The ‘Tumblr Aesthetic’ Revival: Embrace It Or Keep It In The Past?
by Lauren Sanchez
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Lauren Sanchez. Find her on Instagram at @lauren.sanchezz. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
It’s time to crank up The 1975, put on your tennis skirts and ripped tights and get ready to go back almost eight years into the past. That’s right, the Tumblr aesthetic has graciously maneuvered its way back into 2022 through pop culture, social media platforms and of course, fashion.
If you’re like me and fell in love with this era full of indie pop, band t-shirts and flower crowns, angsty song lyrics and the coming-of-age aesthetic, you’ll know that this subculture of the internet remains a special place in the hearts of Zillennials. It was truly a time to be alive!
Yet despite it being 2022, videos and posts on Instagram and TikTok are showing up on feeds everywhere of trends that were once popular back in 2014 and are now resurfacing. From videos of girls styling chunky boots and fishnet stockings, to edited pictures being overly saturated and darkened to even the artsy and quirky aesthetic that comes from curating photo dumps – all resemble traits of the internet back then.
So why did the Tumblr aesthetic decide to come back now? Have we gotten bored with the Y2K and the so-called “clean girl” aesthetic? Is it time for the soft-grunge vibe, the black chokers and even the iconic galaxy print to make their way back to the top of the trends? Let’s get ready to dive back into the golden age of social media and understand why this internet phenomenon is becoming popular once again.
What Even Is The Tumblr Aesthetic Anyway?
Tumblr is a social media platform that combines old-school blogging and media sharing into a stylized and almost Myspace-esque feed. While the popularity of the social media platform has declined due to the rise of Instagram and TikTok, over 472 million people worldwide have been exposed to Tumblr.
For those who might have either been too young or too old to experience one of the most iconic eras to ever grace the internet, I am genuinely so sorry that you missed out. This was truly such a peak of music, fashion and overall vibes that cannot ever be replaced.
One Direction was still together, Lana del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” blasted on every radio station, people were carrying around polaroid cameras all the time and the little alien crop-top was a wardrobe essential. The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent were the biggest movie hits and listening to Halsey and Melanie Martinez made you feel edgy.
It was a time when everyone had the innate need to be artsy and embrace quirkiness. Where reblogs and reposts on a post mattered more than likes, and low-quality grainy pics were preferred over photoshopped and professional-looking ones.
Besides the music superiority complexes and questionable fashion choices, the Tumblr era was a true blueprint for fashion trends of today (Hello to my fellow Doc Marten owners!), helped pioneer the popularization of indie pop and changed the way social media lovers post about their lives.
So how has this “Tumblr aesthetic” been revived today, you might ask? Let’s take a look at the music, the emergence of photo dumps and the app BeReal and the way people are accessorizing and styling looks right now.
The 1975, The Arctic Monkeys and 5 Seconds of Summer… Oh my!
The “Holy Trinity” of the bands in the Tumblr era of music is what I like to call them. And despite being at their absolute peak in 2013-2014, these bands are coming back better than ever in today’s top charts.
Anyone who partook in the Tumblr era had to have “Chocolate” by The 1975 in one of their playlists – it could literally be crowned as the Tumblr era theme song. Hailing from Manchester, The 1975 is a pop rock band that found mainstream success through their self-titled debut album. And despite the continuing success of their careers and many albums released after, their new music didn’t hit the same as it did back in 2013. Until today!
In June 2022, the band announced their fifth album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language,” and I kid you not, their new single titled “I’m In Love With You” has taken me back to the sound that first made them famous. It’s upbeat, incredibly indie and has me ready to start romanticizing my life as I walk through the streets of New York City.
But they aren’t the only iconic band releasing new music this fall nor the only ones going on tour (RIP my bank account).
The Arctic Monkeys, another English rock band, gained international fame with the success of their album “AM” and with singles like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” The aesthetic of this album which consisted of psychedelic rock and indie rock literally took over Tumblr and has been photographed and posted too many times to count. And after four years of no new music and three years of no tours, the Arctic Monkeys are finally releasing their seventh studio album “The Car” and gearing up to perform all across the world.
And across the Southern Hemisphere lives 5 Seconds of Summer, an Australian-based band, whose self-titled debut album told songs of heartbreak, relationships and life as a teenager. Their song “She Looks So Perfect” literally defined my middle school experience and I was as equally in love with them as I was with One Direction at the time.
And just like the other two bands, 5SOS announced their fifth album titled “5SOS5” which is set to release next week.
