At this point it feels as if TikTok is introducing us to a new lifestyle aesthetic or fashion terminology each week.
For example, we’ve already had ‘hot girl summer’, ‘sad girl autumn’ (yes, it always seems to be girl this, girl that), and have even gone through fashion trends like 'cottagecore' and 'Barbiecore'.
This year, following a spring where many tried to imitate Sofia Richie’s quiet luxury aesthetic - also called ‘stealth wealth’ and ‘old money aesthetic’ - early summer brought ‘mermaidcore’ and now we have two new additions: ‘tomato girl’ and ‘hot Gollum summer’.
Unless you’re a member of Gen Z or chronically online, it can be hard to keep up with all the new terminology. To help you out, we’ve decoded what they mean, below.
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Modern day fashion terms and their meanings
1. Tomato Girl Summer
Tomato Girl Summer describes an aesthetic inspired by the Mediterranean coast. Similar to Euro Girl Summer, but based anywhere you find tomato dishes like the Amalfi Coast, Greece and Barcelona, it’s all about dressing like you’re in a convertible driving along the coastline, lounging at the beach and reading romance novels.
2. Hot Gollum Summer
Coined by Vogue, this new term is mostly led by actor Timothy Chalamet posting pictures of himself in a cave on Instagram. The Lord of the Rings character Gollum famously fancied caves, hence the ‘hot Gollum’ aspect.
A trend that began in the leadup to the men’s FIFA World Cup last year, it has Gen Z in a chokehold this summer, as they wear stylish football-inspired aesthetics. Like athleisure wear but more football centric (think Adidas singlets and actual football team tops).
As the name suggests, balletcore takes inspiration from ballet dancers and includes clothing items like leotards, singlet tops, tracksuit bottoms, ballet flats and whimsical skirts.
Both a fashion and a beauty trend, mermaidcore encourages you to embrace your inner child and wear shells, pearls, sequins and wet look hair.
6. Coastal Cowgirl
With over 180 million video views on TikTok, the Coastal Cowgirl aesthetic appears here to stay. A very American term, it combines classic coastal looks like button down shirts and flowy midi skirts with cowboy style like western boots and big buckle belts.
7. Rat Girl Summer
Not so much a fashion aesthetic but a lifestyle choice, Rat Girl Summer is the antithesis of Hot Girl Summer. Its ‘rules’ - for anyone wanting to follow - is going outside but allowing two days a week for ‘decaying’ or ‘rotting in bed’, explains TikTok user Lola Kolade who coined the term. It also involves eating nourishing meals, letting go of any cringe feelings, and not overthinking.
8. Quiet Luxury aesthetic
Quiet Luxury or Stealth Wealth or Old Money Aesthetic has been around for a while but was popularised by TikTok users describing Lionel Richie’s daughter Sofia Richie’s style in the lead up to her April wedding and on the TV show Succession. It essentially means elevated basics, so expensive clothes that aren’t overly flashy.
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film caused so much anticipation that it birthed a whole fashion trend. Barbiecore is all about bright pinks - from clothes to shoes to accessories. The more pink, the better.
10. Granola Girl
The ‘Granola Girl’ aesthetic has been a thing for a while now, but it’s also now known as the ‘Salted Granola Girl’. It’s an extension of #vanlife, or digital nomads who travel and work from vans. It can also mean women who like hiking and the outdoors, love to eat granola and wear hippie-style clothing.
A trend so popular it even has a dictionary definition. Cottagecore is both a fashion and lifestyle aesthetic and includes wearing loose fitting, flowy clothes, baking your own bread, gardening and sewing your own clothes. Living in a cottage is an added bonus.
12. Coastal Grandmother
Another distinctly American fashion trend, the ‘Coastal Grandmother’ look was big in summer 2022 and was defined as living life like you’re in a Nancy Meyers’ movie or the embodiment of Martha Stewart. It’s all about a wardrobe stocked with white linen and making large salads.
Popularised by the Netflix show Bridgerton, Regencycore was based on British Regency era fashion with a modern twist - think empire waist or babydoll dresses, pearls and floral prints.
14. Hot Girl Summer
The original viral TikTok term, it stemmed from a song by Megan Thee Stallion where she said: "It's a Hot Girl Summer, so you know she got it lit". The trend took on a life of its own and encouraged women to look their ‘best’ and say ‘yes’ to every social situation. Essentially making the most of summer after pandemic restrictions lifted.
15. Sad Girl Autumn
Another antithesis to Hot Girl Summer, Sad Girl Autumn is all about wearing a colour palette of greens, browns and oranges, listening to Taylor Swift (exclusively her Folklore and Evermore albums), drinking hot drinks and watching Gilmore Girls.