In Photos: Fashion Predictions for 2021


Sadie Stinson

Senior Sareena Sandhu wearing an Urban Outfitters dress; sophomore Sydney Fish wearing a thrifted, layered tea dress; and senior Lindsey Canessa wearing a Target: Love Shack Fancy tea dress. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson.

Penelope Stinson, Assistant Opinions Editor

Although much of 2020 was spent staring at Zoom screens, fashion trends still flourished. Grocery stores became designer runways, perfect for debuting outfits curated during stay-at-home orders. Sustainable fashion began to take off in 2020; thrifting, as well as upcycled clothing brands exploded on TikTok, according to Vogue, and the resale industry for clothes expanded, according to Forbes. As designers crafted their runway shows in 2020, they were forced to think outside of the box and often used more alternative methods of displaying their designs. In September 2020, TikTok hosted a “fashion month,” and labels such as Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton streamed their fashion shows on the app. TikTok also influenced many of the trends in 2020, from early 2000’s fashion, under the hashtag #Y2KFashion, to a strawberry tulle dress that went viral on the app during the summer. 

Now, in 2021, many of the trends, creative clothing styles, brands and apps that allow clothing to “go viral” have continued from last year. The pandemic forced clothing brands and designers to reconsider their methods and reevaluate their consumers. Companies began to shift to more online retail and were forced to make bold and adaptive choices in order to stay alive in such a tumultuous market, according to The State Of Fashion report from McKinsey, a report focused on looking at the effects of COVID-19 on fashion and fashion marketing. Social media has been and will continue to be an important tool for clothing brands to advertise their products and for shoppers to determine the hottest trends. Small, independent Instagram and TikTok clothing brands, many of which were started by teenagers, are predicted to prosper in 2021, according to Medium. Sustainable fashion is still important; 88% of consumers continue to want brands to be more environmentally friendly, according to research done by Forbes. With all of these different mediums to find fashion, it can be difficult to ascertain what the up-and-coming trends will be for 2021. The Coat of Arms put together a list of the top eight trends we predict will take off in 2021, based on runway research from Vogue, WhoWhatWear and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as interviews from Menlo students and perspectives from the writer.

Sophomore Sydney Fish wearing the Blue Toile Corset from Staud Clothing with thrifted BAPE jeans and senior Lindsey Canessa wearing a thrifted red corset and black Levi’s jeans. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)

1. Corsets

After Netflix released the show Bridgerton in late December 2020, corsets took over TikTok, ranging from full-on lace-up and boned corsets to sheer, cropped bustiers. The design is flattering on practically all body types, due to the hourglass shape of the corset structure, and today’s corsets are, thankfully, designed to be less restrictive than the ones worn in the 1800s. Most of the corsets popular on TikTok can be found for relatively inexpensive prices on Amazon, and they are commonly worn with a white button-down or turtleneck underneath it and a pair of jeans.


Sophomore Taara Banerjee wearing the Newspaper Pants from Holiday the Label with a thrifted black leather jacket and sophomore Sydney Fish wearing brown zebra printed pants from Shein with a brown knit turtleneck. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)

2. Crazy Patterned Pants

Although many people opt to ignore their pants choices on Zoom calls, funky printed pants are becoming the centerpiece of outfits in 2021. Small, sustainable brands, such as Lisa Says Gah, Holiday the Label and Hot Lava and more cost-effective brands, such as Dolls Kill or Zara, produce prints such as checkerboard, cow print and swirly psychedelics with bright colors that can make a statement. The show-stealing pants can be worn with simple shirts such as white turtlenecks, or, as seen across TikTok, they can be paired with a pastel-colored, fur-coated cardigan for a bolder look.


Sophomore Taara Banerjee wearing a pink trench coat from Target and thrifted pink flared pants. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)
Senior Sareena Sandhu wearing an orange Urban Outfitters long-sleeve shirt and a thrifted orange pencil skirt. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)


3. Monochrome

The women at the inauguration of President Joe Biden stole the show with their outfits and followed a trend currently seen on many spring 2021 runways: monochrome. Monochrome means the outfit is all one similar color. However, by no means does that limit the stylistic choices of such an ensemble. “I really think monochrome is gonna be in, like one color outfit scenarios and jackets,” freshman Maddie Brown, who leads Menlo’s Fashion and Design Club, said. The monochrome trend can be as simple or as creative as one chooses, and it’s relatively easy to put together from clothes you already own.


