Are My Shoes Cheugy? Everything You Need To Know About The Latest Gen Z Term
These photos are from 2017. And I would 100% still wear this exact outfit today.

Are My Shoes Cheugy? Everything You Need To Know About The Latest Gen Z Term

It started with an SOS text from a client… A fabulous woman I’ve worked with for over a decade.

“Shoot! Are my favorite shoes now cheugy? Can I still wear them? Ughhhh. Please advise”

To be honest, I had a mini panic attack. What the “bleep” is cheugy? I didn’t have a clue. Did she really mean cheesy? And her phone auto-corrected it to cheugy? 

A quick google search gave me the 411. There was a recent NY Times article about what is and what is not cheugy.

Before I elaborate, let me give you the low down… 

Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) is another of those TikTok trends making the rounds on the social media platform. 

Remember a few months ago when the over-25 crowd was all up in arms? Because they were offended that the TikTok generation declared that wearing skinny jeans, side parts, and using the laughing/crying emoji meant you were old? And subsequently, many skinny jeans devotees felt they had received a spear to the heart. 

Well, the same nonsense is happening again, but this time with a broader net. There was an article about it in the NY Times, and with press comes traction. According to @JoeBergerTweets, cheugy is going to be one of the words of the year.

What is Cheugy?

What exactly is cheugy, and why should we care? Well, according to the NY Times article, cheugy is:  

“not quite “basic,” which can describe someone who is a conformist or perhaps generic in their tastes, and it’s not quite “uncool.” It’s not embarrassing or even always negative. Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) can be used, broadly, to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard. And while a lot of cheugy things are associated with millennial women, the term can be applied to anyone of any gender and any age.”

Ok, so it’s not necessarily negative, but still, it has negative undertones. I also understand that one of the driving forces and rights of passage of the younger generations is to differentiate themselves from those that came before – that is not new.

Think of the hippie culture post the prim and proper hop-sock generation. And, 90’s grunge in response to 80’s neon and big hair. However, in my humble opinion, the difference these days is that younger generations actively try to label themselves (via social media platforms) as their mode of differentiation. Couple that with the older age groups (ahem, me!) being determined to stay in the know, and we’ve got a somewhat vicious cycle. 

It’s a Social Media Thing.

Remember when the ”kids” were all into Facebook? And then their parents (and even grandparents) hopped on the FB bandwagon. That was their cue to say bye-bye to Facebook and move onto Instagram. And then we (the old folks) wanted to be au courant, so we joined Instagram (yea, and then Facebook bought Insta too), and the youngins moved on again. 

That’s the lifecycle of what’s in and out, what’s cool and not cool. And in 2021, what’s cheugy and not cheugy. 

But there’s one more thing… When should you buy into a trend?

Are My Shoes Cheugy? The Trend Cycle

While there is a big part of me that wants to discount this whole cheugy thing, a piece of it rings true. I often talk with my clients (and it’s a popular topic for my speaking engagements as well) about when to buy into a trend. And the term cheugy somewhat encapsulates the concept. Hear me out…

Trends tend to happen in 10-year cycles; that’s precisely why we think of fashion in decades. They wore this in the ’50s, this in the ’80s and so on. Granted, these trends don’t begin on January 1 of the new decade and die on December 31 ten years later. But they do generally cycle in 10 year increments. 

I like to think of a trend cycle like a bell curve. And then divide up that curve into 3 chunks – 2 years at the front end, 5 years at the meaty part of the bell, and 3 years at the end. Early adopters, often the younger generation are the first to embrace new trends. Then those in metropolitan areas (NYC, LA, London). These folks hop on the fad in the first 2 years. When the aesthetic has gained more mass appeal (in the 2-7 year zone) the rest of us will come on board. At least in some way, integrating the new looks, colors, hemlines into our fashions. Once that happens and the confusion subsides there’s a harmonious time – and that is where the styles that define a decade occur. 

And then, when the trends become fully ingrained and more mainstream (in those last 3 years) the early adopters have already moved on and are searching for the next big thing. 

What’s the Moral of the Cheugy Story?

What’s the moral of the cheugy story?  If you fancy yourself an on-the-cusp-of-a-trend kind of person, then yes, certain items might not feel cool and edgy (both terms that are probably cheugy now) once more people are showcasing them. But for the majority of us, we can ride out the style with confidence. But, this is a BIG but, I don’t recommend buying into a trend in those last 3 years from a financial investment perspective. At least not a full price.

You can confidently still wear all of the items identified on the cheugy list (Golden Goose sneakers, GG Gucci belts, and chevron, to name a few). However, all of those items have indeed hit a saturation point, and my fashion forecast would say that in the next 3-5 years, they might start feeling like the overstitched, bedazzled True Religion jeans of yore. 

Bottom line, I will still be proudly rocking my Golden Goose kicks. There are times my GG belt will be part of my #OOTD looks. And I will even help source these pieces for clients if I think it’s a good fit for them (but likely at a discounted price). I will also be keeping my eyes on the horizon. When I feel it’s time to retire said articles and what to replace them with.

Are you wondering what my replacement suggestions will be? Check out my complete list and links to the belts and sneakers that are catching my eye right now.

The new “kicks” on the block

Updated belts to replace the Gucci logo


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Photo: Molly Nook


Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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