I’m convinced most of our trends have one source: Bella Hadid. As soon as the photo of Bella in small, square glasses went viral I knew the next phase of recession-core would be upon us: the return of business casual.
Suddenly, all the It Girls are wearing the kinds of specs I begged my parents not to buy me in middle school. They’re pairing them with ties and waistcoats. They’re wearing kitten heels to the club.
Recession-core, which is a term coined to describe the style that emerged after the 2009 financial crisis, is back in full swing as the cost of living increases. The aesthetics associated with lower economic prosperity are visible in all tax brackets.
For the wealthy, stealth wealth replaces logomania to conceal their status while we common folk struggle. This is showing up on red carpets in subtle ways like simpler silhouettes and bare necks as opposed to big brand names and maximalist accessories.
For the rest of us, recession-core is about versatility. It’s about being thrifty. It’s about pieces that do it all and glamorize the aesthetics of work — because in this economy. It’s a luxury to have a job.
The day-to-night looks our childhood magazines prepared us for are finally here. But as this suited-and-booted aesthetic gets romanticized across TikTok, it’s less and less appropriate for work. It’s being dubbed the #OfficeSiren and #SexySecretary look. And it’s more like Gen Z’s version of the sexy librarian trope than anything HR-approved for an office.
Of course, the ultimate blueprint for this take on millennial girlboss style is Anne Hathaway’s role as Andy in The Devil Wears Prada. While Gisele Bundchen’s cameo alongside Emily Blunt is also referenced in the moodboards for this aesthetic, it’s Andy’s style that Gen Z is replicating.
From the cinched waists to the feminine takes on suiting, Andy’s style is a masterclass in office chic. Of course, she was pulling designer pieces from the closet of a fashion magazine and most of us aren’t that lucky.
Yet, we can still take the basic principles of Andy’s style and update them for 2024 — and for our budgets. After all, the movie came out in 2006, making it 18 years old this year. That partially explains why the new generation is recreating its style. But I’m not in the habit of glorifying Dolce and Gabbana, even if those little glasses have made a comeback. Some things change, even if they stay the same.
How to Dress like Andy from The Devil Wears Prada
When Andy makes her switch from over-it to into-it, the biggest change is in her sweaters. The frumpy light blue sweater in the iconic “cerulean” scene is replaced by slim-fit cashmere sweaters. It’s not just the material, it’s the shape and fit that matters. For this look, search for vintage cashmere that will last you forever.
Andi pairs her sweaters with increasingly chic skirts. Lucky for us, maxi skirts have been making a steady comeback since the Miu Miu skirt made micro minis a thing. Now, we’re older and wiser and our hemlines reflect that. This is a great versatile look because you can either repurpose the flowy white skirts from summer or even layer a sweater over a maxi dress. Talk about day-to-night. Malia Obama was just spotted in the best boots and maxi combo, so look to her for updated inspiration.
Belts are back
Waist belts, chunky low riding belts, and animal print belts with jeans — It Girls are wearing them all. Andy wore belts with blouses, dresses, and trousers alike and you can too. They add dimension to a potentially boring office core.
Sleek, fitted jackets are replacing the superpuffs of last season. Again, search vintage for trench coats, leather jackets, and long black cats to complete your looks.