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Clowncore: Maximalists’ reaction to rigid minimalism in 2023

Clowncore is an invitation to all about ruffles, bright colors, and fun make up in 2023

2023 fashion is all about clowncore. The harlequin patterns, polka dots and oversized detachable collars are an ode to the aesthetics of Pierrot-inspired pantomime characters.

People are shifting to the extreme end of the spectrum in fashion after years of sticking to basics and minimal silhouettes. Here’s what you need to know about this.

Pierrot, a fashion inspiration for today’s designers

For those unfamiliar with this pantomime character, Pierrot is 17th-century’s most fashionable performer and clown in history. He’s been an inspiration for many designers – be it Vivienne Westwood or John Galliano.

His character is an amalgamation of wide human emotions which many designers have attempted to replicate in their pieces.

Major brands are capitalizing on the clowncore concept. Bode has reinterpreted clown suit time and again. Consider YTT, a unisex brand that designs clown-printed skirts and tights with quirky faces that are every bit scary and funny.

Likewise, clown-inspired motifs have been in fashion for a long time now. With the first clown dating back to the 5th Egyptian Dynasty, the character has been a style and fashion inspiration. Take for example Westwood’s 1989 harlequin prints or Freddie Mercury and David Bowie wearing clown-inspired outfits.

2021 also saw an explosion of clowncore on runaways and it’s only getting more theatrical.

people dressed up as clown in parade

Out here having a good time

Just like any other bizarre trend, clowncore is also influenced by TikTok – a platform most beloved by maximalists. The outfits on TikTok celebrate the style aesthetics of clowncore.

Consider Kelley Heyer, a popular content creator on TikTok. She’s known for this particular fashion aesthetic. According to her, the pandemic affected her creative outlet and so she turned to this platform to find joy in sharing her wardrobe online. She coined the word “clowncore” and saw a buzz in the next months as the style took off.

The trend is a departure from rigid principles of minimalism and everything basic. Maximalists are using this aesthetic purely as an outlet for expression. Clowncore isn’t subtle. It’s attention-grabbing but “people are done hiding,” says Heyer.

These pieces allow people to show the world who they are. This celeb-endorsed fashion trend is reminiscent of childhood memories as well as a way to embrace one’s inner performer.

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