The Impact of Social Media on Aesthetics [WEB EXCLUSIVE]

Ruhi Kaneria | The Chronicle

Coquette. Grunge. Preppy. Streetwear. Academia. 90s. Quiet luxury. Old money. Y2K. 

Clothing aesthetics. They are everywhere, from our phones to our stores. At first glance, aesthetics seem beneficial. They provide a way for people to express themselves in a style they see fit. But with new aesthetics emerging every month, the once easy way to express yourself can quickly become a cycle of fast fashion and pressure to conform to the new trends. 

A key promoter of these fast trends is social media. By providing a continuous stream of outfits and looks, it encourages people to dress in certain aesthetics, many of which are unattainable in real life. Fashion, at the heart of it, is a way to communicate your feelings and personality through clothing. However, due to social media, there are expectations to dress a certain way. 

In a time before social media, there was a wider regional distinction in the way people dressed. Back then, people dressed for their daily needs, rather than to express themselves. However, as textile production grew, and later, social media started to influence the way people dress and aesthetics were born. 

Aesthetics, in itself, are in no way a negative idea. It gives people a great way to express their feelings and empower their confidence through clothing. But when aesthetics become a societal pressure to dress a certain way, you no longer authentically dress to express yourself. 

The pressure comes in different forms, from social media, school, and society as whole. It is important to remember that while aesthetics seem great through Instagram square, a consumer can’t truly participate in every aesthetics. Rather, consumers should pick an aesthetic that matches them the most and focus on using old pieces and upcycling. These rapid trends led to cheap clothing production, the majority of which end up in a landfill once the trend is over. A key solution to preventing this is not completely disregarding aesthetics, but rather sustainably partaking in them. With options like thrifting or upcycling old clothes, aesthetics can be done, without having environmental consequences. 

As a society, aesthetics will always be relevant. We can never prevent trends from occurring, and unconsciously, we will always choose to dress in the ‘popular’ way. That is just the way our brains are wired. However, we can fix the way we participate in trends by shopping sustainably and using a varied capsule wardrobe – one that consists of basics. We, as consumers, need to make sustainable choices to smartly participate in fashion trends.