Most of the fashion trends this year are old favorites with a new twist. Vintage and retro garments and accessories have been updated in order to make them feel modern, yet familiar for 2021. It is said that trends come and go in cycles of around 20 years, and this is definitely true. This season we are seeing not only 90s and 00s inspired trends, but also the return of retro icons from the 60s and 70s.
The recurrence of retro trends has also been present in pop culture during the past few months. This spring, Netflix has released two limited series with fashion inspiration, the first one being The Serpent, a crime series set in the 70s, and the other a biopic of the fashion designer Halston, who enjoyed fame in the U.S. throughout the 70s and 80s. These series featured endless outfit inspiration in the form of 70s summer attire and eveningwear influenced by the infamous Studio 54. The plots were riveting, but the fashion was even better. Further, the punk rock band Måneskin, the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest were emitting 80s glam rock vibes with their cooler than cool aesthetic during their winning performance in May.
These pop culture moments go to show that retro is anything but old fashioned. Retro and modern styles actually pair very well together and create new and interesting looks. Below, FashionUnited takes a glance at the most interesting trends that are making a modern comeback this season.
The return of the It bag
This year, designer bags are back. The most iconic It bags date back far down the fashion timeline, one of the first ones being introduced by Hermès in the 1950s. The bag was re-named Kelly after Grace Kelly was spotted with the purse on her arm. However, it was not until 1984 that Hermès released perhaps the most iconic It bag of all, the Birkin. This one too, was named after a woman. She was Jane Birkin, a lady who was sitting next to Pierre Louis Dumas, the CEO of Hermès at the time, on a long-haul flight. She, a young and trendy socialite, was expressing her desire for a bag that would fit all her belongings. With that, the iconic carry-all was born. To this day, the elusive purse holds its appeal. However, it is not a bag for everyone. The waiting lists can be up to years long and the price tag reflects its exclusivity.
Another iconic It bag is the Louis Vuitton Speedy. Launched already in the 30s, it has enjoyed exclusive fame for a good while. This bag was a smaller version of the brand’s iconic and widely popular Keepall bag. However, it wasn’t until the 50s when Audrey Hepburn requested an even smaller size of the purse, which was then aptly named as the Speedy 25. Since then, the Speedy has gotten new sizes, new colors, new patterns and even a strap, but its essence remains. The appeal of this specific It bag lies in the versatility and longevity of it. It is truly a companion for life.
The official term It Bag dates back to the 1990s and early 2000s, despite the most sought after purses being designed decades earlier. The 00s It bags bring back memories of Fendi baguettes and Prada nylon backpacks. This was the era of celebrities being snapped sporting their favorite purses. The TV show Sex and the City even had plotlines about the Birkin and the Fendi Baguette. The recipe for success was ready.
Even though it has been a while since the dawn of It bags, this trend is still relevant. The It bag trend resurfaces any and every time luxury fashion brands release bags worthy of this status. This raises the question of what actually makes an It bag. The answer is usually not that straightforward, as every year we see designers of the biggest fashion houses scrambling to create a bag that will achieve this highly coveted, cult-like prominence. However, it is eventually up to the consumers to decide which bag is worthy of this status.
It is clear that waiting lists and exclusivity usually characterise the It bag. It is not an It bag if everyone can buy it, which is perhaps the exact appeal of them. Despite this, the It bags must be recognizable but not over the top, since they have to pair well with every outfit. This is because you have to be able to wear them anywhere, at any time. The It bag is back partly due to increased brand recognition and consumers seeking for longevity, seasonless items and durability.
This year, there is a variety of styles available, ensuring that everyone can find a timeless companion that fits their own style. On this year’s runways we have seen straw bags that are screaming “beach holiday”, small, 90s inspired shoulder bags in bright colors, as well as tote bags large enough to fit everything you need on a weekend away. For your next favorite, make sure to keep an eye on the iconic Louis Vuitton selection on 24S.com.
