The soft boy aesthetic— personified by Gen Z fashion icons like Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet— is the latest men's fashion trend to emerge from the Internet. But as you'll learn below, the aesthetic encompasses far more than just fashion. Being a soft boy is a way of life.
In this guide to embracing your inner soft boy, we'll explain where the trend came from, highlight the celebrities and social media sites that skyrocketed it to viral success, and offer tips on how to style soft boy outfits of your own.
What is a Soft Boy Aesthetic And Why People Are Going for the look?
The soft boy aesthetic is an internet subculture that emerged in the late 2010s in response to current cultural norms of masculinity. As the name suggests, the term soft boy refers to a young man who is in touch with his feelings and is unafraid to embrace clothing, hobbies, and tender traits traditionally deemed female. In addition to fashion, they're often interested in thoughtful hobbies like philosophy, music, art, literature, and photography.
By adopting an aesthetic generally associated with women, a soft boy rejects cultural norms around masculinity and what it means to dress like a man. Based on their clothing, hair, and non-threatening vibe, it's easy to assume that most soft boys are gay, though that isn't quite the case. While they come in all gender identities and sexual orientations, most soft boys are straight guys.
Where did the soft boy aesthetic trend come from and the social media sites that skyrocketed it to viral success?
Like most other Gen Z fashion trends, the origins of the soft boy aesthetic can be traced directly to Tik-Tok. As soft boy style grew in popularity on the platform during 2019, the look began to pop up on Instagram, Twitter, and other popular sites.
The soft boy aesthetic is often considered part of the same fashion realm as internet subcultures like E-boys and E-girls, cottagecore, and dark academia.
The soft boy aesthetic is also heavily influenced by K-Pop, a genre of Korean pop music that's steadily gained a global following thanks to its popularity on Tik-Tok. Most K-Pop groups— including popular bands like BTS, VICTON, TXT, EXO, and WANNA ONE— feature at least one soft boy known for their heartfelt lyrics and adventurous personal style. These individuals' brightly colored outfits, pastel-colored hair, and sweet personality are usually met with a swooning sigh from fans.
Highlight Of Celebrities
In addition to global K-Pop stars, the soft boy aesthetic is becoming increasingly popular among young actors, musicians, and other pop culture icons. Thanks to well-dressed celebrities like Harry Styles, Timothee Chalamet, Jaden Smith, and Bryce Hall, soft boy outfits have become a mainstay of celebrity style.
How to Dress Like a Soft Boy
Soft boy style centers around garments, accessories, colors, and fabrics traditionally deemed feminine. In the average soft boy's closet, you'll likely find a collection of graphic t-shirts, blouses, fuzzy sweaters, cropped trousers, straight-leg jeans, and a plethora of necklaces, rings, hats, shoes, and accessories.
Soft boy outfits often incorporate romantic details like ruffles, velvet, pastel colors, and sheer fabrics. To find apparel that fits their unique aesthetic, soft boys often shop at vintage stores, flea markets, and clothing resale websites.
Soft Boy Clothing
Despite their trendsetting ways, soft boy outfits are surprisingly easy to create. Most revolve around simple, versatile garments elevated through unique colors, fabrics, layering, and accessories.
Here are a few staples of soft boy style:
- Graphic t-shirt
- Light-wash straight leg jeans
- Pleated trousers
- Pullover sweater or cardigan
- Striped long sleeve t-shirt
- Bowling shirt
- Denim jacket
To successfully style a soft boy outfit, you'll also need to know a few key styling tricks that are crucial to nailing your look:
- Jeans and trousers are almost always worn cuffed, often with a pin roll that shows off your beat-up Stan Smith sneakers.
- Additionally, jeans and other pants typically feature a relaxed fit and a slight high rise.
- Shirts are usually worn tucked in with a belt.
- Though the aesthetic isn't necessarily grungy, things like shoes and jeans often have a lived-in look and vintage feel.
- Things like shirts and outerwear are often worn oversized and feature large graphics or prints.
Soft Boy Shoes and Accessories
If there's one thing soft boys love, it's accessories. While most men shy away from wearing more than one or two accessories at a time, followers of the soft boy aesthetic will pile on countless link chains, rings, and other accessories to complete their look.
Here are a few popular soft boy accessories:
- Adidas Stan Smith sneakers, beat-up white sneakers, and other skate shoes like Vans or Converse
- White tube socks
- Rings, Cuban link chains, and dangle earrings
- Leather belts, sometimes worn with a chain wallet attached
- Wire-rimmed round glasses
What You Need To Know About Soft Boy Hair
Soft boys are known for more than just their artsy hobbies and swoon-worthy fashion sense. Having the right hair is just as important to nailing the look as wearing the right clothes. From Harry Styles's floppy brown curls to BTS's pastel locks, soft boy hair has become something of an Internet obsession all on its own.
Here are a few popular ways to style your shag:
- Bleach blonde or pastel-colored pompadours
- Medium-length to long shaggy hair
- Curtain bangs
- Embracing your natural hair texture and not using large amounts of gel or other styling products