The term “normcore” has been tossed around on the internet a lot recently, after NY Mag published a column defining it as the fashion world’s latest trend “for those who realize they’re one in 7 billion.”
Characterized by a muted color scheme and nondescript, ’90s-esque mall apparel like faded dad jeans, plain sneakers and touristy baseball caps, the normcore attitude gravitates to the basic and the bland to not blend in. Basically, as NY Mag puts it, the normcore kids turn to “sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for ‘difference’ or ‘authenticity.’” Whether you think normcore is a brilliant and equalizing way to carve a fashion identity through abandoning the typical signifiers of style or whether you’re currently sneering at it as another inane label to categorize the oh-so-ironic idiosyncrasies of #millennial behavior, normcore has set the internet ablaze. Even Gap has jumped on the term.
We combed the streets to find NYU’s “Best Dressed: Normcore” students, but that quest was quickly cut short when we realized that many students are either dressed too laxly to be considered normcore (understandable, because midterms) or, more so than anything, you guys are too damn hip/trendy to fit the “clean slate” bill (or perhaps that indicates that you aren’t trendy enough, in which case, read up on your normcore think-pieces). So we turned the lens on ourselves to see how NYU Local’s staff fares in this brave new world, where being inconspicuous and seemingly apathetic is apparently the golden ticket to becoming a style icon.
Joe Kozlowski, National Editor
Joe is more “athletic hip”; his clothes fit too well compared to normcore’s looseness. Then there’s that New York Rangers beanie from the 2012 Winter Classic, which is niched rather than nameless. The plaid is also too much of a statement compared to normcore’s muteness. Points for the shade of his pants and the casual, rolled up sleeves, though.
NORMCORE SCORE: 2.4/10
Kelly Weill, City Editor
Looking relaxed with a pinch of ambivalence without seeming like she hasn’t done laundry in a month, Kelly’s pretty normcore. The blueness of her T-shirt with its unfamiliar brand blends seamlessly into the denim button-down, which has asymmetrically rolled-up sleeves that murmur “I’m laid-back,” nonchalantly. The sneakers are comfy but still look good instead of drab — the key to differentiating normcore from plain laziness.
NORMCORE SCORE: 7.8/10
Ari Lipsitz, Editor-in-Chief
Dressed almost identically to Joe, Ari earns an extra 0.2 points for accessorizing with a coffee cup, an object that represents one of our most normal and mundane activities. He’s raising it so we notice it, but it’s no flashy cup. In fact, it’s anonymous — definitely not the eye-catching receptacle of Starbucks or the hip, hand-stamped one of a local coffee shop — making it very normcore indeed.
NORMCORE SCORE: 2.6/10
Connor Durkin, On-Campus Editor
The monochrome tones give a nod to normcore, as does the crew neck sweater. Connor’s snapback, however, is less normcore than a regular baseball cap, and wearing it backwards is too much of a statement. Overall, he needs to take it down a couple of notches. Too much presence, not enough bleh.
NORMCORE SCORE: 3.5
Nurse Gail Ingram, Health Columnist
Pairing a knit beret with thick-frame glasses, Nurse Gail is too trendy to be normcore. Her chic boots exude the opposite of the laid-back chillness of New Balance sneakers — token normcore footwear — and that v-neck sweater fits her too well instead of hanging reluctantly (but with purpose!) on her frame. Points for the solid colors, but she has too much style to evoke the attitude of a non-style.
NORMCORE SCORE: 1.2
Vince Kiernan, On-Campus
Vince is almost there: His sweater is relaxed, although it could be too bold a shade to reflect the normcore affinity for primary colors. His pants are slack — albeit a hue too dark — their chillness echoed by his choice to loop only one strap of his backpack around his shoulder. The desert boots, however, are too trendy to fit normcore’s aesthetic. He’s fashionable, but totally discreet. Look at him, dangling his pen, subtly identifying himself as your normal student.
NORECORE SCORE: 7.1
Elizabeth Rauner, Entertainment
Without a doubt, Elizabeth is killing the normcore game. She’s sporting muted colors all around, pairing classic ’90s trainers with charcoal socks peeking out from below the folded cuffs of stonewashed overalls. Swap out the beanie for a bucket hat, and boom. Normcore.
NORMCORE SCORE: 9.5
Helen Holmes, Entertainment Editor
The sneakers and cotton hoodie are pretty subdued, but Helen’s leather jacket is more hardcore than normcore, giving her something of an edgy vibe. She’s the epitome of casual and practical, but there’s something about the naturally ombre hair, the perched sunglasses and her resolute stance that makes her too conspicuous.
NORMCORE SCORE: 3.1
Caleb Savage, Photo
Our photographer dons a basic sweater in a primary color, but he has a little too much edge to be normcore with his black jeans and black sneakers (normcore points for them being Adidas, though). His pants are also a little too much on the skinny side of the pants spectrum.
NORMCORE SCORE: 5.6
Sophie Kleeman, On-Campus Editor
Sophie’s wearing the epitome of casual office wear, looking like your classic J. Crew girl. Starting from the bottom, we have a pair of nice, patterned flats followed by dark, fitted slacks then a black-and-white striped henley, all topped off with a smile that’s way too enthusiastic compared to the apathy normcore embraces.
NORMCORE SCORE: 0
So there you have it. NYU Local’s staff is pretty non-normcore. The elements found in our wardrobe one might classify as normcore are mostly just because we simply like to wear plain/minimal apparel sometimes, not because we’re actively subverting certain fashions — not making a statement to make a statement, that is. Which brings us to the important question: Is normcore even a legitimate thing? Probably not, but we’ll likely have to ride out the hype around this non-trend for a while.
[First image via; remaining images by Caleb Savage]