Breaking Down 28 TikTok Aesthetics

Last updated: March 1, 2022

Long gone are the days when fashion was decided by a stringent set of rules, like no denim on denim, or no white after Labor Day. Today’s young (and old!) are increasingly dressing according to what sparks their joy.

For many, this means falling into a particular “aesthetic” that suits their moods or interests, often inspired by vintage fashion, hobbies, streetwear, or fantasy. These aesthetics are highly stylized, and cover anything from the clothes one wears, to the magnets on one’s fridge.

Today, we’ll go over 28 distinct aesthetics that either arose from, or were co-opted, by Tik Tok.

Cottagecore

Cottage core is one of the OG aesthetics of Tiktok, inspired by the peace one can find when removed from the stress of urban life. The soothing videos that carry a #cottagecore hashtag often feature the smaller pleasures in life: hot drinks, warm socks, straw hats, and days spent sketching in one’s garden.

The cottage core aesthetic is inextricably linked with nature, so it is often characterized by low-waste and environmentally friendly practices. Cottage core fashion includes long, flowing dresses, natural fibres, embroidered flowers, and often minimal makeup.

Cottage core is a somewhat rebellious aesthetic, which seems to have developed in opposition to an increasingly capitalistic and fast-paced society. It celebrates a return to nature, to simplicity, and to hand-crafting. Cottage core is a welcome escape to many Millennials and Gen-Z who find their daily lives crowded with to-do lists and stress.

Dark Academia

Perhaps one of Tik Toks edgier aesthetics, dark academia is an embrace of the somber beauty found in echoey libraries and old university halls.

Tired eyes from nights spent studying, a pallid complexion, and the bittersweet loss of naivete as knowledge creeps in are absolute musts.

This style is a riff off the “sexy professor” vibe with plenty of tweed, long trousers, leather shoes, suspenders and turtlenecks. Expect those who enjoy this aesthetic to have a deep appreciation for creature comforts: roasty espresso, mahogany furniture, rainy days.

An important aspect of dark academia is its sense of fun. Most dark academia lovers know not to take it too seriously, which gives the entire aesthetic a sense of levity.

Grunge

Thought grunge was never coming back? Well, think again. Gen-Z, with all its forward-thinkingness, loves to take inspiration from previous generations, especially when it comes to their style.

Grunge has made a strong return on TikTok with the reintroduction of loose-fitting plaid, smudgy eyeliner, baggy graphic t-shirts, and a don’t-care attitude. Of course, TikTok users like to add their own flare with playful pops of color and plenty of experimenting, mixing the classic 90’s style with modern elements.

Aesthetics built around soft rebellion through one’s appearance have surged through the TikTok community, especially in a bid to shirk restrictive gender roles or challenge classism. Grunge, with its signature slouchiness, is a quintessential example of this modern spirit.

Light Academia

The less moody counterpart to its darker cousin, light academia embodies those sunlit days on campus grounds when your Mary Jane’s kick up fragrance from a bright green lawn.

Outfits inspired by this aesthetic often include berets, leather booties, vintage silhouettes, and plenty of cozy sweaters. Light academia celebrates neutrals, with plenty of creams, tans, chocolate browns, and off-whites.

This aesthetic is quite similar to dark academia, in that it celebrates the indoors and the intellectual world. But it’s a bit more romantic, embodying the joy one gets from sniffing a book’s pages, rather than the brooding frown one gets while poring over one.

E-boy

Of all the TikTok aesthetics, the Eboy is probably one of the most well-known, and therefore most clearly defined, having been parodied over and over again, and widely discussed online for a few years. In fact, nowadays, one would be hard-pressed to get away with embracing this style unironically.

The Eboy is the stereotype of Gen-Z. He wears all black, constantly sticks out his tongue, always parts his floppy hair straight down the middle, and is never off the Internet. The Eboy is the Bad Boy’s biggest fan, but his leather jacket can’t quite give him the edge he’s looking for.

E-girl

While not quite as iconic as her male counterpart, the Egirl has nonetheless made a name for herself on TikTok. Also heavily preoccupied with showing her tongue, the Egirl often has multicolored hair, favors dark clothing, and surfs the waves of the Internet with the ease of someone who knows her style grabs instant attention.

