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What is normcore? Is it a cheeky combination of two words that are seemingly at polar ends of the lexical spectrum? Or perhaps it’s a hardcore work out regime for guys named Norm? If those definitions don’t seem quite right to you, give yourself points for being attuned to the cultural pulse of a hip nation coining terms that designate how being purposefully unhip can still make you hip at the same time. In other words, normcore is something of a paradox.

Defining normcore fashion for folks who have no idea what it is can present a bit of challenge. At its heart, it’s a style approach that asks its adherents (sounds a little cult-like) to put in a fair amount of effort in order not to stand out. Got it? Sure you do…

Normcore is a fashion trend of a sort. Maybe that will clear things up for you? And like all fashion trends, there are dos-and-don’ts about how to dress normcore. The ethos here is choosing clothes that don’t really distinguish the wearer from other folks — while still paying some attention to style and brand labels, while not opting for items that are flamboyant, or apart from the norm.

Are you still with me? In many ways, this unisex, blandish fashion trend is the antithesis to the outlandish (and unwearable in most social circumstances) outfits you might see super models parading down a catwalk, or the skinny jeans and horn-rimmed glasses of the culturally ironic — and often bashed in the media — hipster movement.

The amalgamation of “norm” and “core” came about when the trend forecasting agency K-hole put these two words together in order to define a way of life and dress that “finds liberation in being nothing special, and realizes that adaptability leads to belonging.”

While some pundits and social commentators have mixed up the values of normcore with other fashion trends and ways of looking at how we garb ourselves, the “core” of normcore still seems to be chugging along, thanks to its advocates.

K-hole’s Emily Segal had to straighten people and various news outlets out about what normcore is and isn’t shortly after the concept was given life, and then somewhat muddled in the press after its inception. It’s not always easy being a trend forecaster ahead of your peers — especially when you peers just don’t get what you’re talking about.

So, by now, hopefully, you’ve wrapped you head around (at least to some degree) what normcore is. And how does one dress normcore? You had to ask, didn’t you?

Fluidity, simplicity, basic fashion, hoodies, unisex, nice but not ostentatious, taking care of your appearance while not looking like you spend hours thinking about how to take care of you appearance, not trying to be different and looking like other human beings although a little better put-together than other people in your deliberate sameness…

Whew, now that we’ve cleared that up, you’re all set to enter the world of normcore. Of course, being “normal” in a normcore way isn’t as easy as it seems — as should have been made abundantly clear by now in just how difficult this concept is to nail down.

Plainness in dress made somewhat complex by the desire for ever-increasing fashion fluidity and sameness in your style selections make normcore unique in many ways —while the tenets of this trend still cling to clothing that doesn’t stand out, and isn’t unique in any special way… All right, that’s enough fashion paradoxes for today. Now go and lie down, give your head a rest, and think about just how normcore you really want to be.