Princess films raised us zillennials, starting with the beloved animated classics of our youth—Disney’s reigning renaissance period of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast springs to mind. Taking over our tweens and teens were timeless live-actions: The Princess Diaries and the iconic A Cinderella Story. With all their glitz and glamour, princess stories allowed our wildest dreams to come true. A lot of us dreamed as little younglings that we’d become princesses once older—some have made that a reality under the trend of princesscore. We got two prominent content creators to explain the aesthetic.
A myriad of fashion aesthetics and subcultures can be found in every corner of the internet. With a new one seemingly cropping up everyday, it’s hard to keep up. But what exactly is so different about princesscore and the creators at its forefront? Let’s have a look.
For starters, every trend has a predecessor, much like the birth of gothcore from metalcore or its soon-to-trend 2022 siblings dystopiacore and dopamine dressing, all trends have a lineage. The same can be said for princesscore, whose regal parent is none other than, you guessed it, royalcore.
SCREENSHOT has previously covered the relationship between the two trends, highlighting how princesscore is akin to a female variant of royalcore paired with all elite mannerisms a royal-to-be should have. So aren’t princesscore enthusiasts just sporting the same frilly frocks than royalcore fans? Well, yes and no…
While princesscore is made of an important fashion aesthetic, it’s also more than that. It represents a whole subculture for many, one that embraces the same opulent whimsy as royalcore does. Aesthetics Wiki, for instance, defines the trend as an “aesthetic based on the life, fashion, and mannerisms of a princess.”
Light and ‘airy-fairy’ is the look to go for when it comes to princesscore fashion. If you scroll through #princesscore on TikTok, which currently has 258 million views, you will uncover a glorious world of lavish extravagance. Getting out of your plebeian bag and into your noble one is easy, once you know what to wear. Fabrics that are considered high quality like mulberry, cashmere and shahtoosh are pinned and draped on the wearer. Not to mention, kerchiefs, floor-length gowns, shawls, high-boned collars or sweetheart necklines all emphasise the gentle feminine type of fragility this aesthetic thrives on displaying. Don’t forget to stock up on the linen upholstery, corsets, lace and embroidered patterns because they are frequently featured too.
For those with a taste for accessories, look no further than tiaras, gloves, parasols and even flushing fans. Gorgeous dainty statement jewellery in the forms of necklaces, anklets, bracelets, diadems and earrings might also do the trick. Last but not least, rub in some rich oils and perfume on your wrists and neck to truly capture the resplendent royal vibe.
However, much like its other royal counterparts princecore and queencore for example, the mood can only be fully set through the lens of being a ruler of some kind. Every princess needs her castle, right? The usual landscape you’ll find in representations of princesscore will include sweeping views, grand houses with large winding staircases as well as historical grounds and fields. Ballrooms and banquets are a favourite to depict the proper manner and etiquette-necessary spaces for princesscore followers to behave. If you don’t have access to a throne though, goblets, decorative mirrors or even a piece of velvet draped over your bedspread will work just as well.
And if you’re looking for a brand to purchase the apparel of princesscore (if you aren’t much of a seamstress like me) you might want to check out Selkie, known for its famous fairy-like outerwear, as well as Maison Amory, Lillou and Lunellery, to name a few.
Dressing up is only the first step to embracing the aesthetic. Princesscore’s very essence is to capture the experience of a princess. Its own ‘je ne sais quoi’, if you will, involves the particular and unexplainable dichotomies of being a princess. Aligned with the majestic robes and sumptuous silk comes the ‘Part of Your World’ in The Little Mermaid or “questions about her status and unknown future,” as its Aesthetics Wiki puts it. Just because princesses are usually not calling the shots when it comes to their country, it doesn’t mean that the queens aren’t “learning about it so that one day they can,’” the page continues.
