Okay, so you’ve probably been hearing about VSCO girls — and wondering what this means and if you need to start using the term in everyday conversations. Truth: I had heard about it a few times, knew next to nothing about the trend, but I let myself off the hook about it because, well, I’m a mom to two boys who are ages 4 and 1 and are generally into Spider-Man, not scrunchies. (Scrunchies are key.) The out-of-it-mom is certainly filtering through my perspective, here, BTW.
So that’s why I turned to my sister, who is 10 years my junior and my through line to those who are far cooler and trendier than me. What is a VSCO girl? She first put me in touch with her friend Julianne Ishler, a 28-year-old in Chicago. “If I were 7 years younger, I would be a full-throttle VSCO girl,” she says, admitting that she’s gone to work unintentionally dressed in the aesthetic, wearing tie-dye, a cheetah headband, and a scrunchie with my hair up in a messy bun.
You can tell a VSCO girl from the way she dresses, but there's more to it than that.
Explaining to me how to spot a VSCO girl in the wild, Ishler describes them like this:
“They wear Brandy Melville one-size-fits-all tees/hoodies/sweaters, bright Nike sneakers or Vans, and probably have at least three scrunchies on their hand at all times. Their phone case and Hydroflask are probably covered in the cute little Glossier stickers that came with their Boy Brow. They're definitely listening to Billie Eilish or Clairo in their AirPods.”
That’s … well … a lot. So, you’ve got more than just the clothing they wear, but an entire vibe.
The aesthetic includes being eco-conscious, too. They wouldn’t think about using a plastic straw because you’ve gotta save the turtles. Plastic water bottles are out, too, in favor of Hydroflasks. (Oh, and by the way, you say "VSCO" so it rhymes with "disco." It sure sounds dorky for me to put that here, but it’ll help you out.)
VSCO girls found their origin on a photo-editing app, but blew up on TikTok.
The whole idea of a VSCO girl got its start in a way that people who were in college when Facebook was invented (e.g., me) have trouble grasping. VSCO is a photo editing app known for its artier images, Nicki Clark, a 20-year-old student from Butler University explained to me on the phone. You can use it to place filters on your photos that make it look all California breezy, much like a VSCO girl is.
This became a sort of caricature that gained popularity via TikTok, another social media app loved by Gen Z, where users post short videos in hopes that they’ll go viral. “When I first got on TikTok, the VSCO girl was a big joke that was being made,” says Clark. When people on TikTok began posting parody videos of their imitation of a VSCO girl, the trend blew up and continued to go strong until late last fall, says Clark.
Ultimately, though “it grew into something bigger,” says Clark. Much like the "OK Boomer" meme, the idea took on a life of its own. It may have started out as a joke, but now there are real-in-life VSCO girls — and now you know how to spot them. But it's okay if you call them out on it. “Being labeled as a VSCO girl isn’t a bad thing at all," Clark says. "It’s not a put down.”
That’s great, because this is how basically every teen girl in my Chicago-area suburban neighborhood dressed last summer. Though it’s winter now, so short shorts have been traded for pants and big coats. “There could be a lot of worse things than someone who spends their chore money on velvet scrunchies and convinces you to stop getting your coffee with dairy milk,” says Ishler. “So much of their identity is on social media — you can’t exactly walk around with a filter on in the real world — but I think that VSCO girls live on through the vibe they carry with them.”
For can't-miss news, expert beauty advice, genius home solutions, delicious recipes, and lots more, sign up for the Good Housekeeping newsletter.
You Might Also Like