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Latest Gen Z fashion trend sees return of the 'twee aesthetic'

Now it’s cool to dress like Granny! Trendy Gen Z fashionistas don twee cardigans, flouncy oversized collars and buckled Mary Jane shoes as they opt for a ‘more feminine’ look after lockdown loungewear

  • The ‘twee’ aesthetic was popularised on websites like Tumblr in the late 2000s 
  • Involves dressing in a retro style comprised of dresses, tights and ballet pumps 
  • Oversized collars, bows, cardigans, blouses and Mary Janes are part of the style 
  • Celebrities like Zooey Deschanel and Alexa Chung are associated with the trend

Over the last couple of years the baggy jeans, crop tops and slogan T-shirts of the 1990s has become a go-to look for Gen Z fashionistas. 

But now it seems another retro trend has caught the attention of stylish social media users, with the ‘twee’ aesthetic – made popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s – set to be favoured this year. 

The style, associated with celebs like Zooey Deschanel and Alexa Chung, involves looking quaint and quirky, often wearing vintage clothing that looks like it’s come straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. 

Drawing inspiration from mod styles of the 1960s and ’70s, the ‘twee’ aesthetic includes colourful tights, oversized collars, shift dresses, cardigans, blouses, polka dots and bows.  

The ‘twee’ aesthetic, inspired from mod styles of the 1960s and ’70s including cardigans, tights and shift dresses, is set to take over in 2022. German influencer Mina showed off her maroon beret and vintage slip dress on Instagram. 

French influencer and model Fauzia embodied the trend in a brown leather satchel handbag, vintage dress and boater hat

French influencer Sarah, who lives in London, shared her stylish oversized kitted cardigan, vintage camera and leather satchel bag 

Popular shoes include ballet pumps and Mary Janes while fringes, knee socks, satchel bags, round-framed glasses, berets, hats and headbands are all part of the aesthetic.   

And it’s not just clothing associated with the hipster style, the social phenomenon involved fashionable millennials bragging about their love of vintage cameras, cult movies, indie bands, typewriters and teacups.  

Celebrity stylist Miranda Holder, who founded The Feel Good Fashion Coach, told FEMAIL that while recreations of previous fashion eras are common, shoppers are ‘desperate’ to embrace a more feminine look after the pandemic.  

‘We are used to the concept of circular fashion, and sartorial recreations of the seventies, eighties, nineties and so on are absolutely to be expected as we flock to another season of fashion week to see the latest catwalk creations’, she said. 

British fashion influencer Grace Surguy showed off her knitted white vintage cardigan and hair clips on Instagram

‘But recently, social media apps such as TikTok have sped things up to an unprecedented pace, and it’s not unusual to see micro-revivals of trends that have only been cold in our closets for 5-10 years, such as the twee trend and you only have to flick through fashion tok or the bloggers on Instagram to see how popular it is right now.’

She added that the once hipster trend has very much become an accessible style with shops on the high-street chocked full of frilly collars and chunky kits. 

‘After the last two years which have been largely marred by the pandemic, we are desperate to break out of our loungewear and embrace anything that makes us feel more feminine, she said. 

‘Although the twee movement was originally very much an aesthetic loved by the hipsters, it has now made it mainstream and every high street outlet worth its cool credentials is offering versions of granny cardigans, patterned tights, peter pan collars, flouncing blouses and much more.

She added that a rise in the vintage movement, boosted by consumers’ interest in sustainability, means it’s easy for a twee-loving fashionistas to find secondhand garments.  

Online store Vintage Inclined showed off one of their festive knits with an on-trend frilled Peter Pan collar 

Anita Lo, Owner of Clara’s Box, vintage fashion and antiques boutique agreed that shoppers are after the ‘smart and preppy look’ now that students are going back to the classroom and workers are heading back into the office.

‘They want to ease out of their comfortable attire worn during lockdown and try something different’, she said. ‘As for vintage fashion, the trend has revived in peaks and troughs but they’re becoming more accessible than ever on the high street. 

‘Furthermore, there have been lots of hit films and TV series in recent years set in the past that have ignited interest in vintage fashion – Downton Abbey’s new film is to be released soon, for example.

‘As a vintage fashion expert, I’d recommend teaming true period pieces with modern fashion. For example a 1950s dress with a leather jacket and Converse/your favourite ballet pumps, or a 1940s embroidered blouse with a pair of skinny jeans. 

‘You can embrace twee fashion in full vintage gear as well, but to avoid looking frumpy, choose form fitting items that complement your figure.’

The trend has gone wild on TikTok, with twee hashtag gaining 33.1 million views and several older users posting their early 2010s looks  – using 2008 a song by Deschanel’s indie duo She and Him. 

The trend seems to be reappearing on the runway too, with designers such as Miu Miu leading the way with knitwear and frilled collars taking centre stage in the brand’s latest collection. A model walks the runway during the Miu Miu as part of the Paris Fashion Week

The trend seems to be reappearing on the runway too, with designers such as Miu Miu leading the way with knitwear and frilled collars taking centre stage in the brand’s latest collection. 

Molly Goddard features aspects of the ‘twee’ style in her collections, often including platforms or teacup dresses while Richard Malone’s SS22 collection involved hosiery in hades of blue and green.  

In Marc Spitz’s 2014 book ‘Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film’, he described the ‘ethics of twee’ as an ‘utter dispensing with of ”cool”’  


Molly Goddard features aspects of the ‘twee’ style in her collections, often including platforms or teacup dresses (right during London Fashion Week February 2020) while Richard Malone’s SS22 collection involved hosiery in hades of blue and green (left during London Fashion Week September 2021) 

‘The twee Tribe has already proven to be a very tricky one’, he writes. ‘Perhaps the trickiest of them all, to join. 

‘Unlike Punk or Hip-Hop, an aspiring tribal Twee cannot get there simply via haircut or by turning one’s baseball cap around. You have to read … a lot … and, generally, alone. 

‘You have to make friends with your Crosley suitcase turntable and record collection, your Criterion Collection, your 33 1/3 books, and your cut-out-and-pasted photos of dead film stars and authors. Simply taking yourself outside of society isn’t enough. 

‘Once outside, you have to actually study. Twees cannot kick with the fray unless they carry a lot of history in their heads, or at least on their devices: they are Jeopardy! contestants, boning up on Felt, the Swell Maps, Judee Sill, Anne Sexton, Michael Gondry, Peanuts, Roald Dahl, and The Phantom Tollbooth. 

‘And you don’t only have to know those bands and books and filmmakers; you have to formulate an aesthetic around them.’ 

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