As 2020 finally comes to a close, we’re taking a look back on the biggest fashion trends that dominated social media and runway in 2020.
Even though Fashion Month did go ahead this year with physical and digital shows, the pandemic’s halt on major fashion houses meant the general public turned to social media and their own wardrobes for fashion inspiration even more than usual. A lot of these trends were popularised on Instagram and TikTok or were just re-vamped classics and re-visits to items you probably already had in your collection. Considering budgets were tighter and you couldn’t shop in person, the cyclical nature of fashion trends definitely came in handy in 2020.
Suits, skirt suits, blazers were everywhere in 2020 – on the streets and on the runway. It’s a surefire way to make any basic outfit seem put together and you can pair it with boots, heels, runners, loafers, practically any shoe you like.
Suits are a staple in a lot of people’s wardrobe but it’s the oversized, boxy fit that made this trend feel a bit more modern. There was also no need to splurge on a suit if you didn’t want to: thrift stores always carry plenty of blazers and suit pants, or you could’ve raided your boyfriend’s wardrobe.
Leather took multiple forms: boots, floor-length coats, pants, tops. Whether it was faux or real, matte or patent, patterned or plain, replacing a basic piece with a similar leather provided a different texture and elevated the look.
This year also saw a lot of juxtaposition as the tough material was often fashioned into more delicate, feminine silhouettes. When you think about a long dress with puffed sleeves and a modest neckline, you don’t immediately think of leather but that’s exactly what designers like Gabriela Hearst did in their runway shows. As well as leather maxi-dresses, leather boiler suits and trenches were especially popular. The drama of a full-length leather look rather than just separates kept this trend feeling new.
Despite the dreariness of this year, fashion turned to brighter colours to bring some much-need brightness into our lives. Lime, lavender, pink, baby blue dominated Instagram feeds and TikTok pages but runway tended to favour more saturated colours.
Barbie pink from Balmain, bright aquatic prints from Versace, and fire-engine red from Fendi made for visually exciting runway shows. Considering the emphasis on digital formats this year, the bold colour choices translated well onto screens and captured socially-distanced viewers’ attentions.
So this trend has been around for a while, but it stayed strong in 2020. It developed more from the 80s influence into romantic, Victorian sleeves. Loewe took this trend one step further with huge, balloon puff sleeves. The look’s top-heaviness was balanced out by having the same balloon design on the hems of dresses and as pant legs, making for a dramatic silhouette. Regardless, the longevity of this trend meant you could still wear pieces you bought in the previous years without worrying if it was off-trend yet.
This might be obvious but COVID-19 definitely made people gravitate towards clothing that wasn’t restrictive for more homebound lives. Designers like Fendi and Kenneth Ize favoured loose shift tops and flowing pants, proving it was possible to still look chic and put together without having to wrestle on a suit if you didn’t want to.
The sweater-vest has been lurking in the background since about 2019 but it was truly 2020 that saw the comeback of this overlooked item. Being able to recycle your dad’s vest or thrift one made this trend easy and affordable for people to try out. Some of the grungier interpretations of this trend were definitely more 90s inspired. Whereas, the clean-cut, preppier looks reminded us of school uniforms, which is ironic considering many students around the world were definitely not in the physical classroom and not wearing uniforms.
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