The Crazy, Diverse Realm of Fashion Aesthetics: Which One are You?

Take a trip into the styles and palettes that decorate the fashion world; you might find one of your calling.


My friends sport their styles and aesthetics openly at East Lake; can you guess which aesthetic they vibe with?

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

The world of fashion defines itself through sheers and paper-cut designs, brought to life through fabrics of silk and lace; we constantly create and express our individuality through the material we are given. Our exploration of the visuals that best represent our taste culminates to our chosen styles, and you might not know it—but your style says at least one thing about you, whether you will it so or not. It can define an intention, trait, or desire, just as your tone of voice and manner of walking tend to do.

 I’ve seen many come and go with their own ideas throughout the years; trends and classics have often mingled to adhere to what we perceive as definitive of our own unique styles, and among trends and fashion comebacks, society has associated various fashion characteristics with certain categories of style aesthetics and palettes. From pastel violets to dark maroons, and from red berets to beige sandals, fashion nowadays has found definition in an arrangement of these aesthetics, albeit unexclusively; do you think you can pinpoint one that resonates with your style?


The “Soft” Aesthetic— Defined by pastel tones and prints, the “soft-girl” or, on more general terms, soft aesthetic, aims to display a more delicate side to the fashion world. Warmer tones of light pink, yellow, and lavender often lightly brush the eye amidst mainly oversized sweaters and tennis skirts just beneath. Feature decals from characters and brands embodying the feminine vibe like Bratz are often found embellishing shirts and purses. Nineties and “Y2K” inspiration mingled with recent trends result in an array of small-to-big piece combos like crop-tops to chunky sneakers. If you’re into the softer aesthetic, you might tune nicely with accentuating features like heavy facial blush, glossy lips, and softer shadows paired with lid shimmers. Whatever your taste may be in accordance with this aesthetic, the main goal of it mostly centers in on embracing one’s core femininity by bringing out features that have forever been associated with it; what reminds you of the feminine image? Pink clips adorning your hair? Daisy cardigans and baby-blue overalls? In this essence of thought comes your soft-girl aesthetic, one that fully appreciates the beauty of feminine fashion and even dares fight against the standards of society to deem it as something that one must stray from for strength and success. In this realm, the soft-girl aesthetic is here to say that femininity is fashion and is here to be recognized as such. If you find yourself wearing outfits that give love to this expression, you might attune with the soft-girl aesthetic.

The “Cottage-Core” Aesthetic—Have you ever read those fairytale books where authors describe their heroines and villagers as strolling in a peaceful realm of oak tree shades over brick paths and fallen leaves? Their dresses are often printed in soft florals; either modest or airy, their clothing flows and their smiles are welcoming. A cottage-core lover will often wear clothing reminiscent of a romantic countryside fashion: billowy blouses, floral corsets, prairie dresses and anything of the sort that expresses a very feminine and free nature underlining a theme of western agricultural influence. Makeup in this aesthetic either usually implies natural and earthy tones in minimal application or embodies the vintage, Disney golden-age animation style of early to mid-20th century makeup, with dark lips and bright blush against otherwise fairly natural features. Cottage-core style takes the lovelier aspects of sustainable and humble harmony with nature and lightly sprinkles the powdered sugar of early country living onto it. You might find that when you walk around in your clothes, feeling like a hidden princess or peaceful character amidst your environment, your fashion culminates to the essence of cottage-core at its finest. 

The “Vintage” Aesthetic—Though it might be confused with the cottage-core aesthetic at times (which also makes sense in technical terms of “vintage” appeal), the lingo of this list defines this core aesthetic as embodying a specific vintage period of time: specifically, the late 20th century, with themes of 70s to 90s old-school polaroid nostalgia. The key feature to this aesthetic focuses on these decades primarily because they are close enough to the present day to give us the more familiar concept of casual clothing contrasting the earlier 20th century decades; but they still entangle us in a different world that we grasp at and try to take back through the return of past trends. Subsets of this aesthetic such as the hippie style, comprised of bell-bottom jeans and bright flares, exist in the same 70s realm as the casual wear of corduroy clothing and Hungarian embroidered tops that marked that period of fashion. Vintage clothing also mixes itself into the fashion expression of the 90s, with studded belts, fashionable jeans, and voluminous blowouts. Someone into vintage-wear might often mix the styles of various decades transcending one another; 70s patterns might merge with 90s crops, and vice versa. Those who are into this style reach for clothing that presents a memorable outlook of sorts; an outfit that turns heads in the simplicity and welcomeness of vintage appeal, whether it be a daisy top or grunge shadow.

