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  • Writer's pictureCAITLIN ORSINO

The Trendsetting Follower’s Guide to “-core” Fashion

Graphic by Caitlin Orsino

Fashion is often described as a tool that can be used to express your thoughts, feelings, and values about and to the world around you. Living in a world made so wide by daily access to countless people’s thoughts, feelings, and values through the internet has resulted in a higher demand for new ways to dress. This change in information sharing has also altered the previous conception of fashion, with many believing that the trends you choose to follow serve as signals of what kind of person you are or what type of community you belong to. From this desire to find somewhere to fit in this fast-changing world, microtrends, or “-cores,” were born.

Anyone looking to reinvent themselves through their wardrobe can turn to the fairly knowledgeable and assuredly fashionable people on the small screen. Social media sites like TikTok have become prime platforms for fashion trends to reach audiences that will either love or hate them. Social media influencers tend to give their personal style names as they gain traction with others who see their content, identifying the general aesthetic or inspiration behind the outfits they promote. In the past few years, TikTok has seen an endless stream of microtrends including cottagecore, barbiecore, coastal cowgirl, quiet luxury, normcore, fairycore, clowncore, indie sleaze, gorpcore, rom-comcore, and coquette.

From the name brands lacking logos that are characteristic of “quiet luxury”, to the notorious pink coquette hairbow, the average aspiring fashionista has plenty of inspiration to take back to their own closet.

Still, a TikTok user looking for the most popular style to commit to might end up a bit lost in the stream. Due to the app’s specific algorithm designed to place the perfectly curated mix of content in the hands of the people who will enjoy it most, many of these microtrends are exactly what their name entails: micro, so small that they might be missed. Niche communities of viewers see content similar to that which they already interact with and continue to interact with more similar content, leaving them in a constant loop of videos featuring one or two microtrends and the perception that they may be far more popular than they might be in reality.

This warped perception of the popularity of real-life styles eventually leads to many people jumping onto microtrends as fast as they can, but also abandoning them just as quickly. As soon as a new “-core” gets added into the algorithm, the old is abandoned and a new sub-community is established, with the latest fun accessory or catchy name at its core.


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