Palewave is a very popular aesthetic that typically starts to gain more and more traction as summer starts to hit. Palewave centers around muted and pale colors with a very relaxed and comfy vibe.
The main distinctive factor are light wash jeans, white sneakers, and white/beige color palette. Black is generally avoided in favor of navy.
Palewave absorbed the color palette of vaporwave, the bleeding self-awareness of normcore, and the 90’s culture obsession that defined both into a mishmash of genres that got a lot of dudes to wear pink. Your typical palewave outfit (c. 2014) included light wash denim, pastel pink shirts; grey sweatpants and oversized turtlenecks.
Palewave was at its height at 2015, when international labels like Supreme, Palace, and adidas x Raf Simons would produce discernibly palewave-inspired garments. Fashion retailer Elwood would even produce an entire “Palewave” collection for S/S15. Palewave, like vaporwave, wasn’t exactly what you’d call “mainstream” – even by Fall 2015, Google Trends reports search traffic for “palewave” as not enough volume to display long-term results.
Palewave is centered on pastel, light and muted colors. These colors include mushroom, stormy sky, bark, limestone, sand, olive, fawn, deep sea, light pink, and more. Aside from the from the pastel color spectrum, white and grey can also be used to palewave. These colors naturally give off a very chill and relaxed vibe.
Try as much as possible to avoid the common black that goes against the palewave style.
- Basic Tees in pale/muted colors: Palewave shirts should be of subtle patterns and minimal prints, loose fits and more. Common colors are white, cream, beige, light pink and light blue.
- Pants / Lightwash Jeans. Your pants can be light wash denim, joggers, linen trousers, chambray shorts, and more. Lightwash jeans are crucial to the palewave look. Get a nice skinny pair and then maybe a baggier pair to roll up for a cropped effect. Also consider some lightwash or white denim shorts.
- Low Profile White / Light Sneakers. Possibly the most important item. These will be your beaters so choose wisely. Cheaper options for this are Stan Smiths and Vans Old Skools. For a higher quality option go for Common Projects Achilles Lows.
- Sand/Beige Bomber. This will be your light jacket for the spring/summer nights. It works well with everything mentioned above and fits the aesthetic perfectly. These can be had at the likes of HM, Topman, and Zara for cheap.
- Sweatshirts / Hoodies. For those summer nights or chillier summer days nothing looks better with the palewave look than a light colored comfy hoodie or sweatshirt. Grey, sand, light blue and light pink are the most palewave colors for sweatshirts.
Since palewave is not a uncommon look, it has had plenty of appearances in popular culture.
Normcore shares a similar fit and colors with a lot of palewave looks as they both take inspiration in early 90's styles, but palewave differentiates itself due to its pale-only color palette and philosophy differences (standing out, being chill, friendly, open to new people, etc).