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We Asked Gen Zers To Style ‘Ugly’ Fashion Trends

We Asked Gen Zers To Style 'Ugly' Fashion Trends

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From how they spend their time to how they communicate (hello TikTok!Gen Z people live very different lives to the rest of us. But as HelloGiggles’ Generation Next explores, there’s a lot we can learn from them—whether it’s their need for mental health support, their drive for self-expression, or their commitment to making the world a more inclusive place for all.

The reemergence of old trends that were once buried is a hallmark of every generation. The baby boomers brought back knee high boots. Millennials did mom jeans. And Gen Z? Gen Z?

Some Gen Zers have caused quite a stir by declaring certain fashion trends “in”Others are not “out”They are doing the same things as every generation before them, including the skinny jeans and side-parts scandal. According to the fashion cycle, it repeats itself every 20 years. So it makes perfect sense that Gen Z is currently trying to revive early ’00s fashion trends. However, there’s one thing that makes Gen Z style undeniably different from generations before—the influence of the internet.

Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world. Gen Z has access to all the latest trends via their smartphones, social media platforms, and before they even hit the magazine racks. Although they may follow some of the same trends, Gen Z’s styling skills and fashion knowledge are so impressive, we’re certain they’re all fashion experts.

They are so convincing that they make even the most controversial fashion trends look chic. For example, Crocs—those rubber clogs from the early 2000s—have come back in full force. The brand’s sales soared 64% in 2020. This is likely due to many people looking for comfortable footwear during the pandemic. But also, according to the brand, because of the way teenagers are embracing their own expression.

We challenged three Gen Zers to make four, in order to really test their styling skills. “ugly” fashion items—a sweater vest, a pair of Crocs, a quilted jacket, and gym shorts—look cool. We gave each person two items and they each chose their own style. Check out their style and get all the fashion tips.

Nailah, 21, who is a streetwear fashion shopper, says she often uses the internet for styling looks. “I always go to Pinterest for inspiration,”She said. “It just has everything and it has an algorithm so it knows what I want to see.”

Coffey was so excited when we gave her a pair Classic Crocs in lime zest to style. “Crocs outfits”Use the search bar to find your look. An oversized graphic Tshirt with a purse, gold jewelry, tie dye socks, big sunglasses, and Crocs was what she chose. She chose a Rolling Stones logo T-shirt that reflected the bright green colors of the shoes. She also made a purse belt by tying the chain of a standard shoulder bag around her waist to make a belted bag. Coffey then added baubles to her outfit by choosing a mix of delicate and chunkier pieces.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

She explains that the T-shirt dress with an accessory is a timeless option for casual wear. It’s easy to style and comfortable.

Coffey claims that Crocs are still fashionable, even though they are no longer mainstream. Coffey believes that Crocs are still fashionable. “ugly”Fashion is subjective. She approaches dressing differently to others because she is more comfortable. “If you like it, wear it. If you’re confident in it, wear it,”She speaks out about her fashion motto. “At the end of the day, if someone says something, that’s their personal opinion.”

Coffey said that she still loves skinny jeans, despite the fact that many Gen Zers have forced them to go to the land of fashion castaways. “My go-to outfit is some skinny jeans and a cami or just like a plain shirt,”She reveals that she is comfortable in any style of jeans she chooses, depending on the day.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

Sam Lane 23-year-old is opposed to the inclusion of skinny jeans in her wardrobe. She doesn’t think they are out of fashion, but she doesn’t like how they look. “I don’t really follow many [fashion] rules, but I don’t like to wear tight pants,”She explains.

Lane describes Lane’s style as “eclectic,”Noting that she loves to pair contrasting pieces and to “mix feminine and masculine elements”In her outfits. She styled the pair of Classic Crocs in orchid she was given with a feminine and playful approach. She paired the light purple clogs and a denim jacket in the same shade, a white cropped top, a purple plaid mini-skirt, and a small purse in contrast. Because Lane loves purple, it was easy for her find pieces in her closet to pair with the brightly-colored Crocs.

“I like to do monochromatic outfits a lot and I think that it’s fun with Crocs because they’re such fun colors, that if you incorporate [the color] throughout, your entire outfit stands out,”She said.

Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography by Jasmine Purdie. Design by Emily Lundin

Lane added black and white checkered socks to the Crocs to make them more fashion-forward and stylish. “When people think of Crocs, they just think of little kids wearing them to the beach,”She said, “So if you’re wearing them without socks, it’s kind of like they’re just regular sandals. But the socks add a more fun element that can tie into the rest of the outfit and make it more interesting.”

Lane also wore an orange Nike Nike gym short, which she styled in a different outfit. We asked Lane for her masculine fashion style. Lane chose to pair the Nike retro shorts with tight white tank tops, since they were boxer-inspired. She then added accessories to her look, adding a button-down short-sleeve in a fun pattern and a silver chain, denim bucket hat, and rings.

