Everything Cheugy Is Cool Again

Around this time last year, tons of fashion obituaries materialized after a viral TikTok introduced the word “cheugy” to the world. The culprit list of cheugy items is an exhaustive one, from Rae Dunn pottery to Gucci belts, side parts, and #girlboss culture, but its lengths managed to reinvent how consumers viewed plenty different sectors of retail, all while changing their shopping habits. Fashion, however, took arguably the hardest hit. Suddenly, the cheugy label caused death to the skinny jean, dragging other clothing trends deemed tacky and “millennial-core”—both terms synonymous with the viral expression—down with the snugly-fitting denim.

Except, some of those pieces are already on their way back. Fashion writer and trend analyst Mandy Lee (aka @oldloserinbrooklyn), whose TikTok videos are rooted in fashion discourse, coins this era “Cheugy Post Mortem,” since those “tasteless” and seemingly disposable clothing items have suddenly been brought back to life. With spring comes a rebirth, but that isn’t the reason cheugy pieces are suddenly revitalized: “I knew a lot of these takes would age poorly due to the cyclical nature of the trend cycle,” Lee begins in a video on the subject. “Meaning that things we consider today will be outdated somewhere in the future”—and this post-mortem era proves that the future is always closer than we think.

The trend cycle is rapidly accelerating due to overproduction and overconsumption. Social media has become an enabler, where Instagram tricks us into believing we need to afford a constantly changing wardrobe. Cheugy is just another subplot in a bigger waste problem. Celebrity stylist Elsa Isaac considers blanket statements like “cheugy” irresponsible for this reason. “Garments are less about what’s trendy and more about how they align with the person wearing them,” she tells, emphasizing the importance of personal style. “Influencers dictating what’s trendy on social media won’t apply to everyone when someone else can wear those same items and make it look classic.” This is further proof that we shouldn’t be throwing away items just because someone on TikTok told us we should.

And as for designer’s updated takes on cheugy pieces, it’s only more evidence that what goes around comes around. Luisa Via Roma editor-in-chief Kate Davidson Hudson thinks this season’s looks are iterative of earlier renditions, yet still manage to feel reinvigorated with new textures, silhouettes, and treatments. “The revival pieces we’re seeing are a little bit nostalgic, but in the same way, are moving the conversation forward.”

Here are some fresh takes of those once-seen-as-cheugy pieces.

Over-the-Knee Boots

chanel runway

Stephane Cardinale – CorbisGetty Images

If Fendi’s colorful over-the-knee boots aren’t proof enough that the shape is equally as fun as it is sexy, then I point you to Riccardo Tisci’s take for Burberry fall/winter 2022. Held at London’s Central Hall Westminster, the edgy and prolific collection featured several leather over-the-knee styles for a dark, seductive take on the once anointed “cheugy” accessory. While some might opt for a safer just-at-the-knee option, afraid of being “overdone” and out of style, Chanel, Maison Margiela, and Bottega Veneta—which went to extreme heights with artisanal-inspired thigh-highs in its ready-to-wear pieces—beg to differ this year: over-the-knee is anything but over.

Ballet Flats

miu miu runway

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

A minimalist, iconic closed-toe shoe that is timeless rather than tacky, claimed by celebs the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller in the early aughts, makes its triumphant return, this time with a modern twist. As the highly divisive silhouette slips its way into modern spring attire, Mui Mui’s interpretation includes a strapped version paired with a scrunched knee sock, while Chanel offers a logo-detailed anklet. Rodarte’s collection even included ultra-feminine, whimsical options, proving this is not your middle school graduation shoe.

White Tank Tops

prada runway

Daniele VenturelliGetty Images

Bella Hadid’s Instagram has all but solidified that the era of the tight ribbed tank is not near, it’s here. This time, though, as the main event, similar to how Matthieu Blazy’s debut show for Bottega Veneta positioned the sleeveless white undershirt; the intentionally understated tank opened his fall 2022 show as an ode to the garment, paired with blue jeans. Similarly, Prada, Chloé, and Loewe’s runways all offered up their versions, too, transforming full-length camisoles from cheugy to cool. It’s a capsule piece that carries a new cognitive dissonance—effortless but deliberate; undone, yet entirely chic.

Oversized Bags

peter do runway

Victor VIRGILEGetty Images

It only seems right that the next shift after ultra-mini bags—like those by Jacquemus—is to oversized bags. Rather than ultra-tiny novelties, oversized totes get praise for practicality, which is something that never goes out of style. Bigger handbags from Louis Vuitton to Goyard have been cult classics in the past, while the Balenciaga Moto continues to be a streetwear fave. Hudson praises this season’s oversized silhouettes, noting that while the selections are reminiscent of previous constructions, they still remain fresh.

Her personal rec? Something by The Row or Peter Do. “I’m obsessed with both, but I feel like Peter’s handbag collection specifically doesn’t get enough attention because his clothes are so impeccable.”

Statement Necklaces

lanvin runway

SAVIKOGetty Images

As we move away from dainty chains, super-sized pendants have become a key trend this season. Rihanna recently rocked large vintage Dior jewels, Kim Kardashian accessorized a metallic Mugler gown with a layered choker, Dua Lipa sported an eye-catching gilded medallion. Isaac approves of conversation-starting gems on clients, too: “It’s just a really easy way to completely transform a look.”

Festival Style

chloe runway

Kristy SparowGetty Images

Cork platforms, macramé tops, crochet bikinis, basket bags, oh my! Haute hippie fashion has returned in full force—and without a flower crown in sight. Chloé, Versace, and Balmain have gone all in on the fringe aesthetic for spring/summer 2022.

Written Text

off white runway

Taylor HillGetty Images

From block-print lettering in Virgil Abloh’s trademark quotes to graffiti-style scrawlings, this trend is everywhere—not to mention it’s Devon Lee Carlson-approved. Need I say more?

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