It’s not all carriage rides through palace grounds, there are a number of activities and interests that line up with beginning your journey as a princess. Though daydreaming—my favourite hobby—is listed as one of them, there’s a lot of work in adopting the real princess treatment. Writing letters, playing chess and exploring quaint places all contribute to the monarch mindset. As for its values and philosophy, princesscore is rooted in refined feminine and moral traits with an emphasis on the qualities of regal rulership.
An appreciation of art and literature, reading poetry and high tea all further excel the lavish status that has catapulted the trend into the territory of mass subculture. There’s even a subsection of the Wiki page dedicated to listing prominent historical figures for you to sink your soon-to-be sovereign teeth into. Among the names are Elizabeth Olowu, Matilda Chong and Raziya al-Din, all of whom were strong and influential princesses throughout history.
To clue yourself up even more on the dos and don’ts of princesscore, you’ll be able to find a handy list of media and resources to follow for more inspiration and guidance. In my short survey of the page, I learned that there’s a National Princess week and a way to celebrate it, though I think I’ll use it as an excuse to scrounge up some treats for myself.
Online, creators who make princesscore content include YouTuber Jessica Vill, with a current audience of 600,000 on the platform, who has a series on etiquette and even a Royal Life playlist of videos to watch. As well as Alex, whose video of a dream mansion tour has amassed 40 million views so far.
Now that you know what princesscore is, it’s important you familiarise yourself with the different ways in which this aesthetic manifests itself online—because all that glitters is not gold when you’re not white.
Though most of us wished we wore the glorious yellow gown featured in Anastasia, not all of us could truly picture ourselves in it (even as a fairytale). For black girls, the range of representation during this era was quite slim and nothing is a bigger roadblock to immersing yourself in fabulous fantasy than not seeing yourself represented in the stories you look up to. We weren’t princesses but more the princesses’ helpers, or, even worse, one-liner side characters.
When it comes to the small canon of black princesses, my memories start (and end) with Brandy featured in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (released in 1997) or more recently Tiana in The Princess and The Frog, (which came out in 2009). Not an array of princesses to look up to at all, compared to Disney’s large movie collection. In recent years, the entertainment and media conglomerate has tackled criticism by reversing some of its princess tropes and bolstering their girlboss lineup with some kick-ass characters of colour (with crowns, of course). Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid featuring singer Halle Bailey all play a part in giving the next generation well-rounded princesses to aspire to be like.
In the meantime however, black creators were quick to make it their mission to spearhead the change they want to see in the future. On TikTok, you’ll find many black creators using the hashtag #blackprincesscore, which currently has over 5.6 million views. Making their own dreams come true, these creators have taken hold of the hashtag. Be it black creators showing off their acting skills in Reign line recitals or exhibiting traditional royal wear for royalty outside of the west, this community has created a fantasy of their own where black girls see themselves represented as princesses too. About time.
SCREENSHOT spoke to Porsha Hall (@porsharenaehall on TikTok), a prominent black creator with almost 62,000 followers on the app, and April Tillman (@apriljxo on TikTok), another creator with over 34,000 followers on Instagram, and asked them to talk a little bit about their world as black princesses. Hall started her online journey with princesscore back in December 2020. With the goal to “inspire women to embrace their femininity through the art of fashion,” Hall has documented her style choices and growth in the community for viewers to enjoy. Meanwhile, Tillman started content creating on TikTok as a plus-size black creator serving pure princess realness and hosting open discussions about being black in the princesscore community.
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We know what princesscore is about as outsiders, but what does it entail for those who are active members of the community? “For me, you can be a princess in any aesthetic as long as your heart is in the right place. Character is number one,” Hall graciously elucidated. “In order to be a princess, you have to believe you already are one,” she continued.
Tillman shares the same opinion it seems. “For me, princesscore is more than just a hobby or aesthetic, it’s a lifestyle! I enjoy incorporating it into my daily routine, self-care, my interactions with others, and even into my business,” she explained.
This triggered me to ask how she got involved with such a specific and fairly niche subculture. “Princesscore is a lifestyle I have always had. My mother raised me as if I was already royalty, which is why it was easy for me to finally accept this aesthetic with confidence,” Hall shared.
