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Oh, It’s Tomato Girl Summer, Is It?


A new micro-aesthetic is here. It’s got roots in an old concept.

An illustration of a tomato with eyelashes holding an Aperol Spritz and looking pretty relaxed.
Illustration by Anjali Kamat

It’s officially Tomato Girl Summer—at least, according to a rapidly growing number of TikTok videos that showcase a personal style that might be described as aspirational Italian leisure chic. That influencer you follow who is posting dreamy vacation snaps from the Amalfi Coast, wearing lots of linen, and drinking endless Aperol spritzes? That person is living her best Tomato Girl Summer.

As with the many TikTok aesthetic trends that have preceded it—cottagecore, Barbiecore, mermaidcore, or kidcore, to name a few—there is no a specific definition of a Tomato Girl, no single way to be a Tomato Girl. It’s a fashion statement without a uniform (although produce-print dresses don’t hurt); a way of performing a sort of effortless-looking elegance without being a member of the leisure class. In short, it’s a lovely illusion.

But deducing from TikTok videos, Instagram posts, and the odd Yahoo explainer, it’s safe to say the Tomato Girl appreciates the slower, finer moments in life, and can be found lingering over an afternoon espresso, taking a dip in the ocean, strolling along the beach, snacking on aperitivo, and sauntering to the farmers market for flowers and, of course, tomatoes. She likes simple floral prints on her clothes and on her porcelain tableware. Her makeup look is “natural,” or like “golden hour,” as one TikTokker put it.  She antiques. She journals. She puts olive oil in her martinis. Think Diane Lane clad in white in Under the Tuscan Sun, or Sophia Loren pulling up to the Venice Film Festival in a water taxi. It may be the stuff of daydreams—but it sure looks glamorous and relaxing.

In the years since TikTok took over the internet, the video-sharing app has become known for fashion microtrends that apply increasingly confusing coinage to stylistic choices. (Tomato Girl? Who comes up with this stuff?) A lot of the styles blend together or are only really distinguishable from each other by fashion mavens, but they are worth noting for the way they drive commerce, consumerism, and stylistic trends outside of TikTok.

 https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT8efbjTf/ 

After the onset of the cottagecore trend—which, for the uninitiated, is essentially a grandmotherly fashion style with cozy, chintzy elements—dresses that looked like nightgowns were suddenly everywhere. (The most famous, or infamous, was the Nap Dress, which New Yorker writer Rachel Syme described as “the look of gussied-up oblivion.”) After the fairycore (and gothic fairycore) trend, colorful, glittery, winged eye makeup and floral hair jewelry made their way to the red carpet and everyday life,and when balletcore hit, suddenly ballet flats were once again being sold everywhere. Certainly, fashion brands are now noticing the Tomato Girl trend. It’s only a matter of time before they attempt to cash in.

On the one hand, this isn’t so great for society. Fast fashion has made it exceedingly easy to buy cheap, trendy clothing in bulk, from brands like Shein and Fashion Nova that have been accused of human rights abuses. Cheaply made goods—and ravenous consumerism—create massive amounts of environmental waste. There’s also the more complicated issue that a lot of these trends are basically variations of the same romanticized vision of idle wealth mixed with unattainable beauty standards.

But these minitrends are interesting for the way they express nostalgic longing. In the case of the Tomato Girl trend, the yearning seems to be for a slower pace, for romance and picnics and longer summer meals, for blissed-out contentment, for sunny days and relaxation. And sure, for good outfits. In short, it’s a new term for the old idea of la dolce vita.

And while tomatoes don’t strike me as the idyllic food item to embody la dolce vita (don’t lemons seem more fitting?!), the TikTokker Nicollet LaFramboi, who joined the trend by painting her nails a perfect shade of orangey-red tomato, summed it up pretty well with her commentary on the matter: “I know there’s some controversy about there being too many micro-aesthetics on TikTok. I love it. I think it’s cute. If it makes you feel whimsical and happy to be a Tomato Girl, then so be it.”