Fashionwise: Finding your aesthetic

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Meher Duggal

A Pinterest Board models a “light academia” aesthetic.

What is the connection between the bright pink heart-patterned robe in my room, the vines loosely hung around my walls, and my vintage Chanel poster? Is there a theme represented by my giant avocado squishmallow, my cherry phone case, and my iced coffee addiction existent in so many teenage girls in America?

Whether it’s about a drink or room decor, the word aesthetic has become very popular in recent years. Dictionary.com defines the word aesthetic as “a particular individual’s set of ideas about style and taste, along with its expression”. The way you dress is the best way to showcase your aesthetic. Dark academia, cottagecore, grunge, indie, skater; these are just some of the most popular aesthetics in our generation.

Scrolling on Pinterest prompted me to look into different popular aesthetics. There was something so appealing to me about scrolling through archives of beautiful pictures and themed boards. Staring at random pictures of pretty leaves and matcha tea on green silk gave me satisfaction and inspiration.

 I think aesthetics have become a way to categorize different identities. They help romanticize the little things in your life. Suddenly, your dirty Converse and wired earbuds make you feel a little warmth and comfort. 

People use aesthetics to cultivate an image that makes them confident, comfortable, and expressive. They find it by wearing what they like and feel the most confident in, or experimenting with different trends. Some people have defined, easily identifiable aesthetics; they dress a certain way with very specific tastes. Others may blend different ones together for a more ambiguous look. 

Choosing an aesthetic almost feels like choosing a movie to live in; studying is much more fun if it feels like Hermione Granger is studying alongside you in the Hogwarts library. 

The influence for aesthetics may come from movies, books, social media, or the surrounding environment.  Pinterest and Tiktok especially are hubs of inspiration for different clothing and have inspired numerous mainstream aesthetics. 

 Aesthetics can bring people joy. According to a  study that compiled research from the Gallup happiness surveys and other statistical data led by Abraham Goldberg, a professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, and his team,  one of the biggest markers of happiness is growing up in an aesthetically pleasing place. 

 “Aesthetics make us happy. On an emotional level, they elicit feelings of happiness and calm,” read an excerpt from Simple Minded. They connect us to our ability to reflect on and appreciate the world around us which in turn gives us feelings of contentment and hope.”  

Just as hobbies, opinions, and trends may change with time, aesthetics tend to mature and change. An obsession for scrunchies and pink lip gloss could morph into a love of bold hair colors and heavy eyeliner. A love for baseball caps and jerseys could transition to cottage core dresses and sandals.

According to research conducted by Frontiersin.org, aesthetic preferences could  be “closely linked to the self and that a change in taste and aesthetic values may be construed as a change in who one is.”

Aesthetics may be a fun and creative expression, but it is important to not get too carried away by obsessing over a desired image. Too easily, this can cross the line of creativity and become destructive. Aesthetics should be personal and subjective to you and be a source of happiness. 

So go explore Pinterest. Create a mood board. Research different outfits or decor that speak to you. But never feel pressured to categorize yourself into a certain lifestyle or image; do what makes you happy.