Normcore is the new black

By Jake Reed

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Clean Wal-Mart)
(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Clean Wal-Mart)

Guys, it’s time to raid the thrift store again – or maybe just Dad’s closet. If you’re tired of skinny jeans, flannels, desert boots and everything else that once made you stand out (but now just makes you fit in with every other semi-hipster on campus) you’re in luck. A recent New York Times article has delineated “normcore” as the next potential trend to expand beyond New York City artists to the entire country – and beyond. Slate’s French publication even reported on the trend last month.

So what is normcore? New York Magazine calls it “stylized blandness,” and New York trend forecasting group K-hole explains it as an embrace of conformity rather than the typical objective of being different or unique. It’s fashion for those who reject the scruples of fashion or, perhaps, don’t understand it at all.

The jury is still out on whether normcore is a legitimate fashion or just one big joke – GQ insists that its recent normcore fashion guide is “all in jest” – but it’s gained the attention of too many fashion publications to deny that the Jerry Seinfeld look isn’t at least a little bit trendy.

So where to start? Let’s begin with the simple white T-shirt. This should be the focal point of your outfit, the blank canvas on which you will paint nothing. Gap sells white T-shirts in both crewneck and V-neck styles for $10, or for some extra flair, you can pick up a pocket T-shirt for $13.56. If you’ve got a smaller budget or want to add some extra frump, a six-pack of Hanes premium crewneck T-shirts is just $24.99 at Target.

Next come the pants. Give yourself a much-needed break from skin-tight skinnies and stop by Old Navy for regular-fit or loose-fit jeans from $29.50 to $39.94. If you want to take the Dad look one step further, check out Wrangler’s Regular Fit jeans at Walmart for $16.77 – or go the extra mile and pick up Dickies Stonewashed Bib Overalls for $32. Sweatpants are an option as well, with Fruit of the Loom’s Fleece Elastic Bottom Pant just $10 for a two-pack at Walmart.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time for accessories. First, turn in your five-panel cap or snapback in for a more traditionally styled baseball cap. touts over 215 styles of Red Sox caps, but you’ll want to pick out the most basic: we chose the MLB Hot Corner 47 Franchise Cap for $29.99. For socks, lose the business casual trend and turn heads with some basic white socks that go beyond the ankle. You can score a three-pack of Nike’s Dri-Fit Half Cushion Crew for $16 at For the shoes, the style gurus from the New York Times and GQ agree that New Balance is the way to go.

Lastly, layer up with some mock turtlenecks, L.L. Bean fleeces and solid-color, loose-fitting button downs. This is where the thrift store comes in to play: you can’t go wrong with $20 and the limitless men’s racks at the Salvation Army in Hadley.

Remember: pick out anything that Jerry Seinfeld would wear.

Like any trend, normcore won’t become a true trend until you see it on streets from L.A. to Boston, but it’s quickly picking up momentum. Stock up on some frumpy duds and get ahead of the normcore pack now.

Jake Reed can be reached at [email protected]