- Words Darcy Culverhouse
Although 2023 saw us channelling our femininity with ‘girlcore’, fashion and beauty predictions point to a bigger, bolder and more theatrical year.
A lot happened in 2023, especially in pop culture. Barbenheimer shook every film buff’s core, Prince Harry’s memoir proved to be maybe too revealing and Tube Girl’s TikTok trend sent many of us into a frenzy. However, it could be argued that it was our embrace of hyper-prescriptive feminity that really defined trends this year, as the fashion and beauty trend ‘girlcore’ swept the internet. Boldly reclaiming feminine energy through the resurgence of ribbons, bows, lace and ballet flats, ‘girlcore’ stood and still stands as a homage to stereotypical womanhood, transforming softness into a weapon of authority.
‘Girlcore’ first started with the mass cultural movement of ‘girlhood’ (what it means to be a girl) that grew in popularity on social media, especially surrounding the release of Barbie. We witnessed women brought closer together, finding community and a sense of likeness in subordinate trends that stemmed from ‘girlcore’, including ‘girl math’ (an explanation for the mental gymnastics used to justify purchases for ourselves) and ‘girl dinner’ (a phenomenon based around celebrating low-effort meals/ snacks).
Swiftly ‘girlcore’ infiltrated fashion and beauty preferences, prompting every fashionista to grab dainty bows for their hair, Miu Miu ballet flats for their feet, and a lace ensemble reminiscent of something from Simone Rocha for their bodies. While a minimalistic aesthetic, often complemented by sleek pulled-back hair and a natural dewy makeup look has been prevalent, could we be on the brink of embracing a more maximalist approach in 2024? Is the Year of the Girl not over yet? Or is there any underlying trend teeming and waiting to morph into the mainstream for 2024?
As the first month of the year rapidly approaches its conclusion, the dominance of ‘girlcore’ is showing signs of being dethroned. ‘Coquette core’, arguably a rebirth of ‘girlcore’ infused with a touch of sultry Old English elegance, is emerging as the new champion. While still maintaining the minimalistic outlook of ‘girlcore’, ‘Coquette core’ injects essential self-expression through an interplay of knee-high mesh socks, lacey fabrics, corsets and pearls, alongside ‘girlcore’ elements of bows and ballet flats. The result is divine and celestial, only showing signs of ‘girlcore’ losing its once abundant allure.
It may seem difficult to fathom, as we nestle into the cosy embrace of our oversized coats and burry ourselves in scarves that mirror the size of a blanket, but trend predictions for fashion, beauty and hair are unanimously signaling a grander and more daring narrative for 2024. While ‘Coquette core’ takes a stride in the direction of spirited choices, the forecasts for this year set their sights on even more audacious options with heavy blush, bold eyeshadow, graphic liner, skinny brows and pops of red set to shake up the year. As well as hair predictions of short, layered cuts set to dominate this year, there are retro influences and the enduring popularity of the ‘shag’ haircut.
Fashion trends are no exception, with predicted forecasts of a rise in androgyny and unisex style and even rebellious feminity making a splash in 2024—a striking contrast to our current embrace of the hyper-feminity of ‘girlcore’. From this, you can gather that ‘bold’ may be the fitting descriptor for what 2024 holds. And what movement beckons the most daring of them all? None other than the New Romantics, of course.
- Blitz Kids Derek Ridgers, 1986
- Trojan and Mark at Taboo Derek Ridgers, 1986
Tracing back to the 1980s, birthed in an era of political unrest—that being Thatcherite austerity—the New Romantics were a subculture that championed self-expression and the avant-garde. Crafted with the aesthetic of defying gender conventions, the New Romantics were seeped into the post-punk era, carrying a markedly different visual aesthetic than their punk predecessors. They revelled in androgyny and rebelled against prescriptive gender roles. They painted their faces, wore heavy red blush, boasted distinctive clothing and loved a good ribbon in their hair.
Like the New Romantics, our beloved ‘girlcore’ was too spawned during a period of unrest—to say the least. Surrounded by economic difficulties, political upheaval and an ongoing climate crisis, ‘girlcore’ was birthed out of a yearning; a collective need for community within an age of hyper-individualism. The trend is a reclaim of the term ‘girl’, as well as a blatant challenge to historical connotations of being deemed a ‘girl’ or ‘girly’ by men, who used it as a negative word to insult. Whether you’d like it or not, it is indeed a feminist movement in its own form. Adopters of ‘girlcore’ are wearing this stereotypically ‘girly’ clothing to embrace the style that is considered to be traditionally feminine. It is, in its own rights, an ode to womanhood, as adopters adorn ‘girlcore’ elements to enjoy it, rather than having to justify it to anyone.
While the New Romantics were centred on cultivating an aesthetic that mirrored art, it too was a movement focused on proving something more important: showing their true selves and character, not forgetting their want for gender fluidity. There is something about the New Romantics’ focus on androgyny and being free from the binary that feels fitting and so adept for today’s current climate: a climate that has been cultivating for a long time and is intent on defying all gender stereotypes. That’s the main reason why the longevity of ‘girlcore’ is not feasible in my eyes.
As we all know the trend cycle is one that chops and changes. Trends and aesthetics peak, bask in the limelight then decline and hide behind the backdrop of society until it’s time for their resurgence. As we’ve witnessed soft, minimalist nodes from ‘girlcore’, a bolder path is expected for 2024, as a yearning for more of a maximalist year is shared.
One thing to keep in mind is that, whether we like it or not, the romance of ‘girlcore’ is poised to stay for the long run. Anticipate the fusion of ‘girlcore’ ribbons with the theatrics of the New Romantics, accompanied by bold-coloured liner and eyeshadow, androgynous clothing choices and experimental hair dos. As the playful spirit of the New Romantics unfolds, letting personality radiate through each clothing and beauty choice, self-expression is set to be at the forefront forging an aesthetic replete with individual character.
If inklings of New Romantic individualism come to life in 2024, brace for a year filled with extravagance and playfulness, destined to be etched in our memories for a long time.
Watch a clip of The New Romantic style below:
@thepixie_ Early 1980s London - New Romantics - from Kino Library Archive The New Romantic movement- an underground subculture that originated in the UK in the late 70s. Characterised by flamboyant, eccentric and androgynous fashion. Inspired by early Glam Rock & the early Romantic period of the 18th century🕯️ #newromantics #newromantic #londonfashion #1980sfashion #1980svintage #1980sstyle #glamrock #70sglam #punkstyle #gothstyle #davidbowie #pinterestfashion ♬ Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran