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From casual florals to statement sleeves, here are the trends to tap into for the season.

By Lindsay Samson

Feb 3, 2021

Spring may not be in the air for Northern Hemisphere dwellers just yet, but it is within reach, and for the fashion folks, now is the time that signals the start of prepping wardrobes for the warmer season to come. And while uncertainty may still abound as we settle into 2021, one thing's for sure: it’s time to bid farewell to our stash of muted earth tones, chunky knitwear, and oversized totes. We are ready to replace last year’s flavors with intense color, fresh prints, airy dresses, and petite purses, turning to styles that are as comfortable to wear as the stay-at-home attire we have grown used to, yet chic enough to take out for an evening soirée. If you are wondering what to give up in your wardrobe to make room for the new, read on for a breakdown of some of 2021’s most prominent trends.


swap muted tones for...

all-over color

This year, solid earthy hues are being buried, with bright colors taking the lead on the SS‘21 runways, and designers including Christopher John Rogers, Stella McCartney, and Chloé embracing optimistic palettes of primary colors, jewel tones, and soft pastels (creative choices we’ll happily take as a good omen for the year ahead). Sending out a notably sunnier collection this season than her FW’20 offering—which was a far more subdued presentation color wise—McCartney pulled together glowing fuschias, pretty peaches, and crystal blues to euphoric effect. Chloé meanwhile took a softer approach, their graceful collection featuring bursts of candy colored lilacs, pale blues, and mint greens. For Nigerian fashion darling Kenneth Ize, Aso Oke in kaleidoscopic stripes delivered the requisite lashings of orange, green, red, and yellow, while the sugary-sweet shades of Nigerian label Bloke provided a sense of playful exuberance at Arise Fashion Week 2020.

Bloke Ng SS'21. Photo: @blokeng

Kenneth Ize SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue

Christopher John Rogers SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue


swap tie dye for...

casual florals

Yes, we know, florals are not exactly groundbreaking for spring. But this season, it’s time to once again say hello to blossoms because the classic print is going to be near ubiquitous. From Sindiso Khumalo’s charmingly old-fashioned application of the print on ruffled tea-dresses and Cynthia Rowley casually polished separates, to the tropical spirit of Valentino and gothic glamor of Nigeria’s Ilham Garba, the past season’s runways bloomed unbridled with flowering buds, offering a sense of carefree escapism and a mood-boosting panache. And though the botanical patterns employed by these designers are undoubtedly pretty, they’re also unmistakably powerful prints that commands attention with mesmerizing shapes and sumptuous color. So whether you’re for the brassy, ballsy florals in larger-than-life shapes or prefer a more dainty print, set aside 2020’s unofficial—and unexpected—comeback kid, tie-dye, and embrace the softening powers and unfettered femininity of the new blooms that’ll soon be sliding into your wardrobe.

Valentino SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue

Sindiso Khumalo SS'21. Photo: @SindisoKhumalo

Cynthia Rowley SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue


swap minimalist accents for...

oversized earrings

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with an inclination toward daintier embellishment, just know that slinky metal chains, sleeper hoop earrings, and their fine ilk are set to take a back seat this season in favor of over-the-top jewelry. Given the new “waist-up” nature our dressing has taken (thanks, Zoom!), it's little wonder that the swift doses of style that are oversized earrings are leading the pack. Fruché’s presentation at this year’s Arise Fashion Week saw models striding down the runway as toy cars dangled from their ears, while golden showstoppers of the highest order adorned the lobes of Thebe Magugu’s living mannequins. On the international stages, gleaming, oversized exercises in more-is-more also peppered many a collection, Ulla Johnson’s shoulder-touching gilded creations in particular causing a stir with their sculptural forms and embracing of unrestrained glamour. Versace and French fashion house Patou also pulled out the big guns for their SS‘21 showings, their head-turning golden ear adornments exuding an air of regality and luxury.

Ulla Johnson SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue

Fruche SS'21. Photo: @AriseFashionWeek

Thebe Magugu SS'21. Photo: @ThebeMagugu


swap oversize totes for...

the baguette-style shoulder bag

The Baguette-style over the shoulder bag is here to stay. A classic design that arguably owes much of it’s recent reinvigoration to the current 00’s revival and subsequent cultural omnipresence of the Prada Nylon Shoulder Bag, these miniature and, quite frankly, adorable purses are an enduring cultural icon. They’re also particularly practical and low-key, a throwback silhouette that hits that subtle sweet spot between functional and fashionable. Compact and featuring a strap that can be worn on one shoulder or held as a top-handle, this season saw designers delivering elevated updates of this minimalist must-have for the spring. At Céline’s SS‘21 showing, a pale pink, short strap version was carried down an outdoor runway, while Coach unveiled their own similarly sleek, wear-everywhere style rendered in a rich cognac brown. Nigeria’s Pepper Row and London’s Ashley Williams on the other hand put their own distinct spins on the style, revealing mini, heart-shaped shoulder bags that embody both brands’ fun-loving nature.

Coach SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue

Pepper Row SS'21. Photo: @AriseFashionWeek

Ashely Williams SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue


swap the statement jacket for...

the statement sleeve

The thawing of the winter chill isn't the only reason to retire your perfectly-tailored coat or oversized blazer for a while; the proliferation of the statement sleeve in designer’s SS‘21 collections also makes a strong case for going without a cover up, the bold style serving as a built-in accessory that’ll easily take the place of any fussy earring or necklace. At Balmain, strong, structured shoulders were the main attraction, the pointed, almost-futuristic shapes delivering a dose of the avant-garde. Meanwhile, the puff sleeve proved to remain a larger than life staple in the SS‘21 collections of Loewe, the label’s playful experimentation with volume serving as a poetic metaphor for women taking up space in the world. Sending a collection of elegant evening wear down the 2020 Arise Fashion Week runway, Nigerian label DNA by Iconic Vanity’s statement shoulders mirrored the Disney-villian-esque style of Balmain, and Rich Mnisi’s slightly quieter statement of subtle ruffles and volume imbue his latest collection with a sense of both romanticism and strength.

DNA by Iconic Invanity SS'21. Photo: @AriseFashionWeek

Rich Mnisi SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Mnisi

Balmain SS'21. Photo: Courtesy of Vogue