Back to Subversive Basics

This high-fashion trend with a DIY spirit is taking over our screens.

Black trench coats. Dilapidated undergarments. Earth-toned clothes with sharp, asymmetrical cutouts. This might sound like the wardrobe call for a ’90s sci-fi flick, but it’s also the current uniform for every NYC cool girl and art school socialite on your TikTok feed. It’s part grunge, part futurism, part anti-fashion protest-wear, and the style’s do-it-yourself ethos means it’s accessible everywhere from Saks to Shoppers. 

The style is called subversive basics — a term coined by TikTok user @thealgorythm in her video breaking down the trend — and it can be found everywhere from the runways of Paris and Milan to your local house show. It’s characterized by natural colours; skintight silhouettes; unbalanced, unexpected cutouts; and heavy layering. Subversive basic devotees often go the DIY route and craft intricate, architectural looks out of rope, twine and cheap stockings, but there are options out there no matter your commitment level. Pair these pieces with oversized sunglasses, chunky boots and a balaclava, and you have the 2022 uniform for casual cool.

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