Is The “Soft Life” Rhetoric Changing The Way We Dress?

We all remember what went down with the problematic insinuations of the viral “clean girl aesthetic” last summer. It basically indicated whiteness being the most sought-after while still being appropriated from Black and brown women. Now there’s the “soft life.” But the “soft life” is something a bit more than an aesthetic. It’s a proposition for a way of life and, from my perspective, a very dull one filled with lots and lots of beige. The “soft life” has a contemporary “Black Girl Luxury” undertone, which is all about Black women claiming their rightful space in luxurious activities and livelihood. An amazing concept, as Black women, of course, deserve to be given that type of lifestyle. The similarities I’m seeing are the neutral colors, dreary beiges, creams, and black. The clothing aesthetics are quite minimal, filled with basics; a blazer here, a white tank top there, and trousers are the go-to’s, it seems. Nothing wrong with those things; it’s just personally outdone. Even seeing white women dress their children in beige and buy them wooden block toys to fit their whole “soft life” meets “clean girl aesthetic” is starting to look unhinged.

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The thing is, I think that “Black Girl Luxury” has now kind of rebranded as “soft life,” and in my opinion, it’s taking a turn away from the healing and growth aspect of the movement. Soft life was originally rooted in the choice of a softer and possibly happier life and has, in part, turned into more of a robotic routine to record as well as buying almost uniform-like clothing in a plethora of creams and beiges. 

I’d like to raise the argument that Solange’s cover of Apartamento is a true testament and representation of “Black Girl Luxury.” She has the resources to wear what she wants and is adorned in Telfar shorts, long socks, and a red and white Rugby polo. Even with muted tones, her furniture is filled with color, and it feels like she has warmth in her space in her stripped-down look. Her leisure looks are still filled with personality, and her taste is artisanal, not just about brands but about shapes, the way her couch is curved, and the way her decorations highlight her own Blackness to embrace—that is “Black Girl Luxury.” 

My fear in the rebrand of “Black Girl Luxury” turning into the “Soft Life” is that inherent Blackness is forgotten. Doorknocker hoop earrings, ripped jeans, gaudy designer bags, colorful makeup, all of those things are still luxury. The blandness of the rebrand makes it look like, once again, whiteness is the goal, and we have to remember that whiteness does not equal luxury or happiness. If you want to participate in “Black Girl Luxury,” I beg you to remember that you can absolutely be yourself, wear colors, and buy whatever you want, which is still very much luxury.  

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