Categories: Fashion

The Staple Items For Each Aesthetic

TikTok may be known for its viral dance trends, but the app also uncovered a list of aesthetics the world had not defined previously. If you’re looking to test out a new aesthetic, here are the staple items you need in your closet. 


One of TikTok’s most beloved aesthetics, the Y2K trend puts a modern twist on 2000s garments. As many Gen-Z’ers were too young to participate in the original Y2K movement, the resurgence of matching sets and butterfly accessories is a way for today’s teens to celebrate the fun, kitschy nature of 2000s fashion. 

When searching for Y2K staple items, opt for bright or pastel colors and playful accessories. In any Y2K closet, there should be plenty of baby tees; while Juicy Couture may have been a 2000s classic, modern baby tees can be found at plenty of stores. But if you want to find shirts that actually lived in the 2000s, online thrifting apps such as Depop and thredUp often have a collection of vintage t-shirts. 

A characteristic of Y2K fashion is form-fitted tops paired with flared or loose bottoms. So, pair your baby tee with either a pleated mini-skirt or wide-leg jeans. Levi’s Low Pitch Straight Fit Jeans retails for $98 USD and offers a nice contrast to the modern high-rise jeans frenzy. 

To complete your Y2K, look for some classic 2000s accessories. Colorful micro sunglasses and beaded necklaces are two popular items. Barrettes and hair clips also can help you achieve that light-hearted 2000s look. 


If you’re looking for staple items that fit the cottagecore aesthetic, imagine you own a garden overflowing with weeping willows, gnarled roots and cats walking across cobbled paths. Now, what would you wear if you were hosting the picnic of your dreams (fit with wicker baskets and fresh-cut tulips)?

Almost like a modern-day Bridgerton, cottagecore features long dresses and soft colors. One essential item for the aesthetic is a white or cream puff sleeve blouse; pair this with a maxi skirt or wear it beneath a pinafore dress. While floral prints are probably the most popular cottagecore print, you can also search for gingham printed garments. Finish the look with a bandana or ribbon in your hair and simple gold jewelry. 


Combine prep school uniforms, the tweed jackets of Ivy-League professors and the wardrobe of Dead Poets Society. Try out the academia aesthetic, a sophisticated mesh of class-silhouettes and button-ups. But even the academia aesthetic can be broken down further into two subsets–dark and light academia. 

According to New York Times writer Kristen Bateman, the term dark academia emerged at the start of the pandemic, notably a time when students had to navigate virtual school. Bateman defines the aesthetic as a “subculture with a heavy emphasis on reading, writing, learning–and a look best described as traditional-academic-with-a-gothic-edge.” Light academia, by contrast, offers a softer and lighter alternative to dark academia and has a less gloomy undertone. 

Some dark academia staple items include knit cardigans, collared blouses, plaid skirts, turtlenecks, blazers and trench coats. Try to stick with dark brown, forest green, burgundy, mustard and gray shades. For the light academia aesthetic, try to opt for colors such as cream, light brown, white and pale gray. You can also search for softer silhouettes such as tops with balloon sleeves and blazers with draped detailing. 


Think intentional simplicity. Minimalism to the extreme. The normcore aesthetic eliminates all the bells and whistles of fashion and just tries to blend in. Comfort is also at the center of this aesthetic, so if you’re tired of wearing outfits that leave you dreaming about your coziest pair of sweatpants, normcore may be for you. 

One of the most essential staple items in the normcore  aesthetic is a pair of comfortable jeans. Levi’s, of course, is one of the most beloved denim brands, and you should consider their collection as your first normcore-shopping stop. Levi’s Classic Straight Fit Women’s Jeans or 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans both come in medium washes and have no distressed patches. Another essential item for the normcore aesthetic is a basic t-shirt, preferably in a neutral color such as white or navy. Finish your normcore outfit with a buttoned jacket or blazer and a pair of chunky sneakers. 

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Perhaps the hours spent in lockdown helped Gen-Z discover 90s classics such as Friends and Clueless, stirring a TikTok celebration of the decade’s fashion. But regardless of how 90s fashion reemerged, as with every trend and fashion period, the decade’s staple items were bound to pop up again. While the 90s of course encompasses a sea of styles and individual aesthetics, there are some pieces you can add to your wardrobe to reminisce the 90s.  

The 90s saw the popularization of slip dresses, both for red-carpet looks and your average grocery store run. Search for a silk slip dress with lace detailing at the neckline, and complement the dress with a pair of pointed mules. You can also take a more casual approach by wearing a white t-shirt beneath the slip dress and finishing the look with chunky sneakers. If you’re looking for 90s-inspired outwear, invest in a bomber jacket or denim jacket (bonus points if you pair it with matching jeans). In terms of accessories, nothing is more 90s than chunky hoop earrings, claw clips and chokers. 


While the grunge style originated in the 80s, it only became mainstream in the 90s and remains one of the most distinguishing features of the decade’s fashion. According to Vogue writer Laird Borrelli-Persson, Grunge “not only celebrated individuality and imperfection, it linked those values with authenticity.” She added that the movement also prioritizes “acceptance, DIY, eclecticism, comfort and self-expression,” which all have influenced modern fashion.  

One key to grunge fashion is to not emphasize your silhouette, so stick to oversized items. Baggy, ripped jeans are a must-have, and you should also find a couple comfortable graphic tees. And don’t forget to a flannel, the quintessential grunge item. Finish the look with a pair of black Converse.  

With a few staple items, you can create the foundation for any trending aesthetic. Let us know in the comments which aesthetic fits your style best.

Featured Image: Jasmin Chew on Unsplash
Madeline Murphy

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