As the air becomes crisp and Hot Girl Summer cools down, a new seasonal moniker rises to take its place.
“Sad Girl Autumn'' has no singular origin, though its emergence in the fall of 2019 can be traced back to its hot weather predecessor, first coined by Megan Thee Stallion earlier that year. While they differ in concept and aesthetic, these trends are not antitheses. Rather, Sad Girl Autumn lies on the same continuum, emphasizing internal reflection in the wake of Hot Girl Summer’s outward displays of individuality and sexual liberation. One could not exist without the other, the balance between introspection and celebration being the epitome of Megan’s “Real Hot Girl Sh*t” ad-lib.
Alice Mirkling, a freshman from Chicago, notices that she finds a pronounced shift towards Sad Girl Autumn as the school workload picks up.
“In summer, there’s more excitement and go-go-go,” says Mirkling. “And Sad Girl Autumn is more busywork.”
This increase in responsibility might point towards the gloomy atmosphere that encroaches with the fall months. The evidence of seasonal changes also contributes to mood-driven behaviors and preferences. Cooling temperatures, withering trees, and the ever present threat of colds inspire a retreat to the comfort of the indoors. And with time in our homes comes time to sit with the experiences and feelings of the previous year. Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression linked to seasonal changes, often begins in the fall, leading to existential anxiety that can proliferate without the consistent social interaction that summer brings.
“We are sometimes stuck inside a lot during the fall, and we’re on our phones more,” Mirkling remarks, speaking to this existentialism. “We saw that more in the pandemic too. We get pulled in.”
The contribution of technology within the insulated setting of one’s home creates an echo chamber of thought, whether that be uplifting or melancholic. To combat this, Mirkling recommends sitting with sadness in a community rather than suffering in solitude.
In addition to the emotional differences from Hot Girl Summer, Sad Girl Autumn embodies a shift in aesthetic during the transition to winter months. A quick Pinterest search of “Sad Girl Autumn” reveals underexposed images of porcelain coffee mugs and stacked books, accompanied by layered fashions indicative of colder weather. Notorious “sad girl musicians” Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish also make frequent appearances.
“Dark Academia is it, but it’s also kind of soft,” says Mirkling. “Lots of fog, lots of mist, kind of gothic.”
The Sad Girl Autumn uniform consists of darker color palettes and heavy layering– jackets over sweaters on top of collared shirts, often paired with sheer black stockings and boots.
“Crazy sweaters, like old man sweaters that you only find at thrift stores– that’s like, a must,” adds Mirkling.
Somber music rises to complement the darker fashions of Sad Girl Autumn. Bon Iver’s “Roslyn” is the most commonly included track in Spotify playlists named for the seasonal moniker. This is closely followed by Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo, and various songs from the Twilight soundtrack.
“Any song by Hozier is just autumn,” Mirkling says.
While Sad Girl Autumn may be an aesthetic and sometimes emotional departure from the high energy fun of Hot Girl Summer, attitudes from both might coexist.
“It is Sad Girl Autumn, but try to make it the Happiest Sad Girl Autumn,” says Mirkling with a smile.
To get in touch with your Sad Girl Autumn, listen to a playlist specially curated for the season on Spotify.