Popular TikTok aesthetics, explained: Which one is right for you?

If you've been on TikTok, Tumblr, or Instagram for a while, you've probably heard of aesthetics. An aesthetic is basically a subculture centered around a specific set of tastes in things like fashion, music, and literature. Subcultures have been around longer than the Internet, but aesthetics old and new are gaining massive followings through social media. TikTok in particular has helped niche aesthetics become popular and clearly defined. Scroll on to learn more about some of the most popular aesthetics on the platform. You might find one that's perfect for you.



A post shared by kyla (@vscovibezzzzzz) on

The VSCO girl can feel more like a meme than an aesthetic since the stereotypes surrounding it became a joke on TikTok. But back in Summer 2019, this aesthetic was gaining fans. The name comes from the photo-editing app VSCO, though the trend became popular on TikTok. VSCO Girl fashion is all about scrunchies, Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, and hydro flasks. If you love the environment, take all your pictures on a polaroid camera, and have a scrunchie collection to rival Emma Chamberlain, you might just be a VSCO girl.

Light/Dark Academia


A post shared by aesthetics 🌻🧸 (@eloquent_ce) on

The Academia aesthetics are inspired by books that romanticize attending East-coast universities, reading classic texts and poetry, and dressing in cozy Fall clothes year-round. If you've ever wanted to move for Vermont or love English class more than all your pals, Academia might be the aesthetic for you. Light Academia encompasses neutral fashion and pretty poetry, while Dark Academia is associated with darker clothes and tragic themes like those you'd find in Shakespeare.



Banana Bread & Farm Friends 💛 ##aesthetic ##cottagecore ##programer ##stayathome ##witch ##stayhomestaystrong ##foryoupage

♬ Coffee - beabadoobee

Ever dream of making your own butter while living in a cottage in a meadow? Cottagecore is the aesthetic of your dreams. Gaining extra attention amidst the turmoil of the pandemic, cottagecore is an aesthetic that values nature and flowy dresses. Expect a lot of frogs, picnics, and flowers to pop up in your feed if you decide cottagecore is for you. 

Skater/Roller Girl


##롤러스케이트 ##롤러 ##베니스비치 ##로스앤젤레스 ##LA ##운동하는여자 ##rollergirl ##hyojooslife ##목시롤러스케이트 ##moxirollerskates

♬ Sucker - Jonas Brothers

Inspired by the roller-skating boom in the seventies and eighties, the roller girl aesthetic involves little more than a pair of skates and confidence. If you already know how to skate, you can join the trend with ease. If you're a newbie, no prob—there's plenty of time to practice at home. Fashion associated with the aesthetic includes knee-high socks (especially gym socks), high-waisted shorts, vintage graphic tees, and bright-colored everything.

Soft Girl

spending time with my baby Bea 🐇 ##farmcore ##cottagecore ##fyp ##bunny ##petstiktok ##softgirlaesthetic

♬ original sound - emileeflood

Stemming from the 'soft boy' craze that had the Internet obsessing over characters who seemed alternative and in touch with their emotions, the soft girl aesthetic embraces light, feminine style without going over the top. Pastel colors and tennis skirts define this aesthetic. It's similar to cottagecore, though there's no need to live on a farm and the style is more modern. Bonus: it's an excuse to get a pet rabbit.

'70s, '80s, '90s, And '00s Style


attempting to recreate 90s looks my mom wore(everything is hers! except my docs she said she threw hers away 😔) ##fyp ##korean ##ootd ##90s ##aesthetic

♬ I Love You, Part 1 - ɡαʆαXψ_ϯմηες

The final popular aesthetics we're breaking down are the decade aesthetics. To adopt one of these aesthetics, all you need to do is fine-tune your style, shows, and movies to a specific decade. Maybe you're a Stranger Things babe who loves the '80s, or you're totally bugging like Cher from '90s hit Clueless. It's a chance to learn more about pop culture *and* raid your mom's closet. Everyone wins!

Aesthetics are a great way to try out different styles and interests. But some aesthetics are based around a lifestyle not everyone can afford. Others aren't inclusive beyond a super-specific body type. Don't feel pressure to change yourself to fit an aesthetic *or* feel confined to whatever's trending. The best style is the one you feel the best wearing, whether or not it fits in with the latest trend.


by Bailey Bujnosek | 7/9/2020