In spring 2020, the world shut down. The last thing on anyone’s mind was fashion, trends, or even getting dressed. In fact, the unofficial uniform of the year became athleisure wear, pajamas, and anything comfortable for lounging at home. Lockdowns led to their own fads though, like tie dye and matching sweats. But in 2021, spring signifies a true rebirth and ushers in a new season of positivity and possibilities. After being cooped up inside for so long, the warmer weather provides the perfect time to discover the delight of getting dressed again and try out the best spring fashion trends of 2021.
For the first time, Fashion Week was almost completely virtual. Despite having to adapt during the most tumultuous times, designers showed collections that had a universal theme: optimism. “Fashion should prop people up and give people a break, especially when they’ve been having such a terrible time,” designer Michael Halpern told Vogue. He created a line that radiated happiness, and, instead of using models, he dressed frontline workers in his glamorous creations.
Stylists also agree with this sentiment. Jennifer Austin, who’s dressed Angela Bassett, told The List: “I am excited for all the beautiful floral and fun psychedelic prints and patterns that are emerging for the season!”
Colorful jewelry is an instant mood-booster for spring 2021
We’re firm believers that fashion should be fun, so it’s fitting that spring’s bright bauble trend will definitely make you smile. “Color is the news of the season,” Vogue explained in their spring 2021 jewelry trend report. The runways were packed with showy statement-making accessories. Kaleidoscope-colored earrings graced the Valentino, Erdem, and Giorgio Armani models, while Versace and Etro showed bold neon necklaces.
Nicole Chavez, Kristen Bell’s stylist, called them “joyful jewels.” She posted her favorite vibrant picks, which included a Kapalina happy face necklace, an Odyssey purple choker, Nico Nico multicolor beaded strands, and a Tohum puka shell style. In a hashtag, she said the look gives off major spring break vibes. We’re definitely in favor of making vacation dressing an everyday affair.
Celebrity Stylist Cristina Ehrlich (she’s dressed Laura Dern and Tina Fey) also posted a cheerful snapshot of rainbow-hued Roxanne Assoulin bracelets. “Any way you mix it, it always ends up magical,” she said of the endless ways to wear the bangles. And that’s true. There are no rules when it comes to piling on the color — the more the merrier. Whatever hue you choose, this spring fashion trend is sure to brighten your day.
Replace your sweatpants with chic wide-leg trousers
After months of working from home wearing nothing but comfy clothes, transitioning to what we now refer to “hard pants” may seem unthinkable. Luckily, the spring fashion trend of wide-leg trousers is the perfect solution to make that shift easier. These favored bottoms are both relaxed (they’re cozy enough to wear at home) but still polished and office-appropriate.
Stylist Chloe Hartstein told InStyle they are the ultimate fashion trend worth investing in for 2021: “I think we’ve all gotten accustomed to wearing looser clothes since the pandemic started, and this is a good opportunity to feel more put-together while not throwing us out of our comfort zone.” Hartstein added, “I think the key to making these work is to not overthink it, to not make it too fussy.” Plus, they’re versatile: Pair them with a tailored shirt and blazer for work, or a T-shirt and denim jacket for a casual weekend ensemble.
Stylist Jennifer Austin explained to The List, “There is nothing better than the clean and sophisticated appearance of a wide-leg pant. This style works well on most body types because it’s a perfect way to elongate one’s frame, from short to tall, it works well on all!”
Headbands are the new essential hair accessory for spring
More than a decade ago, Gossip Girl‘s Blair Waldorf made the headband famous. Leighton Meester’s portrayal of a glam Upper East Sider spawned an obsession with the headwear. Now, not only is the signature accessory coming back, so is the show (HBO Max’s reboot for the beloved series started filming in March 2021). Actress Beanie Feldstein even channeled the famous character for Miu Miu’s spring 2021 virtual runway presentation. “Miu Miu let me dress up as Blair Waldorf and watch their gorgeous show from my childhood bedroom and it was glorious,” she wrote on Instagram, clad in a pearl-adorned headpiece.
