Roundup: My fashion trend predictions for 2021

Happy New Year! You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been laying low (or completely absent) for the past two weeks. Personal reasons — extra shifts at work and the passing of a very close family friend — came in the way of my blogging time, and I had to make sure that I took the necessary time off to tend to both of those things. 

Frankly, I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year. There’s a lot to say, and a lot to be quiet about. And I’ve yet to put my reflections and thoughts on 2020 on paper, which I will do, because as the New York Times once wrote, “we are living through history.” What we write, document and do now matters. But I didn’t want to start off the year on a heavy note, so, I decided that this blog’s foray into the new year would be in style. More specifically, about style. 

Fashion dominates a lot of what I do in my off time, and it certainly was one of the highlights of this past year for me. When stay-at-home orders kept us indoors and negatively affected my day job work hours, what kept my mind busy was fashion — the prospect of styling quirky pieces and discovering new, freshly different brands. And in my introspection, I started to see some patterns and new trends emerge. 

This past year has had a huge impact on pretty much every industry — and fashion is no different. So, to jumpstart the new year, I decided to use my fashion spidey senses and round up the trends that I think are going to dominate the year. From second skin pieces to furry statement coats, here are the style notes we’ll be following in 2021. 

1 – Second skin

There’s no surprise that all that “sitting around on the couch” brought about an increased interest in loungewear — or at least comfy wear. Enter stretchy, you’ll-forget-you-have-it-on pieces, now dubbed “second skin” attire. The most popular purveyor of these garments is French brand Marine Serre, which carved a name for itself by dreaming up layering tops with its iconic crescent moon print. But of course, there are others doing the same: Charlotte Knowles, Ottolinger, Supriya Lele and Nensi Dojaka, to name a few.

2 – Making a statement (coat)

Vaccine might be out for regular folks by fall, and that’s when people will feel more confident in going out. And when they do, they’ll want to go all out. All of that suppressed fashion expression will come out in vibrant colors and beautiful faux fur details — around the sleeves (as we’ve been seeing by House of Sunny) and vibrant colors (Saks Potts) and wacky patterns (Stand Studio). 

3 – Unlikely pairings

For a lot of fashion influencers, styling at-home outfits involved a lot of experimenting — as in, throwing pieces together that, well, don’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense. (Because, really, why not have some fun while being stuck at home.) Bold colors on bolder colors, loud prints on louder prints and quirky textures. 

4 – Going tonal

On the flip side of the prediction above is, of course, the good ol’ monochromatic outfit. We’ve seen history regurgitate this fashion trend, but this year, I predict we’ll be seeing it even bolder colors (and in various shades of said colors). With degrees of greens, lavenders and flashy pinks, tonal dressing will gain even bigger momentum in 2021. 

5 – Tie-dye is back to life

I’ve already dedicated a whole post to tie-dye, given just how much of it I’ve been spying on social media. Again, I think the print was brought about by the same idea of “comfort” wear. Before, the only way I would’ve actually considered wearing tie-dye was in pajamas-form. Or perhaps something I’d wear on a long flight (Ah, flights). Now, tie-dye is all grown up — and I don’t see it going away in 2021.

6 – Breaking loose

I hate to say this, but skinny jeans are increasingly falling out of favor. In 2021, I don’t expect to see much of it at all. Instead, I predict looser silhouettes — high-rise, wide-leg and leg-lengthening, flared styles are, in my opinion, the way of the future. Bring in more ripped-up details, too. Anything that exudes a lived-in, undone vibe is here to stay for this year. 

7 – Funky cut outs

Cutouts definitely had a moment in 2020, and again, I think this trend will continue into the new year. All those interesting, kooky pieces we purchased on big sales and hoarded for a while? They’ll come out to play if — fingers and toes crossed — we start seeing a major progress in Covid case counts this year. 

8 – Striking the right cords 

In my roundup of 90s fashion looks that are making a strong comeback in 2020, I included the now popular midriff string skirt. Strings have become something of a micro-trend this past year, and I only expect it to grow in 2021. Vogue called it “midriff flossing,” but I’m anticipating the trend to transcend the “midriff” area. If Ottolinger and Christopher Esber’s strappy dresses and tops are any indication, the “floss” will take on a new image this year. 

9 – Let it sparkle! (Sequins and metallics)

It seems counterintuitive that, in a year that embraced loungewear so much, we also saw a small peak in shimmer-wear. OK, shimmer-wear isn’t really a thing, but what I’m referring to is over-the-top sparkle. Silver sequins, sparkling Swarovski crystals and crackle-coated metallic fabrics are all going to reign in 2021 — especially if we have something to celebrate and dress up for.

10 – Colorful tights

Swirls, bold colors and wacky prints are going to replace the tried-and-true black tights. Though it sounds like a high-maintenance piece to style, it doesn’t have to be. Slip these on with an otherwise one-tone outfit, and you’ll have yourself an easy (and fun!) look.

11 – Paint scene prints

2020 saw the rise of angelic and Renaissance prints. The most notable of those prints to make the Instagram rounds was that of Vietnamese-American artist Julien Nguyen. Nguyen collaborated with Ottolinger on its fall 2020 collection, dreaming up the early Renaissance-esque panel painting whose print has been worn by the likes of SZA and Dua Lipa. In 2021, I see this trend continuing, perhaps taking on new art styles and periods.

As an Los Angeles-based journalist and fashion writer, Mari Alexander highlights local and global talents through runway reviews, designer interviews, and trend reports.

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