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Dark vs. Light


The Return of the Grunge E-Girl Aesthetic

Photographed by Ananya Balakrishnan ’26

Photos edited by Eliza White ’26

Makeup by Akasha Brahmbhatt ’25

Modeled by Claire Cao ’26 and Ariel Smith ’25

Assisted by Olivia Hewang ’26


Claire Cao '26

How would you describe the aesthetic you choose?

Like dark, bold, and a lot of layering with silvers and black. More grungy, but you can go both ways. It's a very powerful aesthetic, especially with the dark colors. It's relatively modern, it became popular online, it transformed darker aesthetics, and a lot of times it's accompanied by bold and colorful makeup. Don't feel like it's original. Inspired by grunge aesthetics. The makeup is out there.

Why did you choose this aesthetic? What speaks to you?

It makes me feel powerful when I'm dressed up in E-girl fashion. Wore a pair of white platform docs - I feel like docs, especially if they're platform, make you feel powerful. With platform or heeled things you feel powerful. I really liked how modern it is. You see it on social media, but when shooting we wanted to make it more elevated - transforming into something that might become a staple. Online, you see fashion trends that come and go. We wanted to make it more intransient. It's not going to fade.


How does each piece you chose contribute to the outfit?

Wore a black satin dress with lace on the top, and then thigh highs with garters and bows. It was dark, and I wore brighter pink makeup, and I liked the outfit in contrast with the makeup. One of the reasons I wore the black dress was that it was really an outfit. I do feel that it elevated the E-girl aesthetic — made it more sophisticated. A lot of people see it as this online personality, especially on TikTok where it became popular, but that's why I wanted to go one step above. People see it as trendy or trashy, and I wanted to make it elevated. 

Were there any challenges when designing this look?

It was challenging getting some of the pieces. I didn't have garters, so I went to Spencers and got them. Everything else I already owned, and that speaks to how it's wearable. It helped with my confidence. I was able to channel through the aesthetic. I don't usually wear stuff like this, especially now. 

What do you want us to take away from your outfit?

It's an aesthetic that anyone can wear. I also feel like wearing that aesthetic can make you more confident in yourself. I feel like it speaks to being dark, and bold. I love that you can express yourself through the makeup more. I wore pink eyeshadow and pink glitter tears down my face. I feel like there aren't limits or constraints in the E-girl aesthetic, especially with makeup. 

Ariel Smith '25

How would you describe the aesthetic you choose?

It was more like we're borrowing from grunge and 80s punk. It's just a collection of relevant Internet trends, borrowed from animated media — anime, adult cartoons, etc. Hot Topic. Goth Tumblr. Dyed hair, darker colors. It's not a very modest aesthetic. 

Why did you choose this aesthetic? What speaks to you?

I chose this aesthetic because I was thinking more into techno-futurism, but I decided to go more into gothic punk. This isn't an aesthetic that I usually use, but I like the way that it plays within the gothic style, and women owning their sexuality. I liked the darker colors of it. I like the fact that it's not something you throw on — it's carefully planned and invokes a lot of layering. There's a lot of effort. I like the fact that it borrows from other things, and it was reminiscent of the pandemic — E-Girl trends that were all over my TikTok page for a while. Being domineering, and powerful — feeling of control. Even though it wasn't my aesthetic, as soon as I heard E-girl I could picture things from my closet being used in the shoot. 


How does each piece you chose contribute to the outfit?

I wore a sheer top, and over that I wore a corset, an underbust corset. I feel like they complimented each other - the sensuality. Button down was dark brown, the corset the black. I also wore a tennis skirt - that's pretty in line with e-girl. With the slightly considered a submissive piece of clothing, the way that it's originally viewed in a male-gaze-y way. You're making it into something — it's now become a fashionable piece that I chose out. I feel like it went with the button because they were both brown. The button down was see-through, so it was a contrast between the sheer and the more solid brown. I did a purple, futuristic kind of look — we thought it contrasted the brown and matched my skin tone. The blush was galaxy-like shimmery purple. I wore Mary Jane platforms, the more classic silhouette, but it's elevated with the platform. The added height, and with the height it's giving more domineering energy. 

Were there any challenges when designing this look?

 I just wanted to make sure within the look, not buying anything, working within my closet, settling with something and being ok with it. It was pieces that I already had –- making sure they came together, trying them on beforehand. It was just kind of hard to imagine them together, since E-Girl isn't usually my style. Akasha really helped the makeup. We compiled an image beforehand of what we wanted to go for: gothic punk, exaggerated eye shadow. It came together. As soon as I heard “E-Girl,” I was already processing the outfit.

What do you want us to take away from your outfit?

The mixing of a more neutral color palette. The majority of my outfit was brown and black. I feel like people feel like they can't have fun with those colors, but they can. Playing with silhouettes, textures, things like that. I feel like people might think it's a passing trend, but it's not. E-Girl is a compilation of older trends coming back, and the new generations’ take on it.