The style was all over the spring runways, including the iconic Chanel show. As described by PopSugar, the “collection gave off an ’80s Hollywood glam vibe,” with plenty of enviable accessories like “logo headbands that looked like crowns.”
Stylist Lindsay Dupuis picked headbands as one of her must-have spring buys, and it’s our personal favorite reason for wearing the look. “Bad hair day? Meet your new best friend,” she said. Whether it’s an oversized knotted style, a simple band, a blinged-out embellished look, or a ladylike bow design, a headband can add oomph to any look.
The jumpsuit is the perfect one-and-done piece for spring
When you don’t know what to wear, a jumpsuit is a one-piece wonder that takes the guesswork out of getting dressing. Stylist Jennifer Austin told The List that the effortless silhouette is a piece everyone should own. “I love the versatility of them because it’s already a complete outfit. A jumpsuit can easily transition from a casual daytime look paired with a cute sneaker or sandal, to a night out with a sexy heel,” she said.
Head of content and creator partnerships at Pinterest, Aya Kanai shared with The Zoe Report that tracking styles on the platform is a great barometer for what the next big thing will be. With 460 million monthly active users, “it’s a window into the future of what people are searching for, wearing, and styling.” Kanai says she loves the jumpsuit spring fashion trend (which went up 160 percent in search). “There are so many options now, from the boiler suit (my personal favorite that I style with Dr. Martens) to the softer jumpsuit versions that I style for my loungewear moments at home,” the former fashion editor mused.
Make a statement in something sheer
Are you ready to make a bold statement this spring? Then look no further than this sultry fashion trend. As Who What Wear described, there was a “feeling of fluidity in many of the collections,” with light, see-through fabrics that “floated off the body.” Depending on how you wear it, it can be uber-sexy or totally subtle and romantic.
Even the timid can make the look work. Seriously, don’t be scared of sheer. As Cosmopolitan noted, this season, designers — from Kenzo to Dior — showed us different ways to try the risqué style. Use the runway as a guide for how to pull it off. Take for example Alberta Ferreti, who put semi-sheer maxi dresses over bikinis (perfect for a beach getaway!). Balmain dressed models in transparent layers over mini dresses, while Fendi used blazers to cover gauzy slips. For other ways to try the trend without baring too much, pick a top with transparent sleeves or a skirt with clear chiffon cut-outs.
Need even more inspiration? Superstar Rihanna was photographed in NYC in early April 2021 rocking a leather blazer with eye-catching sheer Supriya Lele pants (via Elle). An A+ party look if we’ve ever seen one!
Mini bags make a big impact as a top spring fashion trend
Did anyone use a purse in 2020? We sure didn’t. As we ease back into our everyday lives, tiny bags prove that good things come in small packages. They’ll ensure you only carry around your essentials. A shrunken size doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice practicality — just pair down your belongings to the things you really need.
Chanel, whose bags are considered the ultimate investment, introduced new shapes via its spring 2021 runway collection. “I wanted it to be very joyful, colorful, and very vibrant too,” creative director Virginie Viard shared in a press statement. As PopSugar mused, the “new range of adorably chic mini bags” was definitely a highlight. The petite offerings demonstrated that less is more, something we can all get behind.
Marie Claire noted that some designers like Etro and Balenciaga made a case for micro bags as necklaces. Models strutted the runway in jewelry that doubled as storage. Some brands even created crossbody cases designed specifically to hold just your cell phone (via Vogue). With Apple Pay, Uber, and Venmo on our devices, what else do you really need? These hands-free accessories are the perfect marriage of fashion and function.
Pair a cardigan with a button-up shirt for the ultimate preppy ensemble
A cardigan is one of those timeless pieces that everyone needs (and probably already has) in their closet. How you style this classic coverup is what’s new for spring. In early April 2021, actress Megan Fox perfectly demonstrated how to modernize the two signature styles. She wore a collegiate-inspired striped Versace cardi over a simple white button-up. A matching Yuzefi bag and Christian Louboutin boots completed the look, InStyle revealed. On Instagram, Fox even called it her “Versace Hogwarts uniform.”
