Europop group Aqua may have been the first to tout being “a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world,” but now everyone has realized that living in plastic is truly fantastic. The doll is no longer just a childhood mascot; she is the star of the eponymous summer blockbuster And the leader of a global fashion trend known as Barbiecore. Yes, Barbie really is “everything,” so it’s no surprise that everyone wants to embrace her signature style. With over 420 million views on TikTok alone, the #barbiecore the aesthetic is a clothing-inspired bubblegum pink dopamine rush. Searches for “Barbiecore” on Pinterest also increased by 980% in July 2023, a spokesperson for the image-sharing platform said. TMZ.
But just in case you’re living at the bottom of a toy chest, prime time is where you hopped on the trend. After all, the long-awaited Barbie The movie premieres today, July 21, so it’s *officially* Barbie World, and we’re just living in it!
Ready to jump on the #barbie train? With the Barbie movie in theaters nationwide, it’s time to take the internet trend from dollhouse to IRL. Ahead, fashion experts tell you everything you need to know about Barbiecore: what it is, when the trend started and how to get the look. Come on Barbie, let’s party!
What is Barbiecore?
Inspired by the doll’s kitschy outfits, the Barbiecore aesthetic embraces over-the-top, usually monochromatic looks with tons of pink hues and funky silhouettes, like mini dresses paired with larger-than-life platform shoes.
There’s no stopping the imagination in the world of Barbie, and that rings especially true when it comes to style. The quintessential Barbiecore aesthetic is decidedly bright and bold, decidedly fun and hyper-feminine, fueled by both nostalgic and modern silhouettes. “The best translation of Barbiecore in the past would be the first things – think cheeky, very feminine – embracing trends like the influx of mini skirts, baby t-shirts, mini dresses and, of course, the color pink,” says style expert Kendall Becker. It’s also about maximalism, with outfits usually adorned with sequins and sparkles galore.
Rian Phin is a fashion critic and content creator based in New York.
Brandii Stuart is a New York-based pre-owned style expert.
Unsurprisingly, the celebrity leading the Barbiecore trend is none other than Barbie star Margot Robbie. “After photos of a Margot Robbie dressed in pink surfaced in June (2022), searches for all things pink skyrocketed by 416%,” said the Year in Fashion 2022 report, hosted by the global fashion shopping app. List. She wears virtually nothing but Barbiecore couture to every premiere and red carpet while promoting the movie.
See all Barbie best Barbiecore moments from the cast:
But the trend goes beyond maximalism and hot pink. For many, Barbiecore celebrates femininity, freedom, and women who claim and embrace their power in all its forms. “(Barbiecore) feels very aligned to a perfect or stereotypical essence of what a woman would wear,” says Becker. Along those same lines, “there’s also a strength to Barbie — sometimes Barbie is an astronaut or a doctor, and she embraces positivity and intelligence and does it while wearing hot pink,” Becker says. “This ethos also translates into the ’80s (which were marked by fashion trends heavily inspired by Barbie) – a time when women challenged men in the workplace, fought back with their own power suits and turned heads in an array of bright colors.”
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When did the Barbiecore trend start?
Long before the term “Barbiecore” was coined to describe the fashion trend, the Mattel toy has always had a strong influence on fashion. Barbie first hit shelves in the late 1950s, and the blue-eyed, blonde-haired beauty quickly became a favorite doll among children for a variety of reasons, namely her lavish outfits and luxurious lifestyle. Despite countless debates surrounding Barbie over the years (i.e. unnatural body proportions, celebration of “excessive materialism”, etc.), there’s no denying the doll’s cultural impact.
While the exact beginnings of the trend are unclear, Barbie-inspired fashion and her influence took the world by storm in the most poignant ways during the 1980s and 1990s, according to fashion critic and content creator Rian Phin. Decades later, when The Brilliant Photographs of Lil’ Kim by David LaChapelle sunk in 2010s Tumblr, it became hugely popular online, thanks to the nostalgic feelings it inspired, she explains.
“Barbiecore has been around forever – that hot pink hue and girly aesthetic is something we’ve worn for decades,” adds occasion style expert Brandii Stuart. She cites 90s Versace as a brand that embraced Barbiecore, a time when Gianni Versace was at the helm of the brand. “Moschino’s Spring 2015 collection is also full of Barbie moments among other designers, such as Oscar de la Renta and Chanel.”
At first, the idea of dressing up as a “doll” was in the mainstream. Take, for example, movies like bad girls, which chronicles the “Plastics”, a group of popular teenage girls who wear pink Barbie-like looks on Wednesdays, and The revenge of a blonde, which portrays Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) as a not-so-dumb, but silly aspiring lawyer whose entire closet is made up of roses, furs, and sparkles. So as not to forget the yellow tweed ensemble synonymous with clueless‘ Dear Horowitz, who inspired Margot Robbie for one of her Barbie looks from the press tour—and Full-scalestarring Lindsay Lohan and Tyra Banks, who literally brought doll fashion to life.
Celebrities whose popularity arguably peaked in the early 2000s have also become associated with the Barbie aesthetic, from Y2K socialite Paris Hilton to rapper Nicki Minaj, who has embraced the plastic doll since the start of her career and whose fans are known as “Barbz.” “The 2015 Moschino Barbie collection, in tandem with Nicki Minaj’s campy take on the Barbie aesthetic, brought (Barbie) back into the zeitgeist of fashion (into the 2010s),” says Phin.
After that, the Barbie hype died down a bit before it was reintroduced on the catwalk at Valentino’s Fall 2022 show, arguably the collection that put the trend back on the map. Of 81 looks, most were done entirely in head-to-toe hot pink that designer-creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli developed directly with leading color analysis company, Pantone.
But even “prior to Valentino’s Fall 2022 collection, there was already a move towards a bolder, sexier, sartorial undertone in fashion — an urge stemming from the subtlety of fashion and lifestyle at the height of COVID,” says Becker. “That being said, the collection really embodied the epitome of that ethos and tapped into the cultural zeitgeist, from how women want to dress to how they embrace their femininity and stand up for themselves as women – all of that translated into fashion.”
More recently, first photos leaked of Barbie The film has sparked this debate again about how women present themselves to the world, especially in what they wear, Becker adds.
“Between taking a political stand with clothing and a sartorial optic happening in fashion, it created the perfect storm for Barbiecore to see the light of day.”