ELLE decodes Normcore

What it is and why you should care

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1. Michael Kors 2. Hermès 3. Jil Sander

Normcore. The word has been bandied around since fashion month, seemingly appearing overnight before becoming a global hashtag and the word to drop into conversation. Have you worked out what it is and whether to care yet?

Trying to pin down exactly what it means is a tricky business – a quick Google search will throw up a whole host of slightly different interpretations. The word was original plucked from a report on youth culture by trend forecasting group K-Hole and actually has very little to do with fashion. According to the group it 'finds liberation in being nothing special, and realises that adaptability leads to belonging'.

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But it has developed a life of its own and the most common interpretation of the moniker has been a move to opt out of fashion and embrace a middle-of-the road style that may or may not be ironinc depending on your approach.

Read the report and the closest that it comes this is its explanation of ‘Acting Basic’. ‘Having mastered difference, the truly cool attempt to master sameness,’ runs the commentary (a phrase which could have been lifted from the recent understated front row vs peacocking street style stars debate).

The idea of opting out, however ironically, clearly appeals to many, given the column and Twitter inches it’s had over the past few weeks. And it resonates in the ELLE office because it echoes a mood in fashion that we’ve been discussing a lot over the past season; a desire to dispense of the most Instagrammed, trend-driving items of the season and wear really great, really quiet clothes instead. We want pieces that are beautifully made but anonymous, not instantly recognisable as one label or another.

‘It’s about embracing long-lasting values; women shopping brands that they know and trust,’ says ELLE Fashion Director, Anne-Marie Curtis. ‘Things that once felt dull are suddenly the ultimate fashion statement. There’s a feeling that, if you’re going to invest a lot of money in a piece, you want longevity from it.’

Just because the pieces we’re coveting are classic doesn’t mean they’re cheap or basic, though – Céline, Hermès, Jil Sander, Michael Kors and Bottega Veneta are the kings and queens of the look. Thankfully they can be found on the high street too, though, in Cos and Whistles – but choosing the pieces that are well crafted and that fit well is vital.

‘I bought a black Saint Laurent trench six months ago and I have to force myself not to wear it all the time because it seems to work with everything,’ says Curtis. ‘It’s so simple it feels like a non-fashion statement.’

It’s also about making life easier. From a practical point of view, having a wardrobe filled with luxury classics and flat shoes makes getting things done, not to mention getting dressed in the morning, much simpler. Which is the key to making it work yourself: ‘Find the pieces that make your life easier, organize your wardrobe around your life; a great coat, a shirt, a sweater, a flat shoe, basic things. It’s about having the confidence in yourself not to shout about what labels you’re wearing.’

What the ELLE team are wearing this week

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