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Think: Seinfeld. Think: mid-length jeans shorts. Think: swishy windbreakers. Think: cargo capris, button-downs, boxy blazers. If you managed to think about those without a slight shudder, you’re a braver person than I. Right now, you’re thinking about normcore.

seinfeld normcore

“The person right in front of me is definitely normcore.”

If you’re the kind of person who even casually browses style blogs or runway show rundowns, you probably heard about normcore at least a year ago. (The Cut was onto it in February.) If you’re the kind of person who does none of those things, you might be normcore yourself, without even realizing it. Congrats! You’re teetering on the cutting edge of fashion.

So why am I only writing about normcore now? Well, I never thought it would survive this long. I first heard about it sometime in 2013 and I figured it was a trend with a definite expiration date. Trends this obnoxious tend to be not long for this world, unless God is very angry at us and we deserve it for some reason. I guess we did something pretty bad, because normcore is still here. And now, it’s filtering its way to mainstream fashion, in the same way that the cool-kid love of moustaches of 2012 eventually filtered its way into a 2014 Slurpee ad for 7/11. And finally, a few days ago I saw an article called “19 Dogs of Normcore” and, with a sigh, realized that we might not be rid of it for months, perhaps even years, to come. (And before you shamefacedly open a tab to look it up, let me save you some time and just link you that darned dog article. It’s ok; we all love dogs in clothes.)
Ah, Friends. A show I have never seen. You friends seem pretty normy, though.

Ah, Friends! A show I have never seen. Maybe it’s unfair to judge you based on one photo, but life isn’t fair.

So, if you, a non-attendee of NYFW (that’s New York Fashion Week for you non-attendees of NYFW) have been hearing more buzz about normcore lately, it might be linked to these bus stop ads:
normcore gap ad angelica huston michael k williams

I’m most upset that they managed to make two of my favorite people slightly less cool.

First, let me clarify: Gap isn’t really doing normcore, in spite of that bizarre tagline. (How many more times can I say the word normcore before it loses all meaning? Let’s find out! Normcore normcore normcore. Normcore.) This line of clothing, while not knocking my socks off, is at least wearable and occasionally flattering, unlike most normcore-approved duds.
elisabeth moss gap ad normal

Ok, I can’t hate on this look TOO much. It’s less normcore, more…everyday basic.

But these ads do give you interesting things to ponder, if you’re the kind of person given to pondering. What will it mean for the future of normcore to become mainstream? Fashion tends to filter slowly from a small group of tastemakers (for lack of a less slimy word) until the trend that was once only available to the fashionable elite is now on the sale rack at Forever 21. Will normcore filter its way down to Walmart, and will those shopping there even notice the difference between those clothes and the clothes that have unironically been there all along? To paraphrase the dazzlingly handsome star of a certain time-travelling excellent adventure (who is aging like a fine wine, in case you haven’t been paying attention), “Whoa.”
Note: I don’t actually have the answers. I just raise the questions. Gee whiz, you ask a lot of a free publication!
Girl, your face says it all.

Girl, your face says it all.

Now, because I sacrifice for my readers, I made an attempt to pull together a normcore look for myself that I could live with. (This is for my editor, too, who constantly harasses the WYV staff to use more photos of ourselves. I can only ask her “ARE YOU ENTERTAINED?“) This is the best I could do, and (awful shoes aside) this is an outfit I could see myself wearing to the corner store, or perhaps even to a beach to give side-eye to seagulls (see: Elisabeth Moss ad, above.)
"Oh, God, why hast thou forsaken me? Also, why hast thou not given me new sneakers since 2005?"

“Oh, God, why hast thou forsaken me? Also, why hast thou not given me new sneakers since 2005?”

Now, I’ve been fairly restrained so far, but it is with great relief that I can finally admit that I hate the very concept of normcore, and every shitty thing it stands for.

Fashion should not be a joke, especially a joke at the expense of the middle-aged, the unfashionable, the Midwestern, the “uncool”. Fashion should be enjoyable, be beautiful, be shocking, be colorful, be minimalist, be brave. Fashion as a joke about people who, in general, just don’t find fashion important? What a waste of energy and imagination. If you use fashion to make a statement, please let the statement be something other than “Wouldn’t it be funny if I dressed like this?” Be authentic. Be real. And if you truly love the way you feel in plain sweatshirts, if sporty socks and sneakers make you happy, and if baseball hats make you smile when you look in the mirror, then do your normcore thing. Then, and only then, you may norm with my blessing.