How Your Go-To Styling Cues Have Evolved Over the Last Year
Plus, where they're headed next.
While looking back to about a year and a half ago, an element of our daily lives that has continuously (and most visibly) evolved is our style. Think of how many stages of dressing we've gone through: tie-dye sweats to "dress up to be more productive at home" to the "nap dress" to #turtleneckseason and so on.
And yet suddenly, while peering back at photos from the good ol' days (basically anything prior to March 2020), my style that I thought was so tried-and-true now feels incredibly foreign. I'm hit with a "wow, I can't believe I actually wore that"—and not in the sense of "it's in poor taste," but sauntering around the city in heeled slingbacks? Mainly wearing my ever-growing collection of trousers over anything else? Perfectly done hair every damn day? I'm floored.
But an even stranger phenomenon—taking place while no one was looking—is that we seem to have said goodbye to our past lives' closet staples and invited in styling cues and go-tos that used to be, well, borderline taboo. I'll be the first to say that I certainly wasn't expecting to see Ugg boots grace the streets of Soho à la Gigi Hadid or Juicy tracksuits become an "it" item once again—although, I'm guilty of trying to "Ebay" a set while rewatching The Simple Life when quarantining in the Midwest. Nonetheless, these kitschy styling cues are set to evolve, so here's where they're going next and how to make them a bit more, shall we say, elevated.
Prior to COVID, it was rare to see a matching set unless you were one of the few daring enough to try to pull off the daytime pajama trend circa 2017 or a model on the runway of Sally LaPointe. Yet, our current need for ease has made this a styling cue that I can't imagine life without. Initially, we saw this show up as the resurgence of the Juicy tracksuit, and buzzy loungewear brands like Madhappy or PANGAIA have emerged as a fast favorite on Instagram. As time went on, we became a bit more adventurous: the addition of jewelry, dressing up the look with unexpected footwear (see SJP for this), and, most important, trying out "matchy-matchy" looks in more elevated fabrications.
Easing back into "normalcy," it's safe to say we won't be willing to trade off comfort and ease. Instead, continue this styling cue with an updated approach by opting for seasonally appealing fabrics like silk from Nanushka (links: top + bottom) or linen from Sleeper, as well as trying out different silhouette pairings like this tunic-and-pants combo from Simon Miller.
Remember the days of hiding heels under your corporate desk to quickly slip on after trudging to the office in snow-worthy boots, while simultaneously having your sneakers in your tote to rush to the gym after work? I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Now the throw-and-go shoe is the all-encompassing essential that's made our lives boundlessly easier. What's surprising is the way we're seeing this come to life: It's gone beyond sneakers and has sparked an interest in early-aughts Uggs, ballet flats, and Birkenstock-style sandals, to name a few.
The continuation of this isn't so literal—we'll be seeing the comfort-driven aspects of these shoes integrated into styles that are a bit more "friendly" to wearers with other aesthetic preferences. If a sweet ballet flat isn't quite your thing, opt for a loafer like these from Vagabond, or a chic minimalist option from Yuni Buffa. In terms of Birkenstock or Teva-style sandals, they will just never be for everyone (myself included), so I recommend checking out sandals that mimic the platform with a more city-girl slanted upper, such as this pair from Miista.
Less Is More
Before COVID, it was arguably more cool to be the most covered-up person in the room. Looking mysteriously sexy in a black turtleneck at the bar? Yep, that was a vibe. Given #shotgirlsummer, that approach to dressing has quickly faded. We're collectively ready to show a little skin and have a lot of fun after the year we've endured—and rightfully so. From cut-outs and micro-minis to whale tales, less is certainly more.
While, sure, these details are perfect for hitting the town, you can expect to see them toned down in an attempt to liven up day-to-day apparel, too. Designers will continue the party from night into the morning with attention to the hips, like on these trousers from Manuri and this "business in the front, party in the back" dress from Musier Paris. As the weather cools down, expect to see cut-outs in knits, such as these options from Cult Gaia and Pixie Market.
Recently, we were in a minimalist cycle when it came to jewelry: A dainty chain or two and the perfect baroque pearl was all you needed. With COVID, "keyboard-up dressing" became the most important styling cue of all when what anyone could see was limited from your desk and above via Zoom. The perfect solution for dressing up a simple outfit and showcasing some form of personality quickly became jewelry.
Now charm jewelry, statement earrings, and layered necklaces are an obvious choice for adding a dose of glamour to a basic #wfh outfit. We love this literal option from Ganni or this more subtle nod from Missoma when it comes to charms, and you can never go wrong with a statement earring from Alexis Bittar. This essence of gaudy goodness doesn't stop at jewelry, either. This luxuriously playful treatment can be found in knits, done iconically well at Missoni, as well as metallically treated denim at MSGM.
The Roomier, the Better
It's been a slow burn into roomier bottoms. Even though skinny jeans may be dead (which is arguably not completely true), this movement towards an interest in a wider-leg jean or trouser has been increasing on the runways season after season. Although the boldly wide look was really better suited for an editorial or your friend who's actually tall enough to pull them off, its small portion in the market place has grown into a sizable one—and certainly the buzziest at that.
As we know, trends run on a cycle, and wide-legs won't be the "it" pant forever, so brands must determine how to adhere the benefits we're reaping from a roomier fit into other silhouettes, too. We're seeing this show up in the creative use of fabrications, whether that's in a wide leg or not, such as silk-like at Cinq a Sept and Fleur du Mal or knit at Reformation and Norma Kamali. Another great way is through comfort-driven closures like a smocked waist at Ramy Brook or a drawstring option from REISS.
All in all, these new styling cues we've picked up over this rollercoaster of a year may not be the most conventionally approved, but they do make our lives easier—and, ultimately, will meet our style standards with a bit of time, creativity, and personalization.