I Do (Not) Care About Style

I have a layout designer friend whose taste in clothes has always struck terror in his female colleagues – terror mixed with a desire to help him somehow to discover style. For more than a year (years?) he has worn the same gray hoodie, jeans of an inconceivable shade, and black sneakers.

For a long time his reaction to all the timid attempts of the women of fashion in our office to open the world of metrosexual style to him was straightforward, “I have things to do besides discussing those rags!” Perhaps he would have remained the “lost” person in our eyes, but on one occasion he finally responded, “By the way, Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck during his entire life, and I don’t think that anyone reproached him!” Taking note that the wardrobe of the creator of the Apple brand has been copied by IT guys all over the world, I’ve put on my thinking cap.    

Why we got sick and tired of fashion

I guess that the Iron Age, not to mention the Stone one, was the last era when people dressed comfortably and didn’t pay attention to their looks. In 800 B.C., it was sufficient for the Greeks to wrap nontransparent linen cloths around their bodies. It should be mentioned that the availability of such material was indicative of the owner’s prosperity (the slaves had to content themselves with belts). Nevertheless, as time passed, fashion became more complicated along with technological progress and the development of civilization. Things proceeded this way until Madame Chanel introduced the tiny black dress. She finally freed women, who were the most susceptible to the whims of fashion, from the shackles of their bodies. Thereafter, designers focused not only on beauty but also on convenience. Who would argue that jeans, which have been featured on the catwalks for many decades, are not among the most comfortable wardrobe items?

Nevertheless, it gets harder to stay unique with each passing year. Regardless of the fact that fashion goes in cycles, we are getting ready to buy Brigitte Bardot-like dresses. Designers of the 21st century are focusing more attention on material, type of cut, and details. A resident of the modern metropolis would have to make several shopping trips to compile an “appropriate” wardrobe. Isn’t it easier to put on those trusted sneakers, jeans and hoodie, instead of troubling our heads about the shape of a trendy heel or the color of a tie? Those simple items definitely won’t fail their owner! 

Terrible normality

The style of a person who is, supposedly, not following fashion trends, finally took shape last year and was dubbed “normcore” (a combination of two words – normal and hardcore). Suddenly, all those people who never cared about being stylish, like the layout designer I know, formed the fashionable core of society. Indeed, normcore doesn’t require any effort from you. The wardrobe consists of things that you put on to pop out to the nearest bakery, or take an evening stroll with a dog. T-shirts, hoodies, the same old jeans, baseball caps, sneakers and gumshoes, sweatshirts and sweaters, all those items have a simple cut, they are plain and subtle. There is no need to go shopping, it would be sufficient to set aside a shelf in the closet where all “gardening”, “cleaning” and “throwaway” pieces of clothing are hidden. If the content of your shelf is not in compliance even with normcore standards, your inattention to fashion can be highlighted by garments from such brands as New balance, Cheap Monday, Columbia, American Apparel, Gap, Gant, WoodWood, Context, Ecco, and Tommy Hilfiger. By the way, simplicity doesn’t always mean cheapness. Steve Jobs wore Issey Miyake and Von Rosen cashmere turtlenecks.

Saving time and money

However, even if we disregard people who really don’t care about fashion, it is still unclear why a person chooses the type of clothing that makes him merge with the crowd.

The first reason is the pace of life in the big city. If you are climbing the career ladder, spending days and nights at work, engaged in a lifetime project, and the company’s dress code doesn’t obligate you to look like you’ve just visited an English tailor, then normcore can be a logical solution and a way to save precious time.

The second reason is an inability to buy luxury brand clothing, or an unwillingness to buy a low-quality copy at the mass merchandise retail chains that are filling the market with medium quality clothing and selling it at a reasonable price. Why would you buy a poor imitation of a Chanel jacket if you can opt for a simple sweater of higher quality? Besides, it will stay wearable much longer.  

The response

However, designers are not giving up. Marina G., owner of the showroom called Czech Labels & Friends has said, “It is true, the modern world leaves us less and less time for fashion. We are making money, living in the 24/7 mode, striving for self-realization and self-improvement. Due to all these pressures, buying a new blouse or trousers has become a matter of the tenth order. Nevertheless, it is such a great pity not to make use of the freedom that dominates the modern rules of fashion, and to carve out some time to find your own unique style. Besides, designers are humans as well, and they have regard for the constant lack of time. So, from time to time, they create clothing that would fit into the normcore wardrobe quite nicely, with the exception of some sophisticated detailing.” 

Perhaps normcore should be considered not as disregard for fashion, but simply as the style of a dissentient person.

Wardrobe in the normcore style

If you decide to join the ranks of the adversaries of fashion trends, and opt for the normcore style, you should get acquainted with the rules of creating a “proper” wardrobe.

– Plain unisex jeans should form the basis of both male and female wardrobe. The best option is the classic Levi’s 501, but you may choose some other model or ask a friend to lend you a pair of old jeans.

– Fall in love with vests and T-shirts with prints, as well as turtlenecks, plaid shirts, caps, comfortable rubber crocks, and sandals. The latter can be worn with white socks, and that will be a statement of your disdain for fashion.

– Forget about accessories. Put aside all sophisticated belts, ties, scarves, pins, brooches, and cufflinks until you decide to cheat on normcore. Pick up a backpack or a belt bag instead of elegant purses or briefcases.      

– Say yes to sportswear! From now on windbreakers and Adidas track pants are indispensable for you, and not only at the gym.      

– If you are a female who can’t live without dresses or skirts, then you should choose the simplest and plainest models made of flat fabric. Heels are forbidden, of course! They will be replaced by sneakers, gumshoes and, in the worst case scenario, trekking boots or ballet flats. If you are a gentleman, then the style of a London dandy is no longer your cup of tea.

– Having picked some normcore garments in the shop, you should buy three or four identical items on the spot.

– The color range of normcore consists of white, black, gray, blue and brown.

– Finally, if you favor the normcore style not because you despise the fashion industry, but because it is the latest fashion trend, then everything remains unchanged for you – just study the look-books of world renowned stylists, read the internet posts by popular bloggers and designers, and get inspired by variations on a theme of normcore. 

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