Downtown Girl Aesthetic

What's the ‘downtown girl’ aesthetic?

The “downtown girl” aesthetic, often referred to as the “NYC girl” aesthetic, is a grungy fashion trend that emphasizes casual clothing in dark hues like black, gray, and earth tones, particularly in the fall. It originated on Pinterest, spread to TikTok, and opposes the Uptown Girl aesthetic. It is frequently compared to Coquette because of shared characteristics like Lana Del Rey music and Brandy Melville clothing, but it has a separate fashion sense and color palette. This aesthetic is rooted in the history of downtown style that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s in New York, influenced by artists like Andy Warhol and the punk subculture.

While predominantly focused on women, there is also a “downtown boy” aesthetic. Emerging around the same time, it incorporates similar elements with a masculine twist, featuring more hoodies and omitting feminine elements like eyeliner and Mary Janes.

Where is the ‘downtown girl’ aesthetic most common?

Lower Manhattan, or anywhere below 30th Street, is referred to as “downtown.” Alphabet City, Greenwich Village, NoHo, Bowery, SoHo, Lower East Side, Chinatown, TriBeCa, Five Points, the West Village, the East Village, and other well-known districts may be found in this area. The aesthetic also finds inspiration in other cities like Boston, Chicago, and old southern port cities like Charleston and New Orleans.

How to build a downtown girl's closet

For general visuals and motifs, you would see a lot of used and old books, bookstores, records, trains, subways, balconies, electric guitars, headphones, and earphones in Downtown Girl photographs and social media posts. The visuals often feature city architecture with great height, balconies, fire escapes, scaffolding, and elements like yellow cabs of New York or Haussmann architecture of Paris.

 

When it comes to general characteristics of downtown girl clothing, I notice a lot of  baggy fits, and a lot of natural tones, notably black and white cream. Denim and colorful accents are also acceptable. Additionally, I often see Y2K, baby tees, and low-rise clothing. Furthermore, I would search for vests, t-shirts, long-sleeve leather jackets, particularly those in the leather blazer style, and sweaters, especially those with striped or Argyle designs.

 

Mini skirts, particularly those with sheer kites for the fall or autumn, and baggy pants are popular choices for bottoms.

 

For accessories, I see a lot of sunglasses, headphones, tote bags, and platform shoes in addition to a lot of Doc Martens and Converse as well as claw clips for your hair. Dark red nail polish, Mary Janes, and combat boots also feature prominently. I also believe that the accessories are more crucial than the clothing itself because you could wear something like overalls, which I wouldn’t typically associate with the downtown girl aesthetic, but if you style it well, I believe it could also work. You could also wear a more dressed-up look, such as a button-down shirt, and still achieve the desired vibe.

Vendors and Shopping

  • Brandy Melville
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Hollister
  • Minga London
  • H&M
  • Thrifting

Clothing Pieces for This Aesthetic

  • Leather jacket (classic black or colored)
  • Skinny or distressed jeans
  • Graphic tees or band tees
  • Oversized sweaters or cardigans
  • Mini skirts (denim, leather, or plaid)
  • Slip dresses
  • Ankle boots (combat boots, Chelsea boots, or platform boots)
  • Statement sneakers (like Converse or Vans)
  • Fishnet stockings or tights
  • Bomber jackets
  • High-waisted trousers (in bold colors or prints)
  • Crop tops or bralettes
  • Vintage-inspired denim jackets
  • Midi or maxi dresses paired with leather jackets or denim jackets
  • Oversized blazers (worn with jeans or mini skirts)
  • Fedora hats or beanies
  • Distressed denim shorts
  • Bodycon dresses
  • Layered jewelry (chokers, chains, and stacked bracelets)
  • Oversized sunglasses

Celebrities/Influences who Embrace this Aesthetic

Coco Chinelo 

Coco Chinelo is a daily fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencer who is popularly known on tiktok and Instagram but mostly for her youtube channel @cocochinelo.

