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What is princesscore? Meet the women swapping loungewear for ballgowns

The princesscore aesthetic has seen a surge in popularity over the last year. But what is it? And who are the women leading the trend? Stylist takes a closer look.

From the whimsical vibes of cottagecore to the influx of homeware inspired by Greek mythology, there’s nothing quite like diving into the world of a new trend or aesthetic.

So, when we heard about princesscore – the new trend dominated by flowing dresses, fairytale-inspired scenes and lots and lots of tulle – it’s safe to say we were intrigued.

A cross between the popular, fairytale-inspired cottagecore and the more grandiose, luxurious appeal of regency and royalcore, the trend has exploded over the last year, with creators on social media fueling the sudden surge in its popularity: at the time of writing, the #princesscore hashtag has over 61.2 million views on TikTok, and over 16,800 posts on Instagram

For some, the trend is simply an opportunity to mirror the fashion and trends from popular shows such as Bridgerton and The Great. For others, though, it’s both a chance to dress up (something many people have been missing in lockdown) and a chance to claim ownership over a style or aesthetic that previously felt unattainable.

It’s hardly surprising to see why this kind of content is so popular, either. Whether you’re a fan of big puffy dresses, enjoy taking in the extravagant settings or simply want to inject a bit of joy into your feed, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

To find out more about the princesscore trend, and the people behind its surge in popularity, Stylist spoke to five princesscore creators to find out more about how they got into it, and what it means to them to share this kind of content. Here’s what they had to say.  

Lauren Foster, 30, from Pennsylvania

“I’ve been switching between dressing the cottagecore and princesscore aesthetic regularly for about a year now but have used odes to this way of dress this way for over a decade now.

“To me, princesscore is about embracing the beauty and royalty that life has to offer. On my Instagram account @enchanted_noir, I wanted to create a safe space for BIPOC people and women specially to see themselves reflected in this aesthetic and to have a place to draw inspiration from.

“My favorite thing about sharing this type of content is how happy and inspired people are when they see my work. A lot of the world is very on edge right now, but this kind of content kind of acts as an escape from all of that anxiety.

“I’ve had multiple people message me telling me that I have inspired them to go after their dreams just from my pictures and videos because they see someone like themselves doing it. I am truly grateful.” 

Lenny Smith, 43, from Essex 

Two side-by-side photos of Lenny Smith, one where she's lying down and the other where she's stood in the street

“I’ve always loved anything whimsical and fairytale. For most women, the only chance they get to live out their princess fantasy is their wedding day or prom (prom wasn’t even a thing in UK high schools when I went) and I find that kind of limitation sad. In a world where we are free to be pretty much anything we want, why not be a princess?

“In some ways, I’ve always been into this kind of style. As a child, the frillier and more ridiculous a dress could be, the better. Through my teens I veered away a little, going through a hippy and mild goth phase (though those looks still have those ethereal qualities I love). However, I came full circle after having my daughter who had a dressing up box full of princess gowns and I desperately wanted to wear them.

“I started my Instagram account @welcometolennysworld two years ago. It started as a place to share my travel content, but when the pandemic hit, I had to get more creative with my content – and that’s when it occurred to me that I could become the princess I’d always wanted to be. With this in mind, I bought some dresses and revelled in this real-life fantasy, recreating well-known fairy stories or just living my own.

“To me, princesscore is a sense of freedom – a way to let my imagination run wild, tap into my childhood fantasies and wear what I love. When I put on one of my gowns in a public place, I feel amazing. People stare, but I don’t care because I’m literally living my best life in that moment, twirling around without a care in the world. It makes me feel young, free, unburdened and like anything is possible: some people may feel I’m too old to be playing princess but I don’t think there should be an age limit to flexing your imagination.

“I love sharing this kind of content online because of the sense of escapism it brings, both for me and hopefully for the viewer. I hope it inspires others to do the same, to let go of the mundane and chase their dreams, whatever that may be.” 

