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07th Jan 2022

TikTok says ‘twee’ fashion is coming back, but what is it?

Tara Trevaskis Hoskin

According to TikTok, ‘twee’ will be making its comeback in 2022.

But what is this trend we last saw on Tumblr circa 2014? 

Social media and particularly TikTok has seen the rise of micro trends. A micro-trend is a trend or a style that gains popularity extremely quickly, and then loses that traction equally as fast. 

This not only comes with often untold environmental impacts, but it also means that the rules of fashion trends taking 20 years to die and come back to life no longer exist. 

The late 2000s and 2010s saw the rise of fashion blogging and the birth of the influencer… and on a corner of Tumblr, twee fashion also found its place. 

@aimeeisaimee The “Twee” aesthetic coming back so quickly proves 1, that this app is tumblr 2.0 and 2, that microtrends are so fast we aren’t even following the 20 yr trend cycle anymore #fyp #fits #pinterestoutfits #tweeaesthetic ♬ Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? – She & Him

But what was it?

‘Twee’ is a British term from the 1900s which was a mispronunciation of ‘sweet.’ Indie subculture embraced the style from the 90s with lots of music, art and film also created around its influences. 

I-D magazine has said twee was “a simpler time. An era when to be cool was to be anti-cool, and being a hipster meant telling everyone you were not a hipster.”

@wannabehayleywilliams We still have time, audio still has less than 550 videos under it. #tumblr #2014tumblr #aesthetic #twee ♬ Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? – She & Him

Think big peter pan collars, 60s style mini dresses, the skater skirt of 2015, denim jackets, and of course big black glasses. 

Films such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 500 days of Summer, and lots of Wes Anderson flicks helped define the style during its Tumblr era, and soon Zooey Deschanel became a cover girl for the look. 

So what will a revival, albeit possibly a small one, on TikTok look like? Well, the chunky cardigan is already back in style and is something we will most likely see paired with this look. 

Big collars are still on the cards but if TikTok is anything to go by, perhaps they’ll be even more oversized this time round. Berets are coming too (Emily in Paris, we’re looking at you), and lots of layering is expected.

Like all things on TikTok, there has been some major discourse over the trend and some people are hoping that it will make a more nuanced come back this time.

However, some people have some major reservations about twee making a comeback, given much of the culture that surrounded it.

During the hay day of twee Tumblr blogs, a lot of the look pertained to being both white and slim. The trend actively excluded larger bodies and was far from inclusive.

Most of the cover girls for the trend were white, from the indie films to the catwalks, which left little room for diversity and inclusivity.

At the the height of twee Tumblr, ‘pro-ana’ (pro-anorexia) blogs were also rampant, unfortunately romanticising eating disorders and promoting restrictive eating.

A somewhat toxic culture grew around the style, meaning that you needed to be a certain type of person in order to pull it off.

Hopefully this time round (if it does come back) the twee look is more inclusive and less problematic, and if not the micro-trend may simply swallow it up.