fashion trends for 2021

Trends – LOVE ‘EM? HATE ‘EM?

Let’s start by dissecting the word “trend” – truthfully I despise the word. It’s polarizing. It can be interpreted very positively, as a status symbol, something to strive for. And conversely, as fleeting, superficial and trivial. In my humble opinion, neither definition is completely correct when discussing fashion trends.

When I do a new client intake, I always ask where that person wants to be on the “trendy” spectrum. It’s an important part of a style self evaluation. Do they see themselves on the cusp of a trend, or completely classic? As with anything, it’s a matter of degrees as well as comfort level. My goal is for clients to look and feel true to themselves, yet still modern. Not as if the latest issue of In-Style Magazine threw up on them, but also not like they’re stuck in a different decade. Current, timely, modern – that’s the style objective.

How to Approach Fashion Trends

Sometimes a small change can make a big difference. That’s how I like to approach trends. I spend a whole lot of time perusing fashion magazines, street style blogs, runway shows and retail websites – all the while looking for two key factors that help me assess if a fashion trend has staying power or is just a flash in the pan.

The first factor –  is this style gaining traction in multiple places? Both geographically; London, NYC, Sydney, Tokyo, LA. And on multiple platforms; print publications, digital media and retailer websites.

The second factor – is this fashion trend attainable for real people in real life? For example, tunics for men are being touted, by many fashion forecasters, as the newest look this year. Perhaps for the super edgy, metropolitan, trendsetter crowd, but likely not for most of us. 

The Three Fashion Trends to Watch For

The three styles I’m highlighting for 2021 are popping up everywhere, easily accessible, AND can likely be re-created with pieces you already have in your wardrobe. These fashion trends have all passed my litmus test for traction and attainability, so here you go…

Trend #1: Brown, Brown, Brown

For a bit of time, brown clothes and accessories fell out of favor. Not in a huge, “ugh, I can’t believe you’re wearing THAT,” kind of way. But in more of a, “let’s build a capsule wardrobe out of black, grey and white neutrals, and leave the warmer brown shades alone,” approach.

But in 2021, consider brown the new black. Brown exudes a soft and toasty vibe that I think we all are yearning for right now. Go bold with a head-to-toe chocolate brown ensemble. Or, dip your proverbial toe in the water and pull out a brown sweater or pocketbook to add to your look. I scored an oversized, brown leather jacket at a thrift store in Brooklyn, NY in January of 2020, but haven’t had the chance to wear it – thanks Covid. When I eventually go out again, it will be one of the first pieces I wear!

Trend #2 – Sweater as a Scarf

My 80’s child, Preppy Handbook loving self is over the moon that this classic styling technique is making a resurgence!  It’s good on so many levels! And it’s easy to do. Simply throw a sweater over your shoulders like a cape and allow the sleeves to hang down like a scarf or open cardigan. Or, tie them in a single loop near your clavicle or breast bone. And if you’re on the edgy side, tie it askew, over one shoulder, and under the opposite armpit – like a crossbody bag. Pro Tip: This works best with sweaters that have straight, full length sleeves. Cropped, 3/4 sleeves or those with a ruffle or bell  don’t fall properly when worn over the shoulders.

This style has additional benefits:

  1. It keeps you warm.
  2. It allows you to easily add a splash of color or texture.
  3. You can repurpose a sweater that doesn’t currently fit by throwing it over your shoulders.
  4. Layer one sweater over another, or wear it over outerwear.
  5. Last but not least, it offers a classic, coolness to an outfit.

Trend #3 – Second Skin Tops

While the name may make you go ewww, please bear with me. A second skin top is really just a top that grazes the body (ideally with some stretch) so it appears to be a “second skin”. What sets this fashion trend apart from a typical undershirt or kiki riki modesty shell is that these newer iteration tops are showing up in fun bold prints and colors. Instead of disappearing as they did in the past, this season they’re meant to stand out. The other beautiful element is that these tops can be worn in various seasons, can be layered and are available in all sizes and price points. 

While this might not be a piece you currently have in your wardrobe, the addition of a second skin top, layered under a dress or blazer, will instantly make your older stuff feel fresh and new.

Put these Fashion Trends on Your Radar

As you’re reading this, some of these trends might resonate with you, while others might not. And that’s ok! My job is to raise awareness and put them on your radar. You might be ready to wear them in 3 or 6 months, or never. Your job is to decide if it feels right for you – and only then wear it. Because at that point, you’ll be wearing it with confidence!


fashion trends the wardrobe consultant

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Photo: Becky Cormell

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Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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