The Guide: Normcore

Your anti-style guide on how to fit in to stand out

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs: Nick Gordon

For some, trying to keep up with the latest sounds, slang and hand slaps can seem like a tall order. And so if you’re a creature of habit who would rather just walk around slapping high-fives and saying ‘cool’ while listening to Pavement, then you’re going to love Normcore.

While your average hipster is busy trying to one up the next with a septum ring or nautical-inspired hand-poked tattoo, others are celebrating the average by dressing in as conventional a way as possible.

Normcore’s nondescript, purposely-uncool, anti-fashion stance has ultra-conformists dressing dull and wearing the type of clothing that’s usually the uniform of embarrassing parents. 

Still, this anti-fashion stance is very much a stance. A lot of fucks are given in order to be perceived as giving no fucks. 

1.  Be young and/or good-looking

Like with most trends, being so young and beautiful that you can dress like a lame without anyone thinking you are lame is the difference here. Mom jeans are cool on a young leggy millennial. But on a non-milfy mom they’re just a mom’s jeans. Normcores imitate the masses to show how unlike the masses they are. 

2. Don’t be cheap

While the look is all about being fashionably unfashionable you should still spend money while trying to dress as undistinguished as possible. It’s about subtlety, not skimping, and if you’re going to be dressing in basics then make sure they’re the best quality that you can afford.  

3. Keep it simple, stupid

Normcore is all about effortlessly putting together basic outfit combinations in comfortable fabrics and neutral hues. Stick to that programme and you’ll be absolutely fine. 

5. Channel your divorced dad

Talk about daddy-issues… Still, this is probably better than dating a much-older man. Puffy white sneakers or socks with sandals, baggy chinos, curved-brim baseball cap… you know, the kind of thing you mocked him mercilessly for those first coupla times he tried to get back into the dating game. Use his weekend visitation to raid his closet and get started. 


6. Find inspiration in everyday heroes

Steve Jobs and Jerry Seinfeld aren’t the only people who owned the Normcore look. Go through that shoebox of old pics of your parents, study people eating in food courts, find an excuse to watch more Friends. Once you know where to look, Normcore is everywhere. 

7. Neutral colours

This is no place for prints or brights, in fact, the more bland the look the better. Stick with a palette of black, white, beige, grey and navy and you’ll blend in beautifully. 


8. Relaxed fits

Loose-fitting, baggy pieces mumble comfort and effortlessness, which are the tenets of Normcore. Never consider style and fit. Frumpy dad and mom styles indicate being prosperous enough to dress leisurely in sneakers and sweatpants. Those are your spirit animals. 

9. 90s

No, not grunge. The type of thing that you were rebelling against by ripping your jeans and not washing. Think how your parents would’ve liked to dress you when you were still in high school and then tie a denim jacket around your waist. Yep, that’s now cool.

10. White sneakers

Punks had their Mohawks, Hypebeasts have their overpriced 5-panel caps and Normcore has its white sneaker, which is the perfect item to anchor the rest of your look: plain crew-neck T-shirt, stonewash dad jeans and a windbreaker. 

Now put together a wardrobe comprising a flannel shirt, non-designer backpack, oversized wool cardigan, Plimsolls, billowy light wash denim shirt, Birkenstocks, Adidas slides and anything that you still have from the 90s and you’ll be unique, just like everybody else…