Seams Unusual: Twee

Welcome back to Seams Unusual, where interesting and uncommon alternative fashions are handed the spotlight. Each issue will delve into the distinguishing features of the unique style, a short history on how the fashion was born, and tips on how you can start putting together your own alternative outfit.

In this last issue of the spring 2017 term, Seams Unusual will be turning its attention to a style that seems to be simultaneously trendy and relatively underground – the “next generation hipster”, twee fashion.

 Twee seems to be an evolved version of the early 2010s hipster, losing the pretentious air, too-tight jeans, and weird facial hair but keeping the charm as well as the attraction to vintage and retro paraphernalia. The fashion is very bookish and somewhat awkward – think old-timey librarian or uniformed schoolgirl/schoolboy from the days of yore.  Consisting of items such as button-down shirts and skirts, cardigans, over-sized sweaters, floral dresses, pleated skirts, bomber jackets, and leather boots, the look instantly portrays a very autumnal picture, like something out of a back-to-school Ivy League clothing catalogue. The aim is to look sweet and romantic, adorned in dainty brooches and vintage necklaces, plaid scarves and leather belts, with a hint of mischievous schoolkid flair. Twee has such a cute and put-together appearance, and, paired with actual vintage pieces, it makes for a timeless look.

The name of the fashion itself comes from the sound a young child would make when attempting to say the word “sweet”, instantly lending to the cute and youthful aesthetic of the style. It’s supposed to mean “pretty” or “nice”, especially when used to describe something endearingly nostalgic. However, it can also be used in a condescending manner, if something is excessively quaint or over-the-top kitschy and sentimental. Placing the exact beginnings of twee fashion is a little difficult, although it seems to have come into the picture at the same time as the modern definition of a hipster and grew alongside it. While they are fundamentally different alternative fashions with different core values in not only their choice in clothes but also the foundations of the accompanying lifestyles, both twee and hipster fashions incorporated the same trends at the time as well as set the trends by bringing back components of vintage wardrobes.

This is definitely a fashion to hit the vintage stores for. While you can get some new items from regular clothing stores selling trending revivals of old-fashioned pieces (oxford shoes, chunky cable-knit cardigans, plaid button-down shirts, etc.), the entirety of twee fashion revolves around vintage clothing. If you can get your hands on a real retro school uniform, scratchy wool sweater, pleated tartan skirt, and all, you’re golden. As long as puberty didn’t work on you and you’re still the same size as a schoolkid so you can actually fit in the uniform (like a certain Iron Warrior staff writer, sigh). With July coming to a close and malls starting to stock their back-to-school wares, now is the perfect time to consider giving your wardrobe a twee overhaul.

(This article was not sponsored by the local vintage clothing stores. I swear.)

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