Champaign Central Chronicle

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Champaign Central Chronicle

Champaign Central Chronicle

What Even Is An Aesthetic?


Aesthetic (adj.). Concerned with beauty, or the appreciation of it. Surely if you have  social media presence, you’ve heard the term, are following one, or are trying to make your own. Dating back to 2014, the “internet aesthetic” was popularised on Tumblr, and began to further grow during the COVID-19 pandemic starting in 2020. These internet aesthetics can be placed into five main categories: Space, Core, Wave, Subcultures/Groups, and Academia. While there are hundreds of different aesthetics, Central High School’s students and staff have distinct and unique aesthetics that they strut with style. 

While some people have certain specific aesthetics, others are more versatile. “Mine is definitely a mishmash of different [styles] put together,” Tara Melecio, a junior at Central, said. “I get a lot of my inspiration from Florence Welch, Ethel Cain, and even Weird Al!” Tara’s style fits under the Core category and is primarily a mix of minimalist and art deco, consisting of funky accessories, cool cardigans, and the bumped-half-up-half-down iconic Tara ‘do.

“I started dressing how I wanted to in sophomore year. Before that, all I would wear was graphic tees – and there’s nothing wrong with that – it just didn’t reflect how I really wanted to express myself,” Melecio elaborates. “I dress how I want to more when I get out of the house because there’s a sense of freedom that comes with not being around my family. I can just be myself.”

Another Central student and Tara’s partner, Susannah Paoli, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of Tara’s style. “If I could use one term to describe my style, it’d be mostly punk, but honestly, it’s all over the place,” Paoli says. Her all-black getups are a total contrast to her partner’s colourful outfits. “I always have to have on something black, some jewellery, and acrylic nails. Without them, I feel naked.”

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S. Paoli: goth aesthetic. c. Susannah Paoli

Although Paoli’s style is very intricate and elaborate, there are some obstacles that they come around when styling their clothes. “A lot of goth clothes are really expensive so it’s kind of hard to find what I want.” Popular goth aesthetic clothing sites like DollsKill, KILLSTAR, and Demonia Cult have average prices upwards of $90. 

Another one of the aesthetics under the Core category is Streetwave or Streetcore. Modern Streetcore consists of styles derived from the 90’s street style, which is a blend of skate and surfboard culture and mainstream hip-hop trends. Erwin Garcia-Corona, a freshman at Central, style falls under the streetcore aesthetic. “I started dressing like this right after middle school,” Garcia says. “I used to dress really weirdly, really colourful in junior high, and I wanted to switch it up.”

For some, the aesthetic that they style under actually does not fit them. Madi Catchings, a senior at Central, elaborated on why most people don’t dress as they please because it’s the most socially comfortable. “Most people are so scared that they’re not going to be socially accepted. And they can’t afford the social group they want to be in, and aren’t confident enough to create it themselves.” Sitting right across from Catchings, Paoli and Melecio nodded in agreement. “[It seems like] people are so obsessed with what’s ugly and what’s not. I think everyone should just dress how they want to. Even if I wouldn’t put it on, the fact that you had the confidence to wear it, I respect that a lot.”

Aesthetics are not just limited to students, of course. Mrs. Hogan-Sullivan, a social studies teacher at Central, has a distinct aesthetic that when you see it, you know it’s her. “[My aesthetic is] mainly indie or cottagecore. My style is colourful. It’s happy. I wore a lot of black when I was younger, and that didn’t really reflect me as a person. I really enjoy happy colours, so I like to dress in a way that lifts my mood. I dress to make myself happy. And so should everyone else.”

Mrs. Hogan-Sullivan and Oliver. c. Mrs. Hogan-Sullivan

Just like how people have specific aesthetics, some have certain staple pieces to their looks. “I really like funky earrings,” Mrs. Hogan said. “I have plant ones, cat ones, moon ones, you name it. They’re a gift I always get for birthdays or Christmas. I also have to have on some sort of ring, too.”











Eve Houser, a grad student at Walden University, has a diverse and versatile aesthetic. “I like to mix-and-match what I wear. I like how certain clothes from different eras complement each other.” Houser is known for her stylish outfits, not even toning it down at work. “I’ve really dressed like this my whole life, but I came more into it as an adult. I style like this because it’s comfortable, and it matches my personality. It makes me feel like me.”




Houser in skater-grunge, streetcore, and 70’s funk aesthetic. (clockwise from right) c. Eve Houser 












Everyone all over the world is unique in their own way of styling. Aesthetics are more than just styles and accessories, for some people, they’re ways of life.

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