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‘Clean Girl’ to ‘Mob Wife’: The ever changing tides of social media aesthetics

The recent hype around ‘Old Money’ and ‘Mob Wife’ trends across social media secretly reveals the pattern behind virality

Image Source: Sortd

Since January of this year, I have not fallen short of seeing at least a few girls around the campus carrying clean, minimalist totes. Whether it's one of those viral Paper Bunny puffer totes or the longchamp bags, the impact of a ‘clean girl’ aesthetic led by influencers like Matilda Djerf and Angela Baby, are far and wide.

Funnily enough, since recess week, there has also been a growing number of bolder and more ‘old money’ looks popping up across the hallways and the concourse. Macbook covers moved from clean designs that look like marble or watercolours are slowly replaced by bold clear cases with a hodgepodge of polaroids, stickers and merch dictating one’s individuality can be seen in every seminar room.

The change might appear subtle, you might even think these have been around for so long already, but the timeline is surprisingly short. Trends that translate from social media onto the campus are fast moving, and they tend to be  rooted in luxury. Not necessarily designer luxury (although quite a lot of them seem to always link back to some popular luxury item, such as the Van Cleef Arpels bracelet craze creating a buzz and demand for similar knockoffs), but luxury in terms of creating exclusivity.

"Old Money" vs "Mob Wife"

For example, let’s look at the current craze of ‘Old Money’ vibes and ‘Mob Wife’ aesthetics. They are characterised by statement pieces, bold animal prints,and even in the case of our SMU campus, is seen in the popularity of bold individualistic patterns behind those clear phone and macbook cases.

This is because the modern ‘Mob Wife’ is a response to the clean cut ‘minimalist’ look, and are often spearheaded by high end influencers touting luxury. The funny thing is that these tend to be the same influencers who capitalised on the minimalist white and beige look when it first broke the fashion scene a few years ago.

Source: Instagram

Even the most staunch social media user or rebellious hipster would agree that the idea of a viral product and trend creates an exclusivity camp of people who indulge in these products, and sometimes we might also get sucked into it.

Don’t believe me? The rise in deinfluencing and deinfluencers show a clear pattern - that every trend is a response to the incumbent.

It’s a fight between old and new.  But beyond that, it  reflects the truth that trends are cyclical in nature. And usually the next new thing arises as a rebellion to the current fad. After a while, it almost becomes predictable, because anything that seems remotely out of touch can become popular and viral when enough influential people are seen wearing them.

Trends and Us

How does this apply to us? As Singaporean students, we are one of the highest users of social media, and we tend to rely a majority of our purchasing decisions and trend inspiration rooted in the social media culture. Some of the viral fashion TikToks and Reels can sometimes be really appealing and attractive to purchase.

But the question I would like to ask you, the humble reader, is does following trends help you find your identity or just give you a direction on how to continue blending in?

I know that for me personally, I am more of a late majority than an early adopter of fashion trends and viral products, but I actively practise conscious consumerism. So, I tend to adopt a rational framework before making purchases and try to evaluate how much I want something because it is trendy and if I see a use out of it long term.

This is because at the end of the day, I am not saying every small accessory and fashion item can only be purchased if it is a long term investment like a car. We all can enjoy splurging impulsively once in a while, and given the 5 stages of grief we are all under during presentation and finals week, it becomes a confidence booster. However, do not let social media tell you what your individual style is. Because if all of us are wearing the same bracelets, puffer bags and baggy jeans, we lose sense of who we are.

When the reality is, being your own self is the true aesthetic we should strive to be. So continue exploring and don’t feel pressured to change up your style because everyone else is doing so.


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