I wanted to learn more about how black creators navigate princesscore spaces online and get a clear understanding of how open the community is to diversity. “It’s an honour because, as many of my supporters expressed to me, I am becoming a pioneer for this aesthetic, especially in the black community,” Hall said.
For Tillman, princesscore at its core is about having fun. “I’ve met so many kind people, which is awesome because this is an aesthetic that typically black creators aren’t included in.”
“Now that I’m an adult and can set my own pace for myself in life, I get to fully explore and bring to light my childhood dreams,” she enthusiastically continued.
Having grown up in a predominantly white community, Hall understandably takes great pride in being the representation others might also need—though she did admit that there are cons to the community as with any other, “Most people are not comfortable with black creators being interested in this space because of the stereotypes that have been put on us due to society standards,” she shared.
Likewise, Tillman divulged a similar story, “As a child, I always enjoyed princess-inspired aesthetics, but liking pink or feminine things wasn’t considered cool.” However, with the support of the community, she described feeling “so connected” to herself and others who related to her upbringing.
Lack of representation and visibility is unfortunately a very common issue for black creators. “We are not to blame for our lack of visibility but the support we have for one another makes the journey a little less difficult. It can be very discouraging to see a lack of growth,” Hall told me. Confirming that it’s not about the numbers for her, the content creator explained that she is more focused on the people she wants to inspire. Tagging her videos under #blackprincesscore as well as the general TikTok hashtags is Hall’s way to reach other black creators in the community. “This is to help us feel comfortable being welcomed in this space.”
“Due to black history still being hidden, most people have not learned about black Europeans or were taught that we simply didn’t exist during that period, which is completely false. I have received hate comments saying to ‘dress African’ instead of culturally appropriating European fashion,” Hall went on to say, confessing, “I too had to educate myself on this matter to be able to continue feeling safe enough to express being in princesscore.” Tillman commented that “many people don’t even realise creators like myself exist.” However, every princess must remember that while you can’t change someone’s mind by arguing, “we can tell our stories which often will cause someone to think differently.”
I wanted to ask Tillman if her experiences differed due to being plus-size in the community and she had this to say, “I have found that some people are a bit more apprehensive about my content because they may feel that they can’t relate because they are thin.”
“I have received criticism because plus-size people are told to be the most presentable version of themselves to be accepted, and my content does centre around being presentable,” she further elaborated.
Alongside the already marginalising experience that many black creators face in these niche spaces, Tillman noted that “there’s a movement to stop expecting plus-size people to participate in respectability politics and fight against it.”
“There’s something magical about a well-fitting dress with a big skirted bottom perfectly suited for twirling,” Tillman told me during our conversation. I couldn’t agree more, honestly.
“Growing up, I have always been interested in dressing feminine. The figures I am inspired by were Disney princesses such as Princess Tiana, Princess Aurora, Brandy as Cinderella and other fairytale characters. My fashion sense is also influenced by my mood. I am an overall loving person so pastels are my main palette because it brings me comfort and peace,” Hall shared.
Princesscore is a lot more than just an alternative fashion trend for Hall though. “It can go far the more we continue to feel space in this aesthetic. In my opinion, I do believe we are heading back into a more patient and slower living lifestyle.” I asked Hall to go further into details on this “slower living style” and to precise whether she was referring to the pandemic-induced lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. It should be noted that COVID-19 helped blow up princesscore with the success of Netflix’s Bridgerton.
“The pandemic helped us realise it was okay to be more patient in life. When Bridgerton was released, everyone wanted to live out their royal fantasy, which helped jumpstart the rise of princesscore,” Hall confirmed.
Tillman has also previously talked about her natural hair online and I wanted to know more about it. Nerve-wracking as it may be, Tillman admitted that she believes “more and more creators of princesscore are showcasing their natural hair.”
“Typically, the media images around princess-inspired hair include taking it from a natural state to a state of straightness, much like in The Princess Diaries. So unfortunately, if you want to get a fair amount of views, sometimes you have to bend to the standard and dawn straight or long hair,” she further noted.
