The concept of fashion aesthetics is nothing new to the trend forecasting industry. Seasonal style stories that often pop off on social media platforms like TikTok, they’re often the easiest way to communicate the cultural shifts that affect the way shoppers dress. Where 2022 was all about the coastal grandma and weird girl aesthetic, there are plenty of new style aesthetics to set you up for sartorial success in 2023. The best part: there’s truly something for everyone.
Looking ahead, the fashion landscape is showing a notable range for incoming aesthetics. There’s a moment of fantasy that’s showing up through whimsical details like oversized bows and regal gemstones, as well as slinky sequin gowns and skirts fit for a mermaid (see: Brandon Maxwell, 16Arlington and Bevza). On the other end of the style spectrum, we’re seeing practical and tactical trends taking off. For this, look to the resurgence of the perfect white shirt (a runway favourite at Tibi and Christian Dior), cargo pants and new takes on clogs.
Ahead, discover seven top fashion aesthetics to keep on your radar as you build out your shopping list for the year ahead.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Whimsical Royalty
Since Bridgerton brought back Regencycore, corseting, empire-waist dresses and opera gloves have all come into play. While the year ahead will look different aesthetically — with an emphasis on tongue-in-cheek iterations that feel undeniably maximalist (case in point: Fe Noel’s ruffled, dollar bill gown) — the affinity for opulence will continue to reign supreme.
In 2023, consider whimsical trends that would surely turn the head of any duke: luxurious yet playful jewellery pieces featuring regal gemstones and pearls, silhouettes like bubble hems and hoop skirts, thick brocade and velvet, garter-like waistlines and gold detailing. For runway inspiration, look to Christian Dior, Gabriela Hearst and Thom Browne.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Coquette
She’s listening to Lana Del Rey, watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette on repeat and tying ribbon bows into her hair (and on her wrist, her bag…pretty much anything she can get her hands on). Her wardrobe is a palette of creamy whites, pastel pinks and baby blues; her favourite fabrics are lace, tulle and toile; her jewellery box brims with pearls, rosettes and heart pendants. The coquette aesthetic, much like its namesake (‘coquette’ literally means ‘a woman who flirts’ in French), is hyperfeminine, idyllic, playful, romantic and nostalgic.
The trend played out plenty across the spring/summer 2023 runways: there were puffs of tulle at Simone Rocha, rose motifs at Naheem Khan and Ermanno Scervino, lace-edged slips at Christopher Kane, floral ribbon chokers at Elie Saab and ballet flats and floral socks at Yuhan Wang. Most obviously, the coquette was the leading inspiration at Acne Studios, where kitschy bows, roses and hearts were everywhere you looked. Take note and incorporate some playful feminine energy into your 2023 wardrobe.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Under-The-Sea Siren
Whether the result of increased travel in 2022 or the buzz around the new live-action Little Mermaid, the under-the-sea aesthetic (also known as mermaidcore and sirencore) takes hold of our wardrobes in the coming year.
This iteration feels like a natural evolution of resort wear trends (matching sets, crochet etc.) that are at once sultry and effortless to wear in the warmer months as well as winter. You can spot this aesthetic by the proliferation in bra tops, slinky maxi skirts (especially with ruching or sequins), mesh and lustrous fabrications like liquid shine (à la 16Arlington), the growing use of paillette sequins (note Cynthia Rowley and Valentino), pearl and shell embellishments, and shades of cerulean.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Classiccore
Who knew that a white tank top could cause such a stir? After Prada debuted a ribbed version in its AW22 collection, the humble base layer went on to become the most popular item of the season, worn by celebrities like Kaia Gerber and fashion insiders alike.
Well, that sentiment continues as our desire to invest in ourselves and our wardrobes becomes top of mind. This leans into the capsule wardrobe concept: high-quality staples that encourage versatility and sustainability over trends. On the more recent runways, the white button-down was key around the globe from Tibi to Christian Dior.
There was also an increase in suiting with fresh updates like pinstripes and a variety of waistlines, the introduction of elevated denim options like sailor jeans, and nostalgic outerwear such as the trench coat and varsity jacket.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Elevated Indie
Between indie sleaze taking over TikTok feeds and celebrities like MGK x Megan Fox, Olivia Rodrigo and Sky Ferreira sporting items nodding to the aesthetic IRL, the resurgence of ‘90s grime and alt-centric ethos of cool of the 2010s feels fresh in comparison to the overplayed early aughts that marked 2022.
But let’s be honest, this isn’t the most wearable trend as most offices likely won’t love you showing up to work with smudged eyeliner and ripped fishnets. Moving forward, we’re seeing elevated indie become the new standard — moto jackets and leather trenches per Khaite and Saint Laurent, acid-washed denim in grown-up silhouettes and new, improved takes on ‘90s prints like herringbone and plaid.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Futuristic Utility
If you’ve been paying attention to the street style scene in recent months, it’s clear that cargo pants are having a moment. The influence doesn’t stop there, with other practical staples like armour-like corsets and blazers featuring prominent pockets appearing on influential runways like Balmain, Coperni and Dion Lee.
You can expect the utilitarian trend to go even further this year as the industry is taking a kitschy approach to translating ‘fashion of the future’. If you’re looking to lean in, try out hybrid shoes (sneaker-meets-hiker boot combos or platform clogs); utility-detail garments made from elevated fabrics like satin, silk and iridescent fabrications; and wear-all jumpsuits.
2023 Style Aesthetic: Ice Queen Blue
Say goodbye to your sage green. A new colour trend is here to serve as your go-to neutral: icy, Cinderella-esque baby blue. It’s cool, it’s fresh and it looks great with silver jewellery (which is enjoying its own triumphant return).
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