Move over vanilla girl, there's a new TikTok tribe in town. She's a soft girl, wearing head-to-toe pastels with a smattering of faux freckles painted over rosy pink blush and butterfly claw clips in her hair. Racking up more than 179.8 million views to date, the soft girl aesthetic is the latest trend to take the internet by storm and there's so much more to it than meets the eye.
So what exactly is the soft girl aesthetic? The look is deliberately hyper feminine and kittenish. It celebrates all things girly – think frills, bows and pastels that draw inspiration from Bratz dolls, Y2K nostalgic fashion and beauty, manga comics and Kawaii culture (a.k.a, the culture of ‘cuteness’ in Japan). You can expect to see lots of pink, pearls, hair accessories, clouds and floral motifs.
Ariana Grande is arguably the poster girl for soft girls everywhere; she's sexy yet sweet, owns her femininity but also bosses it as powerful player in the music industry. In other words, the soft girl is an empowered version of the cute girl-next-door – that, or a kick-ass Disney princess.
Mood boards for the aesthetic also feature Taylor Swift, Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf, Sydney Sweeney's pink Miu Miu outfit at the 2022 MTV Movie and TV Awards and her onscreen character Cassie Howard in Euphoria, who has a penchant for pink lipgloss and cropped fluffy knitwear.
Speaking of which, a soft girl's fashion sense leans towards crop tops, milkmaid dresses and tie cardigans paired with chunky white trainers, bucket hats and the ultimate Y2K accessory: a baguette bag. Off-duty, she also likes a soft-textured, oversized hoodie.
In this sense, the soft girl is edgier than the vanilla girl with her cosy, beige vibes and less ornamental than fans of Regency-core or the coquette aesthetic. For how to master soft girl style, check out this viral video by TikTok star Nava Rose, who has over 5.9 million followers.
How to recreate soft girl hair and makeup
A black elongated cat eye, feathery false lashes, laminated brows and pouty pink lips are major trademarks of the soft girl aesthetic. Think modern boudoir.
Cheeks are highlighted and heavily rouged with fake freckles that spill over onto the nose. Sometimes tiny motifs such as hearts are stamped onto the face, too.
The type of hair clips favoured by pre-teens, featuring brightly coloured butterflies or flowers, complete the look.
The soft girl aesthetic is about more than cuteness, though
The soft girl aesthetic is indebted to the Nigerian influencer community, which originally coined the term to describe wearing your most comfortable clothes while making your wellbeing and a gentler, easier life a priority.
Its evolution is reflected in the hashtag #SoftGirlSummer – an amalgamation of the Black colloquialism “soft life” and Megan Thee Stallion's trademarked “hot girl summer” – which is also trending on TikTok.
At the same time, the soft girl aesthetic is about exploring a traditionally feminine side of your character in a safe, happy space. But, all importantly, this femininity does not rule out your intelligence or resilience.
It's also about getting in touch with a softer, gentler side of life as a coping mechanism when times get tough – which, given the turbulence of the last few years, means the soft girl trend is seemingly here to stay.
The best soft girl looks
For more from Fiona Embleton, GLAMOUR's Acting Associate Beauty Director, follow her on @fiembleton.