The Fashion Trends To Shelve This Year—And What To Wear Instead

It’s safe to say that the year 2020 wasn’t anything like we imagined it would be. We spent more time than ever at home, pantless conference calls were the norm, and sweatsuits quickly became the only fashion trend worth adopting. And while the loungewear epidemic that resulted from spending nearly every waking hour camped out at home has been a welcome change for some, many of us are craving some post-quarantine style.

“It’s time for us to fall back in love with dressing up for ourselves and to once again look into a mirror and see our style identity staring back,” say Nicole Russo, stylist and founder of Let’s Get You. “There is an instant serotonin boost that comes from dressing up, and while it’s not enough to completely cure the blues, it is a scientifically-proven way to boost our mood, productivity, and creative output.”

Rebecca Rowe, designer for Rebecca Rowe: Capsule Creator, agrees. “We all gravitated to these comfort pieces as a result of our world being tossed upside-down,” she says. “But what we failed to recognize is that our clothes are a representation of our identity, and we send messages to our brain for how we should act when we wear certain things, be it lazy loungewear or work clothes.”

Luckily, we’re all starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel and a return to normalcy (or some shape or form of it) doesn’t seem that far off—which means now is the perfect time to refresh our wardrobes. To start, stylists agree that we need to let go of some outdated fashion trends from 2020, including our beloved sweatpants.

By retiring these outdated fashion trends, you’ll refresh your entire outlook on dressing, says Rowe. Scroll on to learn the looks it’s time to shelve, plus the spring 2021 trends to wear instead.

Swap sweatsuits for co-ord sets

There’s no denying that the sweatsuit is one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing on the planet, especially for lounging or working from home, but Russo says it’s time the world is reintroduced to the art of creating an outfit. One truly thoughtless way to do that is with co-ord sets.

Short for coordinated outfits, these two- or three-piece sets are a great way to look instantly put together. And according to Pinterest, the matching outfits are one of the biggest trends for 2021, with searches up 30 percent year over year.

To keep the look on the sophisticated side, choose monochromatic sets or simple prints like gingham, stripes or herringbone. Avoid matchy-matchy floral prints and polka dots, which can lean on the girlish side. And styling is as simple as that.

Swap distressed denim for vintage-inspired jeans

“Let’s all say goodbye to the outlandishly distressed and destroyed trend that dominated the runways in recent times,” says Mickey Boooom Freeman, celebrity fashion stylist. “I’m sure no one wants to dress like a post-apocalyptic movie extra after living through 2020.”

Instead, opt for vintage-inspired styles with a pinch-waist, straight-leg fit, and pre-worn wash. And to really mimic the look of authentic vintage, look for a slightly distressed fabrication or light whiskering detail. Even carefully placed slashes are okay, as they add lived-in appeal, says Freeman.

“Vintage jeans are a great combination of classic and comfort, since they never go out of style, are perfectly pliable and deliciously snug,” says Russo. “A good pair of jeans and a t-shirt can get you through your mandatory grocery runs without having to put much thought into an outfit.” Not to mention slipping into jeans can infuse some normalcy back into your day to day.

Swap tie-dye for colors of the ’70s

Tie-dye was everywhere in 2020 and for good reason: The nostalgic print offered a welcome escape from such unpleasant moments. But Rowe says it’s time to retire the trend—at least for now—since it has become so saturated. “If you want to go for the 70s vibes, opt for earth tones like mustard yellows, brown shades, burnt reds, and forest greens,” she says.

As demonstrated by designer brands like Gucci and La DoubleJ, mixing and matching these neutral shades adds dimension to your wardrobe. Consider it “tie-dye’s older sister,” says Rowe. Balance the look by pairing psychedelic prints with solid colors.

Swap graphic t-shirts with embellished tops

Say goodbye to the kitschy graphic print t-shirt. “Playing with textures and embellishments brings some complexity to a top in a much subtler way,” says Freeman. Think button shoulders, beaded necklines (like that above), and playful appliques.

Just like the graphic tee, embellished tops are extremely easy to style, and as a bonus, they can be dressed up or down. Pair one with vintage jeans or cutoff shorts for a casual look, or wear with leather leggings for a fancier affair.

Swap oversized hair accessories for a head scarf

Huge headbands, scrunchies, and bows are no longer in, says Freeman, who believes this trend can overpower an entire outfit. “Oversized hair accessories can even distort one’s facial proportions,” he adds. Instead, opt for the head scarf, which is set to be the biggest hair trend of 2021.

Taking inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s, a silk head scarf adds a touch of elegance to any ensemble. And whether you choose to wrap it under your chin in a loose knot or tie it at the nape of your neck, the accessory highlights your face in the loveliest way (see Jackie Kennedy for example).

Swap socks-and-sandals with slip-on sneakers

This once-polarizing trend has recently made its way back on the scene, but it’s a look fashion designer Nicole Miller believes needs to see its way out. “You can be comfortable in shoes and still look put together!” Miller argues, whereas the slide-and-sock combo seems like something you slipped on in a hurry.

Miller is a big fan of sneakers for spring and summer, especially the slip-on kind. “I like sneakers with a bit of height, too—a one inch platform is always a nice look,” she adds. Plus, this type of sneaker can be styled with almost anything, from casual sweats to breezy dresses to denim shorts.

Swap leggings for wide-leg pants

Hear us out: While we agree that leggings offer the ultimate comfort, perhaps it’s time to put on some real pants. “We were all home last year with no need to get dressed up, so we lived in our leggings and it was fine,” says Candace Hanna, speaker and personal stylist. “But now, as we’re coming out of the pandemic, there are so many alternatives!”

One trend that reigns supreme in 2021 is the wide-leg pant. Roomy yet tailored, these pants offer similar comfort and stretch with added sophistication. Plus, there are so many styles to choose from, including relaxed denim, baggy trousers, and ribbed knit pants. “With the amount of options available, there’s really no reason for your leggings to leave your gym bag,” says Hanna.

Swap velvet for corset styles

Velvet is not actually a fiber, but rather a type of pile weave that produces a lot of environmental waste which poses a threat to wildlife, explains Rowe. So if it’s that romantic, “Bridgerton” look you’re after, she recommends trying the corset trend instead. “You’ll get the 19th century feel without the nasty micro-fibres polluting our planet.”

With a focus on eco-friendly upcycling, there many different cuts and fabrics to choose from. There’s also a multitude of ways you can style a corset or bustier top. Our favorite: Pairing a feminine corset with jeans and a blazer for a more approachable take that still provides the effect of feeling dressed up and sexy again.

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