June 3, 2023

What Is Twee Style

When it comes to fashion, what’s old is (always) new again. You’ve likely heard this saying before, and it certainly holds true to the now-viral-again twee aesthetic, which has recently taken TikTok by storm.

Per Merriam-Webster, “twee” is a primarily British term that’s defined as “affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint.”  With that, keep in mind that the original twee aesthetic first took off on Tumblr back in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The look combined basic preppy principles (ballet flats, anyone?) and retro-inspired touches like cat-eye shades and funky patterns with hipster-fied staples like Peter Pan collars and Oxford heels.

Many celebs have—and continue to—fit the twee aesthetic, well, to a tee. Examples include Taylor Swift in her Speak Now and Red eras (circa 2010-2012) and, most notably, Zooey Deschanel. The New Girl and (500) Days of Summer star—who is also half of indie music duo She & Him—has long been a twee icon for her flouncy dresses, tights, frilly skirts, bold patterns, and, of course, her trademark blunt bangs. Recently, Deschanel took to TikTok to poke fun at her whimsical style by sharing a collage of her most twee looks while lip-syncing to her own She & Him song, “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”, which had been trending as her best-known style began making its comeback. In the video, she playfully thanked TikTok for “teaching me what twee means.” Hundreds—if not thousands—of other TikTokers, including influencer and content creator Steffy Degreff, have also shared their favorite twee memories.

If you, too, are feeling inspired to reinvent your twee era for a new decade—or try this style for the first time—you’re in luck. There’s no better time than now to lean into your adorkable, Tumblr-era style. Read on for eight of our favorite twee style-inspired staples, and don’t forget to take that classic OOTD snap.

The Peter Pan Collar

Detachable Peter Pan collars, like this one from Lele Sadoughi, make layering like a a breeze. If you prefer your collars already attached, opt for a flowy blouse or mini dress.


Statement Tights

These playful, polka-dot tights from Sheertex pair perfectly with any dress, skirt, or high-waisted shorts. Even better? They’re available in sizes XS to 3X. If you consider polka dots a neutral, try an all-over print like flowers or Calzedonia’s art deco-inspired pattern.


Plaid Dresses

Few things scream twee quite like a plaid fit-and-flare dress. Modernize the look with color blocking, puff sleeves, or a new silhouette.


Puff-Sleeve Blouses

Polka dots, plaid, and puff sleeves; otherwise known as the triple P of twee. Mix and match the trends by trying a plaid puff sleeve blouse, or pair the top with a pleated mini.


Cheery Headbands

A bold headband makes for a truly adorkable accessory. Headbands have made a comeback in all sorts of ways as of late (think cottagecore, regencycore, and the comeback of Gossip Girl), so this is definitely an accessory you’ll want on hand.


Classic Flats

These flats from Rothy’s are a modern, sustainable take on a timeless staple—and they’re comfy, too. While ballet flats might feel a touch too dated, give them another chance with a new texture or silhouette.


Crossbody Bags

This signature leather satchel will have you looking polished and put-together in no time. If you’ve moved beyond the classic twee satchel, perhaps a colorful or textured crossbody could still suit your 2020s style.


Pleated Mini Skirts

Short, pleated mini skirts were all the rage back in the Tumblr days. While heavily pleated skirts have been having a moment, think more layered and flowy.