The “Casual Chic” Aesthetic—Fashionable and hip refinery flourishes in the essence of the casual chic style; blazers and neutral beige, silver, and brown tones complement the basis of a business style that is not entirely bound to the workplace but stays rather personably classy to the degree of the wearer. A casual chic style reinforces a sort of maturity mingled with modern comfort that seems relatable yet gated beneath a statement of hip and trendy fashion sense; patterned button-ups against high-rise jeans against loafers. Plaid and stripes embellish one piece against the solid hue of another, and warm and natural tones adorn the face for a good portion of the time. If you sport this look, you may often find yourself applicable to the dress code of various places and events; you stick with a vibe that encompasses a both lively yet stable fixture upon which to express your taste. 

The “Classic Chic” Aesthetic—Like its sister aesthetic, classic chic embraces the neutral elegance of mature fashion—but with a more outgoing objective, it amps it up a notch. This style is not afraid to accentuate much darker tones, with monochrome sets, black turtlenecks, and midi body-hugging skirts exhuming a sort of energetic yet refined power and grace. Sleek lines and patterns are carefully chosen, and high heels or heeled boots complete the fit. Cooler makeup tones and lip colors are welcome to take more liberties with this aesthetic when summoned, because a classic chic wearer will not aim to hold back for the sake of relevance or relatability. The look is timeless—the subset of old-money appeal, with shining pearls and glistening diamond studs, catches eyes and turns heads. A humble asset amongst various traits and interests of the classic chic gal that surpass her already magnetic and gorgeous appeal, the aesthetic is simply that—but its statement in the world of style is usually a good representative face of fashion and reminds us of the power that lies within it. 

The “Academia” Aesthetic—Bring yourself to the rain-flooded concrete grounds upon which pathway engravings lead to old schoolhouses and courtyards; two different ends with the same objective bring both subsets of this style into the same aesthetic unlike the chic style, but they still differ in their nature. The academia aesthetic is generally comprised of patterns and clothing that imply a curious, sophisticated, and scholarly trait, translated into an elegant style outlet appreciating the more pleasing aspects of itself. In this, you will find tennis skirts and heeled boots; flowy, collared shirts tucked beneath high-waisted dress pants. The academic captures a different kind of youthful essence with the patterns of argyle and plaid that we so heavily associate with someone still endlessly learning and searching; in the muted and earthy tones we see a scientist scanning nonfiction books in the library for the answers to our biggest questions. In the oversized vests and sweater dresses we see a journalist snapping photos and strolling through castle grounds, searching for more questions to ask. Darker tones of burgundy, maroon, black, and gray adorn the dark academia aesthetic which embodies the more secretive and gothic outlook on academia fashion and curiosity, while light academia takes on the more positive and softer aspects of the style. Light academia still gives us warm and muted colors of brown, dusty rose pinks, and beiges, but tells us to utilize the academia experience with a positive mannerism and air about our fashion; its vibe is reminiscent of lazy Sunday mornings journaling at the corner coffee shop before a setoff into the city for a class assignment; whites and cream bases with oversized cardigans accompany the familiar plaid and argyle vests and dress shirts. We are charmed by the curious mind and are therefore charmed by the curious wearer, the routine lover that makes learning look like a romantic art and somehow, makes it fashion as well. 

The “Goth” Aesthetic—Let’s get one thing straight with a pivotal and essential fashion aesthetic representative of a subculture that many confuse with entirely different definitive traits: goth is not emo or scene. Goth is goth. And that is primarily characterized by an interest in the dark and morbid; their personalities and emotions do not reflect negatively as such just because. A gothic person laughs and gasps and furrows their brow the same way an academic vest-wearer or vintage jean-sporter would—but it might more likely be at the likes of an interest or topic embedded in the unvisited and darker tones of society, art and music. The same goes for fashion sense; take the singular tones of black, burgundy, purple, and crimson, and embed the beautiful darkness into details of roses along corset linings beneath floor-length ebony skirts. Gothic fashion teases your jet-black or platinum hair and accentuates your pallid tone to make your heavier, darker makeup stand out. Different subgenres of goth fashion have sprung about through decades of cultural influence, but the general foundation of dark and beauteous mystery does not leave the iconic goth style. 

