Of all the fashion movements of recent years, the one I’ve enjoyed pondering the most is Normcore. I’m years late in writing about this trend. It’s like the mild mannered DuChamp urinal of fashion.
Wherever you are, there’s a norm and the whole point of Normcore is to adopt a brutally blasé look that makes you aggressively blend in with the muggles. My own look, a sort of uniform, mirrors the Normcore sensibility. I wear the same style of Levis (dark wash 511s), the same black t-shirt (American Apparel 50/50 Summer Shirt), slip on shoes (Converse by John Varvatos), colorful socks (PACT), and the same jackets (Patagonia, Nice Collective). I was originally inspired by the relentlessly utilitarian style of Henry Rollins as a teenager, and except for a couple of misguided years as a goth, I’ve basically looked the same ever since.
I rarely branch out, and when I do, I can’t help but feel like I look ridiculous. I like the anonymity of my apparel. I wouldn’t say I rock an orthodox Normcore style, though. My hair (and right now my beard) are way too long to really pull it off. True Normcore requires supremely sensible grooming practices.
Truthfully, if I had some more money and felt like investing in a wardrobe, I’d probably up my game a little bit to the exponentially more stylish Swedish Norm. It’s more or less a cleaner version of the lumbersexual, but with a little more city wear thrown in. It would be perfect for a professor of Medieval Studies or a reclusive memoirist. Fit is important for the Swedes.
There are a few other directions you can take the style. One option is a radically uninteresting “dad jeans and Miller Light hat” look. Imagine the clothing you might see on Adam Sandler. This frumpy look says, “ready to change a diaper or play some beer pong. Down for pizza at any time.”
Street wear and hip hop also have their own version. Think of Kanye West when he’s not wearing leather pants or apocalyptic ponchos from the Matrix. The fit is looser. There’s an almost eerie lack of branding and labelling. Colors are muted and earthy.
Normcore is not just for men, though they seem to pull of the “I don’t care” level of the style with a little more authority. Women have plenty of options, but to really sell it, you need some reimagined mom jeans. America’s Princess, Taylor Swift, rocks a decent amount of Normcore.
I’m still not sure if Normcore is a joke. In some ways, it’s the ultimate justification for giving up. In others, it’s an opportunity to fetishize extremely expensive versions of normal things most people would pay no attention to, like a hot rod Volvo.
The weirdest thing about Normcore is once you start looking for it, you’ll see it everywhere. And that’s kind of the magic of it. You shift your own perception to allow Western Civilization to impress you with the everyday.