Lane says that accessory styling is the key to taking an athleisure piece from sporty to chic. “I definitely think accessories and shoes can change the look,”She said. “If you’re wearing gym shorts or any type of athleisure, and you’re also wearing athletic sneakers and not wearing any jewelry or anything, it can kind of just look like you’re going to work out.”

It’s all about changing what the word means. Lane wore Converse platform high-top Converse instead of athletic sneakers. “I wouldn’t work out in those shoes,”She explained how the platforms offered more contrast to the shorts.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

Genesis Rivas is a 24-year-old woman who is right at the edge of Gen Z & Millennial. She also wore a pair Wknd Nation red gym shorts. It was done in such a manner that it thankfully did not lead to flashbacks of P.E. class. Lane took a different approach to styling her sweat shorts. Rivas was particularly concerned about balancing the bold colors with neutrals when styling the pair of pink and red sweat shorts. “It was very out of my comfort zone,”She says she doesn’t like bright colors and considers her style classic. “professional casual,”She was at work, at least, before the pandemic.


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“But what made me feel comfortable was pairing [the shorts] with surrounding colors that are very simple,”Rivas sats. Rivas wore the shorts with a white button-down and cropped white tank top. She also added a white mini purse and white sneakers.

Rivas, just like Lane, contrasted the athletic look of the shorts to jewelry. “I loved pairing it with a gold chunky necklace and gold hoop earrings because it just adds a little bit of that juxtaposition of like, ‘I’m supposed to be in lax, leisurely sports clothing, but I’m also adding my own little bit of femininity and jewelry, because that’s what makes me feel comfortable.'”

Rivas made the shorts the focal point of her glammed up athleisure look by styling them with the Rudy Quilted Bomber Jacket, which she also wore from Free People.”[The jacket] is a very loud piece already, and I didn’t want to take away from that,”Rivas said. “I wanted that to be the focus of [the outfit], so I kept everything underneath pretty simple.”To balance out the jacket’s baggy shape, she chose a beige suit and loose denim jeans.”because they go with everything”.

Then, feeling like the shoes were too boring, she went with them. “a really chunky white combat boot, because I felt like it lent itself for another style moment without taking away from the actual centerpiece, which was the jacket,”She explains. Rivas also chose a white purse that was almost microscopic to add an extra, but not distracting, element to the look.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

Rivas suggests that you build an outfit from a bolder item and add neutrals or basic pieces to make it more comfortable. “ugly”Trends that are more frightening or threatening. “Pick one piece that you think is a statement piece—whether it’s a jacket or a really funky pair of shoes—and then style it with things that make you feel comfortable,”She offers her advice.

Coffey, who said she’s starting identify as someone who wants “to be the most overdressed person in the room,”She enjoys wearing bold pieces with bold accessories and leaning on statement pieces. When we asked her how to style a bubblegum pink sweater jacket, she immediately suggested it. “the perfect shoes”Wear it with strappy lace up heels in a matching shade pink.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

The vest was layered over a large button-down in white, resembling Clueless-inspired styling. To complete the preppy, yet playful look, she added a pink purse with chunky chain strap, matching pink lips gloss, big hoop earrings and a nameplate necklace.

Gen Z fashion has many options. You can choose to find comfort in neutrals such as Rivas or you can mix and match like Lane. Or maybe you want to stand out like Coffey. Rivas was a high school student from 2011 to 2015. With the end of the millennial age, she says she remembers how “fitting in”It was often more important to express creativity than it was to be creative. As she keeps up to date with the ever-changing fashion trends on TikTok, and watches how her younger sister dresses, she is beginning to notice how culture has changed.

“I definitely think it’s more accepting and normalized now to just kind of wear whatever the heck you want and not be judged for it,”Rivas states.


Credit: HelloGiggles. Photography: Jasmine Purdie. Design/Illustration : Emily Lundin

The Gen Z generation’s emphasis on individuality, and celebration of nonconformity, is not limited to fashion. According to a 2016 report by trend forecasting agency J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, Gen Z respondents were more open-minded regarding issues of gender and sexuality than their Millennial counterparts. Whether Gen Zers are creating safe spaces online for queer people or rocking out, it is clear that they are open-minded about sexuality. “ugly”Fashion trends are seen on the streets, and they seem to be dedicated to encouraging others to be themselves.

Lane can support this with her own experiences. “In college, when I would dress how I wanted to and just wear stuff I thought was cool, I had a lot of encouragement from people around me,”She said. “So I feel like this generation just likes to see people being themselves and wearing what they want to wear and taking fashion risks.”

If you stare at a piece of clothing and don’t know if it is too small, “ugly,”These Gen Zers can be bold or too extreme, but they all offer the same advice: Just do it.


Editors: Raven Ishak, Rachel Simon

Photographer: Jasmine Purdie

Art Director: Jenna Brillhart

Beauty/Fashion Direction: Morgan Noll

Photo Assistant: Connor McRory

Design & Illustration by Emily Lundin

Hayley Mason is Digital Content Director

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