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Normcore is a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothing. Normcore fashion includes jeans, t-shirts, sweats, button-downs, and sneakers. Clothing is considered to be normcore when it is attractive and comfortable and is viewed as "normal" by the majority of people.


Normcore is a portmanteau of the words normal and hardcore. The word first appeared in a guest strip by Ryan Estrada for the webcomic Templar, Arizona in 2008[1][2] and was later employed by K-HOLE, a trend forecasting group,[3][4][5][6] in an October 2013 report called "Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom".[7][8]

As used by K-HOLE, the word normcore referred to an attitude, not a particular code of dress. It was intended to mean "finding liberation in being nothing special."[9] However, a piece in New York magazine by author Fiona Duncan[10] that began popularizing the term in February 2014[7] conflated it with what K-HOLE referred to as "Acting Basic", a concept which involved dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. It was this sense of normcore which gained popular usage.[9] The characters featured on the television series Seinfeld are frequently cited as exemplifying the aesthetics and ethos of normcore fashion.[11][12]

The word normcore was named runner-up for neologism of the year by the Oxford University Press in 2014.[7] It was added to the AP Stylebook in 2016.[13]


Normcore wearers are people who do not wish to distinguish themselves from others by their clothing.[14] This is not to mean that they are unfashionable people who wear whatever comes to hand, but that they consciously choose clothes that are functional and undistinguished. The "normcore" trend has been interpreted as a reaction to fashion oversaturation resulting from ever faster-changing fashion trends.[15]

Normcore clothes include everyday items of casual wear such as t-shirts, hoodies, polos, short-sleeved shirts, jeans and chino pants, but not items such as neckties or blouses. These clothes are worn by men and women alike, making normcore a unisex style.[15]

Clothes that meet the "normcore" description are mainly sold by large fashion and retail chains such as The Gap,[16] Jack & Jones, Superdry, Jigsaw, and Esprit. They are generally cheaply produced in East Asian countries. Many other retailers such as Marc O'Polo, Woolrich, Desigual, Closed, and Scotch & Soda produce normcore-like clothes combined with individual design ideas.[15]


A variation on this concept for women has been called menocore, after menopause.[17] Designer brands associated with this style of dressing since the 1980s include Eileen Fisher, JJill and Donna Karan. It is loose, comfortable clothing, usually in light or neutral colors, that fits a variety of informal social situations, from shopping to eating lunch in a restaurant. The style suggests that the wearer is mature and self-confident, that she is not seeking attention from men, and that she has leisure time and wealth. Because of these associations, it has class connotations and can be stereotyped as the dressing style of a woman who is middle-aged or older and already wealthy enough that she does not need the kind of lucrative employment that would require wearing either a more formal style of clothing or a work uniform.[17] The style may be adopted by women outside the stereotype as an aspirational style, to suggest that they wish to eventually attain the financial security, leisure, and other lifestyle elements available to older, wealthier women.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedman, Nancy (March 2\3, 2014). "Word of the Week: normcore", Fritinancy. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "On the origins of "normcore", The Eyeopener".
  3. ^ Williams, Alex (April 2, 2014). "The New Normal", The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  4. ^ Duncan, Fiona (February 26, 2014). "Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion", New York. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  5. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (February 27, 2014). "Normcore: The Next Big Fashion Movement?", The Guardian. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Frank, Thomas (April 27, 2014). "Hipsters, They're Just Like Us! 'Normcore,' Sarah Palin, and the GOP's Big Red State Lie", Salon. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Benson, Richard (17 December 2014). "Normcore: how a spoof marketing term grew into a fashion phenomenon". Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  8. ^ Tschorn, Adam (May 18, 2014). "Normcore Is (or Is It?) a Fashion Trend (or Non-Trend or Anti-Trend)", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Gorton, Thomas. "Everyone's getting normcore wrong, say its inventors". Dazed. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They're One in 7 Billion". The Cut. 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  11. ^ Kim, Eun Kyung (March 5, 2014). "Normcore: 'Seinfeld' look turns bland into fashion trend".
  12. ^ "The Real Meaning Of Normcore, The Fashion Trend That Went Oddly Viral". The Huffington Post. 6 March 2014.
  13. ^ "AP style changes take effect with debut of redesigned Stylebook". June 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Ferrier, Morwenna (June 21, 2014). "The End of the Hipster: How Flat Caps and Beards Stopped Being So Cool". The Guardian. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c van Rooijen, Jeroen (May 30, 2014). "Trendthema "Normcore": Die Mittelpracht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  16. ^ Franzen, Carl (28 August 2014). "Watch David Fincher's normcore ads for The Gap". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Bernstein, Sara Tatyana (18 October 2017). "Dressing Older Is About Wealth". Racked. Vox Media. Retrieved 2017-10-21.

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