Shortening days and falling temperatures signal for many things, but most excitingly it means that Caitlin Covington’s Christian Girl Autumn shoot is just around the corner. The photoshoot typically features heavily saturated of Caitlin in warm, autumnal hues of orange and brown, wide brimmed hats or beanies, knit jumpers and knee-high boots. Initially gaining traction from a tweet joking that it was the antithesis to the concept of Hot Girl Summer, introduced into the mainstream media by Megan The Stallion, Christian Girl Autumn is used to mock the perceived idea of basic that usually comes hand in hand with a privileged, prejudiced, right wing, white woman. Caitlin’s responded suggesting social media users made fun of her “good ones” instead, this was received well and she followed up with outlining that she did not align herself with the stereotypes that could be drawn from the images though acknowledging the humour that was found in it.
After this, Covington has been able to create a fanbase through harvesting the clout she gained as The Christian Girl of Autumn. Yet what is more interesting is the stereotype that is found from her position as a representative of “basic white girl core”. The aesthetic has become a uniform whether that is playing into the irony as Covington does, or a sincere appreciation of knee-high boots, skinny jeans, and off the shoulder knits. And yet despite the self-awareness that those dressing in this manner likely have, this aesthetic that is looked down upon as a joke in comparison to other aesthetics that offer the same uniform like outfits. There is a level of superiority on the internet that many hold over the “basic b*tch” aesthetic, yet surely those lacking the self-awareness that they are dressing the same as huge swathes of people like them should be considered in the same manner. Over the course of the pandemic, many aesthetics crystallised and many were passing fads, the speed of trend cycles increased to unattainable time constraints until they imploded, and the algorithms became an echo chamber of styles and individual pieces of clothing. Going to any event demonstrates the accidental uniformity of people – there is a reason that decades’ costumes are easy to boil down into a few constituent items. People crave familiarity and for that reason there will always be a conscious or subconscious effort to assimilate into certain groups, or to be led by certain individuals.
Just as in any form of creative form of self-expression, there is never and there will never be a completely original thought. The collective consciousness of people now is more united than ever thorough things like the Tiktok algorithm which feeds you what other users that it believes are like you have already enjoyed. There is a frequency in the distorted chequerboard pattern, in Mary Quant-esque five petaled cartoon flowers, wide leg jeans and Airforce-1s that runs parallel to the uniform of the Christian Girl in Autumn. The design ideas and items of clothes that I have listed will evoke your own images, thoughts and cliches in the same way that the term “basic” to describe clothing will. The term has recently begun to be used to describe Jordan 1s, Nike Dunks and the like, items that have always been popular holy grails amongst the community that labels themselves as ‘sneaker heads’ , which often appears to be gatekeeping-ly masculine. The increasing perceived basicness of these shoes has occurred almost in symmetry with the increasing popularity with young women. This condescending superiority complex is seen elsewhere in women’s interest, from music to films, to video games. Women cannot have casual enjoyment of something as they are so often gatekept out of these things until they cannot be at which point men abandon it. American cheerleading used to be a male dominated sport as men were the only ones admitted to university until women began partaking after their admission and its increasing popularity among them leading to men leaving the field until it became competitive.
Clearly this male superiority complex crosses over many facets of daily life. Men seem to rarely face the ‘basic’ criticism or any kind of criticism over the way they dress that women face. This is despite the fact options for accessible men’s fashion remains limited or they choose to allow it to remain limited. The regular branding of different styles of women’s fashion as ‘basic’ illustrates that the negative connotations of this uniformity is done so through the lens of misogyny rather than a ‘fashion’ or ‘personal style’ forward mindset. Even aesthetics that appear to be less ‘basic’ than that of Christian Girl Autumn still have characteristics that are common among that specific community—take for example goths, cottage-core, or subversive basics. There will always be an inspiration for clothes or an outfit no matter how niche the aesthetic, and as fun as the concept of Christian Girl Autumn is, the constant drive to appear not-basic, or fashion forward through regular wardrobe updates to keep up with trends has become exhausting and unsustainable.
Image Credit : RawPixel