As a response to the outrageously colorful clothes, you can make an equally big statement with a classic monochrome look. This trend is nothing new but the combo of the bold black and innocent white looks surprisingly fresh and crisp. First introduced by Chanel in the form of the iconic ‘Little Black Dress’ in the 1920s and 1930s, the elegant look has stuck with us until today. In the 80s, this monochrome trend drew its inspiration from the masculine suit, giving women a sense of power and authority. This was very important for women, since they started entering the workforce during this time, and became a symbol of feminism, equality and modernism. The suit also marked the dawn of pairing white garments with black ones, a style staple that is still relevant today.
In 2021, you can dress in black and white from head to toe and look on-trend yet elegant, be it at the office or at a Sunday brunch. If you’re feeling playful but want to keep things sophisticated, you can pick a dress or pants in a checkerboard or an abstract pattern. These bold prints draw inspiration from the 60s instead. These graphic prints come from the era of “mod”, which is short for modernism. It surged in the 60s as a response to the drastically different, overly feminine style of the 50s. These prints broke many fashion barriers, which were a reflection of the social movements happening during that time. Androgyneity, modernism, and graphic prints characterised this period. By picking out a black and white outfit in a graphic print, you can combine fashion throughout different decades with just one trend. Brands such as Marine Serre and Off-White have hopped on the monochrome train, with collections featuring geometric prints in black and white hues, as well as timeless basics in both of these iconic colors.
In contrast with the monochrome trend, crochet is a far cry from minimalism. This year we are also embracing maximalism with open arms. Crocheted fashion serves us granny-approved, whimsical styles. It has been known to divide the fashion crowd, but it is probably exactly what we need, especially this year. If nothing else, we can be sure these items bring a smile to our faces.
While crochet was first introduced in the Victorian era, crocheted clothing became extremely popular only during World War II, when women at home crocheted garments for soldiers fighting on the frontlines. Crocheted fashion has evolved greatly throughout the decades, and has now gotten a 21st century update. It has risen in popularity also due to the fact that the younger generation have found this trend. The Gen Z generation are donning their hand-made creations on TikTok or even selling them on second-hand clothing platforms. In their hands, crochet has shook off the dust of the past and become an essential part of cool-girl-chic, much to the older fashion generation’s surprise.
Crocheted fashion actually pairs perfectly with the renaissance of 60s and 70s fashion trends. Wide jeans and a granny square vest are a match made in heaven. Pick out a pair of crocheted pants, a dress or even a bikini, and look sophisticated with a fun, hippie edge. Find your new crocheted favorites from brands such as Baum und Pferdgarten and Bottega Veneta.
When one thinks of the fashion trends of the 00s, it does not always bring up pleasant memories. It was an era of velour tracksuits, all things denim, halter tops and leggings worn as pants. Similar to the crochet trend featured above, the 00s are also a polarizing era, generating a wide array of opinions. However, this particular 2021 version is surprisingly elegant.
The trend resurfacing from the 00s, perhaps one of the most daring ones of this season, is strappy midriffs. The term comes from the straps wrapping multiple times across your midriff which look like dental floss. Despite how it sounds, this trend is still fairly understated and you can remain sophisticated, yet daring when sporting this trend. This is perhaps the most grown up version out of some of the 00s trends. We all remember the corsets and the lace trim tops, don’t we?
You can find skirts, pants and tops with straps that tie around your waist and elevate an outfit instantly. This noughties trend looks up-to-date when you pick a midi skirt in a straight fit, and pair it with a crop top so the flossing is clearly visible. If it sounds too fearless for you, you can also opt for a tank top and floss the skirt on top of that, so you get the same effect without exposing any skin. Brands such as Jaquemus and Versace feature this trend in their newest collections.
It wouldn’t be a year of retro trends without disco-inspired outfits. The golden, yet short lived years of Studio 54 are still holding their grip on the fashion world. This year, sequins, glitter, and silver tones are the dominant colors and materials of evening attire.
