The Tumblr Effect: Its Aesthetic, Fashions, and Possible Comeback


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood is on Spotify's Top 50, Marina Diamandis is on tour, and Arctic Monkeys announced that they're going to be coming out with new music this year. It may be 2022, but upon hearing all that, it may as well be 2014. Nostalgia continues to take a lead in the sartorial world, made evident by the '90s and '2000s revival that rose to popular heights in the past few years. However, mentions of the '2010s have also been slowly trickling onto the scene, starting with the social media site that reigned the time period—Tumblr. I was in high school at the time and the top majority of my fashion taste, music picks, and go-to pop-culture references were curated by whatever I reblogged on my Tumblr page. My goal in life was to be as cool as Alexa Chung, I wore my leather jacket and combat boots religiously, and thick winged eyeliner was my best friend. 

I don't think I ever stopped listening to my 2014 playlist, and I still hop on Tumblr every now and then when I need an aesthetic refresh. I'm not convinced that the exact 2014 Tumblr-girl aesthetic will fully make a return (The time did come with a few large cons, like promoting unhealthy body image), but I think parts of the era have carried over into modern times with slight tweaks. That being said, the angsty teenage girl will forever live within me. Below, I've rounded up eight trends that dominated during the 2014 Tumblr era, and what I think are their 2022 updates.

Then: Combat Boots

Now: Platform Boots

If someone were to take my combat boots away from me when I was 17, it would've gotten ugly. Dr. Martens was a fan favorite, but the Jadon style being the preferred pick now proves that platform boots are the new iterations. If you don't believe me, just take a look at modern-day cool girls like Olivia Rodrigo champion the style. (If "Good 4 U" came out in 2014, it would've been my high-school anthem, right after "How to Be a Heartbreaker" by Marina and the Diamonds.)

Then: Grids

Now: Checkerboard

There's something about the grid print that had a chokehold on all of us. I still remember begging my dad to purchase a grid-printed top from American Apparel and cherishing it like it was a designer bag. The grid print hasn't been popular for quite some time, and I think it's because checkerboard has taken its place. The two prints have similarities, but with less negative space, checkerboard is sure to stand out.

Then: Circle Skirts

Now: Tennis Skirts

Circle skirt + leather jacket + chunky infinity scarf = 2014 fall outfit trifecta. They also paired well with other fashion contenders of the era like fishnets and combat boots. While I don't see circle skirts making a comeback anytime soon, you'll spot a plethora of tennis skirts on the current market. 

Then: Ripped Skinny Jeans

Now: Distressed and Relaxed Jeans

Whatever side of the skinny jeans argument you're on, you can't deny that loose-fitting denim has taken over the sartorial world by storm. While I spent my teenage years ripping holes into my skinny jeans and layering them over black tights, I'm favoring relaxed and distressed jeans currently. 

Then: Fishnets

Now: Sheer Tights

I used to pair fishnets with everything, even my chunky black sneakers. I was 5'2" at the time and had a very timid voice, so I don't know who I thought I was scaring with my grunge look, but in my head, I thought I was a total cool girl. Sheer tights are by no means new, but they seem to be the current layering staple of choice. (If you want to incorporate a little personality, find a sheer tight that comes in a cool print or fun color.)

Then: Oxfords

Now: Chunky Loafers

Whether you were on the twee side of Tumblr where brown oxfords and socks were hyped up or on the grunge side where chunky black options were the pick, there's no doubt the work shoe–esque styles were popular. Loafers used to be considered more formal shoes, but now, with the chunky silhouette being popular, the style easily adds an edge to any outfit.

Then: Flannels

Now: Shackets

Some people may have bought flannels to wear as a top, but I (and many of my friends) bought them as an accessory to tie around our waists. It immediately made me feel cool—like I was heading backstage to my favorite band's concert. 

Then: Leather Jackets

Now: Leather Blazers

Don't get me wrong—leather moto jackets will forever have a place in our wardrobes, but I think leather blazers are just more prevalent right now. Just last week in SoHo, I saw a girl wearing an oversize band tee, lace tights, and an big leather blazer. My first thought was how that look was easily a 2014 Tumblr look with modern updates. My second thought was where her chunky boots were from because I needed them immediately. (I asked—they were Jeffrey Campbell.)

Next: A Gen Zer Walks Into Nordstrom—Here Are the 57 Trendy and Cool Buys They Find

Associate Fashion Editor
Yusra Siddiqui is an editor who resides in New Jersey but bounces between the suburbs and NYC. (She's a Jersey girl at heart.) After interning at Who What Wear in 2019, she found her way to the team after graduating from LIM College in 2022 with a fashion media degree. She's also spent time writing and working for publications such as Fashionista, Coveteur, and Nylon, but she always knew that Who What Wear was where she was meant to be. When she's on the job, she's perusing runway shows, analyzing the latest thing fellow Gen Zers are up to on the internet, and sharing what she can about the modest-fashion market. You can also catch her dabbling in entertainment, talking about the costume choices of the latest Netflix series or diving deeper into how the plotline affects the viewers in a myriad of ways. Lastly, she likes to create content for Who What Wear's TikTok. Her personal time is spent doing similar but also different things—deep diving into almost every new TV show (Bridgerton, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things are favorites), planning her next local getaway (whenever that may be), and reading the latest Emily Henry or Sally Rooney novel in one sitting.