Before the pandemic and the introduction of TikTok into my life, I never would’ve pictured myself willingly buying a pair of earmuffs — an accessory I’ve only associated with cold elementary school days — once I entered college.
Yet there I was over winter break, ordering fluffy white fur-trimmed ear muffs the size of my hands the minute I arrived home. From there, I dug through my closet to find my white ankle warmers and puffer to pair them with.
Personal style can change and I’ve become fully swept up in the 2020s Y2K wave. But I knew I wouldn’t have been inclined to incorporate these pieces into my daily outfit without the inspiration of Aliyahcore.
Aliyahcore is a fashion aesthetic popularized by TikTok star Aliyah Bah, otherwise known as @aliyahsinterlude1. Beginning with a chance opportunity to buy the Moon Boots she’d later become synonymous with, Aliyah has inserted herself as a rising star of Gen Z fashion online.
This decade has been one of nostalgia, with many looking back to the 2000s for the styles we loved as kids. With many of our lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, why not take time to explore our personal style?
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Alongside other pandemic-born aesthetics, such as “no-makeup” makeup and neutral basics of the “clean-girl” trend, contemporary Y2K fashion, as seen in Euphoria, has prompted this generation to explore baby tees, all-pink ensembles, mini skirts and low-rise denim.
But 2023, a strong year so far for Y2K, is also predicted to be a year of growing maximalism among Generation Z. The desire to stray from bare neutrals in favor of vibrant colors, different fabric ensembles, over-accessorizing and a sense of individualism has created an internet culture focused on wearing more complex outfits to fit a desired aesthetic.
Influencers, such as Bah, embody the looks that will likely dominate 2023 and provide the perfect template for others to fit certain elements into their daily style.
While Aliyahcore has its signatures, the base of Bah’s style isn’t new and takes heavy inspiration from the outfits worn by Black girl groups of the ’90s and 2000s, as with the rest of the Y2K renaissance. But there are still pieces key to Aliyahcore that differentiate the look from other current aesthetics.
Essentials of Aliyahcore include ear muffs, Moon Boots, fishnets on one leg and a garter belt on the other, mini skirts with stacked chunky belts, fur leg warmers and an inordinate amount of pink and accessories. Bah has even been referenced as inspiration for the growing trend among AirPods Max users to embellish their headsets with knitwear and metallics.
Bah has 2.4 million followers on TikTok while her tag, #aliyahcore, has hit more than 72 million views. The platform has allowed her to demonstrate to her supporters how different colors, textures and layers combine to create an Aliyahcore look. The hashtag features other creators of all backgrounds who’ve shared their interpretations of the style.
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For a generation consumed with self-deprecating humor and burdened by tragedy amplified by the internet, a creator as positive, stylish and inspiring as Bah has been a refreshing sight online. Through her content, she seeks to inspire others, particularly young Black girls like herself, to embrace their creativity and calls for fashion brands to take risks on the “thrifty” creators.
The term “it girl” gets thrown around a lot online, but Bah’s influence on current internet trends and her teased upcoming work with big brands using Aliyahcore has truly earned her that status.
But the main takeaway from her work is striving to be your best, most confident self, always. To be an it girl is more than just your image — it’s in how you carry yourself everyday.
“You need to start seeing yourself in your Super Saiyan, most evolved form at all times!” Bah said in a YouTube video.
For me, seeing Bah strut through a supermarket fitted in fishnets and Moon Boots made me excited to go into class decked out with my own earmuffs.
As Bah says in her videos, “Aliyahcore today, tomorrow, yesterday, the day after that and all of 2023, period!”