Aisha 

Aisha, also known as Tsuki on her Instagram and Pinterest pages, is a medical student who regularly embraces the “downtown girl” aesthetic.

Visuals

Visuals for the “downtown girl” aesthetic often incorporate elements of urban landscapes, street art, gritty textures, and a mix of high and low fashion. Here are some visuals commonly associated with this aesthetic:

  1. Cityscapes: Images of bustling city streets, especially in urban areas like New York City, Los Angeles, or London, capture the essence of the downtown vibe.
  2. Graffiti and Street Art: Vibrant graffiti murals, graffiti tags, and street art installations add an edgy and artistic element to the aesthetic.
  3. Skylines at Night: Photographs of city skylines illuminated by neon lights and skyscrapers create a dynamic and atmospheric backdrop.
  4. Street Style Fashion: Candid shots of individuals showcasing eclectic and unconventional fashion choices, mixing high-end designer pieces with thrifted finds and vintage clothing.
  5. Industrial Architecture: Images featuring industrial structures such as warehouses, bridges, and abandoned buildings contribute to the gritty and raw feel of the aesthetic.
  6. Urban Decay: Photos of weathered walls, peeling paint, rusted metal, and urban decay highlight the juxtaposition between beauty and imperfection.
  7. Subway Stations and Underground Passages: Images capturing the underground transportation system, with its tiled walls, neon signage, and diverse crowds, reflect the energy and diversity of city life.
  8. Street Photography: Candid snapshots of everyday moments on city streets, capturing the essence of urban life and the eclectic mix of people and cultures.
  9.  
  10. Cityscapes: Bustling city streets and intimate, cozy, autumnal scenes, capturing elements like fallen leaves and hot coffee.
  11. Subway Stations and Underground Passages: Subways with tiled walls and neon signage.
  12. Cozy Domestic Scenes: Cats, bedsheets, and people relaxing, providing a contrast to busier urban visuals.
  13. Nightlife: Photos capturing friends walking in the streets at night after events, reflecting youth culture and the aesthetic’s focus on nightlife.

Music / Downtown Girl Playlist

In the music section, we’ll explore the sounds and artists that define the “downtown girl” aesthetic. From gritty rock to sultry pop, these tunes resonate with the edgy, independent spirit of urban life. Whether you’re into punk anthems or dreamy indie melodies, there’s a soundtrack for every downtown girl. Let’s dive into the diverse world of music that amplifies this bold and eclectic vibe.

Songs:

  1. “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill
  2. “Downtown” by Petula Clark
  3. “Ride” by Lana Del Rey
  4. “Royals” by Lorde
  5. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
  6. “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish
  7. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
  8. “212” by Azealia Banks
  9. “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks
  10. “Misery Business” by Paramore
  11. “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey
  12. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  13. “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun
  14. “Don’t Save Me” by HAIM
  15. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

Artists:

  1. HAIM
  2. Lana Del Rey
  3. Billie Eilish
  4. Lorde
  5. Azealia Banks
  6. Florence + the Machine
  7. The White Stripes
  8. Paramore
  9. Grimes
  10. Tove Lo
  11. Marina and the Diamonds
  12. Charli XCX
  13. No Doubt
  14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  15. Santigold

Additional artists to consider: Girl in Red, Radiohead, TV Girl, The Smiths, Faye Webster, Mitski, Weezer, Harry Styles, Mazzy Star, Cage the Elephant, White Reaper, Taylor Swift, The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, The Neighborhood.