Iridessence, 27, from Illinois

Two photographs of Iridessence wearing princess-like fashion

“I’ve always had a taste for extra flair. I wasn’t big on Disney princesses, but I did love Barbie animated movies and other princess adjacent things in my childhood, and as an adult it resurfaced through my appreciation for historical costumed dramas and romances.

“Having studied art history in school, my educated adult eye allowed me to appreciate the details and intricate work of luxurious interiors and beautiful costumes, and similarly for the simpler but still very detailed aspects of cottagecore too. When I look at the princesscore aesthetic, I see the influence of centuries of art and fashion history. It’s interesting to see people going back to that.

“However, it still took me some years to see what the princesscore aesthetic looked like when it comes to my own personal expression of style as a Black, plus size woman today. Black, plus size women and femmes are not always seen as naturally feminine and are expected to perform it for the gaze of society, so I love reclaiming my femininity and doing it in a way that inspires me.

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“I’ve been dressing this way on and off for about five years now. I cycle through a list of aesthetics that are interesting to me and Princesscore – although it wasn’t really called that until recently – is one of them. I’ve always wanted to look like this, but I wanted to reach a point where I could do it justice on a small budget, and I think I finally started to feel comfortable with that in 2019. Then, the trend became really popular in 2020, and my Instagram account @iridessence has really exploded with it.

“Nowadays, my feminine expression is over the top, perhaps beyond a point which is socially acceptable in most contexts – but that’s how I know that I’m doing it for me. When I dress in the Princesscore style, a lot of people ask me what I’m doing or if there’s a special occasion, and I imagine a lot of people on the streets of my city think the way I dress is strange or a little too much for every day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I dress up, I feel like my inner child is fulfilled, adventure and the world are at her fingertips, and she can do anything. For me, every day is an occasion to be a princess!” 

Jordan Brown, 27, from Kent 

Two photos of Jordan Brown, one at Arundel castle the other sat down under a treet

“I think I’ve always wanted to be a princess, especially when I was a child. My mother would dress me in all kinds of elaborate dresses with petticoats and bows – basically mini versions of the kinds of dresses that I love now! I was raised on fairy tales and Disney movies, so it’s no surprise that this style has made its way into my adult life too. Anything that makes reality a little bit more magical is a bonus for me!

“To me, princesscore is about evoking a sense of whimsy and magic through clothing, whether it be with something smaller like a corset top to something as grand as a ballgown. If it looks like it could have been plucked from a storybook, then it’s princesscore!

“I started wearing this style about four years ago, long before the term ‘princesscore’ existed! My own term for it has been ‘everyday princess’ style and it started when I was sent a beautiful white tulle skirt from a company. I immediately fell in love with it and wanted to incorporate more pieces into my wardrobe that gave me that same magical feeling. 

“When I dress this way, it makes me feel as though I am in my own real life fairy tale. It has always been important to me to appreciate the little moments in everyday life, no matter how big or small, and view them as their own adventures rather than just everyday tasks. Dressing the way I do helps to solidify this even more, as though I am the main character of a book.

“I also absolutely love seeing people get inspired from what I post on my Instagram account @hellomissjordan, to change up their style and outlook on fashion. I have received so many messages and comments from people saying that my confidence to dress this way has given them the confidence to dress how they really want to, even if it is not deemed ‘normal’ by others. That honestly makes me so happy and makes all the hard work worth it.” 

Nathalie Roch, 31, from Paris, France

Two photos of Nathalie Roch wearing princess-like dresses, one in front of a castle and the other in front of a gold door

“I’ve always been obsessed with princess dresses, ever since my childhood. Disney is obviously a huge inspiration. I was also born into a family of haute couture seamstresses, so princess dresses have always been around me.

“I first started to wear these kinds of dresses when I was in high school, and the older I got the more princess-like the dresses became. Then, about three and half years ago, I started creating and posting content with this aesthetic on my Instagram account, @nathalie_wanders.

“When I wear this kind of style, I just feel 100% myself. Our world isn’t made for fairytale princesses, but this aesthetic allows me to reclaim my childhood dreams and help other people to dream at the same time.” 

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Images: Lauren Foster, Lenny Smith, Iridessence, Jordan Brown, Nathalie Roch