Lights, Camera, B—, Smile

Unlocking Taylor Swift's Tortured Poets Department Aesthetic

TTPD-core is actually a combo of five different and very specific styles.

by Samantha Sutton
Ariela Basson/Elite Daily; Getty Images, Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift Productions, Revolve, Reformation, Popflex, Free people, Anthropologie, Abercrombie
Aesthetic Unlocked
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Taylor Swift isn’t just a mastermind when it comes to writing songs that speak to your soul. She’s also a pro at dropping Easter eggs into her wardrobe and embracing the aesthetics that come with each of her albums.

Even before announcing The Tortured Poets Department, Swift was already hinting at what was to come, regularly rocking Victorian- and academic-inspired outfits, and secretly stepped out in pieces that had the same names of her songs. (Looking at you, Aimee clips and Saint Laurent’s Cassandra bag).

Now that all 31 TTPD songs are playing on repeat and the Eras Tour is kicking off again, recreating the Tortured Poets Department aesthetic is a priority for old and new Swifties alike. But figuring out how to nail the look is where it gets tricky, especially since the overall vibe can’t be summed up by one single color or style.

TTPD-core is actually a mix of multiple different vibes, including, but not limited to, dressing like a tortured poet, embracing academia, and actually referencing specific lyrics.

Here are a few items to add to your Swiftie-approved shopping list:

  • Ruffled designs
  • Long white dresses and breezy button-downs
  • Pleated skirts
  • Loafers
  • Celestial references
  • Corsets
  • Lilac, black, white, and “greige” colorways

Below, you’ll see all the styles being entered into evidence: the muses acquired like bruises behind Taylor Swift’s latest looks.

Somewhat Dark Academia

One key part of Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poets Department aesthetic? Academic-inspired pieces — which makes sense, considering her songs continue to be studied and dissected. Before dropping the album, the Grammy winner even warned fans, via a fake “Board Meeting Agenda,” to bring a dictionary to the release.


Over the past few months, she’s gone preppy in pleated skirts, cozy sweaters, and loafers, usually in beige, brown, and gray colorways. These items create a no-fail ‘fit formula that Swift has worn on repeat, in videos and as street style.

The singer also seemed to gravitate toward plaid coats when it was cooler out, so now you have some inspo to revisit when fall rolls around.

The Tortured Poet

Leave it to Tay to literally dress like a tortured poet.


Working with her longtime stylist, Joseph Cassell, some of her more standout outfits have include details such as Victorian-like ruffles on shirts and dresses, breezy, undone button-downs, moody lace material, and even a long black skirt paired with a bandeau top.

Thankfully, this piece of the TTPD puzzle feels pretty perfect for the summer weather and these items should be easy enough to work into your seasonal wardrobe. Should you need some wearable inspiration, take a tip from Swift herself, who paired a ruffled eyelet top with denim bottoms in June 2023.

So High School

Taylor Swift is feeling “So High School” with Travis Kelce, and her wardrobe has adopted that same teen spirit.


Unlike serious, structured academia, these outfits are a lot more playful, featured backwards caps at Coachella, mini skirts, oversized jackets, and the obvious sports paraphernalia.

If you don’t want to follow Tay’s style to a T and support her boyfriend with a New Heights hat or a Kansas City Chiefs crewneck, you can achieve the look with similar items. Reach for a green cap with a saying that speaks to you or pull on a cute, athletic-inspired sweatshirt that simply says “Go Sports.”

It Girls, Old & New

Fans now know that OG it girl Clara Bow is referenced in a TTPD song, but Taylor Swift first paid tribute to the actor at the 2024 Grammys, arriving in a draped, white, corseted Schiaparelli gown, paired with black gloves and a timepiece necklace.


She later wore a similar design in the “Fortnight” music video, but this time, the dress looked more like sheets or restraints at an asylum, rather than something glam.

After fans spotted Swift in yet another white maxi (from Khaite) in the BTS video for “Fortnight” on the singer’s YouTube page, it was clear: Long white dresses are a staple for this era, and therefore, a must-have in any Swiftie’s wardrobe.

Semi-related, the multi-hyphenate has also embraced a more modern version of the corset when it comes to her street style, stepping out in form-fitting, black crop tops paired with jeans and loose pants. Sure, the look may have a deeper, Easter egg meaning in there somewhere, but similar styles are also beloved by the it girls of today, making it the perfect nod to those “Clara Bow” lyrics.

Song Hints

Last but definitely not least, Swift’s Tortured Poets Department outfits are full of references to her tracks.


Some are more literal — and, thankfully, affordable! — like when she dined on sushi with Anthropologie’s Aimee claw clips in her hair, hinting at the rumored Kim Kardashian diss track, “thanK you aIMee.”

Other times, she’s calling back to specific lyrics, like a lilac skirt, which she sings about in “imgonnagetyouback,” or celestial-themed pieces, which seemed Midnights-coded at the time, but now feels very “Down Bad” (“Did you really beam me up in a cloud of sparkling dust just to do experiments on?”). Both are subtle ways to dress for this era rather than sticking to one theme.