Opinion: Normcore

POSTED: 03/12/14 6:10 PM

It is not even that long ago when my youngest daughter eyed me with dismay, shook her head and said. “Dad, white sports socks. You really cannot do that anymore.” It felt like a repeat, all those years back, when I slipped up and referred to a Dutch radio station as Hilversum 3. Wrong, my daughter said, that is really Radio 3 these days.

So that is what happens when you are getting on in age. Things pass you by and some things have a tendency to catch up with you. Like those darned white sports socks I been wearing all my life whenever I felt like it.

There is a saying that offers some solace to people with a conservative approach to change: if you stand still long enough, one day you will stand in front of the rest again. Yesterday I found proof that this is true, in an article about normcore.

Fiona Duncan (not related to anyone I know) wrote a piece in New York Magazine that says it all. “I do not see the difference anymore between artistic youth and American middle-aged tourists,” she wrote. The problem? The hipsters of today dress like the audience in the old Jerry Seinfeld shows. Duncan sarcastically described that fashion from a bygone era as “white sports socks (yes!), white sports shoes (yes!), basketball shorts (mwah) and years of the carrot model (no idea what that is), and a fleece jumper.”

That is, in a few lines, what New Yorkers understand to be normcore these days. Of course, in St. Maarten youngster are still stuck with the gangsta style of exposed underwear and beltless oversized trousers and they have no idea how far behind the times they are. I’ve always felt sorry for blokes who felt the need to expose part of their backside as a fashion statement, but by now they have become pitiful. Poor suckers, don’t they ever read up on trendy fashion?

The _admittedly – obscure New York trend bureau K-Hole launched normcore. For educational purposes I list here the seven essential normcore items.

Wide jeans in carrot model or with straight legs; a shirt – checkered or pastel – tucked into the trousers; white sports socks; low profile sneakers; jeans short; fleece jumper; baseball cap.

There. That will teach the Rayban and Gucci crowd a lesson – they are history. According to a report in the Volkskrant buying your Levis 501 a couple of sizes too big and stuffing a sea green polo shirt into it is totally it. Or, as the editor described it: “The milkshake-slurping McDonalds customer as style icon.”

Normcore meets obviously with a lot of sarcasm. At my age, who give a flying burrito? After a picture appeared in the media of a blue jeans-wearing President Obama in the Oval Office on the phone with President Putin, bloggers wondered: “Is Obama to normcore to beat Putin?” But GQ Magazine defended Obama, saying he is straight-up original normcore.

So what is really going on there? Fashion watchers maintain that normcore is a reaction to the exhausting longing for authen ticity. Hipsters want to distinguish themselves by wearing something others won’t wear, the volkskrant notes. The irony is, of course, that their uniform is one hundred percent predictable. “Enter a random vintage store and there you will see the identical cut-off jeans, belly tops and shirts you are expected to button up high. The red lips for the women and the bun on the heads of men and women alike are “the last screws of the Ikea-cupboard.”

I just cannot help wondering whether normcore will ever make it to our shores or whether it is already there. For now, I stick to my white sports socks and my low profile sneakers.

Hilbert Haar

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