Romanticism and femininity tend to go hand in hand — girlish ruffles, ample volume, and whimsical prints being a few defining features in the realm of fashion. Those with sweet taste ought to be delighted by Spring/Summer 2021’s romantic clothing trend. However, if you subscribe to a more streamlined aesthetic, perhaps one that skews minimalist or sporty, such a look might not resonate. Saccharine silhouettes, floaty fabrics, soft colors, and flowery motifs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. While plenty of dreamy dresses, tops, and skirts abound this season, other romantic iterations come more streamlined with a mass appeal that could even tempt the most anti-fanciful fashion lover.
“The romantic trend is usually defined by layers of ruffles and voluminous sleeves, but this season’s take feels fresh in a more minimalist way with a deep sweetheart neckline, smocking, or corseting details,” Divya Mathur, chief merchant at Intermix, tells TZR. “Brock Collection, Dion Lee, and Ulla Johnson are some of the designers who really do this well.”
Spring/Summer 2021 collections also offered easy and comfortable takes on romanticism. Jonathan Simkhai showed knitted tops and dresses with sweet touches like puffed sleeves and bustier-inspired necklines. California-based brand Dôen, known for beautiful, easy-living pieces like dresses, blouses, and knits, leaned further into the aesthetic with a cottagecore twist. Smocking details, billowing sleeves, and light-as-air fabrics being a few ways the label continues to deliver sweet yet liveable staples “made to carry you softly and sweetly through these gentle days at home, and beyond,” as the brand says on its website.
For bigger fashion cravings that feel practical at home, the romantic trend lends itself to effortless high style. A voluminous blouse goes a long way on Zoom, regardless of what you pair it with on the bottom. The same goes for bolder knits, that while cozy, are lightly sweeter than other classic designs. Even dresses feel appropriate when silhouettes are simple, though if intricate detailing speaks to you for certain at-home days, Copenhagen-based designer Cecilie Bahnsen’s offerings are irresistibly whimsical.
Wherever you lie on the romantic fashion scale, there’s undoubtedly a take on the trend that can work for you this season. Keep scrolling to discover five masterful approaches with an edit to shop. Plus, Mathur breaks down her number one outfit formula Mathur that she says is a must for modern style (spoiler: it won’t feel overly sweet).
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The Romantic Trend: Necklines
“It’s all about an exaggerated sweetheart neckline that beautifully exposes the décolletage,” Mathur tells TZR. “What I love about this trend is it works in a knit top, a dress, or a blouse, so you can style this according to how dressed up or down you want to be.”
The Romantic Trend: Puff Sleeves
Though frilled necklines and ruffles are synonymous with romantic style, puffy sleeves are the perfect entry point to the feminine trend. They’re statement-making yet feel really wearable when paired with jeans and even sweats when working from home, especially subtle twists to classics like a striped tee with exaggerated shoulders. There are iterations to suit every aesthetic, from minimal and clean to cozy textures and prints. You can even layer them under slip dresses and camisoles for more of a maximalist take.
The Romantic Trend: Smocking Details
“Go all-in with this trend and opt for all-over smocking,” suggests Mathur. “A.L.C’s tops and dresses do this so well.”
The Romantic Trend: Full Skirts
Full skirts ooze femininity, and mini, midi, and maxi lovers can get in on the trend. Pleated tiers, balloon hems, and airy A-line shapes all give off a soft and dreamy vibe, whether you choose a dress or separates.
The Romantic Trend: Corseting
“If you want to add a bit more edge to your romantic look, add a corset or bustier,” Mathur advises. Whether you opt for a literal interpretation or a piece inspired by waist-cinching design, she adds, “My favorites are from Dion Lee."
How to Wear The Romantic Trend
A feminine dress takes most of the guesswork out of styling when it comes to the romantic trend, but separates can be a bit trickier. Mathur says juxtaposition is the key to a modern look.
“My go-to is to balance anything overtly feminine with something more relaxed,” she tells TZR. “I’ll pair a snug knit with a sweetheart neckline with a high-rise '90s fit jean that’s looser through the leg. I love the proportion of a body-skimming knit with the bagginess of a slightly looser jean paired back to a killer heel. And, of course, a pile of necklaces.”