The Thursday Styles section of the New York Times last week contained a big bloomingarticle on the fashion trend known as “normcore,” which the article helpfully defined in the following way:
A fashion movement, c. 2014, in which scruffy young urbanites swear off the tired street-style clichés of the last decade — skinny jeans, wallet chains, flannel shirts — in favor of a less-ironic (but still pretty ironic) embrace of bland, suburban anti-fashion attire. (See Jeans, mom. Sneakers, white.)
Accompanying the article were a lot of photos of my clothes. Specifically, there were Nike sneakers, cargo shorts, t-shirts, a hoodie from a random college, Champion sweatpants … Well, hello, old friends!
The article explained that normcore is the result of a formative mass of “the downtown/Brooklyn creative crowd” growing weary of differentiating themselves via ever-intensifying quirkiness. How large can a handlebar mustache grow before it simply gets in the way of normal bodily processes? How many different kinds of baby vegetables can one home-pickle before realizing they all basically taste the same? How many artisanal breweries can the world support? So instead of painstakingly carving out individualized identities, those in said “creative crowd” are now throwing themselves wholeheartedly into one big collective whole — or, as New York magazine’s The Cut described it in a headline, “Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion.”
Silly New York fashion scene. It’s not a widespread sociological trend. These people are simply becoming moms and dads.
There was a time when I differentiated myself via fashion — when I cultivated an individual sense of style and even wore high heels. Then I had a child. And all my fashion longings and requirements instantly dwindled down to one overriding concern: Does it have pockets? Because if it didn’t have pockets, there wasn’t any place to keep a spare binkie. And if there wasn’t anyplace to keep the spare binkie, my baby was going to drop hers right out of her mouth into a pile of dog shit some asshole left on the sidewalk and proceed to scream bloody murder when I refused to lick it clean and didn’t have a spare.
Children do grow out of binkies, at least theoretically. So at some point, I could have returned to my normal wardrobe. But just about the time the binkies were retired, my kids got really, really fast. I couldn’t keep up with them in heels and pencil skirts, so I took up sweatpants. And not the $145 Armani fleece jogging pants the Times piece coldly dismissed as “fauxcore,” but the $36.50 Champion version, because they were going to get barfed on and crawled across and ripped, and if I was going to spend big money on clothes, it was going to be on clothes for my offspring, a.k.a. the most adorable children that have ever lived.
Let Elle.com deride normcore as “dressing like an uncool dad”; even as she scorned the trend, writer Lauren Sherman had to admit: These clothes are comfortable. And when your child keeps you up all night sitting in the bathroom with the hot water in the shower running because she’s got croup and she’s barking like a seal, dammit, you deserve comfortable clothes. Even highbrow couturiers have been forced to bow to this realization; last month, Karl Lagerfeld staged Chanel’s Paris Fashion Week show in a supermarket, which is where parents spend all their leisure time.
Let greater minds than mine rhapsodize about how normcore is a sociological statement — a means of “absolving oneself from fashion.” Let GQ sneer at President Obama’s normcore jeans. This isn’t politics, people; he’s got kids! As Fiona Duncan opined in New York, normcore is “a look designed to play well with others.” Play being the operative word.
Sure, kids grow up and move out. But those Champion sweatpants last practically forever. And the drawstring waistbands forgive a lot of middle-aged pudge. It’s hard to give up mom-clothes once you’ve tried them. Welcome to my world, New York City hipsters. I think you’re gonna like it here.
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