The “Emo” Aesthetic—Phew. This aesthetic deals as a wild card for many fashion experts because, according to each individual, it can easily reflect completely different emotions. Emo style comprises a youthful teen fashion genre of band tees and ripped jeans; it usually will entail a rebellious nature that takes a page from the contemporary street-punk style, with flashy studs, spikes and rips that clash against the more conformed aspects of street fashion. Unlike the sophistication that underlies the goth, the emo will tend to express a certain fashion sense more outwardly, however personal to the wearer, since the basis of its subculture relies heavily on being especially sensitive and emotional, more famously focusing on negative emotions of anger and sadness and embracing absolute vulnerability through artistic expression. Graphic tees of emo artists and characters stay tucked beneath plaid flannels and baggy jeans. More often seen in the 2000s and 2010s, they are prevalent reminders of how fashion can most certainly express not just personality and goals, but our very own raw feelings. 

The “Punk” Aesthetic—The genesis of the punk style is still debated to this day beneath the more complicated variations of circumstances globally existent during the early to mid-70s, but the style still stands with no question as an incredibly awesome asset of rebellion against the traditional ideals and norms of the day. Tattered clothing and unkempt mohawks accompany chunky boots and spikes upon studs upon piercings. Some people are completely in love and some are completely confused. It is the reaction a punk will expect; and is that okay? Oh, yeah man. If that’s you, tell me how you survived a tongue piercing; my cartilage ones still humble me to this day. 

The “Streetwear” Aesthetic—Though various decades have seen it differently, streetwear on this list groups together particularly late 90s and 2000s-2010s fashion in an array of combos that make the wearer seem seamless and… so cool. Comfort and casual style is the key, echoing in the oversized sweaters and letterman jackets over simple cropped tees and tanks. Small tops contrast with large sweatpants and chunky sneakers, usually with a good-brand or series shoe combo as a particular focus. Baseball caps and jeans take stride in the streetwear style, and once again we are reminded that in the fashion world, casualwear is not excluded but rather exemplary of powerful fashion sense transcending even our most basic pieces and accessories. 

The “Beachside” Aesthetic—See how the flowery skirt billows with the sea breeze like a tidal wave, and smell the sand and salt water; the collective Floridian girl youth recognizes the familiar vibe of collecting charm necklaces and rainbow shells. Pretending to be mermaids, with braids and flowers in our long, long hair, and dancing to the tunes as we saw dolphins in the distance, the youthful ventures of our seaside fashion together never stopped or started beyond the dunes and grasses. If you grew up under great cultural and geographical influence of seaside and beach fashion, your aesthetic might comprise of gorgeously bright colors of yellows, pinks, and sky blues; bigger flower designs and geometric patterns adorn smooth material, and in sunnier weather, the pieces might come separate, with cropped tops or bikini tops against skirts and shorts of matching or relative design. Makeup is down-to-earth, glistening and sun-kissed yet bright and colorful, with mixtures of cool and warm tones delving into the essence of what we live for—the ocean against the sand; the warmth of the dissipated rocks beneath our feet and the coolness of the water welcoming us back in for the day. 

The “Future/Dystopian” Aesthetic—Seen transcending various fashion aesthetics, this one is not defined particularly by certain pieces or accessories, but by the styles and manners in which they are depicted; streetwear clothes, distressed or riddled by unusual designs, give us a sense of uncertainty with definitive belonging or conformity; the dystopian wearer will sport various depictive gear and accessories according to what they perceive as futuristic; see how cyberpunk fashion takes the casual punk subgenre and mixes it with technological appeal. Neon tones and shiny black attire make us recognize some sort of adaptation to a more updated world—one that, despite advancement, still requires a dark or almost gothic application in wake of something that may have turned society wayside. Makeup is heavy or untraditionally applied, and one’s appearance can seem completely different than the usual wearer’s—dare I say, otherworldly, in that sense. The various subgenres of dystopian and futuristic fashion bring us the edge we need in a world of modern, always-inspired appeal and give us the newest scoop on what we can possibly expect for our future days when thinking outside the box.


Within these various fashion aesthetics lie more and more, defining our individual appeals to trends that tune well with our very own styles. I have a certain style; you have one too. You may or may not associate it with a certain label, but you might find that it identifies with a style genre or subgenre that many share; so here’s a fun question to ask as you explore your years of fashion appeal: 

Which aesthetic calls to you the most?