If you clicked on this article looking for sharp, insightful, industry-leading knowledge about the fashion industry, you’ve possibly come to the wrong place.
After all, this time last year we said the big styles for 2020 would include buttery leather, floral prints and bucket hats.
What actually transpired was a year of facemasks, slippers and jogging bottoms as the country worked from home and social events were cancelled.
Still, we’re feeling more confident about our predictions for 2021. The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine should hopefully mean we will once again see other human beings in the coming year, which means now is the time to start thinking about post-lockdown looks.
One interesting side effect of the pandemic is that some designers reined in their usual experimentation and extravagance and instead prioritised practicality, opting to showcase clothes which were “more thoughtful and realistic”, according to Vogue.
“For the first time in a long time, these looked like clothes that are meant to be worn,” added the magazine, which is always a bonus when you’re being charged £800 for a T-shirt.
Here are eight of the major trends for 2021:
1. See-through layers
You might think of yourself as the kind of sceptical person who can see right through the fashion industry’s latest money-grabbing trends.
Well, now you can quite literally see through them thanks to these transparent outfits made of lace, mesh or sheer, which are going to be big in 2021.
“Shed winter’s dense layers in exchange for spring’s light peek-a-boo pieces,” suggested Marie Claire. “Designers like Dior mixed sheers with barely there underpinnings, while Sportmax paired transparent overlays with fuller coverage slip dresses.”
Fashionista advised that these designs aren’t intended to provide the X-Ray treatment. “Instead, the transparent clothes act as layering pieces to add intrigue to standard tops and bottoms,” they said.
Roughly translated, that means: for goodness sake don’t forget to wear something less see-through underneath.
2. Strong shoulders
You grace me with your cold shoulder, sang Adele in 2008.
We grace you with our bold shoulders, say Balenciaga in 2021.
The luxury fashion house showed lots of outfits with prominent shoulders during Paris Fashion Week in March, and many others have been experimenting with the idea too.
“The peaked shoulders at Balmain and Balenciaga will cut through space with glamour and a bit of grit,” said Vogue. “Big time shoulders are not new, but they are not going away either.”
The good thing about this one is your head and shoulders are usually all anybody can see of you on Zoom, so it’s one of the few styles that can actually be appreciated virtually.
Claudia Winkleman will be delighted to see that long fringes are back in style, although these are the fabric kind rather than the so-low-you-can’t-read-the-autocue hair kind.
“It’ll be hard to resist twirling all day long with this trend,” said Cosmopolitan. “With every step you take you’ll be turning heads.”
(Partly because the strands of fabric will be whipping someone in the face.)
Nothing is as stylish as looking like you’ve been sneezed on by a unicorn, and with so many people stuck at home in the past year, DIY tie-dyeing maintained its popularity.
The colourful trend has been popular for a while, but has now filtered up to the major designers, who are re-imagining tie-dyed fabric in their latest collections. Some fashion magazines are relieved the experts have taken over from the amateurs.
“While we appreciate the sentiment of creating your own colourful tees, we prefer how the experts are translating the counterculture mainstay,” said Harper’s Bazaar.
“From caftans to maxi dresses, sweat suits and denim, these shibori-inspired patterns hit every colour of the rainbow, and are decidedly bougie.”
5. Fruit pastels
If you prefer your shades slightly softer, then candy-coloured pastels could be for you.
“These sorbet-inspired colours are the perfect option for summer and they suit a wide variety of skin tones,” noted The Trend Spotter.
“Choose from a boiler suit in cool mint green or an oversized trench coat in soft lavender – better yet, try them both simultaneously. Suits and separates in the soft and buttery hues elevate your overall aesthetic and will remain one of the chicest styles for seasons to come.”
Which is great news for us because it means we can copy and paste this entry in next year’s list.
These nets are the catch of the year.
“While our actual fishing references are admittedly limited, we do know that some well-placed netting satisfies our desire for purely aesthetic pleasures,” said Harper’s Bazaar.
“These nets are not here to keep you warm; they serve no higher purpose other than that they exist as eye candy, as newness, as that something that feels perfectly right now.”
Stella McCartney gets double credit here for an outfit (pictured far right) which contains netting *and* a fringe – so you can be twice as stylish.
7. Holy Moly
It is never a bad idea to expose large chunks of flesh totally at random, as Christina Aguilera taught us in 2002.
Whether society is finally waking up to her wise teachings or whether designers simply ran out of fabric, it doesn’t matter. The point is, holes are in for 2021 so get ready to feel the draught.
“Showing some skin – by any measure – feels like a necessity after wearing oversized loungewear for months on end,” pointed out Marie Claire. “From turtlenecks to bodysuits to full-on jumpsuits, designers like Prada found ways to reveal flesh in unexpected ways.”
8. Covid compliance
We’re dedicating this last one entirely to the Kenzo showcase at Paris Fashion Week in September.
The fashion house, whose founder died shortly after this show took place, displayed a large number of outfits which covered the face, and sometimes the entire body.
This may or may not have been Covid-influenced, and we’re not confident these outfits would realistically provide much protection against the virus anyway, but it certainly felt in keeping with the theme of social distancing.
The other big coronavirus-influenced trend, of course, will continue to be stylish facemasks.
“No surprise here, the biggest accessory trend of 2021 will be masks,” said Style Caster.
“If you rushed to buy some basic masks a few months back, don’t hesitate to invest in both high-quality, breathable fabrics as well as masks you simply find attractive now that we’re in it for the long haul. The more you like the masks you’ve got, the easier they are to commit to wearing.”
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