If you haven’t already, it’s time to acquaint yourself with 2022’s latest much-discussed, It aesthetic: the “Weird Girl” trend. What does a weird girl wear? Well, her favorite colors are ugly shades of puce, fuchsia, and eye-watering yellow. On an 80-degree summer day, she reaches for zany knitwear and incongruous accessories like leg warmers, ear muffs, and deconstructed bolero shrugs because her mood calls for it — forget Mother Nature. She fully endorses pattern-clashing, something traditionally viewed as a fashion no-no; to her, plaid, cheetah, and a cartoonish, hand-screened graphic made by an obscure Instagram label make sense together.
Some find this unadulterated approach to dressing too outlandish, bordering on illegitimate: “Is [the weird girl aesthetic] anti-fashion? Are people trying too hard just to look ugly?” posited creator @KAlAGEBER in a now-viral tweet discussing the emerging aesthetic.
Fashion Content Creator and Analyst Cloe See answers with an emphatic no, saying to call it such is to ignore the aesthetic’s long-reaching roots in history. “[Weird girl style] is heavily inspired by Harajuku/Japanese street style, which originated post-World War II and became prominent in the ’80s, when subcultures became more popular in Japan, and later even more so in the late 90s & early 2000s.” See also points out that that the look was originally known as the Fruits Magazine style, a niche sartorial subset named after the publication’s street-style imagery of Japan’s Harajuku district in the early aughts.
A youth-led fashion phenomenon made up of hyper-femme and experimental silhouettes, the Harajuku look is what you’d imagine a rebellious school girl-turned-rave kid wearing when out partying way past her bedtime. “One might consider the weird girl aesthetic anti-fashion [but that’s] because the whole of Harajuku fashion is diverse and abides by no specific rules, allowing for the freedom of self-expression.” Colorful, girly, and garrish, the iconic style celebrates a lack of sartorial inhibitions — as does today’s manifestation.
In a recent TikTok, trend forecaster Agus Panzoni describes the weird girl’s this-is-me sartorial attitude as a type of “unbounded maximalism” that “[rejects] the constraints of categorical trends while embracing the experimental nature of finding one’s personal style.” And coming off a period where simplistic, almost homogenous minimalism (think of Instagram’s all-beige-everything era of neutral athleisure and head-to-toe khaki OOTD’s) dictated the trend cycle, to veer into the opposite extreme is a total subversion.
See echoes Panzoni, saying this inhibited, letting loose of style expectations is precisely why the archetype of a weird girl resonates so strongly in 2022. “We have seen the popularity of alternative, maximalist fashion grow in the past few years, with digital creators and communities paving the way for it online.” Fashion TikTokers Sara Camposarcone, Clara Perlmutter, and Jazmine Sullivan regularly show off their eccentric ensembles while puzzled viewers wonder, “Is this satire?” in the comment sections. And if you search ‘bold outfit ideas’ on Pinterest, you’ll find a slew of Chloe Felopulos’ out-there ensembles — a lacy, pirate-chic weekend look, a swimsuit paired with a gingham bonnet, an unbuttoned cargo skirt teamed with a see-through crochet blouse — to peruse as inspiration.
“This social media push [for maximalism,] combined with brands like Heaven by Marc Jacobs and celebrities like Devon Lee Carlson and Bella Hadid sporting the look, really helped to take weird girl style from just a niche of Harajuku/Japanese street fashion into the mainstream,” explains See.
Sofia Elias, founder of jewelry brand Blobb, taps into this eclectic, heightened maximalism by getting in touch with her inner child. “Children have a very pure way of expressing themselves. They represent what they imagine without any preconceived aesthetic notions,” she tells TZR over email. “I like to believe my pieces awaken reminiscences of childhood, allowing the wearer to revisit past moments afresh and feel the aliveness and playfulness of youth.” Like a kid letting loose on a mound of Play Doh, the Guadalajara-born artist makes all of her pieces by hand to create jewelry that’s “purposefully imperfect, mismatched, deformed, lumpy, and resonates with this child-like attitude.” Oblong-shaped rings in technicolor hues, occasionally encrusted with colorful jewels, and bangles made of what looks like strands of Silly Putty — Elias wants her work to incite “flashbacks to our early years, where we were the purest version of ourselves.”
Further, Elias doesn’t use jewelry molds in her work, meaning every piece is one-of-a-kind and unable to be replicated. “I see my jewelry as miniature sculptures,” she describes, saying her pieces are delicate and can’t be in contact with water, spray, gels, or hand sanitizer. “Since so many pieces nowadays are mass-produced, this creates an intimate relationship between the wearer and the object. And it’s a constant reminding to take take care of them — sort of like a tamagotchi, where you have to feed it,” she jokes.
See adds that this appreciation for one-of-a-kind wares is another fundamental component of being a “weird girl” in 2022. Individualism, she says, is paramount to the aesthetic, and many achieve this through second-hand shopping. “Back in 2020, we saw the rise of vintage and thrifting, and with the popularization of online thrift platforms like Depop, specifically Japanese thrift sites like Buyee, exposure and accessibility has increased.” She shouts out the 1984-founded label Hysteric Glamour, saying its one of many that are emblematic of Harajuku style and have been put back into circulation.
It’s worth noting, however, that weird is naturally subjective. But in the newfound context of this specific type of dressing, the descriptor has taken on a meaning to symbolize forging one’s own path. “[The weird girl aesthetic] repackages and commodifies the ... idea that you should just wear whatever you want,” Panzoni says in her TikTok. “I predict more of us will reject the categorization of style in favor of wearing what makes us happy.”
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