Now we all love Disney princesses and the royal rom-coms of the 00s but a large critique waged against them is their emphasis on female docility and fragility. Some have the same outlook on royalcore subsidiaries for reinforcing ancient bygone values, so I wanted to know what Hall’s thoughts were on this.
“In my opinion, princesscore celebrates the natural beauty of women and allows us to feel confident in embracing our feminine energy naturally,” she told me. “While being in this lifestyle, it has helped remind me to see that I don’t always need to enhance my features to feel beautiful,” she added.
“A princess is someone who can be vulnerable, authentic, and real not just for herself but to the people she inspires. That is the type of person who will leave behind an impactful memory,” Hall concluded.
Ultimately, for Tillman, princesscore is “what you make of it.” She shared, “Being able to choose for yourself your own destiny, especially in your wardrobe, is empowering for women!”
So, how do newbies get involved with princesscore? It’s a lot to take in but starting with the basics is Hall’s main advice, “Be yourself and follow someone you are inspired by to help you curate your own lifestyle within this space.” Some key terms the creator listed to look out for are princesscore, royalcore, shabby chic, period piece fashion, vintage style, Disney princess, fairytale and princess style. “Make Pinterest your best friend,” she added. On her end, Tillman detailed “Princess off Duty” as another hot ticket term to search for “clothes we wear as princesses when we’re not attending to important royal duties,” like a “tulle top in the colour of your choosing and flowy skirt.”
Hall already has videos featuring other black princesscore creators so you can find the perfect icon to guide you on your royal journey. She also has her own vintage boutique shop, With Love Porsha, founded in March 2021, serving the needs of princesses everywhere for all their apparel needs. Better get started then. A long way away from sketching fancy dresses for hours, and sadly finding very few in her size, in 2021, Tillman launched Magasin Bon Bon, her own clothing brand that sells “plus-size princess-inspired clothing” and currently has a Summer collection inspired by fairies and the The birth of Venus on the way. Keep an eye out for its release!
It’s a pleasant April morning when you decide to alight from your four-poster bed with gold accents and plush velvet upholstery. You trace your fingers along the elaborate carvings on the floral dressing table before lacing up your silk corset and slipping into a floor-length evening gown. You then prime a picnic basket with puff pastries and crystal crockery to serve a fresh brew of chamomile tea—later floating your way into the rose garden to inscribe letters to your betrothed. Your rouge cheeks then flush proudly as you beat yourself at a game of chess before retiring to your cosy chamber at nightfall.
Welcome to the exuberant world of royalcore, an aesthetic all about embracing opulence and living your own whimsical fairytale in 2022.
Royalcore, also known as royaltycore, refers to a group of aesthetics romanticising the visuals and key values of West European royalty—ranging from the Arthurian times (late 5th and early 6th centuries) to the Belle Époque period (late 19th century).
Visually, the aesthetic hinges on royal structures like the Warwick, Windsor and Edinburgh castles, along with architectural details including archways, marble columns, long spiral staircases, turrets and crenelations. Knight training arenas, formal gardens and hunting reserves are also in the mix. Niche interior decorations additionally involve tapestries, ornate thrones, frescos, floral wallpapers, Persian-style rugs, crystal chandeliers, intricate candelabras, marble statues, Venetian mirrors, fountain pens, quills and hardcover books.
As of today, royalcore exclusively focuses on the visual characteristics of historical European monarchies. However, enthusiasts are increasingly expanding this context to include other culturally significant facets of royalty. It should also be noted that these references can be incorporated from different forms of media—all with a modern twist.
In terms of the key values backing royalcore, the aesthetic centres around refinement, morality, duty and status with an ever-present elegance. Intelligence and skill sets are also base qualities that enrich the aesthetic’s evolution into a full-blown subculture. This air of confidence and power further bleeds into royalcore fashion as the pieces seek to symbolise romantic power at its core.