Both the Egirl and the Eboy are heavily influenced by Anime and K-Pop culture, opting for a feminine flair and eschewing subtlety.

Gorpcore

A less established aesthetic on TikTok, but steadily gaining notoriety, Gorpcore is all about the utilitarian “style” one adopts when preparing to climb the Himalayas, or get ready for a month-long backpacking trip.

One might be surprised to find this type of clothing gaining traction as an “aesthetic” on TikTok, as it is so much more about function than fashion, and can often look quite, well, ugly.

But TikTok, never a platform to shy from a challenge, has embraced puffer jackets, cargo pants, vests, windbreakers, and hiking boots as items to enhance one’s look, rather than one’s protection from the elements. It will be interesting how far this one goes!

Softboys

He’s sensitive, he listens, he never unbuttons his top button, and yes, his curls are natural. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the Soft Boy. A fascinating and severe departure from many of the long-held, more restrictive aspects of masculinity, the Soft Boy fully embraces his emotions, and he’ll embrace yours too.

If you’re on TikTok, you’ll know the Soft Boy by his button-down shirts, sweater vests, often rumpled hair, and gentle, understanding smile. If he’s not playing guitar, he’s likely cooking you dinner. The Soft Boy is an evolving breed, though, so keep an eye out for what feelings he decides to feel next.

Euphoria

An aesthetic popularized the HBO show of the same name, the euphoria aesthetic is all about making bold choices with one’s personal style as a form of self-expression.

In the euphoria aesthetic, you’ll find plenty of experimentation, from colorful, imaginative makeup to DIY crop tops. However, this aesthetic has a strong element of glitz and polish.

You’ll find plenty of sparkle, leather, high heels, and long earrings, but you won’t see much frump.

Angelcore

Have you always felt a bit out of place? Perhaps, otherworldly? Angel core’s primary definition is right there in the name. This aesthetic welcomes everything ethereal, beautiful, and, you guessed it, heavenly.

Practitioners of the angel core aesthetic love a shimmering, light makeup, flowing hair, chiffon and silk outfits, and often the addition of somewhat alien touches such as swirling designs on the cheeks, or pointed ear prosthetics.

This aesthetic is a mix of fashion and cosplay, opting for more of a visual or emotional impact, rather than everyday wear. Give it a try! Maybe you’ll find yourself getting in touch with your spiritual side.

Glam

On a night out, you crank the style meter up to 11, and that’s what the glam aesthetic is all about.

A full beat, high heels, body-con dresses, full suits, polished cufflinks, and coiffed hair are finished off with a spritz of fragrance and you have never felt so confident in your life. No need to be demure. In the glam aesthetic, we are finding out how good it feels to look damn good.

Y2K

Many Gen-Z grew up in the 2000’s, and the Y2K aesthetic is a love letter to the nostalgia of that time. The fashion trends that followed the turn of the century are both iconic and plentiful, allowing for infinite variations and riffs for TikTokers to play with.

Some of the staples include: hair clips, chokers, spaghetti-strap tank tops, low-rise jeans, pencil-thin eyebrows, fake tans, glossy lips, short cardigans, decorative belts, bedazzled denim, and many more.

You’ll find that TikTok users have revitalized this aesthetic by adding splashes of modernity into their outfits. Either way, it’s impossible to see people celebrating this era without it putting a smile on your face. Simpler times, huh?

Dark Aesthetic

While the name may sound scary, the dark aesthetic is all about the underappreciated beauty and peace offered by darkness. For some people, the night just offers more pleasure than the day, bringing rare opportunities for privacy and quiet that can feel impossible to find during waking hours.

City lights, cool breezes from open windows, cozy loungewear, gently murmuring conversation from a television in the next room; these are all soothing pleasures for those who embrace the dark aesthetic.

But this aesthetic isn’t just about a lack of light. It’s about appreciating that which is usually feared or concealed by society. Topics such as death, loneliness, or aging are often infused into the art created by the dark aesthetic community.

Forest Aesthetic

Isn’t it nice that so many of these are aptly named? The forest aesthetic is just what it appears to be, an ongoing celebration and reconnection with nature, specifically woodland areas.

