Ready for a snug-as-a-bug winter? Twee has returned | Eva Wiseman

After all the out-there sexiness of contemporary culture, it’s a relief to relax into the warm embrace of twee once again

It both calms me and pains me, the home of the Berenstain Bears. A modest detached property, one room on each floor, built sensitively into the trunk and wide green branches of a tree. There are wooden steps leading up to the front door, and the window shutters are painted pink, and it sits in a vast empty field, surrounded by mountains. As my little son idles on my lap and we read about the bears’ multiple failed picnics, these days I often feel myself being dragged there, through the paper, which smells of bread, into the field, printed long ago in ink, and to the treehouse, where I would perhaps hibernate under some sort of homemade quilt.

This impulse, this need to escape, to a magical world of softness that gives off its own light, is something I see reflected online. It’s partly seasonal, but it’s also I think, a reaction to what came before, as most things seem to be. Rather than girl bosses or hot girls, women on social media currently aspire to be, largely, middle-aged mice getting cosy in a tiny bed. Or woodland creatures snuggling into a chair made of a nutshell, or something adorable sheltering under a cookie. Twee – the aesthetic last popular in the early 2000s, its signature accessories cardigans and berets, its queen Zooey Deschanel and her fellow Manic Pixie Dream Girls – has returned. TikTok (nostalgia-machine and home of every microtrend) thrums with twee fashion, with its precious whimsy and ukeleles and corduroy and girliness – it’s back, but this time its lazy.

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