At the time, sumptuary laws were introduced to regulate luxury and refashion the Renaissance. They essentially differentiated the types of fabrics, colours and clothes between social classes. As a result, layers of exuberant materials like silk, velvet, taffeta, leather and fur were reserved for royalty—along with vibrant colours like purple and gold. Although such luxe materials and colours prior to the Industrial Revolution are considered suitable for royalcore, the aesthetic is not limited to these preferences of the past. Instead, the modern aesthetic has the added aspect of dressing like a fairytale with a Disney-esque level of playfulness to channel your inner prince and princess. In fact, the concept of royalty here is more about the attitude rather than the titles.
While knee-length tweed skirts, jersey blouses, capes and tuxedos are on the list for royalcore’s winter wardrobe, lightweight trousers, two-piece blouse and skirt as well as cocktail dresses are recommended for spring. Feather trims, lace overlays, embroidery accents and paisley prints are additional details one should keep an eye out for in the aesthetic. Royalcore’s opulent counterparts also include materials like cowhide, mink and angora wool (all of which can be incorporated with vegan options in 2022) along with a fascination for long evening gowns, waistcoats and ascot ties.
Accessories, on the other hand, are on a common plank between both styles of adaptation. Some of the jewellery pieces royalcorists own are crowns, tiaras, sceptres, pearls, signet rings, brooches and pocket watches—while top hats, opera-length evening gloves, envelope clutches, closed-toe pumps, Oxfords, brogues and saddle shoes illustrate their wardrobe. Thigh-high pantyhose, corsets, garter belts and argyle knee-length socks are further down the list. Such undergarments help cement royalcore by resulting in the then-desirable regal posture.
Pair these with airy pastels and almost-too-pretty-to-eat macarons at a Rococo tea party in your backyard and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a regal fairytale.
“In the past, people were born royal. Nowadays, royalty comes from what you do” – Gianni Versace
Now onto the gen Z-first platform committed to redefining every single aesthetic and subculture as they come along. On TikTok, the influence of royalcore has manifested into two major hashtags: #royalcore (currently at 231 million views) and #royalcoreaesthetic (a complimentary locus at 8.9 million views and counting).
Users assembled under these hashtags can be seen packing lunches, throwing tea parties, wearing corsets, imagining masked balls in the Cambridge Museum, boasting dress collections, sharing tattoo ideas and curating royalcore boxes for regal customers. Medieval storytelling and roleplays are also a noteworthy aspect here. And who can miss out on the ones where long-haired, feminine-presenting people run into the abyss with their evening gowns trailing behind them dreamily?
Some of the clothing brands recommended and featured on the platform include Selkie, Teuta Matoshi, JJ’s House, and Corset Story. Lirika Matoshi, well-known for her Strawberry Dress, is also not missed out on. Her collaboration with Disney to curate an exclusive collection of Cinderella-inspired gowns is often recommended among royalcorists to nail the aesthetic. Other brands, as per Aesthetics Wiki, also include Ted Baker, Burberry, Ann Taylor, Marchesa and Badgley & Mischka.
Furthermore, royalcore has a rich selection of media including documentaries along the likes of Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes as well as movies and TV shows from across cultures and histories like The Crown, Versailles, The Empress of China and Bajirao Mastani. Bury your nose into hardcopies of Madame de Pompadour and Memoirs of Cleopatra while watching Shakespearean plays like King John, Richard III and Macbeth to conjure up your own rouge romance.
A quick scroll through the comment section of royalcore videos on TikTok will make you tally the number of times users have mentioned the popular TV show Bridgerton. According to Lyst, searches for corsets shoot up by 123 per cent while empire-line dresses jumped by 93 per cent within the first four weeks of the show’s premiere. In fact, the numbers skyrocketed—prompting the global fashion search platform to foster a sister aesthetic dubbed ‘regencycore’.
“Following the recent rise of other aesthetics such as cottagecore and normcore, and after having seen a strong rise in searches for regency-inspired pieces, it made sense for the Lyst editorial team to name this trend ‘regencycore’—a term that has since caught on in the industry at large,” Morgane LeCaer, Lyst’s data editor and content lead, said in an interview with NYLON.