Fashion derived from this aesthetic is often chimera-like, with people styling themselves to resemble elves, nymphs, flowers, or even trees.

A love for nature is what fuels this aesthetic, and you’ll find TikTokers increasingly bringing nature into their own homes, with numerous plants, organic-looking wooden furniture, and gardens in the mix.

Fairycore

Like the angel core aesthetic, fairy core offers an escape from the mundanity of human existence through fashion. Pointy ears, playful, imaginative clothing, a love of sparkles, and an affinity with nature are all qualities of the fairy core aesthetic.

It’s nice to see that the love for dress-up doesn’t always fade with age, and TikTok offers an excellent platform for people to stretch their creative muscles and live out some fantasies.

Fairies are, of course, inextricably tied with the earth, so shades of green and brown are often incorporated into this aesthetic.

Dreamcore

One of the newer aesthetics to the TikTok scene, dream core is a surreal and often discomforting aesthetic that pushes the boundaries of what kind of emotions a short video on an app can invoke in the casual viewer.

This aesthetic mimics the seeming randomness and existential ambiguity that we often experience in dreams, with strange and imaginative imagery, thought-provoking ideas, and non-linear storytelling.

Not always for the faint of heart, but definitely one to check out, dream core is sure to ruffle some feathers as it gains traction on the TikTok platform.

Lovecore

Ever wanted it to be Valentine’s Day all year-round? Well, look no further than the rarely seen, but nonetheless distinct, love core aesthetic.

All the titular visuals of this romantic holiday (pink, red, hearts, flowers, chocolates) are all lovingly (no pun intended) embraced by this quirky aesthetic in the form of elaborate outfits, as well as room decor. Many men and women shirk pink at some point in their lives, due to its connotations of femininity and girliness, and this aesthetic seems to be in direct opposition to that.

Men and women deck their homes with pink-painted walls, pillows, vases, and carpets with reckless abandon. There’s something magnanimous about this refusal to be ashamed by pink, and I am here for it.

Thrift Aesthetic

An aesthetic that is so brand new in the TikTok community, it may as well still be in the works. A combination of increasing environmental awareness, low wages among young people, and growing interest in vintage clothing has led many to choose thrift shopping as their main source for fashion inspiration, and it has become a huge phenomenon.

“Thrift hauls” are some of the most popular videos on the platform, raking in millions of views as influencers turn used clothing into trendy, fashion-forward outfits. It goes beyond that, though.

People are using thrift shops to purchase their home decor, kitchenware, and furniture. This “green” practice is becoming increasingly popular, and is perhaps one of the more positive trends one can see on TikTok today!

Beach Aesthetic

There’s nothing quite like a day at the beach, and some people want to feel that way all the time! The beach aesthetic is everything you need for a fun day in the sun and sand: swimsuits cover-ups, sun hats, flip-flops, picnic blankets, windswept hair, and umbrellas.

Only thing is, you don’t need to be at the beach. Creators of the beach aesthetic like to bring the fun, carefree vibe of a day to the beach into their everyday lives, by decorating their bathrooms with seashells, and spraying salt in their hair to create that tousled wave.

Definitely one of the more accessible aesthetics for those who want to bring a bit more relaxation into their day-to-day.

Gym Aesthetic

Gym aesthetic? Isn’t that just going to the gym? Wrong! The gym aesthetic is all about the good feelings and healthy mindsets cultivated by a life of health, fitness and self-care. Of course, there is gym fashion: leggings, gym shorts, wife-beaters, sneakers, messy gym hair, water bottles.

But the gym aesthetic goes beyond that, as a way to appreciate one’s accomplishments and build confidence by turning your time at the gym from just a boring hour of the day to a time you can appreciate your body, style, and the specific “vibe” you only get from being in a gym!

Normcore

At first, this appears to be a parody of the numerous niche aesthetics that have developed from TikTok over the years, but norm core has somehow become an aesthetic all its own. It’s about dressing, well, normal. Blue jeans, cardigans, basic tees, and practical shoes are all hallmarks of the norm core “brand”.

Proponents of this aesthetic want to feel comfortable in their own skin, insisting that one doesn’t have to be pushing the boundaries of fashion or spending an hour on their outfit each day in order to be acceptable in society.

