What Does It Mean To Raise a ‘Soft Girl’?

It's more than just an aesthetic—it's empowering. Here's how to know if you are raising a 'soft girl' or how to guide your child's 'soft girl' style.

Happy tween girl in pink dress dancing outdoors.

Erin Brant / Stocksy

My 8-year-old daughter is very into developing her own sense of style. During a recent trip to Target, I showed her a really cute pair of skinny jeans with ripped knees—basically what I pair with an oversized tee on a daily basis.

"What do you think? We could match?" I asked. "Um, Mommy? How many times do I have to tell you, jeans are NOT my style." Message received. "So, what is your style?" I dared to ask. "You know, pink, green, and light colors, maybe some tye dye . . . cute dresses and I always wear a headband," she replied, rolling her eyes while throwing a light green sundress into the cart.

I just assumed this meant I was raising a girly girl—with attitude (I do call her my "tiny teenager" for a reason). But as it turns out, she's actually onto something and unbeknownst to me, a junior member of the "soft girl" trend. If this resonates with your personal style or that of your offspring—you may be "soft girls" too.

What Is a Soft Girl?

Upon some quick digging on social media and the internet, the most popular "soft girl" is Ariana Grande followed by Sydney Sweeny, Sofia Richie, and Kendall Jenner. The "soft girl" style they've popularized is deliberately cutesy and feminine with lots of pastels—but never mistake that girly girliness for weakness.

Ariana Grande on The Voice

NBC / Contributor / Getty Images

Jessica Hendrickson, design director at Lion Brand Yarn, explains the overall "soft girl" messaging is that "it's okay to be vulnerable and overly feminine—yet still confident and strong. It gives [those who identify as] women/girls the confidence to express themselves when they otherwise might feel like femininity makes them less than. It's changing the narrative."

What Inspired the Soft Girl Trend?

Celebrity stylist Samantha Brown believes the trend was born out of the resurgence of '90s aesthetics. "Younger celebrities brought this trend forward, and shows like Euphoria made it mainstream," Brown explains.

But Tiktok and social media are where it really took off, especially with the abundance of "micro" fashion trends emerging via social media in the past few years.

"Most focused on nature-based, slower-paced lifestyles such as Cottagecore, Coastal Grandma, and Clean Girl," explains Swati Kelkar, head of the intimates division at Maurices. "The pandemic forced most of us to slow down our lifestyles and yearn for some much-needed fresh air, so these trends—including soft girl—are likely a direct result,"

How to Dress Like a Soft Girl

Celebrity style and fashion expert Melissa Rivers says creating the "soft girl" look is all about mixing and matching stronger and softer colors of the same hue like pastels, soft neutrals, and white. The pieces you want in your closet include soft cardigans, chunky whimsical knit sweaters, puff sleeve dresses and shirts, relaxed jeans, drape pants, flowy skirts, soft fabrics, and frilly details. "All very feminine!" Rivers says.

However, the secret to pulling off the "soft girl" look is making it your own. This isn't a trend where everyone is a carbon copy. "A soft girl isn't afraid to show off their feminine side with puff sleeves or floral embroidery—but gives it a bit of their personal twist and attitude," explains Hendrickson.

To build a "soft girl" wardrobe, Brown recommends shopping at stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Abercrombie, and Aerie while Henderickson recommends Cotton On.

Are You Raising a Soft Girl?

Alison Seyal of Fairfield, CT recently realized her 9-year-old daughter Mila was getting more into pink and traditionally 'girly' clothes and accessories—something she hadn't been into in previous years. She says Mila's introduction to the "soft girl" trend came from friends at school, Ariana Grande, and, of course, Tik Tok.

But Seyal loves that Mila's found the "soft girl" trend because she sees how she's come into her own by embracing it. "I love that she's able to put on an outfit and look in the mirror and feel confident and happy," she says. "The soft girl trend is encouraging girls to have fun with fashion, colors, patterns, and images. Mila's playing around with femininity and experimenting with what 'girl power' means to her."

More Than a Trend, Soft Girl is a Revolution

Sanket Shah, director and founder of The Opal, a UK-based jewelry business, was trying to make sense of why his business was selling so many white opal Victorian pendants and heart locket bracelets out of the blue. It's how he learned of the "soft girl" trend, coupled with an explanation from his niece.

"Personally, I think it's absolutely wonderful because it's empowering young girls to rediscover their femininity," Shah says. "There's no shame in indulging in pretty things, whether taking inspiration from past female icons and trends or forging your own path."

Alas, my daughter still rolls her eyes at me every time I have the "audacity" to point out clothes I think are cute or make suggestions of outfits she should wear. But my "soft girl" in training has found a style that suits her and a vibe that resonates so I'm here for it, especially if it doubles as a way to find your inner confidence, boost self-esteem, and create a personal style all your own.

Honestly, it's inspired me to lighten up my own wardrobe too. I am a '90s girl so technically the "soft girl" trend is in my blood—but I'll let my daughter think she came to it all on her own!

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles