled ginger eaten  to cleanse the palate before diving straight back into the richness and diversity of the sushi that is extravagant street style. So yes, normcore has an everlasting place in my fashion books, as long as its well paired and looks pulled together and coherent.

What do you think?

Articles to peruse through:

1. https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/normcore-announced-as-one-of-2014s-most-googled-words

2. http://www.manrepeller.com/2014/03/why-are-we-all-dressing-like-the-most-pared-down-versions-of-ourselves.html

3. http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/02/normcore-fashion-trend.html

4. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/doonan/2014/04/normcore_the_new_fashion_trend_and_its_perils.html

5. http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2014/feb/27/normcore-the-next-big-fashion-movement

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