What's a VSCO girl? Shop the latest teen trend

Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu October 17, 2019

When I first heard the phrase "VSCO girl" from a neighbor over the summer, I had to ask her to repeat it several times, then insisted she spell it out because I simply didn't understand what the heck she was talking about. And the phenomenon or meme or movement — whatever you want to label it — has only grown. Moms are trying to make sense of it on the soccer field sidelines, kids are whispering about it as they race out of school, news outlets far and wide have been covering it as, well, news.

What is a VSCO girl?

Confused? Here's the backstory: VSCO (pronounced "visco") is a photo editing and sharing app (free of likes or commenting) widely used among tweens and teens. It allows them to select preset filters to give their images and videos an extra beachy, golden hour vibe. And it's that laid back look — in addition to slew of must-have products — that has spawned a generation-defining trend that can be seen everywhere from the VSCO app to Tik Tok to Instagram to YouTube to Facebook. Just kidding, Gen Zers don't use Facebook! Oh, and you're also going to see it IRL (translation: that's "in real life") at your local mall, your coffee shop and pretty much everywhere else you stop during your day.

Unlike the "Valley girls" of my day, however, being a VSCO girl is far more about your filter and what you're wearing than your location or the way you speak. So, who is a VSCO girl? Well, the majority of the participants land somewhere between middle and high school, with the trend definitely tapering off before college, which makes sense, considering 75% of VSCO's users are Gen Z, according to CEO Joel Flory. A VSCO girl is also environmentally conscious, hence why she carries a metal straw at all times (to save the turtles) and avoids plastic water bottles in favor or her beloved Hydroflask (which is covered in Redbubble stickers, FYI).

How to be a VSCO girl

Passion projects aside, the hallmarks of the trend are what's garnering the most attention, because they're: a) incredibly specific; and b) not cheap.

So, what does one "need" to be a VSCO girl? Well, there are a lot of things, ranging from carrying a Penny Skateboard under her arm to donning a messy bun wrapped in a scrunchie (yes, scrunchies are back and yes, you can also be a VSCO girl with your hair down — just make sure you have some scrunchies on your arm, mmk?)

More tokens of the trend: An oversized T-shirt (preferably so big that it covers your shorts and makes it appear like you're only wearing the T-shirt), anything purchased from retailer Brandy Melville, a puka shell choker necklace, ugly cool shoes like Birkenstocks or Crocs, Pura Vida bracelets, a Fjällräven Kånken backpack and light, natural makeup topped off with Carmex Lip Balm and Glossier Lip Gloss.

With all of this in tow, however, the VSCO girl vibe is meant to be effortless, like she just so happened to collect these 10-plus products, hopped in her Jeep Wrangler (Did I forget to mention that's what VSCO girls drive?) and headed to the beach. Easy peasy, right? Right.

VSCO girl outfit essentials

Even if you don't know anyone aiming to be a VSCO girl, you can still have fun with the trend's signature trappings. (And if you do, then consider this your go-to holiday shopping list.) Here is a starter guide to the look that is currently pervading our youth's culture.

Tie Dye Letter Print Crop Top ($12.99, amazon.com)

Pura Vida Bracelet ($6.90-12, amazon.com)

Fjällräven Re-Kånken Mini Backpack ($74.96, zappos.com)

Hydro Flask Water Bottle ($39.95, amazon.com)

Yihong 8-Piece Reusable Metal Drinking Straws ($7.99, amazon.com)

Carmex Classic Lip Balm ($2.74, amazon.com)

Birkenstocks ($99.95, zappos.com)

Glossier Lip Gloss ($14, glossier.com)

Qceasiy Seashell Necklace Choker ($8.99, amazon.com)

Vans Classic Slip On ($49.95, Nordstrom.com)

Crocs Classic Rainbow Clog ($39.99, zappos.com)

Mario Badescu Facial Spray ($7-$12, nordstrom.com)

Auwer 40-Piece Velvet Hair Scrunchies Set ($4.85, amazon.com)

Penny Skateboard in Rose Gold 22" ($129, amazon.com)

Jeep Wrangler ($28,295 and up, jeep.com)

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.