How to Pull Off the Fashionable/Queerty Pastel Aesthetic


Pastel isn’t just for “girly girls” in today’s fashion world. You’ll find this saccharine palette present almost everywhere – in beauty brands, spring and summer collections, and even household items.

Whether incorporated as a creative splash of color or as a monochromatic ensemble, the pastel trend is here to stay. If you want to incorporate these soft gradients into your unique look, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the powdery aesthetic.

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The history of aesthetic pastel

Unlike other fashions, which tend to be only seasonal or fleeting, pastels have established themselves as a timeless classic that you can wear all year round. However, they are much more prevalent in some years or periods than others.

Let’s look at the origins of pastel to better understand why and how its popularity fluctuates.

First origins

Pastels have been around since the 18th century, during the rise of Rococo. During the late Baroque period, designers incorporated curves, asymmetries, and pastel tones to create drama in theatrical and ornamental applications.

The first to incorporate pastels was the artist Jean Antoine Watteau, also known as the father of Rococo. His work featured courtship parties based on everyday scenes. Her work depicts sophisticated gatherings in pastel blues, yellows, pinks and greens.

Pastels in the art world

Eighteenth-century pastels weren’t just important in France – they were also featured in Italian portraiture, illustrating a fashion staple. From then until the early 1900s, pastels transcended their role from a staple in clothing stores to a fixture in modern homes.

After World War I, pastels became popular because of their ability to communicate serenity, calm, and ease. Pastels enjoyed a mid-century resurgence when Canadian-American artist Agnes Martin popularized grids drawn in pencil on bleached pastel backgrounds. Martin’s later work featured “pink roses, peach, salmon, and the palest yellows.”

Perhaps pastel’s most recent moment in the art industry dates back to 2016, when Pantone selected rose quartz and serenity as colors of the year.

A rising fashion trend

Pastel color palettes became famous in the 1930s and 1940s, following the predominance of bright hues often used for war purposes. Because anti-war sentiment was strong, civilians later turned to earthy greens and browns. By the 1950s, pastels represented a more romantic feel, introducing soft blues and pinks to popular culture.

During the economic recession of the 1970s, neutral and earth tones made a comeback. They were quickly overthrown in the 1980s when ultra-luxury colors came into fashion. At the time, bright colors were a popular method of demonstrating wealth, with pastels making their seasonal resurgence towards the end of the decade.

From the 1990s, pastels made their first appearance in men’s fashion. TV characters like Sonny Crockett from miami vice dressed in pastels, often sporting powder-colored suits and shirts.

The pastel trend quickly faded, with the color palette eventually being confined to baby clothes. However, another resurgence occurred in 2008 during the deepest economic recessions in history.

Pastels in everyday objects

Due to the global economic shutdown in 2008, many homeowners bought expensive items in neutral colors to ensure they would stay in style for longer periods of time. Pantone Color Institute executive director Leatrice Eisman noted that the “softness, ease and lightness” of pastels drives social depressions in times of discord.

Outside of fashion, pastels have penetrated hundreds of industries and applications. They have become popular interior design choices in seemingly mundane household items like kitchen mixers, sofas, and even light fixtures.

Today, you’ll often see pastels in digital design – mostly incorporated by brands who want to evoke a sense of femininity, calm and poise.

The future of pastel

Because trends have shown that pastels tend to come back in times of recession, there’s no reason not to expect pastels to make a comeback from time to time.

These days, pastels are a cozy staple because of their cheerful, light, and uplifting feel. Something about the soothing nature of pastel has a significant impact on the wearer’s mood. Because they reflect familiar palettes of childhood staples like Care Bears and My little Pony, many turn to the nostalgic and comforting trend during times of uncertainty.

Woman with pink Ferragamo leather bag and dress with floral and bird pattern

Pastel Pink Aesthetic Types

Pastels are no longer just for young girls, boys or babies. These wardrobe essentials are so versatile, your styling options are virtually endless. If your dark or monochromatic collection could use a subtle pop of color, here are some tips for achieving a pastel aesthetic.

Pastel Goth Aesthetic Outfits

These bold pastel aesthetic outfits combine pastel colors and occult elements. Pastel goth borrows heavily from the post-punk scene of the 70s, with musical groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division adopting more playful gothic themes.

In a typical pastel goth aesthetic, you might see the following:

  • Symbols like crosses, bones, black cats and ghosts
  • Corsets
  • Platform boots with pastel colored laces, ballet flats or chunky shoes
  • Leather jackets in pastel colors or delicate cardigans
  • Pastel stockings with light prints
  • Studs
  • Pastel or dye wigs
  • Black-based makeup with a swirl of pastel colors

Pastel E-girl Outfits

Pastel e-girls usually incorporate emo, grunge, and quirky fashion elements with a touch of pastel. A typical e-girl pastel color palette will have a black and white base with pastel pinks and yellows. Also expect to see lots of flowers and hearts.

Most pastel e-girls prefer heavy eye makeup with pastel accents. Accessorize and accentuate with pastels when wearing basic black-based makeup or outfits.

A pastel e-girl outfit can include nostalgic pieces like candy necklaces and butterfly clips. Scarves and belts are also popular choices, often paired with an adorable plaid skirt.

When it comes to footwear, chunky pastel platforms are a crowd favorite. However, some prefer pop-punk era shoes like Vans or other sneakers.

Sweet lolita fashion

Lolita is one of the most important fashion styles in Japan. Although she is mainly inspired by Victorian and Rococo style lace pieces, sweet lolita takes the “kawaii” aesthetic further with a touch of “innocence”.

Sweet Lolita is inspired by children’s clothing and fairy tale themes. Standard Sweet Lolita accessories may include large bows, purses, stuffed animals, and ribbons.

Pastel Clothing For Men

The days when pastel fashion was exclusively feminine are long gone. Pastel is just as much a staple of menswear these days – you’ll see it in everyday shirts, bottoms and even suits. Don’t be surprised if you see pastels in the workplace. Pastel dress shirts are already proving to be a clear hit.

If you’re new to pastels, pair a pastel shirt or slacks with a solid neutral shade like black, navy, or skin tone. The incorporation of earthy tones accentuates the softer hues without being too loud. When layering pastels, consider wearing monochrome to avoid clash.

Pastels are also a fan favorite in retro sneaker classics and tennis shoes. Avoid pastels in chunky shoes, which tend to look less polished.

woman in sunglasses dancing

Final Thoughts

Pastel hues pair perfectly with almost any shade, which is why this aesthetic is so popular among different generations. The pastel aesthetic takes a “less is more” approach that suits any budget and can easily be incorporated regardless of ever-changing trends.

If you want to stay ahead of the latest LGBT fashion trends, check out Weird – we are always up to date with the hottest of the hottest!

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