Movies and TV Shows for the Downtown Girl Aesthetic

The “downtown girl” aesthetic often finds representation in films and TV shows that feature strong, independent female characters navigating urban environments, embracing individuality, and challenging societal norms. Here are some examples:

Movies:

  1. Lost in Translation” (2003) – Directed by Sofia Coppola, this film follows a young woman who forms an unlikely bond with an older man while both are in Tokyo.
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) – This classic film starring Audrey Hepburn captures the glamour and sophistication of New York City’s Upper East Side, with the iconic character Holly Golightly epitomizing downtown chic.
  3. Girl, Interrupted” (1999) – Based on the memoir by Susanna Kaysen, this film explores the lives of young women in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s.
  4. Reality Bites” (1994) – A quintessential ’90s film, it follows a group of recent college graduates navigating love, friendship, and career aspirations in Houston.
  5. Ghost World” (2001) – Adapted from the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, this film depicts the lives of two teenage misfits as they navigate the transition to adulthood.
  6. Frances Ha” (2012) – Directed by Noah Baumbach, this black-and-white film follows a young woman trying to find her place in the world while living in New York City.
  7. Pretty Woman” (1990) – While it’s more of a Cinderella story, the film features a strong female lead navigating the streets of Los Angeles with confidence and style.
  8. Closer” (2004) – This drama explores the intricacies of modern relationships and features strong female characters navigating love, lust, and betrayal in London.
  9. Thirteen” (2003) – This raw and gritty film delves into the tumultuous life of a teenage girl navigating adolescence in Los Angeles.
  10. Party Girl” (1995) – This comedy follows a young woman navigating the New York City party scene while trying to figure out her career and life goals.
Additional movies to consider: “500 Days of Summer,” “Clueless,” “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Gossip Girl,” “Roman Holiday,” “Little Women,” “Juno,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Derry Girls,” “Anne with an E,” “Spider-Man,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Notting Hill.”

TV Shows:

  1. Girls” (2012-2017) – Created by Lena Dunham, this series follows a group of young women navigating life, love, and friendship in New York City.
  2. Sex and the City” (1998-2004) – This iconic series follows four women living in New York City as they navigate relationships, careers, and fashion.
  3. Broad City” (2014-2019) – Created by and starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, this comedy series follows the misadventures of two twenty-something women living in New York City.
  4. Fleabag” (2016-2019) – Created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this dark comedy follows a witty and rebellious woman as she navigates life and relationships in London.
  5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (2017-present) – Set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this series follows a housewife who discovers a talent for stand-up comedy and navigates the male-dominated world of comedy clubs in New York City.
Additional shows to consider: “Ackley Bridge,” “Dash & Lily,” and “Betty Boop.”

Activities for the Downtown Girl Aesthetic

  • Exploring local thrift stores and vintage shops
  • Visiting independent bookstores and coffee shops
  • Attending live music events or local gigs
  • Participating in open mic nights or poetry readings
  • Taking photographs of urban landscapes and street art
  • Engaging in creative hobbies like painting, drawing, or writing
  • Experimenting with bold makeup looks or unique hairstyles
  • Discovering hidden gems in the city, such as rooftop bars or secret gardens
  • Supporting local artists and artisans by attending art shows or craft fairs
  • Going on spontaneous adventures with friends, exploring new neighborhoods or trying new cuisines
 
  • Learning an instrument, writing and/or reading poetry, reading, annotating books, sketching, decorating your room, dancing to obscure music in your bedroom, going thrifting, listening to music on a record player, going to a dance club, taking pictures of your friends on a digital camera, listening to music in public, dancing in the kitchen, going to a café, baking, and reading in a bookstore.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the downtown girl aesthetic encompasses a multifaceted blend of fashion, visuals, and music that celebrates individuality, creativity, and the vibrant energy of urban life. From edgy streetwear to gritty cityscapes, and from rebellious rock anthems to sultry pop melodies, this aesthetic offers a diverse array of expressions for those who dare to embrace their uniqueness and navigate the streets with confidence and style. 

Whether it’s through fashion choices that defy norms, visuals that capture the raw beauty of urban landscapes, or music that pulses with the rhythm of city living, the downtown girl aesthetic invites us to embrace our inner rebels and find beauty in the chaos of the concrete jungle. So, whether you’re strutting down the sidewalk in your favorite leather jacket or dancing to the beat of your favorite downtown tunes, remember that the downtown girl aesthetic is not just a style—it’s a way of life.

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