If you follow fashion on any platform (or in better words, if you try to keep up with it), you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at the constant overturn of trends coming at you this year—and then disappearing just as fast. One of the more popular fashion crazes at the moment? Balletcore.
Not only does the hashtag have more than 148.3 million views on TikTok at the time of writing this, it has even stepped out of our screens and appeared on multiple runways during fashion month. Simone Rocha and Halpern’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collections are just the tip of the tulle, lace, and bow-embellished iceberg.
Are you a fan of the style yourself but don’t know how to incorporate it into your everyday looks? Or perhaps you’re just wondering why everyone always seems to be so obsessed with ballerinas all the time, or at least every few years? Either way, don’t worry, we’re here to dissect the trend and bring you all the styling tips you need.
Balletcore is the 2022 edition of the fashion world’s century-long love affair with all things ballet—and, to be honest, what’s not to love? The silky satin fabrics, the romantic bows, the ethereal fabrics, and silhouettes—you get it. From Chanel’s iconic 1930s tulle gowns to Orseund Iris’ coveted contemporary collections, we collectively can’t seem to get enough of this timeless aesthetic, which is why ballet-inspired pieces routinely resurface on runways and in wardrobes.
So, what else about the aesthetic makes it so alluring? As The Face succinctly put it, the trend channels “the effortlessness of ballerinas—minus the brutally long hours spent in the studio.” Even if you aren’t Bella Hadid, you’ll probably still look oh-so-chic and comfy in an outfit like this.
But don’t worry, you don’t actually need those Miu Miu ballerina flats—or the equally iconic Sandy Liang version—to master the aesthetic. Bodysuits and wrap cardigans are a couple of staple pieces you probably already have in your closet that can help you embrace this style. Or you could also dive into TikTok’s numerous DIY tutorials to source your own ballet-inspired accessories. Dressing this way is “equal parts feminine and comfortable,” former dancer Bec Oakes told Refinery29.
Another way to approach balletcore is as the ultimate fusion of French girl style and athleisure. Madeleine Jones, a New York-based stylist, explained to Vogue that she sees “the ballet-all-day movement as the natural evolution from athleisure.”
Jones went on to say that “it still feels like you’re dressing up—but not overdressed.” Gone are the days of only having sweatpants or even leggings as your comfy options. Instead, consider pairing your go-to loungewear pieces with a wrap cardigan, leg warmers, or even a satin skirt for an elevated—yet relaxed—look.
The main difference between this recent spike in the beloved trend’s popularity? Inclusivity. For the first time, a diverse range of fashion-lovers are being welcomed into and embracing this movement. Take Detroit-based creator Monique Black, for instance, who styles the aesthetic as a size 20.
Speaking to Refinery29, the TikToker explained that she “really love[s] the idea of embracing femininity and softness because so often these traits aren’t associated with plus-size girls.” As for the aesthetic’s long association with thin, white women, Black mentioned that her “generation is perfectly content with ignoring the ‘industry’ and creating our own lane. We refuse to be excluded anymore.”
Chazlyn Yvonne, a 20-year-old blogger and former ballet dancer, has had a similar experience with the trend’s 2022 update. In April, she told Nylon that balletcore has led her to connect with “girls of the same aesthetic who all have completely different backgrounds, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes.” When SCREENSHOT caught up with Yvonne in October, speaking about the similarly feminine coquette aesthetic, the creator also emphasised the greater inclusivity within the current aesthetics taking over TikTok and Instagram.
With a diverse group of content creators embracing balletcore, the trend is pushed beyond its former limitations. The result? It welcomes a wide range of people while continuing to emulate the strength and femininity at the aesthetic’s very core.
If light pink tulle skirts aren’t your thing, don’t stress—balletcore is nothing if not flexible. The trend is constantly being explored and interpreted in new ways. Take, for example, some of the most stylish celebrities’ recent obsession with fingerless gloves and leg warmers. While the 80s-inspired silhouette you probably have in mind has made a comeback, the latter accessory has also gotten a contemporary update. Some eye-catching examples? Kylie Jenner’s skin-tight pair, Vaquera’s puffy, cloudwear-inspired designs, and Ottolinger’s tiered, faux fur rendition to name a few.
But avant-garde leg warmers aren’t the only new interpretation of balletcore this time around. There’s also a new sub-trend: ballerina sleaze. If hyperfemininity isn’t for you, you may find this rendition of the aesthetic more appealing. The niche trend combines the best of graceful ballerina apparel and indie sleaze—think blending your chic, contemporary cardigans and wrap skirts with soft-grunge accessories from your days scrolling Tumblr.
