pete davidson was already dressed for his breakup with ariana grande
In a cold, loveless world, sleazecore is the ultimate emotional armor.
This article originally appeared on GARAGE.
It was the TMZ headline heard ’round the world. “Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson Splitsville, Engagement Called Off,” brayed the tabloid, and the hearts of a million believers in true romance immediately sank. Pete and Ariana were our sleazecore Romeo and Juliet, our sweatshirt-bedecked Tristan and Isolde, our pig-owning Brad and Jen—even if you saw their breakup coming a mile off (I mean, have you tried dating a 24-year-old comedian lately?), it still feels like a massive cultural jolt.
There is one small ray of light in this tunnel of darkness, though: at least Pete is already dressed for the breakup. What is sleazecore, after all, if not peak breakup couture? The layers upon layers of grimy Supreme athleisure, the unwashed, untoned complexion, the bleached hair (which, as babe.net noted, "means he's really going through it")...all of this post-breakup iconography actually predates Pete’s breakup by months. But maybe the established pattern of dirtbagcore will provide some measure of comfort to him in these cold, Ariana-less climes.
As Donald Trump so helpfully noted, it’s a "very scary time for young men in America"; are those selfsame young men getting their sad, mad, bad feelings out through sleaze? Pete really leaned into the sleazecore look when he and Ariana started dating, but the relationship always appeared fraught to the trained, skeptical eye. Pete admitted in an August GQ interview that he was living for free in Ariana Grande's $16 million Manhattan apartment, telling writer Allie Jones, “She’s like, ‘This is our house,’ and I‘m like, ‘You’re very nice for saying that. Thank you for letting me stay here.’” That’s not an easy dynamic to move on from!
As Jacob Gallagher noted in a Wall Street Journal article about the rise of the “slob-ebrity,” problematic male faves from Justin Bieber to Shia LaBoeuf sometimes favor sleazecore as an “act of regression” in troubled times. Maybe Pete's sleazecore style was acting as a sartorial balm for his troubled soul even before he and Grande officially called it quits.
Fashion aside, the phenomenon of dressing like shit after a breakup is a widespread and psychologically understandable one. Who among us hasn't forgone hair-washing and jeans-wearing for the comfort of loose sweats and matted, unkempt locks? Why, exactly, does it feel so good to look bad in the wake of heartbreak?