Directed by Lila Joffe ’25
Photographed by Anna Vorhaben ’25
Makeup by Rebecca Thompson ’25
Modeled by Ainsley Crist ’26 and Rebecca Thompson '25
Assisted by Katie Jacques ’26


Interview by Emma Lee '24 & Sylvia Nica '25

How would you describe the aesthetic you choose?

Rebecca: I think that it's very soft. It's very traditionally feminine. When I think of it, it's very white and pink. Lots of lace and pearls. There are some similarities to the Lolita aesthetic, but it's less extreme and more refined and mature. It gives me Lana Del Ray vibes. 


Ainsley: It's idealistic, in a way. It glorifies being really skinny, and honestly wealthy-European in a way - pearls, going to museums. It's very put together, very frilly, light, kind of messy French girl - borders on messy French and ballet core. It's definitely neutral - the only color you really see is light pinks, neutrals, lots of white, lots of cream. It's not something that's very showy - the appeal of coquette comes from being reserved and not trying. 

Why did you choose this aesthetic? What speaks to you?

Rebecca: It's almost because of Lana Del Ray. We were talking about her. I think of myself as styling more feminine, so it's interesting to experiment with something that's similar to what I like, but not exactly in my comfort Zone. I think just like feeling put together - that's another thing about it. It's very clean, aesthetic, put together - perfect make up hair, all of that. To me, that's very nice. 


Ainsley: I actually am a ballet dancer, so when people are like "let's do coquette," I have the light pink leg warmers, I have the pointe shoes. It was definitely something where I naturally had a lot of the clothes for it — something I see a lot on social media. There are days when I wake up and want to try coquette today, especially in a Wellesley setting, where everyone is more put together. I naturally had a lot of the pieces. What speaks to me — it's kind of fake. You see it on social media, you just know - even when taking the photos, everything is meticulously configured to make it look like no effort. We spent so much time configuring the pointe shoes, the perfume bottles — to make it look messy. Glamourising the style of not looking put together - which I think is harmful. We dramatized it in the shoot: high angles, which made the models more vulnerable. If you look up coquette on Pinterest, you don't even really see faces — you feel alienated from the model, which isn't how it is in real life. It's not really pristine, or put together.

How does each piece you chose contribute to the outfit?

Rebecca: I had a few outfit changes before I decided. I ended up borrowing my roommate's dress. It had lace detailing on the top, little pink floral roses and it was white. Wore it with hair clips, pearl necklace, white chunky shoes. Reminded me the most of what i had available that was coquette - light colored, short dress. Pearls are also a quintessential part of coquette. Clean, aesthetic, and quintessential. I think the dress reflected the pearls in that it was white, clean, and it was just very feminine. Part of coquette is taking something traditional, like pearl and lake, and making it more modern and youthful.


Ainsley: I wore white knee high socks, which I feel like was a really good choice because I also had pink leg warmers. We didn't want to go “too ballet.” White is a very main thing of coquette. I did a little black pleated skirt. The pleats to the academic, put-together side. The top was the embodiment of coquette. It had the tan lace and in-the-middle, mesh. If I think of coquette, that pops into my head. I also had pearls. Every aspect played into put together, the shade of white on top matched the socks, which matched the pearls. It had the academic, put-together and poised vibe with the pleating. I did my hair as normal, which is a blown out look — you look up coquette and most of the girls have long brown blown out hair. Makeup, I kept it simple — brown eyeliner, shimmery eyeshadow - going for that put together and clean look. 


Were there any challenges when designing this look?

Rebecca: It took 3 outfit changes to land on something I consider coquette. In my closet I had stuff that were mostly black, or bright colors, which doesn't go as well with this aesthetic. It is more extreme than what I am used to. While we were posing and taking photos, there were also challenges. How do I pose to be coquette? What does that look like? How can we incorporate other things we have into the shoot?


Ainsley: My friend Katy put everything together. She said she was unsure about the black skirt, because it contrasted with the top, but with the white knee high socks, it fit together. It was hard to pose. At one point, Ana told me to look dead in the eyes, and I was like "how do i do this?" It did feel a little awkward at first, just because we were shooting in someone else's dorm room. The lighting was off, but the photos in the bathroom are really amazing. Ana did a really great job with all the angles, and I got more comfortable with posing and changing out the poses. I got more comfortable throughout the process. 


What do you want us to take away from your outfit?

Rebecca: Don't be afraid of femininity. Experimenting with different aesthetics is something everyone should try. No one should be tied to one specific thing just because that's what they think they should be tied to. Express yourself, try everything. 


Ainsley: I think the point of the aesthetic is that it has that empty feeling. I think it's cute clothes, and works, but it's not anything I would look at and think "that's really creative." There's honestly nothing special about that outfit. It works and it's a cute outfit — the point of coquette is that it's painfully simple and uninteresting. You didn't try, but you still look nice and put-together. That's where the subtle details come in the lace, the pearls. Subtle, feminine details, but nothing that should particularly draw your eye. 

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