AESTHETICS: The Style of Internet Subcultures
Updated: Jan 26
What stylish subcultures exist today? Let's take a look at the wonderful world of internet aesthetics to find out about a few of them.
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After writing about Harajuku fashion last week, I began to wonder what other stylish subcultures are out there right now. And, after spending some time researching online, I wasn’t underwhelmed with what I found.
The internet is home to a plethora of subcultures. Each of them exist in their own microcosm found at the corners of popular social media websites. Many of these niche groups are loosely connected by one word.
You’ve probably seen that term thrown around before. But what does it actually mean?
What is an Internet aesthetic?
DEFINITION: Not be confused with the philosophical movement of the 18th century, an internet aesthetic refers to the visual identity of an online subculture. Communities may express their distinct sense of style through moodboards, aesthetically-pleasing youtube videos, and creative graphic designs. These creations are often shared on popular social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.
Be sure to take a look at this fanmade wikipedia if you would like to see a full list of the different internet aesthetics. There is a look for everyone! Far more than the three subcultures I am about to talk about. So, sit back with a refreshing drink and enjoy reading about these stylish communities.
If the idea of afternoon walks across a blooming meadow appeals to you, then cottagecore is a great aesthetic to embrace. This is a subculture for anyone who adores the simple pleasures found in nature.
Cottagecore is escapism at its finest. A community that rejects the hectic city lifestyle and idealises the pastoral world instead. Motor engines are replaced by mooing cows. Corporate fashion is replaced by roomy dresses covered in floral embroidery. Most cottagecore clothing is this way - whimsical, comfortable, and freeing. The perfect antidote to the pressures of a fast-paced world.
Style staples include long and flowing dresses made from the softest fabrics, frilly-strapped aprons, adorable overalls, large pockets you can hide your hands in, button-up blouses, and any other garments with ruffle, embroidered, or lace details. For accessories, think floppy hats and thrifted jewellery.
In their spare time, you might find a cottagecore woman painting landscapes or fluffy farm animals with oil paints, decorating their room with dried flowers, and collecting vintage ornaments. Any hobby that calms the mind will do!
Dark academia is a popular aesthetic that has been thriving on TikTok. Primarily, it's a subculture for anyone with a thirst to learn about the world. Be it greek mythology, European literature, or 19th century philosophy, this aesthetic will inspire you to read beside a crackling fireplace and take in pages of ancient knowledge.
Unlike cottagecore, dark academia works well with a city lifestyle - an ideal setting for day trips wandering around museums, libraries, and art galleries. In fact, cultural trips are a popular hobby for dark academics. That is, if they’re not inside and relaxing with a good book. Other hobbies include sports like cricket and golf or artistic hobbies like bookbinding, painting, and crafting.
To get a feel for the visual style of the aesthetic, be sure to consume media set in academic environments. Films like Dead Poets Society and Kill your Darlings. And books like The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Dark academia fashion reflects their desire to learn. Think cozy turtlenecks, sweater vests, and polo shirts; smart trousers in plaid, tweed, or houndstooth; and polished shoes like brogues and dr. martens that’ll get you around dusty book shops. Tie the outfit together by putting on rounded spectacles and wearing a satchel bag. (This will make you look especially studious!)
Art hoe/Art Mom
The Art Hoe subculture has evolved over the years. Initially, it was an internet aesthetic that was tied to a social movement. In 2015, Mars and Sage Adams co-founded the ‘Art-hoe Collective.’ It was a community made for artistic women of colour to express themselves freely and without judgement. It was so popular that even stars like Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg became members of the movement.
Over time, the art hoe aesthetic was adopted by women outside of the targeted demographic. They were attracted to the fresh and artistic feel of the movement. What was once a social movement, slowly turned into a fashionable trend. The aesthetic is still prevalent on social media circles to this day. (Many women will call it art mom instead to respect the roots of the aesthetic).
Essentials of art hoe style include Fjallraven Kånken Bags, high-rise converse, vans, vintage mom jeans, graphic t-shirts with impressionist paintings on them, paint-splattered overalls, Fuji polaroid cameras, and art supplies stuffed into coat pockets. You also cannot have art hoe without the classic artistic selfie: an aesthetic self portrait with either a famous painting superimposed into the background or squiggly, doodled lines drawn on top.
The biggest art hoe motif has to be anything painted by Vincent van Gogh. (The Starry Night and Sunflowers being the most popular). Expect to see his art printed on tote bags, classic t-shirts, and socks. This van Gogh influence also pervades the colour palette of the aesthetic. Think intense yellow, passionate vermilion, and evocative blue.
The Art hoe collective Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/arthoecollective/?hl=en
What Aesthetic was your favourite?
Right now, I'm leaning towards cottagecore.
Who wouldn't want to relax beside fluffy animals and blooming bushes as the weather begins to warm? A combination fit for heaven.
This was a fun little article to research.
I hope it has inspired your style!
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Until next time,