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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jess Cartner-Morley

Romcoms are back, and that means pastels, small cardigans – and a sense of humour

Romcom core.

Romcom is the vibe the world needs right now, and here’s why. The story of every romcom is that two adorable people meet, but somehow, in the frantic chaos of modern life, then spend the following 90 minutes of screen time narrowly missing getting together. Or (mistakenly as it will turn out) think that they hate each other. Or both, before realising that happy ever after is there for the taking if they just stop bickering and get married already.

The classic romantic comedy tropes reflect back at us the speeded-up fractiousness of our era – our dating apps, our culture wars, a vague sense that the future has been derailed and isn’t going to plan – but wrap it up with a promise that deep down we all love each other really and that everything will be all right in the end. This is why, after two decades in the cinematic wilderness, the romcom is back.

Meg Ryan, homecoming queen of the 1990s meet-cute, is to return as both director and star of What Happens Later, a film about ex-lovers who find themselves stranded in an airport together, after decades apart. Rom-com veterans Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez have already joined the romcom renaissance, while Netflix serves up a constant stream of meet-cutes to the laptops of Gen Z. When pretty much every other topic from gender politics to the royal family is riven with intergenerational strife, the romcom is about the only thing the whole family can agree on.

Which is why romcom core is the fashion trend that you need in your life and will eventually succumb to. Even if – especially if – right now you’re rolling your eyes and thinking you’re too sophisticated for this nonsense, kind of like Meg Ryan does at Billy Crystal at the beginning of When Harry Met Sally when they’re driving to New York.

Romcom core is, well, exactly what it says on the tin. It is one part romance, one part comedy. It has date-night sex appeal, but it also has a quirky sense of humour. It is Julia Roberts in a chocolate-and-cream polka dotted dress in Pretty Woman. It is Alicia Silverstone wearing a lemon-yellow skirt suit to high school in Clueless, and Reese Witherspoon in hot-pink leather in Legally Blonde.

Romcom core is very different from Hollywood glamour. It is not classic, or timeless, there is a whole lot of Y2K energy going on here, which is another reason that romcom core is having a moment, when the high street is full of 2000s cargo pants and bucket hats all over again. Romcom core is not the passive femininity of love interests who hang around in a fairytale dresses waiting for princes to show up. Rather, it is the main-character energy of women who throw things and make horrible mistakes and crash cars and lose their tempers – but are still the heroines of our story.

Lilac, pink and yellow are very romcom. Short skirts are very romcom, especially pleated ones, and bonus points for teaming them with a small backpack. Shrunken cardigans trimmed with ribbon or feathers. Gold locket necklaces. Wearing a spaghetti-strap slip dress, especially when it’s not really warm enough. Talking-point accessories: a chihuahua, say, or a tennis racquet.

Cutting a fringe is very romcom, as is carrying a pile of books under your arm as if you are on an Ivy League campus. A denim jacket, especially worn with sunglasses in your hair while driving a convertible.

Romcom core, in other words, is fun. These are clothes to wear in chaotic times, while keeping faith that things will get better. For believing in the happy ever after, but never losing your sense of humour.

Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Sam Mcknight and Tom Ford beauty. Model: Hanna at Milk. Jacket: Maje. Top: Reformation. Trousers: Essentiel Antwerp. Shoes: LK Bennett. Bag: Depop. Earrings and ring: Hey Harper. Necklaces: Astrid & Miyu

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