If there is one word to sum up summer 2020’s uniform, it’s comfort. Going out mostly consisted of picking up groceries from your local bodega, and navigating the scary reality meant ignoring the trend cycle and focusing on clothes that made life a little bit easier. Therefore, simple items like matching sweatsuits, homemade tie-dye tees, biker shorts, and easy slide-on sandals took the spotlight. But this summer’s trends are the opposite of last year — it’s all about finding excitement in getting dressed. While the next few months won’t quite be completely back to normal, women are seeking a chance to be bold.
“After a year of playing it a bit safe, you can feel this surge of energy back into collections,” Astrid Boutrot, Women’s Buying Director at The Webster, tells TZR. “The creativity, eccentricity, and excitement are back! There is [an] emphasis on ‘90s silhouettes with a bit of rule-breaking intertwined.”
According to Dione Davis, Styling Director at Tibi, the trends for summer 2021 can best be described as chaotic — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Most people held onto their aspirational outfit from last year and pulled it out at the first post-vaccination social engagement,” she tells TZR. “This is called the ‘ghost outfit’ or the outfit that you would be completely OK with living your afterlife in.” The stylist and content creator adds, “getting dressed is exciting again, so while there are some overlapping trends in the marketplace, personal style seems to be on the menu this summer and trends are a fun afterthought.”
In fact, Davis believes there are a few reasons why so many women are eager to reestablish their own personal style post-pandemic. “People have been indoors for a year waiting to reinvent themselves,” she says. “If there wasn’t a desire to change, then many opted for solidifying their sartorial point of view this year after a year of introspection.”
If you’re currently trying to define your summer 2021 style, you’ll want to know how to reinvent your style and leave 2020 behind. Below, see what fashion insiders say are the top styles to get behind this season.
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Classic Tailored Pants
“After a year of wearing soft clothing and lounge silhouettes, something feels really comforting about a trouser,” Davis says. “Having a collective shared experience also lent itself to the realization that everyone needs a good pair of tailored pants.”
The stylist calls out Kendall Jenner’s recent The Row moment, consisting of the luxury label’s tailored pants and crisp white blouse. She says the ensemble had, “girls gagging like it was some new groundbreaking thing because so many people jumped the gun and got rid of their tailored clothing thinking we would still be bored in the house this year.”
Telsha Anderson, owner and buyer of t.a. New York, has been noticing lots of color-blocking lately. “Consumers are gravitating towards stepping outside the box and away [from] their individual norms and doing so utilizing bright and vibrant colors,” she explains. “It's 100% a trend I hope stays for a while.”
To add to the vivid color trend, Boutrot says, “we all know we lived in neutral matching sets, for this season we are imagining life fully in color, bold hues, in accessories and even sunglasses. These colors will bring joy and optimism when clients walk in the door to our stores!”
The itty bitty short craze of last summer is now being replaced with longer silhouettes, according to Katie Murphy, Vice President of Clients at 11 Honoré. “Bottoms are more put together and elevated this season,” she tells TZR. Incorporate a denim Bermuda short into your wardrobe this summer, or, try something new like a men’s swim trunk.
Davis says this is the summer of crop tops. “From bralettes to midriff flossing or the occasional strategic cutout, everything is much more fitted to contrast the wideness of all of the trousers and denim that are puddling to the ground,” the stylist explains. “It makes perfect sense to me that the cool proportions would all be coming from the waist down since many haven’t really been able to show off our pants or even wear real shoes until now.”
“We just want prints; we did not see many or any that were coveted last year,” Boutrot says. “After months of wearing matching neutral-colored sweat sets, we want to wear pieces that evoke optimism and happy emotions.”
You can never go wrong with a floral print, and Murphy says a retro-inspired one is in this summer. “I am seeing bigger floral prints a la retro, rather than English garden type floral prints,” she says. “I think these bolder prints are fun and make people happy and allow their pieces to stand out a bit more.” But if you’re looking for something edgier, try a cool checkered pattern or animal print.
Last summer, Davis says it was all about the lighthearted cottagecore energy, which was usually paired back to Birkenstocks or pool slides. However, this season things are taking a dramatic turn. “There’s also a 2021 variation of the revenge dress that is long, fitted, and has a cutout,” the expert notes. “There’s no better revenge than an unplanned one, so wearing a chic day dress with sexy cutouts with an understated shoe feels like such a flex because it’s no big commitment, but if you run into someone, even better!”
Lisa Aiken, Fashion & Buying Director at Moda Operandi, is on the same page. “If last summer was all about the ‘house dress’ then 2021 is all about ‘hot girl summer’, think midriff-baring cut-outs, off-the-shoulder necklines, scoop backs, crochet fabrications, and long, lean silhouettes,” she tells TZR.
Anderson believes micro silhouettes are back as a big trend for handbags. “Brands have started developing their own versions of the mini bag and it's something that excites me to see — as long as it can fit my phone, it's for me,” she says. “Additionally, I've seen a gravitation towards bags that allow ‘hands-free’ moments which is perfect timing as New York City continues to open up.”
While shorts might be getting longer, it seems skirts are doing the opposite (sorry, midi skirts). “Mini skirts are the bottom trend we will see the most of — [they’re] easy to wear, sexy, stylish, and perfect for summer,” Murphy says. To balance out the silhouette, try pairing the bottoms with knee-high boots on days where it’s not too hot outside.
Beaded Summer Camp Jewelry
“Again, the accessory trends are attention-grabbing and unmistakably upbeat,” Aiken notes. “We are seeing the return of 'the fashion stack’ (remember that?) with beaded summer camp jewelry layered with touches of existing fine gold.” Shop this quirky, kid-like look at jewelry labels like Brinker & Eliza, Serendipitous Project, and Notte Jewelry.