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The romanticization of being a mess, otherwise known as indie sleaze

Photo from British Vogue

Indie sleaze has returned with a vengeance, Lana del Rey was outside the Chateau Marmont signing autographs, smudged eyeliner is everything and off-the-shoulder tops are once again a trend. Over on TikTok, the thought of being a feral girl has overtaken the ‘That Girl’ trend. And so, once again, being a mess becomes the thing to be.

It can be aesthetic sure, but not every piece of this vision is elegant or healthy. In fact, there is a sense of glamourization of mental illness and addiction that comes from the indie sleaze aesthetic. From chain-smoking cigarettes to nightly club crawls, this visual representation of being a mess can be damaging. So, while I’m all here for the return of indie sleaze. Remember to take breaks in between the chaos every now and then.

Now…that I’ve acted like a mom, let’s talk about the indie sleaze essentials!

Much of the uniform is fairly simplistic and easy to find. The thing that allows it to be different is that there are different elements, such as pearls, that are mixed into the overall look that is a bit hipster and a bit grunge. Indie sleaze, in so many ways, is a mix of classic, trendy, and trashy.

The keys:

  • Skinny jeans

  • Tube socks

  • Loafers or Converse

  • Graphic t-shirts

  • Vests

  • Metallic leggings

  • Tunics

The accessories

  • Fedoras and other brimmed hats

  • Pearls, whether long-stranded pearls or pastel-hued faux pearls.

  • Cross jewelry (sometimes rosaries)

  • Headbands


  • Don’t look like you’re trying too hard (even if you are)

  • Mix designer items with cheaper or vintage pieces

  • Seem a bit chaotic


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