If you’d have asked me about fashion and beauty in my hometown Manchester 10 years ago, there would have been one item of clothing that jumped to mind: the bodycon dress. The go-to party outfit inspired by the Hervé Leger bandage dress era of the early noughties. We also wore lashes as thick as butterflies and definitely didn’t wear a jacket to the club. At least, that was the Northern Girl stereotype. From Liverpool to Newcastle, northern makeup is often considered more extra. Even post the glamourous Footballers Wives era, you’ll still see women wearing rollers in their hair during the day. Yet I wonder, in the age of social media, if there is still much of a noticeable North/South fashion divide when it comes to fashion and beauty?
London gets an entirely different rep for sure. Back when Alexa Chung, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller were London’s most sought after It girls, dressing up seemed to mean donning skinny jeans and some comfortable leather jersey boots. Throw on a faux-fur coat and messy smokey eyes and you could almost hear Kate Moss whisper “This is the London look.” They also didn’t seem to wear much makeup overall and embraced the “barely there” idea. At least this is how it looked to me from up North. It appeared as if the Capital rejected the idea of trying hard whereas us Northern girls embraced making a noticeable effort.
Again, these are old generalisations and the obvious reality is that it varies hugely. Manchester, in particular, has its clusters of fashion and beauty tribes. There’s the artsy kids, vintage lovers, punk rockers, streetwear aficionados and yes, the wonderfully glam girls who know how to contour as well as any Kardashian. All approach beauty differently, according to their personal style.
Yet is there a noticeable difference between beauty trends in Manchester and London? Lauren Cokjuler doesn’t seem to think so. The Manchester-based blogger said, “I think I used to see a difference between the North and South. The North reminds me more of vintage, band tees, etc. But with social media and bloggers, I think people get much more inspiration than what they see in the street and magazines, so it’s very similar (which is not always a good thing!)” And what about the makeup? “I genuinely think beauty gurus from across the UK dictate what women wear on their face now.”
In 2020, Instagram and Youtube culture seem to define our beauty trends more than your postcode. When it comes to North/South divides, there are far more obvious divisions than our tastes in beauty and fashion. That being said there are certainly some beauty trends that I see again and again in Manchester, which I've outlined below.
Big brows are a thing across the nation, but I feel like us Mancunians have embraced fluffy, in-your-face eyebrows tenfold. I use Glossier’s Boy Brow daily to keep mine in check.
2. NATURAL NAILS
Though we’ve seen an embrace of the extra-long acrylic nails of late, natural nails are having a moment in the city. Talented Manchester-based nail artists such as Aggy Nails have been showcasing a range of nail art on shorter talons using gel polish only.
While it can be rainy in Manchester, many beauty lovers in the city tell me they refuse to look like it.
4. MATTE '90s-STYLE LIPSTICK
It’s hard to talk about Manchester fashion without some mention of the '90s ‘Madchester’ fashion icons. Nineties-style matte nude lipsticks remain a staple amongst the cool Northern Quarter crowd.