If you’re an active social media user, you’ve most likely come across hashtags like adventurecore, cottagecore, or royalcore under posts with expressive visuals. Moreover, in today’s online world, almost every iconic style or trend is embodied in the form of a niche aesthetic recognized by its -core suffix. There are so many of them that you can easily get confused. To help you understand the essence of this phenomenon, we created an extensive guide with key niche aesthetics and atmospheric collections of thematic content. Keep reading to learn more about the trendiest style concepts on social media.
The main thing about niche aesthetics
When speaking of aesthetics, we don’t mean the science of beauty; we’re focusing on a more modern context instead. It’s about lifestyle, as well as visual and artistic elements that express a certain theme, mood, identity, or community affiliation. The emergence of this concept is associated with the new era of social media, in particular TikTok. Today, a new generation of users dominated by Zoomers is popularizing their own styles inspired by vivid examples of popular culture, trends, different historical eras, mythical worlds, and more.
All modern niche aesthetics have a common -core element in their names, which means the essence, the key part of something. It was first used in 1930 in the word ‘hardcore’, meaning an ‘irreducible nucleus’ or a ‘stubborn and unyielding minority’. An interesting fact is that even the trend of naming different movements is called namecore. Niche aesthetics incorporate the key features of a certain concept or lifestyle and its corresponding mood. They also bring together fans of different styles and trends who create fandoms. Aesthetic is usually manifested through images, fashion, decor, and other visual elements.
Now that we’ve discussed the essence of niche aesthetics, let’s take a closer look at the most popular ones. You’ll find 16 exciting styles, and each one embodies a special theme. To fully immerse you in the atmosphere of modern aesthetics, we also prepared exclusive image collections. Join us and explore the worlds of angels and demons, Barbies and robots, and fairy tales and space adventures!
The main aesthetics popular on social media
Visual elements: landscapes, backpacks, maps, hiking gear, tents, compasses
- Indiana Jones movie series, Into the Wild film, The Lord of the Rings movie series;
- Books: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
Remember when you read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, watched Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, and dreamed of exciting adventures and discoveries as a kid? Adventurecore aesthetics embody this spirit of adventure and wanderlust. They encourage the audience to imagine themselves as travelers and set off on adventures. Adventurecore focuses on depicting nature and outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, climbing, kayaking, horseback riding, and the distinctive features of these activities. Nowadays, this aesthetic is incredibly popular on social media, in particular on Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. Adventurecore inspires people to feel like the heroes of their favorite childhood stories and embark on unforgettable journeys.
Visual elements: pink, hearts, princesses, plastic bags, colored sunglasses
- Barbie dolls;
- Movies: “Barbie”, “Legally Blonde”, “13 Going On 30”, “Mean Girls”, “Bring It On”, “A Cinderella Story”, television series: “Lizzie McGuire”, “Hannah Montana”.
Barbiecore is undoubtedly the trendiest aesthetic at the moment. In anticipation of the high-profile premiere of ‘Barbie’ starring Margot Robbie, the popularity of this style is breaking all records. The Mattel brand’s doll with its emphasized femininity and fabulous life was a source of inspiration for many. This image was emulated by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and Paris Hilton. Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods from the Blonde in Law film series of the early 2000’s was a vivid Barbie impersonation in cinema.
Today, leading fashion brands like Valentino and Moschino are turning to barbiecore. Due to its carefree and cheerful nature, this aesthetic is a great way to attract audiences. Imagine life in pink—check out this colorful collection of themed images.
Visual elements: strange creatures, liminal spaces, parts of the face (including eyes and teeth), rainbows, bubbles, balls
- Theatre of the Absurd, the works of Salvador Dali and Man Ray;
- Movies: “An Andalusian Dog”, “Being John Malkovich”, “Inception”, television series: “Twin Peaks”;
- Novels: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, stories by Franz Kafka.
Think of your most amazing and unbelievable dreams. The dreamcore aesthetic creates a mood similar to the feelings experienced in them. It strikes you, makes you question what you’re seeing, and even causes a slight feeling of anxiety. This effect is achieved through the creative use of photo editors, depiction of paradoxical shapes, liminal spaces, emphasis on light or, vice versa, saturated colors. Dreamcore takes viewers to a parallel world that exists under its own unique laws. See for yourself, check out our themed collection.
Visual elements: nature, countryside, country houses, flowers, forests, wooden furniture, natural fabrics
- Movies: “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, “Far from the Madding Crowd”, “Ophelia”, “Midsommar”, television series: “Ann”;
- Books: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.
Cottagecore, which celebrates rural life, is considered one of the main aesthetics and subcultures of Millennials and Zoomers. It originated back in the 2010’s on Tumblr, but really became a trend during the 2020 pandemic. For many people back then, escaping to the countryside was a way to reduce stress and restore inner harmony.
Cottagecore romanticizes rustic activities like picking flowers, berries, and fruits, as well as gardening, outdoor picnics, needlework, pottery, and baking. This aesthetic is the embodiment of a world full of peace and harmony, where there is no place for deadlines, urgent work calls and meetings, or negativity. It’s all about the slow living philosophy—finding joy in simple things.