Perhaps, one of the more down-to-earth aesthetics, norm core is an approachable way to style oneself and is a good reminder not to judge others for appearing less than extravagant.

Techwear

Ah, now we’re back to the weird stuff. The techwear aesthetic is a real “brain blast” from the TikTok community. All about futuristic clothing design, techwear likes to ask the question of what clothes can be, rather than what clothes already are?

A mixture of function (according to what we might need in years to come) and fashion, these outfits are often tricked out with helpful gear, such as battery chargers, protective eyewear, or hacking devices.

A lot of what comes out of the techwear aesthetic looks like it should be featured at an expo for forward-thinkers. So much creativity and thoughtfulness goes behind these outfits, and it makes one interested to see where we might be in a few decades time!

Coconut Girl

Similar to the beach aesthetic, but definitely its own beast, the coconut girl aesthetic is about that LA type who’s always in the sun and vacations in the Bahamas.

Bikini tops paired with floral skirts or jeans, slouchy totes, short-shorts, sun-dresses, and immaculate skin care coupled with excessive tanning are just some of the traits you might look for when searching for a coconut girl.

She’s fun-loving but quite high-maintenance, sticking to her routines of going to the gym and making Instagram-worthy smoothie bowls.

That Girl

“That girl”. We all want to be “that girl”. She has her life together, in a way that for most of us seems completely unattainable.

She bullet-journals, organizes her fridge, always has her nails done, and answers emails within 24 hours. The “that girl” aesthetic is one of the most popular on TikTok, with many users trying to achieve her mythical levels of competency by instituting healthy routines and habits into their own lives.

Will cleaning out your junk drawer finally make you an adult? Maybe. You’ll probably never know. Because you’ll never be “that girl”.

VSCO Girl

Sk-sk-sk-sk-sk, you’ve found her, the VSCO girl. This TikTok aesthetic reached its peak of popularity in mid-2019, with many people, girls and boys alike, dressing up as a VSCO girl for Halloween.

Every generation has its stereotypes, and the VSCO girl is an exaggerated depiction of a Gen-Z teen. She’s environmentally conscious, so she carries around a metal straw, pontificating on the importance of “saving the turtles”. She has a hydro flask, Birkenstocks, puka shell bracelets on one arm, and scrunchies on the other.

She means well, the VSCO girl, but this aesthetic is tongue-in-cheek one, poking fun at the contradictory nature of a social justice-inclined generation that has been raised in the era of materialism.

Skater Aesthetic

For a long time, skateboarding and its iconic subculture had been vastly forgotten by our society, but TikTok, as it so often does, helped revive this aesthetic in a glorious fashion.

The skater boy/girl wears slouchy jeans, scuffed up sneaks, and band t-shirts. With skateboarding undergoing a resurgence of popularity, this aesthetic has climbed to the top of the cultural zeitgeist.

It’s a sort of chill rebellion, a counter-strike to a hustle-mentality society by way of good times in one’s chosen community and self-expression.

Vintage Aesthetic

A reclamation of the trims and trappings of the 50’s without the associated oppression, TikTok’s vintage aesthetic allows today’s men and women to enjoy the styles of the Hollywood Era in our modern age.

This aesthetic will pluck all your most nostalgic strings with its coiffed hairstyles, red lips, rosy cheeks, pearl necklaces, and starched, A-line skirts.

There’s no denying that the 40’s and 50’s produced some of the most iconic fashion moments of the last 100 years, so it’s great to see it being celebrated by today’s fashionistas.

70’s Style

No doubt influenced by popular TV shows such as Stranger Things, the 80’s have made a massive comeback on TikTok in the last few years.

High-waisted mom jeans, record players, rooster bangs, and colorful, baggy sweaters can be found without having to scroll too far on the app. This isn’t too much of a surprise, though.

Many decades of the 20th century are being explored and used as inspiration for today’s youth from hairstyles to bedroom decor. Scrolling through TikTok can sometimes feel like riding a time machine!

Conclusion

Whew! Well, I think it’s quite clear that TikTok has become a force in the world of fashion and personal style, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Though there are 28 aesthetics listed here, there are more popping up everyday. If you keep an eye out, you may find something that speaks to you. Happy scrolling!