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TikTok "Cores" You Already Forgot About

What makes a micro trend? All over the world, marketers and ad agencies are probably asking themselves this very question. But most of them have already tried and failed to engineer a microtrend. From music industry flops they tried to make TikTok dances (remember “Yummy” by Justin Bieber?) to dangerous wellness trends and movie promo gone wrong, the algorithm is as unforgiving as it is random.

That’s why, despite many conspiracy theories trying to convince me of it, I don’t believe that HBO started the mob wife trend to celebrate the anniversary The Sopranos.

The theory tries to claim that the reason #MobWife took over is because some HBO exec was really dialed into fashion girl TikTok? I’m not buying it. It’s too organic, too absurd, and mostly, it can’t have correlated to any revenue for HBO. What do Hailey Bieber and Kylie Jenner’s fur coats have to do with The Sopranos? Nothing. Gen Z sees those images, and they run to SHEIN, not MAX.

The fickleness of microtrends has come to define them. Most people discover a niche and engage in it widely but not deeply for a few days to a few weeks, then move on. This is what sets TikTok apart from other generation defining social media like Tumblr. On Tumblr, you had your “cores” and you stuck to them. Sure there was minor overlap, but we dedicated years of our lives to the first iteration of indie sleaze and the grunge revival. These days, TikTokers barely dedicate an afternoon.

The Power of a Good TikTok Trend

TikTok trends span across the industry and know no bounds. There are music trends that can launch an artist from a completely unknown to a viral megastar — like Ice Spice or Doja Cat. There are also trends that bring back songs from the vault, like “Murder on the Dancefloor” from Saltburn or Kate Bush’s “Running Up The Hill” from Stranger Things.

TikTok has also been the catalyst of some of the most talked about films of the past few years. In 2023, TikTok and Gen Z viewers transformed Sydney Sweeney and Glenn Powell’s Anyone But You from potential flop to box office success - making it the most profitable Shakespeare adaptation of all time. Yes, even above 10 Things I Hate About You or Clueless. It’s also responsible for the extreme success of Saltburn. How many TikToks did you see about people watching the infamous bathtub scene with their families? Everyone’s vying for a piece of TikTok’s attention. That’s why they marketed Dune like a Marvel movie.

TikTok has also overtaken Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest as the home of fandoms. From fancams to interview snippets and deep dives into the lives of every white boy of the month, some of these boys owe their careers to TikTok thirst. Jeremy Allen White and Callum Turner I’m looking at you.

Best TikTok “cores”

But most powerfully, TikTok has become a juggernaut marketing tool for brands. Of course, the second something starts off as light and fun, the profit motive kicks in, and brands have to make money from it.

I can’t even imagine TikTok without influencers and ads anymore. Now that there’s TikTok shop, it’s pretty much a digital martlet place.

So as fashion cores spawn on the app, they’re feeding a fashion ecosystem that’s moving faster and faster. If you remember trends like #Cottagecore, the #CleanLook (and #ThatGirl trend, too), and even #Barbiecore, you probably associate them with certain products and clothes. So it’s no surprise that fast fashion has created giants like SHIEN and Temu to respond to these fleeting demands.

According to data, the most popular TikTok “cores” of 2023 were:

  • Stealth wealth, #OldMoney, or #QuietLuxury
  • #Barbiecore
  • #Balletcore and #Coquette
  • #TomatoGirl
  • #VanillaGirl
  • #CoastalCowgirl
  • #Mermaidcore

TikTok cores you probably already forget about

For every viral and global trend, there’s a flop that barely gets off the ground. There are also trends that go up like flares and burn fast. Some trends stay within their specific niches and don’t cross over into other people’s algorithms. For example, certain New York fashion trends don’t make sense to people outside of the Lower East Side or Bushwick. And I once had a middle schooler lecture me about how one pair of Lululemon shorts is cool, but an identical pair with a slightly longer inseam is decidedly not cool. The more you know.

