Pop culture’s lasting fascination with hyper-femininity has taken many forms, but nothing captures it as well as the coquette beauty aesthetic. An unapologetic explosion of bows, blush, and all things girly, it shares pieces of its whimsical, pink-dusted DNA with some familiar Tiktok trends: balletcore, Regencycore, angelcore, cottagecore, and of course, Barbiecore. But it’s also in a category of its own.
“It’s re-interpreted for the female gaze, inclusive to all, and a little tongue-in-cheek, which immediately makes it feel cool, fresh, and modern—and less Toddlers and Tiaras,” says Cat Quinn, executive director of global trend at MAC Cosmetics.
To truly understand the 2023 coquette, look back a few centuries. The archetype of the coquette pops up as early as the 17th century, a character defined on the stage through her frivolity and flirtation. From the beginning, the coquette has always been a symbol of the hyper-feminine. But over the course of her evolution, she’s shrugged off her more unflattering portrayals to step a beribboned toe into her own power. As Quinn says, we’re now “reclaiming what it means to be ‘girly’ and ditching any negative connotations of the word.”
The aesthetic as we know it now is an evolution from a style Tumblr users called “nymphette,” a (problematic) allusion to the novel Lolita. But while the early 2010s version was about young women infantilizing themselves with ultra-girly style, 2023’s interpretation has the opposite mindset.
“There’s this freedom to reclaim femininity,” says Colleen Foxworthy, director of product development at Orly. “We’re seeing this push to remind women that we’re innately worthy as we are, and it’s okay to be soft and to love romanticism. You can display feminine traits and still command respect.”
Visually, many of the hallmarks of coquette beauty are a callback to its origins. Quinn references “the patron saint of Tumblr coquette beauty, Lana Del Rey.” Mazz Hanna, CEO of Nailing Hollywood, points to particularly romantic touches in nail art: “Think pastel jellies, pearls, hearts, glitter, and bows.”
The same goes for coquette hairstyles, where bows are a nonnegotiable accessory. Celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan describes the look as “a little messy and disheveled.” Other adjectives you’ll hear in the coquette hair vernacular: girly, carefree, fearless, effortless, and unrestrained—a celebration of hyper-femininity and a rebellion against any constraints on the category.
Ahead, we break down the coquette trend even further, as well as how to incorporate it into your makeup, hair, and nails.
Where You’ve Seen the Coquette Trend
The 21st-century coquette is happy to flit from the runway, to the red carpet, to your FYP. On-screen, you’ll see the aesthetic’s influence in Bridgerton or Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Coquette beauty trends are all over the runway from designers like Miu Miu, Sandy Liang, Simone Rocha, Dior, and Chanel.
Celebrities also frequently dabble in the trend. “I’ve loved recent iterations from Zendaya, Hailey Bieber, and Lizzo,” says Quinn. The recent Met Gala red carpet was also a lesson in coquette beauty, with more than half the attendees wearing a hair bow or rose of some kind.
For Benjamin Puckey, celebrity makeup artist and global color director for Clé de Peau Beauté, the celebrities that best embody the coquette makeup look are Emma Roberts, Camila Mendes, and Lily-Rose Depp. All three tend to wear it in a way that has “a slightly retro feel to it, which is fun and super pretty.”
Don’t forget Tiktok, where the coquette beauty trend has amassed millions of views. At MAC Cosmetics, Quinn says that blush (a must for any coquette) is more popular than ever. The brand’s Extra Dimension Blush in Into The Pink ($33), a soft, shimmery pastel, has gotten rave reviews on Tiktok. Sales of the shade “are up +190% vs. last year,” according to Quinn. Other coquette-friendly shades are seeing a similar increase in sales: the glitter-pink Dazzleshadow Liquid in Diamond Crumbles ($25), juicy Cremesheen Glass in Fashion Scoop ($21), and frosty Angel Lipstick ($21).
How to Get the Coquette Makeup Look
Fluttery lashes, glossy lips, and piles of blush are the holy trinity of coquette makeup. Beyond that, it’s all about tailoring the trend to suit you. “It’s a fun and flirtatious look that’s perfect for spring and summer,” says Puckey. “We’re longing for romance.”
