When Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada interviews Andi Sachs for the first time, she gives her a disapproving once over. Her high-fashion editor-eye silently scathes Andi’s simple sweater, comfy skirt and sensible shoes. A few scenes down the track she is made-over into a chic, Chanel-wearing stylista. However, according to a new sub-trend, had the film been made today Andi’s original style would now be right on the money. Why? Because: menocore.
Coined by cult fashion website Man Repeller mid last year, ‘menocore’ has evolved from a combination between ‘normcore’ and fashion’s ongoing obsession with irony. And apparently it’s on the rise. The term came to be when the team noted a shift in their usual office trendsetter fashion towards sensibly comfortable outfits. Looks they were unconsciously modelling on women over a certain age. Even the seemingly unstoppable trends of ironic 70s, 80s and 90s influence had become too over-thought. Fashion has flipped once again to reveal a new anti-fashion.
It seems clothes-on-racks not collections-on-runways are to be the new chic.
It’s a jarring term however, one that creates a two-dimensional character out of that of an average menopausal 50s-something woman. Her look could be one of comfortable slacks and a loose-fitting shirt or a floral skirt with a ‘practical warm layer’ or a Bermuda short with a flouncy blouse. A woman on her way to lunch with the ladies or an early-bird dinner, a Florida local or “a retired masseuse” (as Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine described her own look). A stereotype? Yeah. A problematic term? Kind of.
Normcore (the art of dressing like a non-descript, jeans-and-sneakers, middle-class American aka Jerry Seinfeld circa 1990) bore the brunt of offence when its 2014 zeitgeist emerged and cool young things appeared to be poking fun at what was a genuine appearance for earnest middle America. However, as the fad turned into a lasting trend (and even made its way to the runway) it became clear this was not about ridicule, it was simply a creative appropriation of a look that had come to be fashionable again. Much like any fashion trend in any era.
The trouble with menocore, however, is not so much its style roots (we’ve all seen nana chic and grandpa style before) but rather its slightly insensitive borrowing from the word ‘menopause’ that causes a brow-furrowing reaction.
To be quite honest, the style of this trend seems broader than that of the 50s age group stereotype its sitting in. When the writer continued to explain it: “the style element of menocore is also defined by what it is not: trendy, prescribed, price-dependent, impersonal. It started off the runway, propagated by regular people just living their lives and dressing in clothes that made them feel like the best versions of themselves” it’s apparent that the base of this trend is actually that fashion in itself is now an anti-trend.
Menocore is all about easy breezy clothes that help you live your best life, not style trends derived from the influencers of fashion. (Of course, we can see the irony here). It’s something Andi Sachs from The Devil Wears Prada might wear (if slightly stylishly tweaked) and she’s not menopausal nor in her 50s. Menocore means the more simple, the more practical the better. Perhaps ‘Practicore’ would have been a better neologism, one that is ageless, classless and genderless.
Whatever we call it, however, the crux of menocore means three things: that youthful fashion followers are on their way to their local Millers for the latest in ironic cool, that Jerry Seinfeld needs to pass his normcore baton to Mrs Constanza and that we’ll all be super comfortable this summer.
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