The Basic Project
Investigative journalism at its finest
Halfway between the first fifteen people who were ordering math equations instead of lattes and those who were unsure if this was the line for the bathroom, I started to regret my decision. It was day one of my Basic Project — a self assigned investigation into the world of a word so deeply embedded into our lexicon that it no longer requires the expletive, like when a celebrity no longer needs a last name — and there I was, officially late because of my Starbucks basic blend.
“No regrets,” I reminded myself. My secret Pinterest board said so.
“Basic” has become a basic word itself due to the term’s mainstream usage, but there’s discrepancy in its over-blogged and memed definition. Some believe that “being basic” applies to lifestyle choices and apparel, whereas others believe that basic is a sheep-mentality state of mind. Both have negative connotations. All I cared about is: in terms of living the so called basic life (lattes, froyo, flash tats) — was it really that bad?
The hardest part was getting dressed. This wasn’t because my typical outfits are so earth shatteringly unique, but rather because in terms of research there appeared to be a strong carryover of trendy-loungewear influence from the year 2004 (leggings, yoga pants, etc), yet very little information as to what shirts were considered B-word appropriate.
Luckily for me, I once blacked out and bought a tank top that says, “You can’t sit with us.”
Every day I wore some variation of the same thing: leggings, Uggs, aviators and a t-shirt. Minus the shearling footwear I felt like myself on the way to the gym or me when I tell everyone I’m going to the gym and then go buy a doughnut from that place around the corner instead. On days when it was below 70 degrees I made a big deal about wearing sweaters for fall. I sent Snapchats about it. Basic girls supposedly love the Snapchat.
On the weekend, one of my guy friends suggested I wear “one of those shirts made out of jeans.” (Chambray.) He told me that the commonality between all the women he considered basic is that they “look a little bit Western, like they listen to Taylor Swift.”
Apparently basic girls love scarves too, so I took one for a spin Monday morning and only experienced mild commuter heat stroke.
I was starting to see a theme here, which is that a lot of people like the things allegedly “basic” girls like — social media, for one. Scarves, for another.
In terms of lifestyle, I’ve already been told that the bars I frequent are kind of basic. Going to brunch the next morning was easy. I stepped up my gym routine (SoulCycle once, hot yoga twice), I drank green juice, coconut juice, and mixed my vodka with “a splash of cran.” On Tuesday I ate pumpkin spice yogurt. On Friday, I drank a pumpkin spice latte. (This, I will have you know, was the only time Starbucks spelled my name right.) People told me to Instagram sunsets with with earnest captions (“But do it from your fake account,” they cautioned. “Cheesy sunsets are embarrassing.”) And I took a lot, a lot, a lot of selfies.
“Nails,” declared one friend. “You have to get a manicure.” I mean, anything for the story.
I was starting to see a second theme here, which is that being basic rules. Who the hell decided these things were bad? Someone that hates the barely-country voice of a singing angel, and comfortable clothes? Someone who has never been hugged by a girl wearing that delicious smelling perfume everyone seems to intuitively know to wear?
The Official Declarers of That Which Is Basic have clearly never experienced the freedom of sitting cross legged in yoga pants at the office, nor felt the love that is a sheep’s wig engulfing ones feet. Maybe they don’t have a Panera in their neighborhood (basic girls have a thing for paninis and salads) so it’s possible these anti-basics don’t even know what they’re missing.
MAYBE they once tried a pumpkin spiced latte and got scared because they liked it too much. That shit sure does taste like witch craft, so I don’t blame them for being suspicious.
I know I’ve complained about basic things, like Pinterest and Soul Cycle. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love inspiration, or endorphins, or remixed beats! I’m only human — I can’t help but get excited when the bass drops, or when temporary tattoos come in gold. Or maybe I just actually am basic; I did once wear a shirt with a peplum. To which I say: T-Swift, hand me the froyo.
Basic shirt courtesy of Ashish