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With last year finally behind us, I can confirm I’m never, ever looking back. Onto better, brighter, bolder things! And of course, that includes the 2021 fashion forecast, filled with very bright and bold things indeed. For the past 12 months, I’ve been glued to virtual fashion shows, New Arrivals tabs and the feeds of influencers people actually like, all of which has resulted in my vast knowledge of 2021 fashion trends. OK, perhaps “vast knowledge” is a stretch, but I’d say I have a pretty damn good handle on what’s in and out for this year.
Let’s be honest: When it came to trends, last year was a total bust. In January, no one could have predicted that tie-dye sweats and fluffy slippers would become the It ensemble of the next 12 months. Fast-forward to 2021, though, and we’ve got a much better grip on what some realistic trends for the year ahead look like. Of course (this should go without saying) face masks will still be the ultimate must-have accessory, but as we shed our sweats and start to fall back in love with fashion, there are a lot of new looks to experiment with.
In 2021, we’re saying out with the old and in with the new. Goodbye to Instagram models making you think you need to splurge on overpriced handbags that won’t be cool in six months. Goodbye to impulse-ordering going-out clothes when restaurants aren’t even offering indoor seating. Goodbye to uncomfortable ‘fits for the sake of fashion—we’re getting our groove back when it comes to looking good, but we aren’t sacrificing the comfort levels we grew to love in 2020. Stylish can be comfy, too.
With that, read on for my top trend predictions for the year ahead. 2021’s fashion forecast looks sunny with a chance of chic.
If you would’ve looked at it in during 2019’s monochrome neutrals phase and thought “absolutely NOT,” chances are it’s a good print for 2021. Go bold—like, so bold you start to second-guess it. Think neons, busy florals, checkerboard prints and tons of color.
Wendy Long Sleeve Top
Lisa Says Gah has made their daisy check print a Gen Z essential, and this blouse features exceptional detailing that only adds to its over-the-top grandeaur, from the heart-shaped buttons to the exaggerated collar (Plus, the brand offers sizing up to 3XL).
Cow print might seem garish at first, but really, is it all that different from your beloved leopard print? Consider it a neutral and build your looks by pairing it with other patterns for an especially statement-making mix.
Those itty-bitty bralettes and crop tops were cute, but in 2021, we aren’t concerned with using abs as accessories. Loose, borrowed-from-the-boys silhouettes and layers upon layers will be the epitome of cool-girl chic. Yes, you can still cinch your waist with a gorgeous belt, but don’t be afraid (quite literally) let loose and embrace a more relaxed silhouette.
Polo Neck Sweater
Remember how we were desperate for matching knit bra tops and cardis in 2020? Yeah, in 2021, consider loose, baggier sweaters the hot girl norm. Plus, they’re way comfier.
Only PU Oversized Shirt Jacket
Shapeless shackets also lend themselves to 2021’s more laid-back silhouettes, and a faux leather version only ups the cool-factor further.
Not Like The Other Girls
The It Bag that all those influencers on your feed seem to have bought on the exact same day? Skip it—in three months, they’ll move on to the next thing and you’ll be in debt. Try to avoid the absolute must-have trend item of the moment and opt for something similar that aligns more organically with your own personal style. The result is a more authentic fashion sense that still feels of-the-moment.
Zuccino Crossbody Bag
Rather than buy the brand-new bag of the season, shop pre-loved pieces from retailers like The Real Real and Farfetch that authenticate your purchase before you buy. The benefit? This way, you don’t show up to a party carrying the same Fendi purse as three other girls.
Small Kristen Tote Bag
If you’d rather buy new, that’s perfectly fine. Just skip the number-one trending back of the moment and go for one from the same designer with a more classic silhouette that you can actually picture yourself using for years to come.
Textures & Sheers
There are a few standout color trends this year, but more than hue, it’s all about texture. Think quilted leathers for fall and winter and sheer mesh for spring and summer. A head-to-toe cotton or denim ensemble can still be chic, but mixing in unique textures and materials is what will really elevate your look.
Shailene Sheer Long Sleeve Dress
AFRM is the clear front-runner when it comes to churning out sexy, sheer, still-wearable pieces. Bonus points for a myriad of prints and inclusive sizing for many of their best-selling silhouettes like the Shailene dress.
Mini Soft Moon Bag
A plain black shoulder bag gets a 2021 texture upgrade by way of Staud’s ruched lambskin leather, proving that texture trends don’t have to be over-the-top—some subtle folds adds movement and makes the leather come alive.
For the first time in a long time, fashionistas are giving their feet a break. You didn’t really expect us to go from wearing slippers all 2020 to sky-high stilettos in 2021, did you? Chunky flat lug-soled boots and loafers will suit edgier styles, while anyone with a more femme aesthetic might gravitate towards chic mules or the ballet flat revival.
Recess Chain Platform Loafer
If stomping around is your ideal mode of transportation, lug soles are your flatforms of choice. The glossy wine uppers and chunky silver curb chain give the workwear loafer silhouette a much edgier second life.
The must-have ballet flats of the year feature soft ruched leather and (like everything else in 2021) some chunky chain detailing. I can confirm first-hand that this Aerosoles pair is comfortable as can be, and they come in a slew of different colors.
Head-to-toe logomania can be a cute street style moment, but there’s no need to splurge anymore to look chic. Pair your cashmere sweater with trousers from H&M’s eco-conscious line, or your sample sale designer heels with that silk slip that’s been sitting in your closet forever. A full luxury look does not a good outfit always make—real fashionistas know that blending affordable and high-fashion pieces can result in the very best ‘fits.
Wearing just one recognizable designer piece, like Marc Jacobs’s The Sweater, looks especially good…
Highest Waist Mom Jean
…When paired with some affordable, high-quality denim that fits like a dream from American Eagle.