Thanks to the proliferation of OOTD videos filling our TikTok For You pages, and the aestheticizing of pretty much everything, there’s suddenly a lot of pressure when it comes to getting dressed. However, we all have those days where getting ready feels more like a whirlwind of fabrics instead of a carefully curated process. While this can sound like a sartorial catastrophe for some, TikTokers are urging us to embrace the messy vibes with the “frazzled English woman” trend.
So, what does a frazzled English woman look like? While the modern version can appear as, well, any woman who is both English and frazzled, this trend calls back to specific outfits worn in early 2000s romcoms, where the heroines are (get this) frazzled English women. She’s often seen mixing various layers, like cardigans, cable knit sweaters, vests, tights, and frilly blouses, claw clips, and skinny scarves in muted neutral tones juxtaposed with rich tones like burgundy, chartreuse, and mustard yellow.
Florals are a big deal for the frazzled English woman, too, but not in a flashy 2022 way—rather, dainty traces of rose or ivy are woven throughout a single piece and then layered with solid pieces. And since we’re talking about leading ladies, they often add a romantic touch to pieces like structured button-ups by opening the cuffs, and leaving a few buttons near their neck—also adding to the impression that they are always dashing off to make their train or profess their love to someone.
But muted tones and classic pieces don’t mean boring, in fact, a little bit of quirkiness is crucial to this woman’s character. In addition to the innovative layering, hefty pendants on a ribbon necklace, a roomy bag, skinny scarf, pageboy cap, and a pair of leather clogs or knee-high boots add an almost art teacher-y flair to British staples.
As far as glam goes, the F.E.W. follows a haphazard routine (bonus points if it’s something that you can pull together in five minutes on the Tube). Frazzled English women are often seen wearing their hair natural yet knot-free, or pulled into a messy updo with a claw clip. And for makeup, you’ll want to stick to the basics like light eyeliner, blush, and an MLBB lippie.
Where We’ve Seen It
The idea here is that a frazzled English woman is a working woman who dresses (semi) professionally while letting her witty humor and harried personality shine through. The first example that comes to mind is Renée Zellweger as Bridgette Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary. The main character often dresses in a work-appropriate fashion, but something always seems “off,” like a messy bun or an ill-fitting peacoat. Keira Knightley’s character, Juliet, in Love Actually, exudes a F.E.W. energy, and Kate Winslet’s character in The Holiday is basically the blueprint for this trend. Real-life examples include Knightley’s off-duty style, as well as Sienna Miller’s pre-boho phase.
Recently, alt-trends are focusing on that elusive “ugly” yet chic combo, which is evident in the recent “weird girl” and “blokecore” trends (among many, many others). During the warmer months, Gen Z focused on rehabbing Y2K so-ugly-they’re-cool pieces like ultra-crop tops, low-rise jeans, and mini skirts. The frazzled English woman trend is a natural progression that marries the “ugly” and Y2K trends, while being winter-appropriate,
How To Wear the Frazzled English Woman Trend
Considering the point is to look a little undone, there are no strict rules here, but a few thing to keep in mind. For a color palette, your safest bet is sticking to neutrals and muted hues of your favorite colors like deep reds, royal blues, lavender, or Robin’s egg.
The trend has an overwhelming emphasis on coziness—there’s a reason two of its most prominent muses are from Christmas movies—so a cushy sweater, whether it be a cashmere cardigan or off-the-shoulder jumper, is a must. Layers are also key, so start with basics, like a pair of tights and a spaghetti-strap baby tank. On top of that, you can wear bottoms like mid-length skirts or flared trousers, favoring heavier fabrics like wool or denim. As for the top, start with a collared shirt and layer things like vests, cable knit sweaters, or tweed blazers overtop. If collared shirts aren’t your thing, you can layer a cardigan over a floral bustier top. A statement coat helps add in that signature quirk or add on your accessories like a skinny scarf and claw clip.
Sure, this trend leans heavily into rom-com cosplay, but the inspiration is pure. No one’s put together all the time, we all have our scattered moments. So why not lean into the season and embrace a haphazard scarf and quirky knit to fight the cold? Who knows—maybe this is your ticket to a clumsy meet-cute featuring spilled hot chocolate and a golden retriever (or some equally embarrassingly cute gaff). And if not, there’s always something satisfying about embracing your messy side.