Marie Claire made a case for cropped cardigans: “The rise in temperature calls for lighter fabrics, brighter colors, and cropped cuts.” They make the perfect transitional jacket for cool spring nights, or the dreaded office AC. If you want to turn your knit into something sexy, take a cue from celebs like Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner who wore theirs without anything underneath.
The best part about this spring fashion trend is that you probably have these pieces in your wardrobe. Play around with knits (pick a textured solid or a fun pattern) and wear it over any button-up shirt, and et voilà, your modern preppy look is complete.
Suede is spring 2021's surprising fabric obsession
This soft, supple fabric is making a big comeback. Stylist Allison Bornstein, who’s dressed Katie Holmes, said in a post on Instagram that a suede jacket is a great item for spring: “It feels rich and adds a nice color and texture to your look.” She also insisted the “best are always from second hand and vintage stores.”
A suede jacket will also be an investment piece you’ll keep forever. While showing her spring 2021 collection, designer Nili Lotan told Vogue her most popular pieces from the past year weren’t comfortable T-shirts and loungewear, but rather more expensive pieces that sold out, such as her statement-making suede jacket. Lotan deduced that “in uncertain times, the idea of owning something for 10 or 20 years feels solid and hopeful.”
When it comes to suede, don’t sleep on accessories. Belts, bags, and shoes are impeccable ways to wear the textile. “A funky fringed crossbody is a perfect way to incorporate this sometimes tricky fabric into your existing wardrobe for the warmer season,” stylist Jennifer Austin told The List. And try different colors, too, picking an offbeat hue brings a fresh take to the ’70s-inspired style.
Punchy bloom prints are a fun must-have pattern
Everyone knows the iconic Devil Wears Prada quote: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” Yet, year after year, brands feature botanical-inspired collections and fashion magazines declare florals an essential trend for the season. The catch? It’s the way designers interpret the print that stands out. In spring 2021, the emerging theme is a funky, unexpected version on the classic palette. Kenzo showed blossoms that looked digitized, giving it a Pop Art vibe; Rodarte mixed their florals with stripes for a unique mismatched take on the print; while Anna Sui mastered a whimsical hand-embroidered look for her collection.
Shopbop fashion director Caroline Maguire told The Zoe Report this is her favorite spring 2021 fashion trend. “I’m all about garden party prints, particularly for dresses and tops,” Maguire shared. She explained that it’s “cheerful, versatile, and perfect for any climate!”
Celebrity stylist Lindsay Dupuis, who’s dressed Nikki Reed, agrees. She favors a darker rendition of the print. On Instagram, she posted a photo of a Ted Baker long-sleeve maxi dress with a suggestion for how to transition the look from fall to spring. Her expert styling tip: “Balance out moody florals with a light straw hat and strappy sandals.”
Dare to bare it all in a bra top this spring
We may have given up bras during quarantine, but designers and fashion insiders are convincing us to bring them out of retirement. Not only that, you’ll actually want to have them on full display. Think of them as the sexier version of a crop top. Before you laugh at the idea of undergarments as outerwear, hear us out. You can totally rock the look no matter how courageous you’re feeling.
Elle‘s round-up of fashion shows that feature the bikini-hybrid top show the myriad of ways you can wear it as a standalone item. For the adventurous: Christian Siriano paired a bustier with a high-waist skirt, and Collina Strada showed a marigold matching set. For the more timid: Tom Ford’s party-ready sequin version was worn under a suit, perfect for a quick change when heading to happy hour. Rosetta Getty’s take was even office-inspired: Checkered wide-leg trousers and a matching blazer can conveniently conceal the coordinating skivvy underneath. Another modest option: Sandy Liang, who layered a low-cut frock over a bralette. If you don’t want to show any skin, take a cue from Simone Rocha who put an embellished top over a button-up dress.
Ditch heels for comfortable flats
Celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger posted a series of Instagram Stories in April 2021 discussing her top spring styling tricks. It’s time to “transition your footwear,” Erlanger said. “Swap out your boots for mules and slides,” she explained. What better way to enjoy the warm weather than to wear shoes that won’t wreck your feet?