Choose to interpret the style however you want, whether that means full-on ballerina or a micro-mini pleated skirt with those leather, buckled Miu Miu flats—either way, we’re here for it.
While the ever-elusive UK sun may have revived our souls for the past week—a gaslighting moment where I question if seasonal depression is even real—the fear of the world ending is as present as ever. But for gen Z, among the swelling rates of anxiety and depression as a result of such global issues, comes an irreplaceable insurgent humour that leans into that whole end-of-the-world ‘vibe’. Manifesting first as a fashion aesthetic, dystopiacore has, in my opinion, since morphed from its infamous grunge-inspired garms into a Wattpad-esque desire to fall into your dystopian backdrop of choice at your local gym and workout like your favourite teen hero. Hold on, I’ll explain.
Gen Z’s obsession with everything Y2K is no longer particularly noteworthy, it is quite plainly obvious to see—it has been a period that has revived the elements of our childhood we so clearly miss. And now, it seems us older gen Zers seem to be reliving our teenage-hood. The romanticisation and aestheticisation of the 2010s, think Tumblr girl era, has been clawing its way back into relevancy in 2022. However, a fundamental ingredient of that time quietly resurfacing—perhaps masked by Effy Stonem’s cigarette smoke and drowned out by the indie melodies of The Arctic Monkeys—is the young adult (YA) dystopian universe.
The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner series paved an era of cinema like no other. It provided a strange sort of escapism into an alternate apocalyptic future reality for humanity that appealed to the teen masses—myself included. But what was it about such dangerous possibilities that birthed fanfiction desires to be in them too—to model yourself after Katniss, Tris or Thomas? Perhaps their resurgence is reflective of a real rage mounting against the oppressive forces found in the establishment, an internal frustration that has manifested into the idolisation of fictional revolution.
One I guess you’d need to be fit for… Hence this introduction to the dystopiacore workout.
In an article exploring the emergence of fashion’s dystopiacore, SCREENSHOT writer Francesca Johnson aptly illustrated the style: “Decked out in long black jackets, versatile trench coats and massive combat boots, gen Z are ditching stretchy waistbands and comfy loungewear […] joggers are out and cargos are in, people.” But now, it looks like gym wear is back in, as cargos are replaced with Lululemon leggings for the dystopia training you hopefully may never need.
At times coupled with ‘the feminine urge’ trend, users are utilising the soundtracks of their favourite dystopian movies into a motivational daydream as part of the universe. Most commonly, you’ll find the vibrant, fast-paced track of Divergent used to propel the gym-goer into the faction of Dauntless—one of the five groups in which the imaginary population is divided. Dauntless’ distinct, wild and challenging military-like training procedure—skills that become invaluable to heroine Tris as she navigates combat against the powers at be—seem to provide the perfect push for more reps, complete with Four as your imaginary personal trainer.
@lavendercashewmilklatte Imagine if divergent had more of a friends to enemies to lovers storyline 🖤 #OutlanderChallenge #divergent ♬ Run Boy Run – Woodkid
With one user writing, “The feminine urge to wear your black Lulu jacket and blast the Divergent soundtrack while you work out and imagine you’re a Dauntless born, training with Four in the pit because a war is coming and you were born for this, to fight and protect.” Maybe this shows such internalised anxieties of the future of humanity and whether or not we will be able to survive its changing structure—it could be we’re reading way too far into it though.
Perhaps, instead, this could be yet another epithet of ‘main character’ catharsis we so seem to need? Imagining ourselves as the physically capable hero—in any dystopian universe—may actually make its way into our reality, developing a much needed internal strength. Another TikToker said, “Preparing myself for either the zombie apocalypse, joining Dauntless, fighting in the Hunger Games, treasure hunting or getting out of the maze. The plot changes every time at the gym.”
It goes even further than just some silly little videos on the internet, with one fitness fanatic actually crafting a free Dauntless inspired workout plan. Becky, who runs a page dedicated to the Divergent series and one of its stars Theo James, noticed the trend surfacing on the app and cleverly created a workout plan inspired by the movie’s military marvels. “As someone on a fitness journey for the past seven months and a fangirl since I was 13, I’ve always wanted to workout with the Dauntless. So I present to you my Dauntless training manual,” she announced. With no less than one million views on the video, it’s safe to say the idea is popular.
Containing a foreword cautioning those following the programme that she is not a licensed trainer or affiliated with the official brand of Divergent, the five-week training instructions come complete with specially curated Dauntless inspired playlists, video codecs of clips featuring Four inducting you into Dauntless as well as audio files to accompany your fitness sessions.
It might not be everybody’s cup of tea but hey, if it gets you up and running and doesn’t involve the dangers of train hopping—then why not right? I’m saying that because I tried it, all for research of course.