Trend Prediction: Return of the Indie Sleaze
Unless you have spent the last couple of months living off the grid, you must know all about the “Clean Girl Aesthetic”. Whether it has shown up on your TikTok For You page or your Instagram Explore Page, the “Clean Girl Aesthetic” has dominated the trend scene for months. For the most part, this aesthetic consists of slicked-back buns, light and bright makeup, simple gold jewelry, and the healthiest of living habits, such as 6 AM wake-ups and daily green juices. As someone who attempted to fit into this aesthetic, I failed miserably. I found that trying to keep up the image of a perfect life was exhausting and all-around unsustainable. As a result, many fashion magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, and I, have predicted the return of the Indie Sleaze aesthetic.
So, What is Indie Sleaze?
Indie Sleaze is an aesthetic that originated in the early 2010s. Some may view Indie Sleaze as merely a type of hipster aesthetic, but it’s about so much more than just that. At its core, Indie Sleaze is about letting go and experiencing freedom. It’s about dressing in a way that seems random but still makes sense. It’s about wearing what you have and being immaterial. Because the aesthetic comes as a response to the 2008 Recession, there is an emphasis on truly living life for as little money as possible. Think smudged eyeliner and unbrushed hair. In contrast to the Clean Girl Aesthetic, the Indie Sleaze Aesthetic is about showing that your life is NOT perfect, but it is fun. In the words of Kourtney Kardashian, “my vibe right now is just living life.”
For inspiration on the Indie Sleaze aesthetic, look to the high point of Vanessa Hudgens’ career. Or look to Kate Moss. Or even look to the nonchalant and often messy style of Serena Van Der Woodsen (though she certainly did not live the sleaze life inexpensively).
Signs Pointing To the Sleaze
I think in general trends tend to swing from one extreme to the other. The Clean Girl Aesthetic has placed too much emphasis on the need to be perfect. As an act of rebellion, the next style will be messy on purpose. Additionally, the Y2K trend of the early 2000s is an obvious lead-up to the trends of the 2010s. The effect of nostalgia is very strong. Once people began to emulate their childhoods, it makes sense that they were reminded of their teenage years.
There have been signs in other aspects of culture. For example, there has been a rise in the popularity of pop-punk music with artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Nessa Barrett, and Machine Gun Kelly. In all aspects of their craft, from lyrics to outfits to music videos, there are clear homages to the top bands of the Indie Sleaze era, including Paramore, the Arctic Monkeys, and Blink-182 (shoutout to Trav and Kourtney).
In the same way that the original era was a response to a recession, the resurgence of the Indie Sleaze is a response to the multiplicity of once-in-a-lifetime events that have occurred in the past two years. These events include the ever-growing climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest and war in many countries, an attempted overthrow of the US democratic process, and more. GenZ has so much to worry about and fix that having perfect hair, makeup, and clothes has lost importance. The rise of thrifting, partially in a protest against capitalism and consumerism, and partially to lessen the environmental impact of fashion, has also led to the resurgence of many forgotten aesthetics.
How to Emulate This Aesthetic With Your Makeup
At the heart of it, the Indie Sleaze aesthetic is about being yourself and wearing your makeup however you would like. However, here are some tips for an imperfectly, sleazy makeup look.
Forgo All Foundation: Stick to bronzer, light concealer, and light contour, with my favs linked. Your imperfections are part of who you are. Let’s face it, your outfit is going to be getting all of the attention anyways.
Invest in Smudge-able Eyeliner: This is the tip that I consider to be the most important to perfecting Indie Sleaze makeup. My new favorites are from Charlotte Tilbury. The Colour Chameleon doubles as eyeliner and eyeshadow and glides on so smoothly. The Magic Liner Duo provides a dark matte liner and a shimmery metallic liner. Both can be layered and smudged in every which way.
In general, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to look cool or pretty. The Indie Sleaze aesthetic is about accepting who you are and all of your crazy! Reject the urge to do everything to fit in and just be free.
Featured image courtesy of GETTY IMAGES/INSTYLE.COM