Sophomore Taara Banerjee wearing a thrifted knit vest, thrifted pants, and a thrifted jacket. Senior Sareena Sandhu wearing a thrifted orange button-down shirt, a patterned Zara mesh top, and a thrifted black skirt. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)
Senior Lindsey Canessa wearing a thrifted blue tie up cardigan, a thrifted white button-down and Levi’s jeans. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)


4. Layering 

Although you might think of layers as what your mom forces on you before leaving the house, layering is one of the most important styling tools, and layering using unique pieces is definitely coming into style for 2021. Creating layers using white button-downs and turtlenecks, which are paired with distinct tops such as corsets or knit vests, are going to be particularly stylish in 2021. This is in part thanks to the layered sweater looks served by Princess Diana in the 90s that have recently come back in fashion.


Senior Sareena Sandhu wearing an Urban Outfitters dress; sophomore Sydney Fish wearing a thrifted, layered tea dress; and senior Lindsey Canessa wearing a Target: Love Shack Fancy tea dress. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)

5. Tea Dresses

As we look ahead to spring, dainty, mid-length tea dresses will replace the chunky knit sweaters and colorful pants we donned in winter. Particularly, designs with pastel colors and puff sleeves have been making runway appearances lately and are perfect for the outdoor spring picnics you plan with your friends. Nevertheless, many of these tea dresses are comfortable enough to wear around the house, and the flattering and sleek silhouette provides a polished yet utilitarian outfit.


Sophomore Sydney Fish wearing a printed Urban Outfitters sweater with checkered Express pants. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)
Senior Lindsey Canessa wearing a zebra-printed thrifted sweater. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)


6. Printed Sweaters

Although knit vests dominated clothing stores this winter, sweaters with abstract designs and landscape images on them will be the popular knit this year. With the influence of singer Harry Styles who inspired a trend on TikTok of crocheting sweaters and the release of Season 4 of The Crown which reinvigorated the fashion trends set by Princess Diana years ago, interesting and quirky knit sweaters will be all the rage in 2021. In particular, the brand Zara does an excellent job of frequently producing new sweaters and knitwear, with designs ranging from sheep to stripes to lake scenes. “Knit sweaters that have incorporated graphic designs like wording or pictures [are also going to be popular],” Brown said.


Senior Sareena Sandhu wearing a thrifted button-down shirt and thrifted khaki shorts. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)
Sophomore Sydney Fish wearing a thrifted satin button-down shirt and a thrifted, blue skirt. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)












7. Button-Down Shirts

It’s surprisingly difficult to find interesting and inexpensive button-down shirts at many large retail stores such as Urban Outfitters, but button-down shirts are hidden gems at thrift stores and often one of the easiest items to successfully thrift. Both patterned and plain button-down shirts are incredibly versatile and can be worn as an oversized layer or paired with a matching pant to provide a more refined look. Different button-down silhouettes provide different looks; a more fitted long sleeve button-down creates a 70s throwback impression, whereas a short-sleeved, more loose button-down, also called a bowling shirt, can give a more androgynous feeling to an outfit.

Sareena Sandhu wearing an Urban Outfitters second skin shirt and a thrifted brown skirt. Staff photo: Sadie Stinson. (Sadie Stinson)

8. Second Skin Shirts

Skintight, mesh or thin-fabric tops have been dominating the spring 2021 runways and are perfect for layering with interesting jackets and vests. The shirts are also nicknamed “second skin” shirts and often have interesting designs and prints on them. They rose to popularity after designer Marine Serre premiered her collection of crescent moon printed “second skin” tops on celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Beyoncé and Dua Lipa, achieving a cult-like popularity in the fashion community. Although they were made popular by designer brands, “second skin” shirts are easy to find for inexpensive prices at places such as H&M, & Other Stories and Urban Outfitters.