Normcore. Barbiecore. Coastal cowgirl. These days, sartorial vignettes become global movements only if they can be neatly categorized under an evocative title that is as descriptive as it is hashtag-able.

These season-long trends work if you never have to explain them; if the moniker is so clear and concise that you can draw an image in your mind as soon as you hear it.

And thus we turn to the hot librarian look currently steaming up the internet.

If you’re already thinking about a skin-tight cardigan over a plaid mini-skirt or a collared shirt unbuttoned to the point where people can count your ribs, then you get it. (Take a look at the lineup at Peter Do; have they all forgotten how mother of pearl buttons work?)

But the key here is the fake plastic-frame glasses (bonus points if they’re cat-eye), typically referred to as “secretary glasses.” Voila, the look is complete.

The “hot librarian” style has become so ubiquitous over time that it’s now both a costume and a way of life. But OIlvia Neil shopping for magazines in a cropped cardigan and dork-ish glasses feels particularly apt right now, largely because we’re all confronting the idea of going back to the office.

After over three years of work-from-home followed by hybrid-schedules, a return to a 40-hour-a-week sentence to our cubicles seems like the appropriate time to revisit these enduring dress codes and, maybe, flip them on their head.

The hot librarian isn’t destined to spend their day pushing pencils, though: the look is more business-casual pastiche than actual officewear, which allows fashion brands to really play with the idea.

At Miu Miu, modest gray knitwear is paired with a polka-dotted pencil skirt and sensible kitten heels. Stella McCartney’s version will have you wearing beautiful pleated trousers with a cropped vest (hold the shirt).

And of course Thom Browne has been championing some version of this aesthetic for as long as he’s been around with his expertly tailored cropped suits.

Today’s saucy secretary isn’t mere Van Halen cosplay but a middle ground between off-duty model and Velma from Scooby-Doo. It’s fun, it’s youthful, it’s a little Y2K and it’s maybe even a little too irreverent for the office.

But at least she’s finally free from Halloween.


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