The disco culture emerged in the 70s. With iconic discotheques and clubs opening up all over the world, disco style was born. It was an important outlet for self expression, since the music at the disco was too loud to have a conversation. Your outfit had to say everything you would have wanted to. The goal was to dazzle brighter than the disco ball, hence the perhaps extravagant use of sequins and glitter on the garments. The 70s were also one of the first decades when wearing form-fitting clothing became mainstream. This revolutionary trend was partly due to the introduction of synthetic fibres in clothing manufacturing, as well as the fact that it was finally more acceptable to dress in a way that showed off your figure. It was truly an age of freedom and self expression.
Another decade comes to mind when one thinks of silver dresses. Paris Hilton made an unforgettable statement in a mini-length, silver chainmail dress way back in 2002. This specific dress has become a cultural icon within the fashion crowd. The 2021 version of this trend thus combines both. Pick a golden jacket for a statement disco piece or go full out with a 70s style jumpsuit, preferable in rainbow hues or the classic silver. Collections from brands such as Dries van Noten and Paco Rabanne clearly have the disco fever, featuring shiny pieces fit for the dancefloor.
The trendiest accessories of the season have also been influenced by decades past. This year’s most on-trend eyewear are large sunglasses with tinted lenses. It is clear that we have moved on past the tiny sunglass trend that was the dominating eyewear trend for the past few years, drawing inspiration from the 90s. This year, we are ready to try something new, even though the inspiration is stemming from a few decades back.
Sunglasses first became a fashion accessory in the 20s. The first trendy sunglasses were small and round, fitting with the understated, yet contemporary trends of the era. From there, the most fashionable frames ranged from pilot sunglasses in the 40s to cat eyed ones in the 50s. As a response to the traditional sunglass fashion, large frames were first introduced in the 60s, which made a statement after the smaller, more understated looks of the 40s and 50s. The 60s sunglasses were bold, dark and came in a geometric frame, sure to make a statement. The large shapes remained in the 70s, but the lenses became tinted and transparent, perhaps reflecting the carefree and relaxed outlook on life. Large and tinted sunglasses of course paired perfectly with the bellbottom jeans and long flowy hair of the decade.
This year, you can pick any shape you like. Be it angular, round, or anything in between, everything goes. You should just make sure that the lenses are large, and feature a color that can range from golden brown to vibrant orange. The best part about these sunglasses is that they pair well with everything, and instantly elevate your look to an outfit that would not look out of place at Woodstock. Cop your 70s pair from brands such as Marni, Bottega Veneta and Fendi.
Another accessory trend with a retro influence is this year’s sandal fashion, giving you two options. Pick the chunky, yet subtle slides for an in-the-know look at the beach or even in the office. You can also choose the simple, kitten heel mules for a more put together feel. The slides were first introduced by adidas in the 70s, when they launched their iconic sport slide. It was only recently that these sporty shoes became a new, yet old, favorite of the fashion crowd. Naturally, luxury fashion brands have now made their own versions of the slide. This year, you can find chunky slides in colors ranging from white to black, with platform soles or without.
Another option is more feminine and daring. You can also choose the strappy, 90s inspired heeled sandals that go with any summer dress or the equally retro mini skirt. The 90s influence is present this year in the squared toes, straps, and kitten heels. These are also a subtle footwear option, since the openness of the shoe is not heavy and will not overpower a carefully chosen outfit. If you’re feeling subdued, pick a kitten heel with just one strap in an earthy tone, but if you want to go out dancing on a Friday night, choose an option with laces that strap up your legs in a candy color. Take a look at brands like Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo or Valentino for the most on-trend shoes for this season.
As we can see from the trends illustrated above, old fashion trends do not mean they are old fashioned. Instead, they can look extremely modern and up to date even though they were invented decades ago. That is the exact beauty of fashion, some things never go out of style.
Images: Website 24Sevres