Crash Course on Popular Aesthetic Styles (Part 1)

Trends and styles seem to come and go so quickly these days, but I think that’s because different aesthetics come into fashion for a bit of time. If we narrow our focus to these aesthetics, it’s much easier to see the trends within them.

Whether you’re curious about the trends of the popular aesthetics, or you’re just looking to find your own aesthetic, I’m sure that you’ll learn something from this post!

1. Yellow


The first aesthetic that I’ll be focusing on is one that I noticed gaining popularity in 2018, but now it seems to be settling a bit.

Those that are truly interested in and enjoy the color yellow have found a beautiful sense of style within the yellow aesthetic, and those who enjoy changing things up have started to shift into different aesthetics, such as retro or artsy.

This aesthetic style can trace a strong influence to Vincent Van Gogh, who was quite fond of using both yellow and blue in his paintings. He was also fond of sunflowers, which have become a staple in the photography, and sometimes the decor, of the yellow aesthetic.


Yellow is a color that represents joy, youthfulness, and energy, although yellow seems to be a polarizing color.

I’ve met people who loathe the color, thinking it’s too bright and too energetic, but there are also lots of people who love the joy and energy that yellow represents.

Photography Elements

Overall, this aesthetic seems to place an emphasis on bright, happy, energetic, and youthful things, with certain extra elements making references to childhood, innocent curiosity and adventures.

Here are some elements that are commonly used as props or subjects in yellow aesthetic photography:

  • dandelions
  • lemons
  • yellow roses
  • yellow backpacks
  • bicycles
  • bananas
  • stripes
  • smiley faces
  • sunflowers

During photo editing, colors are often giving a warm yellow tint, to make them look like they were taken during golden hour, and the saturation of the image is boosted (to make the colors more vibrant).

Clothing & Accessories

When it comes to outfits, casual seems to be the way to go in the yellow aesthetic. Often those who hold a yellow aesthetic will wear yellow Converse or Vans shoes, a simple pair of jeans, and either a yellow t-shirt or sweater.

For a slightly fancier look, I’ve also seen yellow-tinted glasses and pale yellow dresses pop up in these yellow aesthetic wardrobes.

Another common accessory is a Kanken backpack, generally in the shade called Warm Yellow.


The yellow aesthetic is a positive, energetic, and youthful one. If you like the color yellow, and you like to celebrate those things, then you might find this aesthetic to be a good match for you.

2. Grunge


The next aesthetic I’ll be focusing on is the grunge aesthetic. I think that this aesthetic has grown in popularity because of the overall trend of revisiting the past few decades in terms of style, makeup, and fashion.

Overall, this aesthetic draws strongly on various alternative cultures and subcultures from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Inspiration seems to be pulled largely from punk movements, but I’ve also noticed some elements from goth and emo cultures.


Thematically, I’m not too fond of the grunge aesthetic, as there are references to drugs (alcohol, nicotine, etc.), vulgarity, and a general vibe of angst.

This aesthetic also gives off a strong feeling of rebellion and exploration, making it popular among teenagers and young adults.

Photography Elements

In the grunge aesthetic, photos are often desaturated and darkened, and are sometimes given an added grain or chromatic aberration effect.

Common photo backgrounds are:

  • record stores
  • brick walls
  • chain link fences
  • walls decorated in band posters
  • graffiti
  • train tracks

Clothing & Accessories

The grunge aesthetic has strong traces to styles from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Band t-shirts of Joy Division, Metallica, and other ’80s bands are often paired with striped shirts, or plaid skirts/pants, which were popular in the ’90s and early 2000s.

Studded belts, lots of eyeliner, fishnets, more stripes, Vans shoes, and chains give these outfits a bit more of a late 90s or early 2000s touch. As this aesthetic grows, influences from skater and goth cultures are also starting to mix in, especially when it comes photo props, accessories, and makeup.


Overall, this aesthetic draws quite a bit of inspiration from the past few decades, and has gained popularity among teenagers and young adults from its overall themes of rebellion and exploration.

3. Vintage


The vintage aesthetic has a lot in common with the retro aesthetic, which I will focus on next, but I think that there’s a key difference to the two aesthetics. Vintage aesthetics tend to focus on things from the 1960s and backwards, with just hints of 1970s and 1980s things. On the other hand retro aesthetics tend to focus on things from the 1970s onwards, with slight hints of 1960s.

The reason why I separate them like this is because, generally speaking, something that’s vintage is something that’s between 30 and 100 years old, and something retro means something from recent past.


Overall, the vintage aesthetic holds a sense of nostalgia for a time long since passed. One of the positives to this aesthetic is that it helps to hold on to some history that might otherwise be forgotten.

For example, people interested in the vintage aesthetic may spend time researching clothing styles and sewing techniques from the decades that they’re interested in, such as the 1940s or 1950s.

Sometimes work may also be done to preserve pieces of technology that would otherwise be scrapped, such as old radios, record players, or even cars.

Photography Elements

As for photo props and locations, jukeboxes, vintage diners, cherries, old fashioned movie theaters, vintage cars, milkshakes, and roses are common, although if you don’t have any of those near you, then you can always opt for a ‘picnic at the park’ themed photo.

