Some years, winter seems never-ending. That’s even more true in 2021, as so many of us are still working from home, holding out hope for the warm days that allow us to get outside. Even as the birds start chirping and the temperatures start to rise, we’re not out of the woods for those chilly winter days just yet. The mornings and evenings, especially, can have a surprising chill long after we’ve packed away our holiday decor and eaten our body weight in Valentine’s Day chocolate.
As more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and begin thinking about a return to work, and maybe even their social lives, your sweatpants and baggy t-shirts just aren’t going to cut it. If you’ve missed the memo on winter 2021 fashion, we’re here to help. Many of the best 2021 winter clothing trends are so versatile, you can wear them long into spring. Even better, some have the staying power to remain trendy past summer as the weather starts to turn cold again. These are the best winter clothing trends of 2021.
We're all about those 2021 winter layers
Keeping warm during the cold winter months can be complicated, especially if you live somewhere frigid morning temperatures give way to warmer afternoons. The solution to your woes is layering. You’ll want to make your layers trendy and sleek, while avoiding the bulk. One of the more obvious looks you can copy is the double coat, as noted by Who What Wear, but if it isn’t quite that cold where you are, don’t fret.
According to Glamour UK, you don’t even need to look at traditionally winter clothes for this trend. That’s right, the summer dress you didn’t get a chance to wear due to the pandemic can be layered right on top of a long sleeved top for extra warmth. The experts at InStyle agree, suggesting that a looser top under a clingy dress will give you “a cozy contrast” and layering a t-shirt over a turtleneck is a quick and easy way to add warmth while staying relatively casual.
Sweater vests are the perfect transition item from winter 2021
One obvious way to take advantage of layers is with a trendy sweater vest. If you equate sweater vests with long-gone fashion of the ’90s — or worse, think they’re just for nerds or tennis players — in the words of Cher Horowitz, “As if!” The ’90s are back and sweater vests are no exception!
Whether you choose to wear them over a t-shirt, long sleeves, or even a dress, there’s a sweater vest for everyone. But if you want to take your winter 2021 look up a notch further, InStyle suggests you pair your sweater vest with some leather pants. According to GlamourUK, sweater vests aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so whether you’re looking for some extra warmth to get you through the lingering days of winter or something to protect against the sometimes unexpected chill of spring, it’s time to stock up.
We all said goodbye to jeans this winter
The days when we all thought COVID-19 would be a short-lived nuisance are long-gone, and so are the days of restricting, uncomfortable clothing. For many people, that’s also meant a farewell to jeans (and really anything with a zipper). Comfort is in, in a big way. Who What Wear pointed to this trend as an opportunity for trying a new look and suggested ribbed knit pants instead of sweatpants for an elevated, yet comfortable, take, paired with sneakers or as part of a matched knit set.
The experts at Refinery29 are all about the matched sets and textured fabric as well, and they went so far as to recommend the retro tracksuit or a lounge jumpsuit to take your winter fashion to the ultimate place of comfort. Looking to make an even bolder statement with your comfortable pants? Refinery29 also insisted that tie-dye joggers are definitely still in for 2021. So go ahead, and be proud of your sweats!
Want cozy and fashionable inspiration? Statement cardigans are the way to go in winter 2021
While sweater vests may have been all over Instagram in winter 2021, cardigans spent the coldest months of winter heating up TikTok. Thanks in part to Harry Styles rocking a JW Anderson cardigan all the way back in February 2020 and the designer releasing detailed instructions for creating your own, TikTok fans everywhere spent part of their pandemic boredom recreating the look and trying out other designs.
As Net-a-Porter noted, cardigans are easy to wear and super comfortable, so it’s no wonder the style picked up steam again during winter 2021. If all you can think of when you hear the word cardigan is Mr. Rogers, don’t fret. It’s all about how you wear it. According to InStyle, “cardigans are sexy now!” Want even more comfort? Go for a longline cardigan to stay on trend while feeling like you’re wrapped in a blanket.
From winter to spring and beyond, break out the gray and yellow for 2021
If you’re looking to add a little color to your wardrobe, look no further than the 2021 Pantone Color Institute’s colors of the year — Ultimate Gray and Illuminating — to kick up your winter 2021 fashion. In a statement announcing the pair of colors, Pantone’s Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman said, “The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.” Now that’s something we could all use in 2021. She added that the color combination “gives us resilience and hope,” and there are tons of great ways to incorporate the combo into your winter looks.