Some trends are picked up by writers and editors like me, then become gauche before the articles have even gone live. I’ve lived it. Some trends don’t even exist. Like, I heard a lot about #TomatoGirl but no one was actually participating in that.

We’ve also surpassed aesthetic absurdism, where some of these trends just sound ridiculous to the ear. They sound like artisanal ice cream flavors you’re kind of embarrassed to order. Or word salad made by picking random concepts out of a hat.

Here are some of the most forgettable and strangest TikTok cores that have been mostly erased on the internet.


@valenciacf STYLE 😎😎😎 #tiktokfootball #blokecore #footballshirt ♬ sonido original - Valencia CF

Honestly, I loved this one. However, as a fan of gatekeeping, I’m glad it didn’t blow up. It was the trend characterized by oversized Premier League shirts, long denim shirts, and flat sports sneakers like Sambas or Onitsuka Tigers. I dress like this on a daily basis so it did numbers on my individuality complex when everyone in New York and Manchester started dressing like this, too. There was also #Blokette which mixed boyish styles with coquette styles. For most of this summer, I wore white silk tops, basketball shorts, and ballet flats — so I was truly a victim of this. No regrets.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Hair:

@toxicthotsyndrome cinnamon cookie butter hair
♬ son original - soleil🩰⭐️

When Hailey Bieber started growing out her hair and ditching the Blonde hair dye, people started calling it all sorts of absurd names. But it’s just .. brown? She’s just a little brunette? No need to reinvent the wheel everyone. This isn’t a trend because it’s most people’s hair color. Call me when Kool-Aid ombré is back — that was a trend with some staying power.

Eclectic Grandpa:

@paigeesmithers Eclectic grandpa outfits part 2!! Literally obsessed with this trend i love the grandpa vibes #eclecticgrandpa #eclecticgrandpaaesthetic #greenscreenvideo #outfitinspo2024 #outfitinsp #cuteoutfit ♬ original sound - paigeesmithers

For a moment, this seemed like where men’s fashion was heading. Something between Tyler the Creator and Timothee Chalamet’s street style. But honestly, this trend was just about having personal style and being funky or experimental. Unfortunately, everyone in the Maru coffee line in Los Feliz (my menswear street-style spot) has continued to dress like Jacob Elordi, so I don’t think it got picked up.


@cultspeaks fit cheeeck 🐝🤡💕 #clown #clowncheck #clownmakeup #clowncore #kidcore #aesthetic #cute #outfitideas #neurodivergent #lgbt #audhd #fitcheck ♬ Bumble Bee - ♡𝔠𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔯𝔶♡

This was a popular pandemic-era trend characterized by face paint and cartoonish, clownish makeup and costumes. Needless to say, cores aren’t so literal anymore. But I will never forget the horror of this.


@evamillersha Great carpet for a party!🌸 #partydecor #partyprep #decor #fairycore #flowersdecor #homedecor #fairyparty ♬ original sound - 🏄🏼♀️Eva Miller🌊

This one has been iterated into many different trends, some more salient than others. It combines the nature-loving, nymphish aesthetic with the hyper-femme aesthetic of the coquette trend. Cecile Behansen and Selkie dresses ruled this aesthetic.

Regency Core:

@brextoncoleinteriors How to decorate like a Bridgerton #regencycore #regencystyle #regencyera #regencyhome #bridgerton #bridgertoninteriordesign #interiordesigner #bridgertontiktok #marieantoinette #grandmillennialdecor #grandmillennialdecor #bedroomdesign ♬ original sound - Valerie

You’ll forget about this trend until the next season of Bridgerton, and suddenly you’re craving empire waist dresses and someone who’ll call you “the bane of my existence.” Even though we’re more skeptical of royals in general these days, we sure are fascinated by them. From Kate Middleton’s disappearance to shows like The Crown, Young Royals, and Red, White & Royal Blue, we can’t get enough of royals — even if we’re not in regency core.

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