The other day while I was grocery shopping, I spotted a couple about our age pushing their cart ahead of me. I realized right away that they were deeply savvy, in-the-know hipsters—I could tell by the way they dressed. The man wore navy blue cargo pants topped with a black fleece zipped jacket; the woman wore what we used to call “mom jeans”—pleated, loose-fitting, a little tight under the bosom—and a grey sweatshirt. They both had white sneakers, and Madame sported a white sun visor, with her curly hair sprouting jauntily out in all directions.
I know, they don’t sound like old-school hipsters, right? But that’s because old-fashioned hipsterdom has become distinctly passé. Gone are the thick-rimmed glasses, carefully waxed moustaches, nonchalantly draped scarves, and fingerless gloves. No more luxuriant growth of facial hair, carefully messy up-dos, and thrift-shop vintage dresses.
The new thing is normcore, baby!
And my grocery store couple had it in spades. They were practically oozing it.
I was awestruck.
What the heck is normcore when it’s at home?
Glad you asked.
Normcore has been defined as “anti-fashion.” It’s the latest way to rebel against cultural norms of fashion—except instead of heading to the thrift store for that perfect pair of vintage oxfords, normcore adherents do their wardrobe enhancement chez Walmart.
You see, it’s hard to be hip these days. The scene is changing so fast, who has time to keep up? That wonderfully distressed leather bomber jacket you picked out of your neighbour’s garbage last week turns out to be totally outré this week…plus, your friend down at the espresso bar has one that’s exactly the same as yours, leading you to think that you might accidentally be harbouring a mass-produced product. OH MY GOD. Maybe that’s why your neighbour threw his out in the first place.
You see what I’m saying? Hipsterism takes a lot of work, a lot of over-thinking, a lot of tying yourself up in knots over whether you’re really being your authentic self, or just being co-opted by the system in ways you can only dimly fathom.
Normcore, on the other hand, offers the stressed-out hipster a big comfy couch (it’s a metaphor, you don’t actually wear it). You can take off your too-tight faux-crocodile shoes and sink into a comfy pair of white Keds.
You can start dressing like the cast of Seinfeld circa 1995, secure in the knowledge that you are on the cutting edge…no, the bleeding edge of cool.
The perfect trend for boomers
The best part of all this is that normcore is practically ready-made for people over 50.
Let’s face it: youngsters look like dweebs when they try to dress like displaced soccer moms. And dads. They don’t have what it takes—that certain je ne sais pourquoi—to look effortlessly chic in their pleated-waist jeans and full-sleeved t-shirts.
You and I, though, we fit right in! Or we could, if we chose to. Which I don’t.
My problem is, I’m so over normcore. In fact, I was over it before it even began, because that’s how hip I am.
Didn’t we get enough of dress-to-depress back in the ’90s? I’ve moved beyond the ironic use of unfashionable clothing as a fashion statement—these days I’m into a post-post-modern aesthetic, which I cannot disclose because I’m pretty sure that as soon as I do, someone will rip it off.
Such is the price of being a dedicated follower…er, leader of fashion, I’m afraid.