Goodbye Hot Girl Summer, hello Meg Ryan Fall – TikTok’s new trend

Nostalgia and Americana meet hygge in fashion’s latest warm, outdoorsy, retro aesthetic

“Hot girl summer may be over but it is time for Meg Ryan Fall!” says TikTok user Technicolorghost in a video that scans through some of Ryan’s best looks from When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. On TikTok the hashtag #MegRyan has 9.4m views while #MegRyanFall has 1.4m, with users recreating the cosy, layered looks Ryan and costume designers such as Gloria Gresham created. The videos show people wearing combos of oversized jumpers, tight-fitting blazers, homburg hats with bowler tops and owl-shaped glasses as they lip-sync to the Nora Ephron dialogue from the romcoms.

Meg Ryan hovers in the book section in When Harry Met Sally
I’ll read what she’s reading ... Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Photograph: Castle Rock/Nelson/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

On the release of When Harry Met Sally in 1989, it was seen as a sartorial tribute to Diane Keaton’s gender revolutionising style in Annie Hall (1977). In 2021, a different kind of nostalgia is at play. It’s a longing. “The pandemic has really robbed us of a sense of the future,” says David Berry, the author of On Nostalgia. “If you accept that about your future, all you have left is the past. So I don’t know if people are indulging in nostalgia more, so much as they have no other choice.” He says that the pandemic has increased our awareness of a nostalgic feeling: “Nostalgia is really elusive. It tends to slip by our words and our brains and just live as a feeling, and it’s really hard to be critical or thoughtful about a feeling when you’re in the midst of it.”

#MegRyanFall is intune with other nostalgic trends that have been popular recently, touching upon the classic mood of Grandmacore and the autumnal quality of Dark Academia. These, like Cottagecore and Cabincore, focus on an idealised, Americana-flecked notion of the Danish idea of hygge and themes of comfort and escape. They go beyond fashion, into lifestyle.

“In 2017 we were tracking the rise of travel startups offering ‘unplugged’ wellbeing getaways in cabin accommodation in the middle of the woods in upstate New York,” says Lorna Hall, director of fashion intelligence from trend forecasters WGSN. “Neglected cabins in the Catskill mountains became fast-selling hot properties. Instagram imagery and Airbnb influencers all over the world started to indulge in dressing up cabin spaces.” This uptick in “off-grid” lifestyles, plus an increase in hiking and other outdoor pursuits, drove the trend. In 2017 WGSN said that hiking was the new yoga, and the pandemic doubled down on these emerging trends. “Not only is the safest place to be outdoors, but being in nature, we’re all told, benefits our frazzled mental health,” says Hall. Taylor Swift’s Evermore, released during the pandemic in December, used cabincore imagery in its artwork (and features Swift wearing a very Meg Ryan-ish coat on the cover).

Meg Ryan with Heather Burns and Steve Zahn in You’ve Got Mail, all wearing many jumpers
Count the jumpers ... Ryan (centre) with Heather Burns and Steve Zahn in You’ve Got Mail.
Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

The popularity of Cabincore continues to grow even now. Gina Marie, who runs the website, which features pictures and travel details about cabins in the American midwest, says she has already seen more visitors to her site than last year. Part of the appeal is the fantasy of escape.

“In the last six months, my most popular photo is of two girls walking up to a Scandinavian-style cabin on a private island. You only see the backs of the girls,” says Marie. “I think it’s the most popular because without faces being shown, it’s easy for anyone to imagine themselves in the photo. They can transport themselves in the scene, and feel the excitement of a cabin adventure.”

#MegRyanFall seems perfectly timed: as people return to urban spaces and real life, Ryan’s autumnal, timeless wardrobe speaks to our longing and our hopes for our post-pandemic future.


Priya Elan

The GuardianTramp

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