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Q+A with Digi: The frazzled English woman aesthetic

Digi x Refinery29 on why dressing like a noughties British rom-com heroine is taking over TikTok, one skinny scarf at a time


Thumbnail and banner: Instagram @bellahadid

We spoke to Refinery29 on how the Frazzled English woman aesthetic, which takes inspo from 2000s British rom-com icons like Bridget Jones, corresponds with the indie sleaze and true-thousands trends and Gen Z’s ever-growing cry for authenticity over heavily edited Instagram aesthetics:

Refinery29: How would you describe this aesthetic?

Digi: The frazzled English woman aesthetic is just that – the messy-chic style of female protagonists from 2000s British-set rom coms, like Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones and Kate Winslet in The Holiday. Think lots of scarves, cardigans and sweaters, mid-length skirts with knee high boots, lots of layers, messy hair (often pulled back with a claw clip) and a general air of good natured imperfection (The Bridget Jones’s Diary Wikipedia literally describes the film’s protagonist as ‘engagingly imperfect’).

Refinery29: Why now? Have there been any cultural shifts that would lead to this aesthetic?

Digi: The frazzled English women aesthetic is definitely an extension of the overarching 2000s trend, but it embraces the undone quality that’s come into fashion with the indie sleaze revival. It also seems to be part of the ‘true–thousands’ trend, a phenomenon described in a TikTok by Rian Phin. True-thousands is all about dressing how “normal people” truly dressed in the 2000s, versus the extreme looks worn celebrities and those on the fringes of fashion. Bella Hadid is often referenced as an example of true-thousands dressing, and the layered look of the frazzled English woman is pretty similar to Bella’s street style as of late.

The British set rom coms that inspire this style were also an effect of Cool Britannia, a period in which the United Kingdom had an increased influence on pop culture. We’ve observed some elements of Cool Britannia coming back into fashion, like the Union Jack, a la Ginger Spice at the 1997 Brit Awards, being worn by tastemakers like Devon Lee Carlson. It seems the frazzled English woman aesthetic could also be an outgrowth of Cool Britannia’s renewed influence in fashion.

The original frazzled English women also tended to have professional jobs (typically in publishing or publicity), thus their wardrobes consisted of “appropriate” officewear like pencil skirts, collared blouses, and sweaters. This pairing of garments is kind of like a stretched out version of the viral Miu Miu mini skirt combo, tying it back to the idea of this being a “true-thousands” trend.

Refinery29: Just how much do you think we will see this trend offline? Is there potential for it to grow away from being a niche online trend?

Digi: The frazzled English woman aesthetic focuses on layering simple pieces, and embraces a little bit of clumsiness in styling, whether that’s messy hair or wearing brown boots with a black skirt – it seems pretty thriftable and wearable for most, making it potentially more suited to longevity in offline life than some of TikTok’s more extreme trends.

Read the full article by Kate Fowler here.

✨ Contributing Fairies

  • Biz Sherbert, Culture Editor 

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