This buzz seems to have also bled into Pinterest, which Pinners, according to senior insights manager Swasti Sarna, often turn to “discover new hobbies and find an escape, and dressing up and pretending to live in a castle.” Sarna also told NYLON that users have been shopping on Pinterest to bring an element of royalty into their lives—from puff dresses to dainty tiaras and fancy tea sets since the release of Bridgerton.
Although a decent part of royalcore’s boom can be traced back to the success of the Netflix show, the aesthetic would’ve witnessed a surge in interests nevertheless—given how it whisks the monotony of our everyday lives into creeping castles, splendid sceptres and regal rulers. Its overlaps with cottagecore and dark academia further helps this case. According to Shakaila Forbes-Bell, the consumer fashion psychologist for Afterpay, there’s also a psychological term backing the appeal for royalcore: enclothed cognition, which basically refers to embodying characteristics of a person by merely dressing like them.
“For example, when you wear a lab coat that you associate with doctors, you become more attentive. When you wear an empire-waist dress that you associate with royalty, you feel more majestic,” she explained to NYLON. “When it comes to our favourite TV characters, we’re drawn to their clothes and adopt their style because it allows us to embody the traits we admire in [them]. I suspect people are adopting this trend as a way to add a touch of elegance to life—which has been made increasingly unrefined as a result of the pandemic.”
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Out of all the aesthetics and subcultures covered here at Screen Shot, royalcore boasts the longest list of subgenres under its umbrella. The same has manifested on TikTok with their own hashtags—each with a minimum of 15,000 views. These include:
Not to be confused with the popular music style nightcore, knightcore is an aesthetic based on medieval knights—doused in silver, brown, wine red and olive green. Who would’ve thought otherwise, huh? According to Aesthetics Wiki, knightcore essentially hinges on “devoting yourself to a cause of goodness and righteousness in the views of equality and love for people, having a moral code for good, and being a protector in a friend group.” In a way, it could be broadly categorised with chivalry and having a ‘code of honour’. Or in internet terms: simping.
Taking inspiration from the combat and physical training knights were once subjected to, knightcore enthusiasts incorporate high-intensity sports like fencing into their regime. Due to the impractical nature of gear like gauntlets and shields, however, the community often reserves clothing articles for art and cosplays.
Princecore is a young male spinoff of royalcore—with key colours including cream, gold, green, silver and white. Enthusiasts can be found lazing around in gardens and writing love letters with a quill. Close to 100,000 views on TikTok, the aesthetic centres around male loving male (MLM) and boys love (BL) relationships. This is why most of its popularity is credited to Tumblr. And I bet the aesthetic has its own fanfiction on Wattpad with a crossover with knightcore. If you know, you know.
This is one of the most interchangeable subgenres of royalcore on TikTok. With pink, purple, white and gold as key colours, princesscore is the young female variant of royalcore associated with long evening dresses and elite mannerisms. Carefree yet poised and polished, the aesthetic can be channelled in both pastel pink and gothic black. Versatile princess, who?
Featuring black, grey, gold, deep purple, red and royal blue, kingcore draws inspiration from rulers of the past—both in folklore and fictional tales. It is a more mature take on princecore with an amplified regal aesthetic. Enthusiasts tend to focus on themes like power and conquest, while emulating and studying ancient kings. Although a small part of the community are reportedly sketching out plans for world domination as we speak, the other half focuses on influential rulers with a lighter take on the aesthetic.
Considered as the mature version of princesscore, queencore features adult themes like politics and war. Drawing inspiration from matriarchal figures in hierarchy-centred shows and movies, enthusiasts display qualities of confidence, strength and patience within the community. They also captivate their way into unmatched beauty and elegance both in relationships and their personal style—therefore perceived as a fashion icon by many. Close to 2.5 million views on TikTok, the aesthetic features deep purple, emerald green, gold, white and wine red.