Visual elements: fanciful images, strange combinations, low-quality images
- Weirdly Wonderful Searches project;
- Amateur photos of the 1990’s and early 2000’s processed in a certain way.
Weirdcore is a surrealist aesthetic similar to dreamcore, but one that often evokes a feeling of cringe. What makes weirdcore so weird? First of all, it is about amateur and low-quality images with incomprehensible characters and plots. We explored the craziest searches on Depositphotos and created a fun themed project that perfectly embodies the weirdcore aesthetic. Where else would you see a horse driving a car, an elephant with butterfly ears, or a biscuit with woman legs? Well, there’s no need to start imagining. Just check out the collection of the weirdest images from our library.
Visual elements: angels, cherubs, cupids, wings, doves, heaven, paradise, golden light
- Movies: “Wings of Desire”, “Faraway, So Close!”, “What Dreams May Come”, “City of Angels”;
- Books: the cycle of “Angels” by Bernard Werber, “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
It is probably hard to find a more elate and harmonious aesthetic than angelcore. As the name implies, it is dedicated to angels and various symbols of these heavenly creatures. Angelcore takes its inspiration from the European tradition of depicting angels with their ethereal beauty. This aesthetic is also closely related to the Rococo style with its tendency to escape from reality into an idyllic world.
The topic of angels is an integral part of popular culture. Everyone turns to it—from the most famous singers to perfume manufacturers. And Victoria’s Secret actually made the angelic aesthetic its trademark; just think of all the “angel” models and wing costumes that walked down the VS runway.
Visual elements: skeletons, blood, horns, black wings, black cat, occult symbols, red and black colors
- Movies: “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Twilight”, “Constantine”, “Underworld”, television series: “Supernatural”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”;
- Books: “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, “Interview with the Vampire” by Ann Rice, novels by Stephen King.
If you had to identify the darkest aesthetic, it would definitely be devilcore. It is the direct opposite of angelcore and focuses on scary and dangerous themes, as well as images associated with evil and wickedness. These can be obvious things like cold steel, blood, satanic signs, or more abstract concepts like the night sky, fire, or abandoned buildings.
In fashion, devilcore is manifested through dark colors, creepy accessories, and religious symbols. This aesthetic intrigues and attracts us with its mystery and ‘forbiddenness’, which is why we love movies about vampires and other monsters. We’re sure our thematic image collection will evoke very similar emotions in you too.
Visual elements: manga, kawaii costumes, themed hairstyles and wigs, anime dolls, fan art
- Anime series: Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Naruto, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Bleach, Elfen Lied, One Piece.
Huge eyes, ringing voices, expressive emotions and bright colors—anime is instantly recognizable. It is not only the visual component that makes it unique, but also the various storylines. Anime authors choose topics that are usually not presented in other animation genres, as they aim to target an older audience, from teenagers to adults. Anime often addresses issues such as the meaning of life, morality, self-determination, loneliness, and more.
This genre, with its kawaii characters and deep ideological implications is gaining fans all over the world. Moreover, anime aesthetics have become one of this year’s main creative trends. Today, leading brands like Adidas and Acura choose it to create exciting, dynamic projects that attract millennials and Zoomers. Discover the unique nature of anime in our exclusive selection of images.
Visual elements: robots, androids, codes, computer graphics, futuristic objects, neon
- Movies: “I, Robot”, “Blade Runner 2049”, movie series: “The Terminator”, “The Matrix”, “Transformers”, television series: “Westworld”, “Raised by Wolves”;
- Books: “The Bicentennial Man” by Isaac Asimov, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick.
In the wake of increasingly rapid innovation, artificial intelligence is reaching a wider audience. The incredible level of technological development that we used to imagine or see in science fiction movies is now a reality, from AI that creates music and paintings to humanoid robots.
This theme is also reflected in the niche aesthetics of robotcore. It embodies a world dominated by robots, but is not limited to them. Much attention is paid to the question of what a civilization created by robots might look like in general. Another popular theme is giving them anthropomorphic features and feelings. If you’d like to imagine what the cyberpunk future might look like, check out our themed collection.
Visual elements: pointe-shoes, tutu skirts, ballet bun, chiffon, ribbons, pastel colors, swans
- Movies: “Black Swan”, “Billy Elliot”, “Suspiria”, television series: “Tiny pretty things”;
- Books: “Dancers” by Annie Leibovitz, “Ma Vie – from Kiev to Kiev: An Autobiography” by Serge Lifar.
Balletcore aesthetics, which originated in 2022 on TikTok, are primarily related to fashion. Ballet, as well as the sophisticated and elegant outfits of professional ballet dancers have always inspired designers, from Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier to Giambattista Valli. And millennials remember the iconic image of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in a tutu skirt in the Sex and the City TV series.
Currently, the ballet style is going through a revival and gaining followers among younger generations. Despite the focus on costumes, balletcore aesthetics include other aspects too, with sensuality and femininity being key characteristics. It is also reflected in the popular social media movement of romanticizing life, which is shown through the desire to surround oneself with beautiful and sophisticated things.