Vintage aesthetic photos tend to have more emphasis on pastels (especially pink, turquoise, and red), than retro aesthetic photos (which tend to have more emphasis on saturated colors).

Clothing & Accessories

When it comes to clothing, the vintage aesthetic style tends to use pastel colors, or classic neutrals, such as white, cream, and beige. Red can also show up in lips, nails, or accessories, especially when going for a more sophisticated and elevated look.

In the vintage aesthetic there’s also a lot of skirts and dresses for the feminine personalities, which can be seen paired with loafers, pumps, roller skates or blades, or sneakers (for a more modern touch).

For a more masculine feel, collared shirts and cable or rib knit sweaters, with a pair of good quality trousers, or a simple skirt, looks nice, especially when paired with good quality shoes.


Overall, the vintage aesthetic tends to focus on styles from the 1900s to 1960s, but will usually add a slightly modern twist. Colors tend to be more muted than in the retro style, and overall this aesthetic isn’t as popular as the others on this list.

4. Retro


The retro aesthetic tends to focus on subjects and styles from the 1970s through to the 1990s, although you can still find hints of the ’60s if you look hard enough.

What separates the retro aesthetic from the grunge aesthetic is that the retro aesthetic tends to focus on the more fun and positive parts of those decades, whereas the grunge aesthetic tends to focus on the more alternative parts.

Recently, many people who took part of the yellow aesthetic trend have been shifting over to the retro aesthetic, which is an easy shift to do, since yellow was a popular color during the ’70s and ’80s.


As I mentioned before, the retro aesthetic tends to focus more on the 1970s and onward, and also has more saturated colors, such as bright reds, yellows, oranges, blues, and greens.

Photography Elements

In the photos for the retro aesthetic, you’ll often notice vinyl records, cassette tapes, funky sunglasses, and old cameras (such as something in the Polaroid 600 line, which began in 1981) are often used as photo props.

Common backgrounds include record stores, thrift stores, and polaroid walls, and photos are usually edited to have stronger saturation, added grain, and sometimes even have additional text to create either a faux VHS tape feel, or to offer additional information about the photo.

Clothing & Accessories

As for clothing, one of the things that I see time and time again in the retro aesthetic outfits are graphic t-shirts. Usually these shirts are a solid color, with some simple text or an illustration, but sometimes a more complex design, like an album cover, will be featured.

Stripes are also very common on shirts and sweaters, and collared polo shirts are pretty common as well. As for pants, a pair of plaid pants or a pair of mom jeans are fun for a more everyday look, but occassionally you’ll see denim or plaid skirts, shorts, and track pants.

Tinted sunglasses, large barettes, statement necklaces, scrunchies, Dr. Martens, and Converse are all common accessories that are used to tie the look together.


Overall, the retro aesthetic has a playful, bold, and casual look to it, that can really be played around with. Sometimes there’s a bit of overlap between the yellow aesthetic and the retro aesthetic, and I find that the yellow aesthetic that was trendy before is now shifting into more of a retro vibe.

5. Artsy


The artsy aesthetic, also sometimes called the art hoe aesthetic (a name which I highly dislike), also has some overlap with the yellow aesthetic, especially when it comes to Van Gogh’s works, sunflowers, and yellow Kanken backpacks. The artsy aesthetic has some added artistic elements though.

Because of this, a lot of people who were part of the yellow aesthetic have shifted over to the artsy aesthetic. Like the retro aesthetic, the color yellow plays a big role, and both the yellow aesthetic and the artsy aesthetic draw inspiration from the works of Van Gogh.


The artsy aesthetic is one focused on creative energies, in all different art forms. Music, poetry, and painting are popular ones, but you can also find a good amount of pencil or charcoal sketches, pastels, and chalk.

Photography Elements

Common photo props in artsy pictures include musical instruments (which have sometimes been painted), sketches, watercolor paintings, impressionistic paintings, half-finished oil or acrylic paintings, poetry books, sketchbooks, and journals.

As for backgrounds, a floral background or a gallery wall made up of sketches, prints, and paintings are pretty common, but sometimes you can catch a glimpse of art desks or hanging plants.

Clothing & Accessories

When it comes to clothes and accessories, a pair of simple mom jeans is a staple, and it’s usually worn cuffed to show off some ankle, or a pair of patterned socks. Graphic or printed t-shirts are pretty common, but you can also find the occasional knit cardigan, over-sized sweater, or plaid print pants.

Surprisingly often, paints and flowers are used as accessories, such as a scene painted on a palm, flowers painted on a wrist, or flowers in the hair or in a bag.


If you’re a highly creative person, then the artsy aesthetic may be one for you. This aesthetic focuses a lot on the pure emotions of creating, no matter your skill level, so it’s a great way to get inspired.

So there you have it, a crash course on five popular aesthetics! If you’re interested in learning more, stay tuned, because I’ll be coming out with some more posts on aesthetics. And if there are any aesthetics that you want to learn more about, let me know, and I’ll be sure to include them!

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a like or share it with someone else who’d enjoy it. Thank you, and I hope that I’ll be seeing you around.

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