A Guide To Significant Gen-Z Fashion Aesthetics

Establishing a solid sense of style is important to many lovers of fashion, particularly those belonging to Generation Z. While fashion has always been important to young people, it seems as though it has never been more prevalent. With the widespread significance of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, specific fashion subcultures have been allowed to grow and develop, creating a set of instantly recognisable archetypes. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Gen-Z aesthetics.


One of the most popular contemporary aesthetics is Cottagecore. Taking influences from the Romantic fashion archetype and the Japanese subculture of Mori Kei, Cottagecore centres around simplistic country living - baking bread, growing flowers and embroidery. In terms of fashion, Cottagecore is defined by flowing dresses, puffy-sleeved blouses and motifs of flowers, mushrooms and woodland creatures. Interiors are rustic, with particular attention to ornamental crockery and trinkets.


You may be familiar with the subgenres of goth and emo - E-girl Gen-Z’s equivalent. While the presence of its predecessors is still notable, the E-girl aesthetic is entrenched in Internet culture, borrowing Asian-inspired elements from K-pop and Harajuku fashion. Hair and make-up are just as crucial to this aesthetic as clothing, with thick winged eyeliner, heavy blush and vibrant money piece highlights.


That’s right; the early 2000s are back! The celebrity stylings from two decades ago, popular amongst the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, have been given a post-modern makeover to create an aesthetic that is both nostalgic and pioneering. Super low-rise jeans, tiny t-shirts, platform shoes and Juicy Couture co-ords - everything that made the early 2000s iconic in the world of fashion, but with a futuristic edge.

Dark Academia

The rise of Dark Academia began on the social media site Tumblr during the mid-2010s when a romanticisation of classic gothic literature and higher education was prevalent amongst young bloggers. Dark Academia is one Tumblr-central subculture that has stood the test of time, with its deep, earthy colour palette, structured silhouettes and incorporation of natural fabrics such as wool and leather. On the other hand, Light Academia takes on a far less brooding and more preppy look.

Clean Girl

Although the Clean Girl aesthetic is more of a make-up trend, many young women have embraced this fresh, healthy energy for their everyday lives, influencing their fashion habits as much as anything. Characteristics of the Clean Girl aesthetic include dewy skin, fluffy brows and flushed cheeks. Regarding outfits, think simple, neutral tones and high-quality, timeless pieces such as a cami dress from Victoria Beckham in Australia, perfect for the summer heat.


The resurgence of Grunge over the past few years led to the rising popularity of Fairycore, which takes on elements of the aforementioned and Cottagecore to create a feminine, otherworldly aesthetic with an edgy twist. The amalgamation of fantasy, 90s silhouettes and nature-inspired colour palettes make Fairycore an entirely ethereal and charming style, often overlapping with the Whimsigothic aesthetic with its velvet slip dresses and Dr Martens boots.


Coquette, like Cottagecore, is largely inspired by the Romantic fashion archetype, with dainty, feminine silhouettes and Americana. Ornamental and playful, Coquette is defined by gingham fabric, lace trim and pastel hues, with significant influences from the Japanese street fashion Lolita. Other influences can be found within the mid-90s Riot Grrrl subculture when the subject of femininity and its power was a political talking point.


Primarily associated with Instagram beauty gurus and TikTok influencers, the Baddie aesthetic encapsulates a laid-back attitude with effortlessly chic, modern outfit choices. The term Baddie is African American Vernacular English (AAVE), and the style itself has been largely pioneered by young black women. The juxtaposition of flawless make-up and casual, figure-hugging streetwear makes for a style that highlights natural curves and embraces versatile femininity.


A fun one to end with, Kidcore describes an aesthetic that celebrates everything bright, colourful and childlike. A Kidcore wardrobe is mostly made up of primary hues, dungarees and 90s-inspired nostalgia. Accessories and motifs invariably feature teddy bears, rainbows, smiley faces and anything else that harks back to the vibrance of youth. Once again, this aesthetic has its roots in Japanese street fashion, particularly the 1970s Kawaii movement.