ironic fashion is no joke


illustration: marina difranco

With the recent revival of all things Y2K, style that is anything but safe has been in heavy rotation. The early 2000s are known for the micro mini, butterfly clips, the classic Juicy tracksuit and most importantly the baby tee. Paris Hilton, the unapologetic Y2K “it” girl, paved the way for the “tacky-chic” aesthetics that are so popular today. With her party girl vibes and embrace of “bimbo-fied” style, she was a pop culture and fashion revolutionary. Paris popularized the ironic baby tee as she stepped out wearing pieces with iconic sayings including “that’s hot,” “stop being poor” and “don’t be jealous” written in large font across her chest. Y2K fashion choices have made their way back to the mainstream. The resurgence also has contributed to the rise of very eccentric personal style trends, such as those worn by popular creators like Clara, better known as TinyJewishGirl on TikTok. 

All of this has contributed to the notion of “irony” as a strategic fashion choice. Think: Crocs as an “ugly-chic” shoe choice and fisherman bucket hats topping off an outfit worn for clubbing. The thing that is special about irony in fashion is that the humor of an unaccepted and maybe even “unfashionable” piece can make an outfit all the more eye-catching and thought-provoking. What is fashion if not a statement? 


As some of us watch the community of “unhinged fashion girlies” on social media platforms gain views and follows by being so entirely themselves while pulling out the most avant garde and shocking looks, we are more willing to make more choices outside of the mainstream ourselves. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about dressing to shock, and irony as a look does just that. Paris Hilton may have blazed the trail with her funny and provocative tees back in the early 2000s, but the fashion influencers that rule the “for you” page on your socials have taken irony in fashion a step beyond, combining the most untamed silhouettes, prints and accessories into one statement outfit. The beauty of fashion is that it is personal. Something that may seem “laughable” to one person may just be the perfect recipe for a highly fashionable ensemble. 

What I like so much about these avant garde creators is that they have a certain sense of self awareness that their taste in clothes may be shocking, confusing and maybe even unpleasant to some, but they embrace it anyway, which is what makes their fashion choices more effective. When employing a sort of irony that is backed by self-awareness, the outfit choices truly stand out. You can sense the sheer confidence radiating from the person wearing the clothes. Humor and a little sarcasm in clothing choices adds fun and playfulness to “high fashion,” which otherwise is mostly seen as being quite serious. Now, I am not saying that all outfits thrown together with a funny-slogan tee and some old-school Crocs is high fashion per se. But an outfit that has some aspects of irony and intentional “unfashionable” aspects to it can have a very fashion-forward effect. 

The purpose of fashion is to make the wearer and the viewer both feel something. There is no better feeling than being able to smile along with another person. So go out there and wear your most ironic looks, because “that’s hot.”


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Hi, I’m Grace Avery, the Editor In Chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.