Not sure where to start? Take inspiration from the sunshine peeking through the wintry gray clouds. Stylist Bridgette Raes suggested a monochrome gray look with a sunshine yellow coat and outfits with just a pop of yellow in the form of accessories like bold yellow loafers or a statement handbag.
Have Bridgerton fever? Turn that into inspiration for winter 2021
If you’re part of the 82 million households that tuned into Netflix’s Regency-era project Bridgerton (via Deadline), you know that the clothes were just as gorgeous as the cast. Even before the show dropped on Netflix, puffy sleeves were very in, according to Vogue, and the hit show has only created more demand for fashion inspired by its costumes. But this isn’t the first time that similar fashion has hit the runway and our closets.
With more and more people looking to cottagecore for inspiration, prairie dresses, florals, and ruffles all hit the mainstream in the past few years. While not all attempts at this look were successful (we’re looking at you, Target), Who What Wear editor Emma Spedding doesn’t see puff sleeves going anywhere anytime soon, telling writer Maxine Eggenberger, “From dresses with huge ballooned shoulders at Loewe to trench coats with gathered sleeves at Altuzarra, get ready for even more shoulder action this year.” We are here for it!
Forget mom jeans; winter 2021 was all about the grandma coat
Sure, Gen Z might be all about the mom jeans and middle parts, but there’s another fashion trend straight from the family matriarchs that’s all the rage: the grandma coat. Nicknamed as such by InStyle‘s Samantha Sutton, the grandma coat takes the quilted coats of yore and brings them straight into 2021. The quilted coat is versatile, too. Whether you’re dusting off a quilted puffer or more of a quilted crop, the look belongs on more than just your bed, but don’t think that just means coats.
Designers have taken quilting up a notch this year so you’ll see all sorts of quilting trends, like the quilted dress that L’Officiel called “comfortable chic.” Refinery29 suggested “longer and baggier” quilted coats and jackets that allow for more of that layering trend underneath as well. Whatever way you wear them in winter 2021, quilts aren’t just for grandma anymore.
Patchwork made a comeback in winter 2021 fashion
While patchwork clothing isn’t exactly new — going back 5,000 years, according to Costume Society ambassador Isabella Rosner – it’s certainly seeing a fashion revival. Patchwork fashion in the United States has roots in the Great Depression, when torn and tattered clothing was repurposed and the scraps used to make more clothing or quilts.
While the minimalist movement would have you get rid of your tattered and torn clothing these days, according to Vogue there’s a countermovement called maximalism that will have you holding on to every piece of fabric of you own and repurposing it into today’s patchwork trends. But even if you aren’t creating your own patchwork dress out of your old t-shirts, there’s a way to work pre-made patchwork fashion into your wardrobe. The Us Weekly team suggested pairing eclectic and bold patchwork-patterned sweaters and jackets with basic denim or black pants to stand out and stay trendy.
Oversized fashion is a comfortable staple for your 2021 winter wardrobe
One of the things we’ve learned from a winter of relative isolation is that there’s no reason to wear constricting, uncomfortable clothing all the time. While you may not be able to get away with wearing an actual blanket to work or while running errands, oversized fashion is a great way to recreate that same comfy feeling. While you may think oversized clothing makes you look frumpy, that couldn’t be further from the truth — as long as you style it right.
Hannah Franco, co-founder of époque évolution, told The List, “Oversized is in, which allows for flattering drape, layering, belting and ease of movement.” She added that an oversized sweater will also carry you through to spring, layered under a jacket, over a dress, with skinny jeans, or even with some oversized trousers! Like Franco, the experts at Vogue are all about oversized fashion, ranging from oversized button downs to baggy t-shirts and everything in between. Let’s get cozy.
The best upcoming 2021 fashion to look out for
As we move back into some sense of normalcy in 2021, there’s no doubt that many of the things we learned about fashion in the past several months will stick with us and influence fashion in the coming months. For instance, our desire to prioritize comfort over everything likely isn’t going anywhere soon and neither is Gen Z’s insistence on making everything old new again. With that in mind, be on the lookout for one trend you never thought you’d see again: yoga pants.
That’s right, your early aughts favorites (now deemed flared leggings by Gen Z) are back, according to Glamour! There are some changes, as noted by PopSugar, like a higher rise waistband and better material, but if you held onto your old favorites for dear life, you may just be able to get away with them again.
If flare leggings aren’t your thing, try out some other upcoming trends, such as voluminous poet blouses and full knit outfits. For the foreseeable future, comfort truly is king.
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