Normcore Is The Perfect Counter-Programming For The Quiet Luxury Trend

Luxury fashion is getting a lot of attention right now, with brands like SKIMS, Jordans, and Polo Ralph Lauren all causing a lot of chatter for their very non-Walmart-like prices. But honestly, that's okay because none of these brands have ever pretended to be Walmart and probably never will. Still, for every person who enjoys forking over more than $100 for a pair of Barefoot Dreams lounge pants, there's at least one person who has no desire to, even if they can afford it. These people, it seems, might instead belong to a subset of society known to embrace a concept called "normcore." 

Normcore enthusiasts can have all the money in the world but still not care too much about fashion or style. Instead, they opt for what's comfortable, utilitarian, and affordably priced fast fashion clothing. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the late Steve Jobs, who had more money than anyone but still almost exclusively donned out-of-fashion dad jeans and black turtlenecks. He could certainly afford quiet luxury pieces but didn't feel the need to. 

There are probably a lot of people in their mid-forties walking around sporting normcore without even realizing it because the trend harkens back to the days of utilitarian fashion. In particular, the '90s were a time of recovery from the in-your-face fashion and big-haired insanity of the '80s, and fashion definitely reflected the shift. 

Jackets and functional outerwear are a must

The 1990s saw many people veer sharply away from the very Miami Vice-like blazers of the '80s. Instead, functional outerwear became staples, such as fleece or zip-up jackets, and the oh-so-grunge associated flannel jackets/shirts. Although the aesthetic began in the '90s, the term "normcore" wasn't coined until around 2008 when a comic artist named Ryan Estrada used it to describe a specific style of person who adopted trends way after they'd already gone out of favor. 

Simple tops are a wardrobe staple

Listen, there's nothing wrong with loving luxury fashion. It's just that hardcore normcore people don't. Instead, they aim to be as average (fashion-wise) as possible, for the least cost possible. The idea is to be unpretentious and not stand out from the pack. One might even describe normcore fashion as "basic." Practicality is the name of the normcore game, and a big part of practicality is not spending a ton of money on fashion pieces. To that end, casual tops in muted tones and non-eye-catching styles win the normcore aesthetic. Button-up shirts also factor in heavily.

Functional, comfortable jeans complete the outfit

In a world where it's increasingly acceptable to stand out from the pack, normcore says that it's fine and dandy to blend in if that's what you want. This is excellent news for introverts who want to avoid attracting attention. Nowhere is this vibe better illustrated than in the jeans worn by normcore enthusiasts, which are often baggy or straight-legged with either accidental or intentional rips. They are ultra-casual and leave much to the imagination. Skinny jeans, they most definitely are not, and they are always bargain brands.

Standard normcore accessories are utilitarian

Normcore is where value meets functionality, so all associated accessories serve a purpose. For example, the fanny pack, once reviled even in the '90s as an embarrassing tourist accessory, is now a practical staple for people of all ages. Hats that protect the face from harmful ultraviolet rays and eye-shielding sunglasses are also typically found in a normcore wardrobe.  

Don't forget the budget brand sneakers

And although Air Jordans certainly made their mark on the decade, the '90s saw budget and comfort-friendly sneakers come into play. These days, the normcore look is typically finished off with a comfortable sneaker from a brand like New Balance, Puma, or Converse. Some brands go so far as to label their styles "normcore." 

Mix in pieces that look like quiet luxury, but aren't

It's possible to still look normcore without actually being in that mindset. That's because there are many high-fashion pieces available in basic or classic styles (like a plain white tee or a little black dress) that reflect normcore values, just not normcore prices. Often, they don't sport obvious labels, but anyone with a nose for designers can sniff them out from twenty paces. Normcore lovers instead troll for pieces that look high-quality but don't sport the hefty price tag.