You definitely have your favorite clothing items and accessories—maybe they are your Taylor Swift cardigan, a growing collection of claw clips, and those old jeans that fit so well you wouldn’t dare part with them. There are probably some patterns in your closet of what you buy the most, whether that means simple pieces, fun patterns and designs, or even anything as long as it’s pink.
Fashion is a powerful form of self-expression, and individual items and accessories play a crucial role in defining and enhancing different aesthetics. If you’re really looking to define your style, we’ve made this guide to hone in on popular aesthetics and pinpoint the items you absolutely need in your wardrobe to rock them.
The Coquette aesthetic is all about playfulness, whimsy, and a celebration of femininity. The one motif in clothing items and accessories that makes or breaks this charming style? Bows! While they’re easy to find anywhere, we recommend this satin bow from Anthropolgie as a statement piece for your hair. Pair it with a lace corset dress from House of CB to add a sense of romance that coquette style is known for. Also invest in some ballet flats like these from Steve Madden (bonus points if you can find some that have—you guessed it—bows). The Maude Lace tights from Urban Outfitters will also make for a gorgeous staple in your wardrobe.
Recommended stores: Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Zara
Old Money style exudes sophistication and timeless elegance. Think clean looks that are fashion-forward without being gaudy. A classic button-down paired with tailored paints will create a polished and refined staple outfit. We like this non-iron button-down from Brooks Brothers and these Italian wool pants from Banana Republic. Be sure to drape a Polo Ralph Lauren cable-knit sweater over any outfit and layer on some, but not too much, dainty jewelry, such as a dupe of the iconic Cartier love bracelet from FromBarbs Collection. More staples to consider are this tweed cardigan from Commense and riding boots from Frye for classic looks that go from day to night.
Recommended stores: Banana Republic, L.L. Bean, Everlane
Grunge fashion is all about embracing a rebellious and laid-back attitude. Start with some Levi’s jeans (ripped or distressed are ideal!) and add an effortlessly cool vintage T-shirt—check out Wyco Vintage for a great selection. Dr. Martens 1460 Combat Boots are also a must, along with a Carhartt beanie to top outfits off. Your grunge vibe will be complete with a choker from Dolls Kill and a chain belt (Amazon has a nice selection) for that extra edginess.
Recommended stores: Dolls Kill, PacSun, Steve Madden, Forever 21
The Coastal Cowgirl aesthetic combines rugged Western elements with feminine vibes. You’ll need some main staple items such as Western-style boots from Ariat and a cowgirl hat like this one from 8 Other Reasons. If you frequently go on warm-weather adventures, opt for Levi's 501 High-Rise Shorts paired, or even a flowy midi dress from Spell. Complete any of your looks with a crochet tank, layered necklaces, and a fringed cardigan.
Recommended stores: Free People, American Eagle, Urban Outfitters
Eclectic Grandpa style is all about mixing of patterns, textures, and vintage-inspired pieces in mainly brown and tan colors. Basically, what your (obviously stylish) grandpa or older father figure would rock on a day-to-day basis. You’ll need a knit sweater like this one from Trina Turk. Pair your outfits with some sturdy loafers, such as Madewell Bradley Lugsole Loafer—and don’t forget the calf-length socks! For bottoms, corduroy bottoms are the go-to; We like these Lafayette Corduroy Pants from Lucy Paris. You’ll also need an oversized jacket, a baseball cap, and a vintage watch to complete your quirky but cute ensembles. Our best tip for this style? Don’t be afraid to shop in the men’s section!
Recommended stores: J. Crew, H&M, ASOS, Scotch & Soda
The Soft Girl aesthetic is in the same realm as as styles such as Clean Girl or Vanilla Girl, which are mainly characterized by a soft and feminine style. We like this cropped cardigan from Mango and a delicate camisole from Artizia for your staple looks. Your foray into soft girl style won’t be complete without a denim skirt like Levi's High Waisted Denim Skirt or even a pair of UGG Classic Ulta Mini boots. Be sure to add cozy and sweet accessories like leg warmers and heart-shaped jewelry.
Recommended stores: Brandy Melville, Aritzia, Topshop
Cottagecore style is all about a romanticized rural life—imagining you live in a vine-covered cottage along the river in the middle of the woods. The right items and accessories will evoke a sense of nostalgia and simplicity. For this style, we recommend Doen dresses for daily wear and a Free People bandana as a hair accessory. Corsets are also a great everyday staple to live out your cottagecore dreams. Go-to footwear for vintage vibes is Mary Janes—we love this stylish pair from Madewell. Long lace skirts and layered necklaces are also a must to pull off this aesthetic.
Recommended stores: Anthropologie, Reformation, ModCloth, ASOS
The Y2K aesthetic is a celebration of the early 2000s, where we saw bold fashion choices and futuristic elements. You’ll need Urban Outfitters BDG Low Rise Baggy Jeans and a slim Abercrombie & Fitch Long Sleeve Mesh Top for an effortless everyday outfit. Y2k is all about statement accessories like a studded belt, a Breton cap, chunky jewelry, and rimless sunglasses.
Recommended stores: ASOS, Zara, Zumiez
Dark Academia style combines vintage-inspired elements with dark, mysterious hues. We love a good blazer, such as a Ralph Lauren Wool Blend Blazer or even a vintage tweed jacket from Urban Outfitters for a polished and scholarly look. Pleated skirts like this one from Zara and loafers also make this style’s staples (again, we love love love Madewell loafers!). Incorporate accessories like a brooch that’s thrifted or even a family heirloom alongside a leather messenger bag that looks like it’s carrying large, complicated texts inside.
Recommended stores: Zara, Coach, ASOS
Vintage style draws inspiration from iconic fashion eras of the past and is all about nostalgia and that “old-timey” look. While one era might speak to you more than others, we have a few recommendations for a classic vintage style. We love these tweed suits, pants, and skirts from Sumissara for timeless staples you can mix and match. Long tartan skirts are classic and elegant, especially when paired with a silk blouse. For accessories, we recommend a wide-brimmed wool hat and some vintage-inspired accessories like brooches or watches (these are best when thrifted!)
Recommended stores: ModCloth, Retro Stage, Local thrift stores
Minimalist style is all about simplicity and clean lines. You probably have many of the basics you’ll need already, such as a white tee (we like the Everlane The Organic Cotton Box-Cut Tee) or a cashmere sweater (invest in one from Naked Cashmere—they won’t disappoint!). Opt for a neutral neutral palette for any of your fashion finds. You could also add a classic trench coat and white Converse for a casual look when you’re out and about. A few more notable items for a Minimalist look are straight-leg jeans (everyone say “Thank you, Abercrombie”) and a sleek hair pin.
Recommended stores: J. Crew, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Mango
Boho style tells everyone you’re free-spirited and aren’t afraid of eclectic elements in your style. You’ll need flowy wrap skirts, which will pair nicely with a Reformation knit top and a fringe poncho from Free People. Free People also has a great selection of purses in boho style, such as this vintage macrame bag. Incorporate unique accessories like body jewelry and beaded flats for an ultra laid-back ensemble.
Recommended stores: Urban Outfitters, Free People, Spell, Anthropologie
No matter which aesthetic resonates with you, the key is to embrace your unique style and express yourself. What’s great about aesthetics is that you don’t have to strictly adhere to a single style. Maybe one day you’re drawn to a coquette vibe, and the next you layer dark hues and chunky jewelry for a grunge look—that’s totally okay! Feel free to mash up aesthetics as you please and create your own style. What truly matters is that you love your clothes and feel great in them. Out of all of our fashion recommendations for items and accessories, the most important is your own confidence.