Vogue‘s accessories director Willow Lindley agreed. “I’m leaning into my favorite spring trend — both professionally and personally — of 2021 and that is flat shoes! I’m trying to break out of sticking to basics, though, and have some fun with colorful flats,” she said.
In Marie Claire‘s round-up of “spring shoes to invest in,” almost all of them were, you guessed it, flat. Among the favorites were “fancy flip-flops,” which the publication insisted, “are not your rubber shower shoes.” Shown at Tom Ford and Jacquemus, these thong sandals feature fancy finishes and sparkling embellishments. Also trending is what Marie Claire dubbed as “va-va-voom velcro sandals,” which they said are a “less granola and more girly” take on velcro sandals. And finally, “baroque ballet flats” are in, a flashier version of the beloved round-toe style, which Dolce & Gabbana and Simone Rocha updated with snazzy brocade patchwork and glistening gold metallics.
The "shacket" is spring 2021's best jacket style
When it comes to fashion, it’s not often that an entirely new category is created. Take, for example, outwear: You’ve got peacoats, motorcycle jackets, puffers, blazers, etc. The newest iteration is a shacket, which is basically a hybrid of a shirt and jacket, and it was relatively unknown until recently. The signature silhouette has the classic elements of a traditional shirt (a collar and a button-up closure), but is made with thicker material. Vogue described the style as “if the best button-down top married a roomy jacket, and together they gave birth to an effortlessly versatile wardrobe essential.”
Its rise in popularity is due in part to its practicality, as it’s the perfect transition piece when the weather fluctuates. It’s structured but still relaxed, can be worn open or closed, and can be styled countless ways. As Vogue noted, it’s also a celebrity favorite and has been seen on Lily Collins, Katie Holmes, and Gabrielle Union.
Stylist Micaela Erlanger posted on Instagram stories in April 2021 that she’s also in favor of the popular layering piece. “We love a good denim jacket or classic trench, but try a shacket for a different spin on spring outerwear,” she said.
Sweater vests are the ultimate layering piece for spring 2021
This is not your grandpa’s pullover. You may have visions of holiday-themed sweaters or tacky brown plaid when you think of a sweater vest, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you peep the new modern version of this classic silhouette.
Celebrity stylist Danielle Goldberg — who has worked with Laura Harrier, JLaura Harrierr, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — told InStyle that the sweater vest is the ultimate fashion trend worth investing in for spring 2021. She said, “It’s a cool and understated piece that can easily work into your wardrobe.” For tips to pull it off, she offered, “I love styling it over a classic white tee and rolling up the sleeves just a bit.” We also love it worn alone with nothing underneath. Pair it with denim shorts for a casual outfit perfect for a cool spring day.
Vogue‘s market editor Madeline Swanson is another fan. “From Louis Vuitton to Tory Burch, sweater vests made appearances all over the spring runways. I’m looking forward to testing out this trendy layering hack with a colorful piece like Ganni’s button-up iteration in bright green cashmere,” she said to Vogue.
A bold belt is the perfect finishing touch
Statement belts are this season’s easiest accessory to pull any look together. Harper’s Bazaar called it one of the best standout fashion trends from the spring 2021 runways. Of course, “belts are hardly new,” the magazine admitted, but it’s all about accentuating your waist and “creating shape on the body.” Harper’s Bazaar noted, “Whether you’re all about bows or something edgier like heavy metals, you’ll have no trouble finding middle ground.”
Designers featured unique waistband accouterments — like JW Anderson’s multi-strand chain-link and crystal sashes, which were accented at the end with fanciful feathers. Chloé showed oversized belts with leather detailing and gold grommet hardware, while Miu Miu had demure bows tied up like a present in their collection.
Celebrity stylist Allison Bornstein, who regularly posts styling tips and tricks to her Instagram, said in a post that “the belt is the one extra step that makes a look feel intentional.” She added, “It also adds some hardware and feels like a finishing touch.” Play around with proportion and different materials when choosing a belt, and it will add interest to any outfit. Sounds like a cinch to us!
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