Because of these bands that have literally been deemed “Tumblr Royalty” of 2013 and 2014 all releasing new music around the same time as one another, music fans from all over the world are freaking out in excitement at this resurgence of music and of a culture where all three of these bands are getting ready to dominate the music charts – hence why everyone believes that fall 2022 is the time where the Tumblr aesthetic will finally reemerge.
Photo Dumps Wish They Could Be As Cool As The 2014 Tumblr Posts
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On Instagram, users have been posting a series of photos and captioning them as “photo dumps.” Rather than a mixture of perfectly edited photos, a photo dump is a collection of random pictures that depict a certain “vibe.” Whether that series be a mixture of selfies, plants, sunsets, blurred pictures of your pets or up close shots of your outfit, the photo dump’s purpose is all about being effortless and takes away the pressure of posting just for likes.
With the popularization of photo dumps on Instagram and even having celebrities take part in it, #MakingInstagramCasualAgain has been trending and helps filter out the posts that are only created for likes and embraces the posts that are quirky, unique and real.
Back in the Tumblr days, everyone took photos of literally everything. Anything that seemed artsy, whether that’d be graffiti on the side of a building, faded leaves falling on the sidewalk or a hand reaching for the moon, everything could be the subject of the photograph. There were no limits in these days of social media and everyone was given the creative freedom to express themselves. So all I’m saying is, is that Tumblr posts walked so that these photo dumps on Instagram could run.
And even now, the creation of social media apps trying to have users post and be their most authentic selves are now being pushed into the mainstream. The app, BeReal, challenges and encourages users to stop whatever they are doing at that moment and take a random picture at any given point during the day. In doing this, the app hopes to eliminate the pressures that come from posting pictures and allow everyone to live a life without filters and photoshop.
Relating to the Tumblr aesthetic, it showed how even back then all that mattered was creativity and whatever object you found worthy of a photograph– you took the picture of whatever captured your attention simply because you liked it, not for the enjoyment of others. This is something we should be thanking the Tumblr aesthetic era for and its help in paving the way to live on social media more authentically.
And if you are interested in learning more about BeReal and how it works, be sure to check out our article that talks all about the hype and how we think the app does a good job at teaching others to shut down the pressures that come from social media!
Out With The Y2k Style And Back In With The Soft, Grunge Wardrobe
Has the time finally come where we decide to move on from the trendiness of the Y2K fashion? If that’s the case, you’re going to need to dig through your closet to find your old tennis skirts, band t-shirts, denim jackets and chunky platform boots to be able to participate in the grunge aesthetic and edginess that an Tumblr aesthetic outfit thrives off of.
The essence of the Tumblr aesthetic outfit was based on a lot of 90s grunge looks – from the red flannels and vintage band tees to the black converses, combat boots and ripped jeans. And even when it came to hair and accessories, tattoos of song lyrics, pastel-colored hair and piercings contributed to the fashion culture as well.
If you are looking to fit these new closet statements into your wardrobe and live up to the Tumblr aesthetic outfit expectations, take a look at these pieces on Amazon.
With flannels that come in over ten different colors, this adorable high-waisted tennis skirt that is incredibly flattering and these crop tops that have the grid patterns nailed down, you’ll be looking like the Tumblr aesthetic in no time. And of course, you can’t forget the most iconic shoes of the era, the combat boots that have all different sizes and colors to fit your style.
The foundation of the Tumblr aesthetic outfit is all based on neutrals and everyday items that most people have lying around in their closets, which makes it easier to adhere to and for others to not participate in the overconsumption of clothes so quickly compared to other fashion trends. The fact that flannels, vintage band-tees and combat boots have been around since the 90s and are now resurfacing almost 30 years later goes to show how timeless these pieces can truly be and have never gone out of style.
Should The Aesthetic Come Back At All?
So, with this Tumblr aesthetic comeback, we shouldn’t have to compromise who we are physically and mentally to adhere to the aesthetic. The trends are changing, but it doesn’t mean we have to! And while the pop culture trends at the time were completely out of this world and amazing, some parts are better left in the past.
But I do think that this collective nostalgia for wanting the current fashion and music trends to reflect those of the 2014 Tumblr era has made a lot of people find comfort in this re-emergence. This era was all about exploring your style, being artsy and creative and learning to appreciate indie pop and pop rock to a whole other level.
So my final verdict? Absolutely yes – I’ve been dying to break out my flannels and my “vintage” One Direction band t-shirts. I’ve never felt as excited to listen to the new music that helped shape my early teens. Especially with the last two and half years being nothing but absolute chaos, I’m glad that we all have decided now that this is the right time and place for us to embrace the aesthetic and do exactly that.
What do you think about the re-emergence of the Tumblr aesthetic? Do you love it or should we leave it in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
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