Eye makeup stays dewy and subtle, with shadow and liner fading back so mascara can take center stage. Puckey swaps out black liner for Clé De Peau Beauté’s Intensifying Liquid Eye Liner in Brown ($55), which he “dots” between the lashes and finishes with a small flick for a natural finish. Tayaba Jafri, global beauty director for Laura Mercier, recommends shadows with a dewy sheen. “It can be softer than a glam look but just as seductive,” she says. Try Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Shadow ($32) in shades like Rose Gold, Sunrise, or Sienna—your shade pick depends on what’s most flattering on your skin tone. Quinn says you can also dial up your lids with glittery or shimmer textures in soft shades, as long as you “pile on black mascara and lashes” to balance it out.
Glossy or sheer: It’s up to you when it comes to your coquette lip looks. Puckey gravitates toward “a glossy lip balm” like Clé De Peau Beauté’s Lip Glorifier in Pink ($47) or a “retro peach shade” like Cream Rouge Shine in Plumeria Apricot ($50). Jafri loves brighter pinks in “sheer matte” finishes like Laura Mercier’s Petal Soft Lip Crayon ($32) in Camile, Ophélie, or Zoé. For deeper skin tones, Quinn recommends a mauve shade like MAC’s Locked Kiss Ink in Upgraded ($33).
The centerpiece of any coquette makeup look is blush—”probably more than you think you need,” says Quinn. To create a captivatingly flushed cheek, Puckey reaches for Clé De Peau Beauté’s Cream Blush ($60) in “softer shades of pink and peach” for lighter skin tones and “brighter shades of coral and fuchsia” for deeper skin tones. Jafri loves cool tones for this trend, which she likens to “blood rushing to the surface of the skin.” Laura Mercier’s Blush Color Infusion ($36) in Strawberry, Rose, and Pomegranate does the trick on a range of skin tones. For Quinn, placement is most important. “The idea is to create plump, youthful cheeks so the blush is dusted lower,” she says. “Layer it low on the apples of the cheeks and blend it up and across the bridge of the nose.” Her pick: MAC’s Glow Play Blush in Totally Synced ($33).
How to Get Coquette Hair
Bows and ribbons are the foundation of any coquette hairstyle, but from there, you should “fearlessly adorn as much or as little as you want,” says Miles Jeffries, celebrity hairstylist and Oribe ambassador. To evoke a “carefree, ultra-flirty” vibe, he likes to create a prepped base with Oribe’s Hair Alchemy Fortifying Treatment Serum ($66). For added shine, he uses Royal Blowout’s Heat Styling Spray ($69) on straight textures and Curl Gelée for Shine & Definition ($44) on curls and coils, finished with a touch of Crème for Style ($42) and “delicate bows of any size.”
If you’ve ever thought about getting bangs, Marjan says this is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge. “This look pairs well with a face-framing fringe,” she says. “I love leaving some pieces around the face and adding a little wave using the ghd Platinum+ Styler ($279).” For curly hair, leave a few smell tendrils framing your face. Marjan says the ultimate bows and coquette accessories can be found at Sandy Liang and Jennifer Behr, while Heather Taylor Home is the spot for gingham ribbon.
How to Get Coquette Nails
Coquette nails always channel “big bow energy,” according to Sigourney Nuñez, celebrity manicurist and Sally Hansen partner. “It’s like a heightened, more exaggerated version of glazed donut nails where you top it with pops of pearls or 3D embellishments,” she says. Pick a sheer, creamy shade that best suits your skin tone. Nuñez’s recommendations include Sally Hansen’s Good. Kind. Pure polish ($6) in Light Lychee, Pink Cloud, Roasted Chestnut, and Pinky Clay.
A glazed donut base is just one way to play with the trend. Foxworthy says your base color can range “from ultra-bright candy color tones to softer pearlescent and shimmer shades,” depending on your personal style. “Coquette nails encompass a wide range of interpretations,” she says, citing influences from Barbiecore to Japanese Lolita fashion. Her current favorite coquette colors are Orly’s Opposites Attract, Crystal Healing, Rose Colored Glasses, and Burst Your Bubblegum.