Say Goodbye To These 2021 Trends, And See 2022’s Future Must-Haves

We take a look at the fashion crazes and TikTok-inspired trends that we’re leaving behind in 2021, and make our predictions for the upcoming year’s future must-haves.

WORDS Meg Bowles & Madeline Reid

2021 saw the fashion world slowly return back to its traditions after grinding to an unexpected halt in 2020 at the pandemic’s inception – red carpets, in-person runways, street-style round-ups and The Met Gala all returned for a new year. The biggest trends fell into two categories: those inspired by the world’s social reopenings and the excitement these brought, and those inspired by our insular experience indoors, from the maintained demand for luxury loungewear to ‘dopamine dressing’ hues and nostalgic nods to Y2K and childhood bling.

Trends, especially those that originate from the internet, flash by so fast that we definitely don’t suggest forking out to indulge in every one that appears on your For You page. After all, three out of five fast fashion items end up in a landfill, a horrifying yet unsurprising statistic that’s undoubtedly a result of the relentless trend cycle.

But you don’t need to buy new clothes to get inspired by new trends, runway looks or celebrity stylings, and you don’t need us to tell you that. So whether you dip your toe or dive head in, we’ve created this guide of what you should keep, repurpose and recycle from your wardrobe to be ahead of the pack in 2022.

Goodbye chunky rings, hello chunky knits 

For the New Year, we’re switching chunky rings for chunky knits as our chosen arm candy. The homemade jewellery trend went mainstream in 2020 thanks to the pandemic’s enforced hibernation that encouraged many to start independent brands and share their newfound skills. And, thanks to some celebrity endorsements from the likes of Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid, this nostalgic jewellery nod has remained a style stalwart for several seasons now. 

But as we start the year fighting off winter winds (because no one needs a cold on top of avoiding Omicron…) there’s just not enough space inside our gloves for the bulbous accessories of summers gone by. Instead, we’ll be adorning our arms with knitted sleeves and shrugs. Yes, we predict the arm warmer will make it big in 2022. Now, while your mind may immediately jump to that infamous Zara arm warmer sweater that was quickly memed and ridiculed on Twitter for its impracticality back in 2020, but our preferred style for the year ahead comes as a bolero or shoulder shrug and provides toasty arm warmth without having to compromise on style. This street style-led trend has started to crop up on the sidewalks of London, New York and Copenhagen, and with makers Katherine Scarlett and Isa Boulder providing innovative knit sleeves and shrugs already, we anticipate this will become the hottest accessory of the year. 

As Phoebe Philo returns, so too does minimalism 

Phoebe Philo’s exit from Celine in 2017 was universally acknowledged as one of the decade’s greatest fashion losses – hailed for her chic luxury designs, the designer redefined what women aspire to wear with her minimalist aesthetic, clean lines and tonal colour palette. Fans, therefore, were thrilled to hear Philo’s announcement of a return to fashion this year with her own label in 2020. If Philo’s previous reign is anything to go by, we expect this to be the buzziest brand of the new year. 

This means saying goodbye to one of fashion’s most overused phrases of 2021, ‘dopamine dressing’, referring to the psychological phenomenon of dressing in bright colours, patterns and textures to elevate their moods. While this works in theory (and makes for some great eye-catching outfits for the ‘gram), we’re ready to move on from pandemic-inspired stylings for something designed for the new year ahead, and our (hopefully) busier schedules. Phoebe, we’re looking to you.

Out with pattern tights and in with pattern bodysuits

Maybe it was the lacklustre summer weather, or perhaps its this trend’s affordable ease to instantly change a look, but pattern tights were rife on both runways and street style round-ups with Chopova Lowena, Yuhan Wang, Ashley Williams and Gucci all dropping their iterations throughout 2021. This year, we’re taking it one step further with full bodysuits thanks to the inspo from Saint Laurent and Burberry. If you’re unsure how to style then fear not, as celebs Hailey Beiber, Kim Kardashian and Lizzo have already flaunted their figure-hugging looks for easy inspiration. If this one feels a bit all-revealing for you, we recommend going bold with a super-size print, and then layer a t-shirt, skirt or cropped trousers on top. Or, if you’ve already got some pattern tights you’re looking to upcycle, we’d recommend following these TikTok subversive basics tutorials, which transform old tights into Y2K tops. As if!

Box up your trainers, we’re dancing the new year in ballet flats

Up next, are we living in the post-sneaker era? Now we are all getting out and about in the real world, I have been looking towards what’s next in footwear, and I think the results are clear: The comfort of trainers is out and boots, mini-heels and most importantly ballet flats are in. The upcoming popularisation of ballet flats is the result of the so-called ‘Lily-Rose Depp effect’, with her street style paparazzi pictures always featuring her signature Repetto mini-heeled flats. Of course, our favourite Nepo star didn’t invent this look, but certainly is a central player in bringing a feminine European touch to pop culture. I love this style of shoe when paired with white socks to give a nostalgic nod to the quintessential British uniform, now being reinvented in a sophisticated light for 2022 (or maybe just a Wednesday Adams look?). 

Tiny skirts are a no, tiny skirts over trousers are a yes

Tiny skirts: the 2000s trend that made a massive resurgence in the summer of 2021, much to our (and many others) distress. For other tall folk like us, the skirts when tried on barely covered our arses and vaguely resembled a chunky belt rather than a skirt. For the next coming year, these skirts are both out and… in? Here enters the mini skirt over trousers combo. We’ve all seen the 2000s red carpet pictures of our favourite celebrities wearing a flared jeans and dress combo, and though iconic, we don’t see that coming back into style any time soon. A slight twist on this style is the jeans/trousers and mini-skirt combo, where the jeans are straight leg or slightly baggy style (We’re sorry skinny jeans… you are not back in, yet) and the combo can be paired with a tank top cropped jacket to give a slightly more interesting edge to the classic jeans-and-a-top outfit. We are obsessed with skirts over trousers, especially in an all-black look that could otherwise be overlooked. 

Big oversized blazers are a thing of the past, micro-blazers are here for the new workwear

The 2020 and 2021 minimalism communities were hit hard by the oversized blazer trend. It was shoulder-padded, boxy blazers with everything, including grey sweatsuits, bicycle shorts, over an evening dress and maybe they even used their favourite oversized blazer as PJs – we wouldn’t be surprised. Now looking into 2022, we are headed towards the other end of the blazer spectrum, toward the micro blazer. This includes both the super-fitted, tailored blazer and the cropped blazer. A great sustainable way to hop on this trend is to simply give your old blazers a chop, and make sure not to worry about the fraying hem as the distressed look is one that, in my opinion, will never go out of style. 

Finally, there are a few 2021 trends that we think are definitely going to stick around for 2022 as they haven’t quite served their time yet. Match your arm warmers with leg warmers, and do we think it’s possible that they could be paired with ballet flats? I don’t know what season that could possibly be worn in but we equally don’t care as I’m unfortunately cursed with being a believer in style over comfort (or freezing to death). Another trend we’ve recently seen on the rise is the knitted balaclava, and though this one certainly has a seasonal deadline, we wouldn’t be surprised if we see it pop up again in the winter of 2022. 

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