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Where did the bows come from?

The coquette aesthetic has risen in popularity and tied itself to Gen Z

Pink bows. Flowers. Hearts and lace. These are all aspects within fashion that fall under the category of the coquette aesthetic, which has been emerging on social media platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest. Although it may seem that fashion has been evolving, these are styles that have pre-existed. 

An example of what is described as the coquette aesthetic that remains popular in contemporary fashion. (Royalty-free photo by Jasmin Chew via Pexels)

The French term “coquette” refers to a “flirt” or “flirtatious woman”, and many aspects of this style fall under a romantic and delicate sort of energy. The coquette aesthetic is meant to come off as playful, luxurious, and feminine. 

“I really love this aesthetic. I think it’s super cute! It adds a cute touch to any outfit. It’s mostly pink bows and pink clothing. I’ve seen lots of hairstyles with ribbons too. I think its dainty and girly and thats what makes it so appealing and elegant. I feel like the trend started because of the ugg boots. Many people were tying ribbons on the back of them,” senior Daniella Miulli said via Instagram.

Despite this aesthetic being a lighthearted concept for many to express themselves through fashion, critics alert that the feminine nature of coquette is not actually empowering, and rather feeds into negative concepts such as anorexia, lack of diversity, and focus on attraction for the “male gaze”.

While the coquette aesthetic dates back to Marie Antoinette and rose back to popularity around 2010, celebrity Lana Del Rey is often given credit for reawakening this movement, not only through how she dresses, but through her music’s unique style (specifically referencing her album “Born to Die”, released Janurary 2012), as many of her songs focus on love along with the general topic of romance. However, it is important to note that coquette also takes inspiration from the Japanese Lolita aesthetic and subculture, which first became popular in the 1990s and 2000s and incorporates Victorian and Rococo-era fashion

Whether it is a bow in the hair or on a dress, the inclusion of bows in particular has become a very popular detail especially for women today. However, the hair-bow was originally gender-specific to men in Europe around the 1700s. Women did not often wear bows at all, but rather ornaments and jewels. The hair bow reached widespread popularity around the 20th century, and has shifted to being viewed as a more feminine accessory. A hair bow has been featured on several animated characters such as Ms. Pac-Man and Minnie Mouse, both of which are well-known and identifiable by their bows since the trademark look distinguishes them from very similar male characters like Pac-Man and Mickey Mouse.

Is your outlook on the coquette aesthetic more positive or negative?

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Pink bows have recently gained a lot of traction on platforms such as TikTok, especially among Gen Z. However, it seems that users on TikTok have been playfully poking fun at the sudden popularity with the coquette aesthetic. Many users have put out comedic videos of an over-usage of bows on random items to unnecessarily accessorize, a few examples consist of putting bows on ice, ontop of foods, and even animals

Still, many believe the coquette aesthetic, and pink bows, are here to stay.

“I think this trend will go very far. It’s something you can add to a simple everyday outfit to elevate it,” said Muilli via Instagram.

Muilli poses for a selfie with Ava Koch, as she was wearing an all pink outfit, along with bows in her hair.
(Photo courtesy of Daniella Muilli via instagram)

No matter what any individual may say about a style, fashion is extremely fluid and there are going to be several different variations of trends that come and go. Trends will be something to look back on and either laugh or realize potential for rebirth. The real question is what styles will rise and fall, only time can provide those answers

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About the Contributor
Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager
Emily Ziajor is a WEGO senior in her second year of journalism. She attended the National High School Journalism Convention last November, and thoroughly loved the experience. She is a Polish-American (she finished her final year of Polish School in the spring of 2023) with a creative soul and high aspirations. When it comes to writing, she has a sharp imagination, and one of her true passions is photography. Emily is a multi-year member of the AV Club at West Chicago Community High School.
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