The 2000s frazzled English woman aesthetic

From cottagecore to gorpcore to just about any other aesthetic completed with the word “core” at the end - it’s clear that TikTok has helped peddle an ever-changing rotation of key it-girl fashion trends.There’s a whole host of these trends coining their name by paying homage to a certain city or lifestyle attached to a geographical location; from a minimalist Scandi-style to the messy French girl aesthetic, but few seemed to be British-orientated until indie sleaze began its renaissance. It’s great news for the ex-Tumblr kids who are finally whipping out their skater skirts, smudged eyeliner and sea salt spray in a hopes of encapsulating the throwback revival of indie sleaze - coined by the likes of Alexa Chung, Sky Ferreira and generally the entire catalogue of American Apparel. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of indie sleaze and the controversial blokecore debacle that took place last season, an all-new and oh-so-English fashion revival has begun. Within the over-saturated and almost impossible to keep up with over-aestheticisation of womanhood and femininity - a new, much more cosy and cluttered fashion style seemingly passed us all by, until now. Acting as somewhat of an alternative to its modern counterpart - the clean girl aesthetic - the 2000s “frazzled English woman” aesthetic totally embraces the messier side of femininity. 

Coined by Ella O’Keeffe, editor at RUSSH Magazine, the frazzled English woman aesthetic opts for minimal, and often rushed, makeup, uncoiffed hair and the occasional hot flush as the whole point of this aesthetic is to actually look a bit undone and not in an effortlessly cool Parisian it-girl way. And the best part? The look can be achieved on a much lower budget than some of the other popular aesthetics right now. Whether you rummage through your mum’s wardrobe for some coloured tights and a midi Per Una skirt to match, peruse your local charity shops for some knee-high boots or finally support your mate’s blossoming crochet business and invest in a skinny knit bright green scarf - the look alone can be achieved with very little effort and cost. Think long layered beaded necklaces, bedhead hair shoved in a claw clip and a permanent love interest causing boy problems to which there’s never any solution until there is…

Unlike balletcore, that can heavily revolve around a certain body type or McBling which upholds gaudy designer wear and flashy brands in the glitzy Y2K revival, the 2000s frazzled English woman aesthetic appears to be slightly more of a body-representative aesthetic hailing from the 2000s. It is seemingly more inclusive than the more costume-era fashion that was popularised by the likes of Paris Hilton and other famous hyper-slim socialites. Instead of high-end labels, exclusive deadstock and uncomfortable garments - the 2000s frazzled English woman aesthetic champions warmth in layers, chipped nail polish, funky patterns, eccentric colours and comfort above all else. However, while the trend somewhat breaks down barriers of body image, an overly-stylised version of femininity and preaches weather-appropriate clothing more so than anything else - it is important to note that the actresses that embody the trend have more in common than just being flustered and having relationship problems. Whether it's Renée Zellweger as a chaotic yet charming Bridget Jones to pretty much every actress in Love Actually - it is clear that there is a scripted stack of socio-economic factors that connects these trend figureheads.  

They all fall into a very similar demographic of being white, middle-class, usually London-based, heteronormative and still on the slimmer side of the spectrum - which leads the question as to who or what would be deemed “passable” to jump on board with the trend as the trendsetters themselves form a very narrow scope of representation. Take Bridget Jones, for example. She’s a 30-something-year-old working in publishing and living independently in London with a brigade of equally esoteric gal pals who love to discuss nothing more than Mr. Darcy or a certain Daniel Cleaver over a cig and wine. Almost like a British Carrie Bradshaw, we see Jones endlessly caught in love triangles, boyfriend dilemmas and hurriedly falling out of her huge one-bedroom flat whilst still applying lipstick. While the fashion is easy enough to replicate - the lifestyle that frames it is not, especially in the current cost of living crisis… 

Although people don’t follow a trend to completely emulate the inspiration’s exact life, it is important to note that all trends are inherently situated within wider socio-economic contexts. Hence why strict adherence to such trends is inauthentic as individual self expression should also be explored. 

However, while many of us have since vowed to never bring back some of the more questionable fashion choices of the 2000s (see wedge trainers and moustaches on everything) - the frazzled English woman aesthetic seems to be a lot more attainable to replicate and draw light inspiration from. Although it is endlessly tiring to keep up with the ever-growing list of “cores” and aesthetics pumped out on the TikTok conveyor belt of content, the latest push for a more laid-back and achievable look could be a reflection of the direction in which fashion is now going.  In the age of BeReal, Instagram photodumps and a social media push for authenticity  - the popularity of the 2000s frazzled English woman aesthetic potentially reflects our growing desire to make fashion casual again. Call it a fad, call it fleeting.

Article by Rhiannon Ingle


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