The portmanteau of “normal” and “hardcore” that gave normcore its name might seem like an oxymoron, but this weird fashion trend made a lot of sense for plenty of people ever since it touched the mainstream in 2014.

If you’re interested in how to dress normcore, or just want to learn more about this trend that turns substance over style into a strong fashion statement, check out everything you need to know about normcore, from its inception to the way you can try it yourself.

How Did Normcore Start?

At first glance, normcore might seem to be a reaction to chasing the latest fashion trends, and it can come across as a trend about being completely unfashionable. While avoiding current trends might make a strong fashion statement, normcore is more than that.

Pure Normcore Look

The term that describes this trend was coined by a NYC trend forecasting agency. K-Hole defined normcore as taking the “dress for the occasion” to its limit. However, before the term hit public consciousness, media outlets mixed it with a different trend predicted by K-Hole, called “Acting Basic”. Normcore now represents a way to stand out by blending in, and it has a strong connection with a few key ‘90s vintage pieces.

Normcore Celebrities

While they never intended to make a big fashion statement, some celebrities have stood out as early adopters of the trend. Steve Jobs, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David are among this trend’s “style icons”, even though they had function in mind when they developed their “signature styles”. From Jobs’ black polo necks to Seinfeld’s white sneakers, the trend now interprets that wearing ordinary or unfashionable clothing becomes a deliberate statement. Find out how to dress normcore by following these simple rules:

Normcore Coat And Sneakers Look

Choose Neutral Colors

The last thing you want to do when you’re trying out normcore is to stand out by wearing bright colors. From black and white to navy and tan, the trend is all about basic neutrals. Stonewashed denim in any shades that blend is also a big part of the normcore aesthetic.

Normcore Jeans And Tee Outfits

Get Relaxed Fits

One of the biggest style rules you have to follow if you’re wondering how to dress normcore is to banish skin-tight clothing, along with very baggy items as well. You might be able to pull off a slim fit top, but normcore is all about function over style, so sticking to relaxed fits is really the way to go.

Normcore Look Jeans And Cardigan
photo: Isabella M.

Wear Lots of Denim

Washed denim is a big part of this trend. Taking in the relaxed fit rule, your top choices should be both boyfriend jeans and mom jeans that aren’t very tight. Denim overalls can also fit into normcore, as long as they’re not too flashy, and you pair them with a neutral top, the right footwear or even a baseball cap worn backwards.

Normcore Culottes
photo: Esther L.

Aim for a Sporty Vibe

Another great answer to the question of how to dress normcore is incorporating some athletic or workout gear into your looks. Classic Adidas and Nike that has been around for more than 20 years is a good option. As long as you’re wearing these classic logos without a modern or flashy vibe, you’ll fit right in.

Don’t Skip the White Sneakers

Classic white sneakers are another excellent way to bring your look into normcore territory. Pair them with other neutrals, but avoid the white head to toe look.

Normcore Outfits

Try Vintage ‘90s

Whether you find genuine pieces or just inspiration in ‘90s sporty fashion, you shouldn’t miss out on the retro vibe of this look. If you want to dress normcore without spending a fortune on a lot of new pieces, consider the backwards caps and the white sneakers your signature pieces.

Choose the Right Brands

While Adidas, Nike and Esprit are good choices for the more sporty look of normcore, there are plenty of brand that have been identified with the trend. The Gap, Superdry, Jack & Jones, Marc O'Polo, Scotch & Soda, Woolrich or Desigual.

Normcore Fashion Wardrobe

Don’t Try Too Hard

Even if you think you’ve got all the advice you need to know on how to dress normcore, remember that this trend is all about blending in. Trying too hard will make you stand out and you’ll lose the essence of your look.