We unpack TikTok’s latest niche aesthetic.
Over the past year, we’ve seen an influx of trends that have to do with both frostiness and sweetness (see: the popularity of the “glazed donut” manicure and the “cold girl” trend). With fasjion and beauty taking inspo from both the colder weather and desserts, it’s only natural that TikTok has managed to find a way to tie it all together to create the “vanilla girl” aesthetic, which includes vanilla ice cream-inspired outfits of cozy knits in off-white colors. The trend is surprisingly straightforward—but what exactly is the point?
We imagine a vanilla girl waking up in white fuzzy pajamas, then trekking to the kitchen to make lemon water and an iced latte (with heart-shaped ice cubes, of course) to start her day. She dresses in fuzzy cashmere, cable knit sweaters, crisp button-ups, and light trousers when she’s off to school or work for a more professional feel. Yet when she’s at home or enjoying her day off, it’s all about coquettish fashion choices full of lace, plush pants, knit tights, and pointelle tank tops (bonus points if the tank has a bow on the neckline). As the trend’s name suggests, most of these clothing pieces are either white, cream, or beige.
As for what the trend is actually trying to achieve? Being “vanilla” is more than about how many cream-colored layers you can wear—it’s an entire lifestyle. There are countless tutorials on TikTok for barely-there vanilla girl makeup routines, as well as videos showing off dessert scented candles and fragrances. The vanilla girls’ house is spotless, and just as cozy and cream-colored as her wardrobe. She wears matching pjs to bed, always has a yummy beverage in hand, and journals twice a day.
Like the “pink pilates princess” trend (yes, really), the vanilla girl is just a mishmash of two larger aesthetics, this time the “clean girl” and coquette trends. It borrows the clean, effortless vibes and emphasis on an organized, luxurious lifestyle from the clean girl aesthetic, while pulling from the feminine, cutesy side of coquette looks. And it makes sense that it’s coming to fruition now, as there’s a cozy element to the trend that makes it perfect for the harsh winter season.
Like most TikTok trends, the vanilla girl is a divisive one—your reaction may be that you’re utterly inspired or filled with disdain. Personally, I love the idea of an all-white outfit, but to create an entire wardrobe—and identity—around one specific color seems a bit sad to me, as opportunities to wear things like vibrant greens and hot pinks fall by the wayside.
Now, I’m not trying to tell you to avoid dressing like a vanilla girl at all costs—I want to remind you that you are not an aesthetic but an individual. So, if dressing like a vanilla girl today and then trying on cyber girl tomorrow seems up your alley, then, by all means, go for it. But don’t feel like a failure if you can’t go full-vanilla all the time.
Tapping into trends is fun, even if for just a little. Here are some pieces you can call on to amp up the vanilla vibes this season.