Visual elements: bright colors, toys, rainbows, balloons, stickers, cotton candy
- Children’s books;
- Animated television series: “Scooby-Doo”, “SpongeBob SquarePants”, “My little pony”, “PAW Patrol”, “Toy Story”, television show: “Sesame Street”.
The colorful kidcore aesthetic triggers memories of a carefree childhood full of fun and joy. Its origins can be traced back to the 1970’s, but as a separate style, it developed in the 2010’s. Kidcore can be recognized by its bright toyish colors and various children’s themes. If you grew up in the 1990’s, you are definitely familiar with the storylines behind this aesthetic—they take inspiration from this period. The main thing about kidcore is a feeling of nostalgia, which can cheer you up and inspire optimism. See for yourself by exploring our selection of playful images.
Visual elements: exotic landscapes, beaches, palm trees, sun loungers, swimming pools, fruit, cocktails, straw hats
- Movies: “Eat Pray Love”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, “Magic in the Moonlight”, “Mamma Mia”, television series: “The White Lotus”;
- Books: “Tender Is the Night” by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, “Call Me by Your Name” by André Aciman.
Vacationcore is an aesthetic that will make you dream of a summer vacation by the sea even more. It is close to adventurecore, but is more about a comfortable vacation in European resorts and luxury hotels. Just think of the atmospheric photos of Instagram influencers from the Riviera, the Amalfi Coast, or the Greek islands, which look like paradise. This TikTok-originated aesthetic embodies everything that most people expect from a summer vacation: sea, sun, and maximum relaxation. Its carefree mood is also reflected in our special selection of images.
Visual elements: neutral colors, simple and basic things (jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, sneakers), phones, social media, emojis
- Сasual style;
- Movies: “The Notebook”, “High School Musical”, “P.S. I Love You”; television series: “Friends”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “How I Met Your Mother”.
What looks like an absolute lack of a specific aesthetic can be an aesthetic, too. It’s called normcore. The key idea of this style is to not stand out from the crowd. First of all, this can be seen through clothing choice, which is as simple and unpretentious as possible. A great illustration of normcore is the casual style of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or Leonardo DiCaprio. But in fact, this aesthetic is not limited to outfits. Normcore suggests not wasting energy on fancy looks, but finding freedom in simplicity. This also includes daily activities that bring us joy, such as meeting our friends, walking our pets, or self-care. Explore our thematic content collection and find out what forms normcore can take.
Visual elements: forest, flower fields, gardens, fairies, elves, forest plants and animals, butterflies, magic glow
- Movies: “Labyrinth”, “Stardust”, “Maleficent”, “The Lord of the Rings” movie series, television series: “Once Upon a Time”;
- Books: “Peter Pan” by James Matthew Barrie, “Jack, the Giant Killer” by Charles De Lint.
If you like the fantasy genre, fairycore will definitely speak to you. This aesthetic is full of fairy-tale elements and a magical glow. Its main characters are various creatures such as fairies, elves, and nymphs, and its central theme is nature.
When it comes to fairycore, we see natural scenes that look like they were taken from the pages of our favorite fairy tales or fantasy films. This effect is achieved through artistic processing that adds soft glow, blur, and shine to images. This aesthetic is quite close to cottagecore, as both romanticize nature. However, fairycore is unique in that it reflects a fairy-tale world, not the real world.
Visual elements: crowns, other symbols of royalty, jewelry, palaces, exquisite interiors and costumes
- Movies: “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “The Young Victoria”, “Marie Antoinette”, “Elizabeth” movie series, television series: “The Tudors”, “Versailles”, “The Crown”, “Bridgerton”, “Game of Thrones”;
- Novels by Alexandre Dumas, plays by William Shakespeare.
For a modern audience, it might seem like the topic of royalty should look like a relic of the past. But in fact, it arouses great curiosity, fueled by sensations about members of the ruling dynasties, including the Windsor. The majestic and romantic atmosphere associated with royalty is embodied in royalcore.
TV shows like The Crown and Bridgerton made it incredibly popular, and social media turned it into a real trend; on TikTok alone, royalcore aesthetic content has over 600 million views. Try experimenting with this vibrant aesthetic, reinterpreting the luxurious style in a modern way.
Visual elements: space, planets, stars, telescopes, observatories, astronauts, UFOs, spacecraft
- Movies: “Apollo 13”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “The Martian”, “Interstellar”, “Gravity”, “Don’t Look Up”, “Dune”, “Star Wars” movie series;
- Books: “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury, “Solaris” by Stanisław Lem, “The Three-Body Problem” Liu Cixin.
Today, space technology has reached a level that allows us to build bold plans, like the colonization of Mars. People all over the world are enthusiastically following the successes of NASA and SpaceX, all while discovering the mysterious world of space. This trendy topic is predictably reflected in the niche aesthetics of spacecore. In addition to content about planets, stars, and various celestial phenomena, it also covers the concepts of interstellar travel and extraterrestrial life. We invite you to embark on a virtual space journey with our themed collection of images.
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