We’re living in a new age of the Instagram mirror selfie. With the pandemic ushering everyone (and their outfits) indoors, even influencers — who had previously been photographed in exotic locales — are reduced to taking selfies in front of full-length mirrors at home, where they showcase outfits that often include pandemic staples like matching sweatsuits and cozy knitwear. But while it is refreshing to see more relatable content from people who no longer claim to be in full-outfit mode every day, there is still some curation involved — it’s Instagram after all. But, this new fashion-friendly aesthetic doesn’t involve a clothing trend or a specific accessory, but rather an instantly recognisable wavy mirror — all the better to frame an outfit.
As ubiquitous on the grid as checkerboard-patterned looks (blame The Queen’s Gambit — or, you know, the ‘70s making a comeback) are languidly curvy mirrors featuring full outfits, nail art, and artistically framed selfies. The mirrors range from being puddle-like to rectangular with wavy or oval frames, and pretty much all of them are crafted in eye-catching colours or interesting shapes. While statement mirrors are not innovative in the home space, what’s new is that they have now firmly entered Fashion Territory, as the unofficial It accessory of #OOTD posts. (Even the six-pound Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua influencer Boobie Billie is a fan of the trend.)
After being haunted by these curvy mirrors on my feed, I reached out to the creators behind some of the most popular mirror styles to make sure it wasn’t just my algorithm serving me the photos that it thinks I want to see. Which, fine, maybe I do want a fancy mirror now — but, it’s not all in my head. All the creators I reached out to confirmed that there has been an increase in demand for their products in the last year.
While, at first, I was thrown off by the wavy mirror’s omnipresence in the feeds of fashion’s finest, the rise of the trend actually seems inevitable. "I think the result of many of us being restrained to our homes due to the pandemic has sparked a new wave of interest in interiors and homewares,” says Shantelle Hyslop, founder of Lotta Blobs, which sells handmade mirrors that feature a whimsy blob-like frame. “Our homes have become a part of our everyday environment, and it's important we feel inspired by our habitat as this often reflects our mood.”
More than just spaces we live and work, our homes also send the message of who we are to the outside world in a way that our clothes once did. While, previously, we communicated our style to our colleagues and acquaintances through our outfits, now we do so via our homes’ interiors. About six months ago, I redecorated my living room after realising that the hastily put-up artwork I’d hung a few years ago — that appeared behind me in Zoom meetings — didn’t reflect my actual style to my colleagues, like my shoes once did. (If it were possible, I would also likely move my organised-by-colour bookshelf, though, frankly, they are reflective of my personality; I require order and cohesiveness on the outside, even if it takes me forever to find a book when searching by author name.)
In its simplest form, a statement mirror adds interest to any fashion look — even one that involves the same house dress you have been wearing for two days in a row. With many peoples stuck taking outfit photos at home, a mirror can, according to Hyslop, “add a fun touch to every photograph.” Frame any look with an aesthetically pleasing mirror, and it has exponentially more Instagram potential.
And then there’s the fact that the ‘70s are having a moment in decor — again. “Think about how everyone who's renovated a house in the last decade probably went for a lot of marble, and a lot of grey. And now you see TikTokkers DIYing green kitchens, maximalist patterns, and terrazzo,” says Glare Goods co-founder Keri Gray, who was inspired to make the brand’s non-geometric mirrors with her husband Eli Gray after finding a broken Knitter-Duro Brevete mirror from the era; the puddle-like styles, made from salvaged and vintage material, are currently sold out on their website. “It seems like we're in a bit of a colorful movement, ‘70s-meets-‘00s-meets-internet culture.”
According to her, this is aided by the general rise of interest in sustainability, with vintage shopping and thrifting more popular than ever: "With access to all of these highlights of trends throughout history so readily available via the internet, it's easy to discover things that may strike a new — or old — chord."
Look, for example, at the popularity of 20th-century Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass’ Ultrafragola mirror — you can find it inside the homes of Lena Dunham, Frank Ocean, and Sophia Amoruso, as well as stores like Nordstrom and La Ligne — in the last few years. Whenever Abigail Bell Vintage, a beloved Brooklyn home store, posts a photo of its personal Ultrafragola, a wavy-edged mirror that also lights up (not unlike a fancy Ring Light), most of the comments are about it, rather than the goods that are actually for sale. It’s gotten to the point that the store’s captions now preemptively include information on the mirror and how it’s not for sale.
“I don't think anyone who isn't already a vintage interiors buff would have known anything about this mirror prior to a few years ago,” says the shop’s founder, Abigail Campbell. According to her, since the mirrors have become produced again and featured in the homes of celebrities, they have become inescapable on social media — this despite the fact that they’re quite the investment piece, with prices starting at around $10,000 “All of this fame has turned the Ultrafragola into somewhat of a status symbol,” she says, comparing it to an It bag, an apt replacement, given how we are more likely to be broadcasting the contents of our home rather than our actual bags.
Where there are expensive It items, though, there are also affordable knock-offs. While Campbell — who says, "With nowhere to go these days, your mirror selfie is everything” — thinks that the statement mirror trend is here to stay, she doesn’t see some of the kitschier copycats, like the popular foam mirror DIYs of last summer, sticking around: “The designs that are here to last are the vintage ones that have already stood the test of time, and current designers with unique ideas like Gustaf Westman and Bi Rite.”
One look at even my personal feed, and Campbell’s theory is proven correct; I find the wavy styles by Gustaf Westman (shown in photo above) — including the glam room of Demi Lovato! — as well as the oval mirror by Bi Rite, everywhere. When I ask Westman why he thinks wavy mirrors are everywhere right now, he says he can’t say for certain, but: “It may have something to do with the pandemic. We want to surround ourselves with more color and playful shapes to feel more happy.”
And right now, one year (and counting) into the pandemic, we can all use any happiness we can find. Maybe happiness comes in the form of some guaranteed Instagram likes. Maybe it comes because you’ve found a new way to present yourself to the world: framed in colorful waves, the way you want to be seen, the way you want to live — even if you are wearing the same sweatsuit you’ve had on all week and haven’t left your house in even longer.