If it seems like millennial women are dressing similarly in puffed-sleeve tops, furry coats and pearl-embellished accessories, it’s because they are. The cohort is redefining “uniform dressing” by subscribing to “style tribes,” as WGSN describes in a new report “Millennial Women: Style Tribes.”
The differences between the so-called “tribes” are small but notable. However, the reasoning for the homogenized groupings is the same.
For millennial women, “uncertainty is their version of normal—most of their adult lives have been weighed down by global economic and political tensions,” the trend forecasting firm stated in the report. Overworked and underpaid—compared to their parents—and overstimulated by social media, the report shares how millennials have responded to the circumstances at hand by shopping resale to stretch their dollar, embracing simpler styles and finding joy in color and prints.
Here’s a closer look at five style tribes identified by WGSN.
Consider the Conservatives as the anti to Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Things, the fast-fashion e-commerce brands that tout skin-baring looks. The rise of the Conservatives indicates that modest fashion is no longer a term tied to faith-based dressing. It is an aesthetic rooted in midi-length dress silhouettes, shoulder-covering tops and high necklines.
It is also a thriving segment of women’s fashion that is expected to become a $350 billion market in the next two years, WGSN reported. And with brands like Valentino, The Row and cult-brand Batsheva modernizing the traditional look with bold colors and prints, the style tribe is captivating attention across social media and from magazines like Vogue and retailers like Net-a-Porter.
Chalk it up to a decade of royal wedding fever. The style tribe dubbed Regal Ladies favors princess sleeves, corseted bodies and pearl earrings. However, the tribe’s defining feature is the padded headband they bestow on their heads—an accoutrement that is also favored by the Conservatives.
This group, WGSN said, bases its look on adding modern touches to styles from “centuries past.” For instance, the tribe pairs boudoir-like silk dresses in neutral tones with Dad sneakers, or Mom jeans and scrunchies with a corseted blouse with voluminous sleeves.
Less is obviously more for the Minimalists, a tribe that WGSN says opts for “streamlined, simple and easy aesthetics.” Draping and asymmetrical shapes add visual interest to the otherwise monochromatic neutral uniform. “This group is slow to embrace new trends and are conscious of the environmental toll of their purchases,” WGSN added.
Brands like Vince, Theory, Mansur Gavriel and Cos are reliable sources for minimal styles. The tribe also turns to vintage and resale marketplaces like TheRealReal for investment pieces they plan to wear for several years.
The creature comforts of home set the tone for Cozy Homebodies, a style tribe that reflects the proliferation of freelance culture and millennials’ desire to de-stress.
The tribe, WGSN said, favors versatile garments that are comfortable to wear indoors and stylish enough to be seen wearing. Brands like Lunya, ADAY and Unilqo sum up the look with down-filled robe coats, cropped teddy bear fur jackets and pajama-inspired sets.
Street style during Copenhagen Fashion Week has become a treasure trove for magpies drawn to fancy fabrics, bright colors and mixed prints. It is with child-like zeal that the tribe, Scandi Candy, mashes these Instagram-friendly elements together. “Excess is the name of the game, and this look has plenty of it,” WGSN said. “For millennials riddled with stresses from student debt to job uncertainty, this aesthetic offers some immediate escapism.”
Scandinavian brands like Ganni, which was founded by an art connoisseur and gallery owner, and Saks Potts, which was co-founded by an art historian, sum up the tribe’s creative and eccentric aesthetic. Other key details, WGSN noted, are pointed-toe pumps, fur accents, pastel suiting and bucket hats in girlish colorways.