Nov 17, 2021
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2021 fashion was defined by dad style and the return of sexy

Nov 17, 2021

After spending several months in jogging suits and slippers, the return to normal life -- or to the office -- has been synonymous with a renewed interest in more sophisticated, elegant, or just more wearable clothes. Comfort remained the watchword throughout 2021, but with a certain desire to return to sexier pieces, and an enduring need to do away with certain stereotypes and diktats linked to the notion of gender.

On the surface it may seem that two of the main trends of 2021 -- ultra sexy style and a non-gendered wardrobe -- fly somewhat in the face of other observations of the year, but both trends are underpinned by a clear, distinctly expressed determination to dress as one pleases. That could mean wearing a transparent dress, baggy pants or a jumpsuit -- a flagship item of non-gendered dressing -- or creations straight out of the 2000s (Y2K is indeed a fashion trend, not a temporary password). They are defined by a desire to be at ease with one's sartorial choices, and not have them be dictated by societal ideas of what might better suit one body shape or cover one "flaw" or another, or hide away anything else that doesn't fit into society's neat boxes. Perhaps this is the true major trend of 2021. 

Less gender-specific

With its power of influence -- social networks can also be a force for good -- Gen Z has managed to accomplish within just a few months what no other generation had even attempted before: to make brands cede to certain of their demands and needs, including that of blurring the border between genders, and enabling everyone to wear clothes that are not indelibly defined as feminine or masculine. As a result, the collections have evolved considerably throughout the year, with launches for both men and women, but also drops, capsules, and sometimes even complete ranges, designed for everyone.

It's a phenomenon that has fueled several micro-trends, such as that of a women's wardrobe inspired by dad's dressing. If you know about dad shoes, you'll get the picture. In any case, this is one of the trends highlighted by the Fashion Recap 2021 report of global fashion search platform Stylight.* This has resulted in a boom in oversized pieces, but also in clothes that you could find in your father's closet. XXL chokers, for example, saw a 317% increase in Google searches, while oversized trenchcoats got a boost (+223%), as well as sleeveless sweaters (+53%). There was also more interest this year in men's loose-fitting pants (+21%).

A touch of sexy

While lockdowns have had an impact on work attire, which is now much less strict than before the pandemic, it has also fueled some sartorial frustrations. Dressing sexy at home for a virtual cocktail party or a candlelit dinner, why not, but our hearts weren't really in it throughout the pandemic. As a result, these sexy accents that were so missed throughout the pandemic are back but magnified, with a strong taste observed for fully transparent tops and dresses (+222% of Google searches), low-rise pants (+42% of clicks on Stylight), and cut-out dresses (+19%), reveals the report from the search platform.

This desire to reconnect with sexy dressing was also observed on the red carpets. Megan Fox and Kendall Jenner are among the celebrities who stood out in fully transparent dresses, Fox at the MTV Video Music Awards, Jenner at the MET Gala, validating this micro-trend directly linked to the end of a -- very -- long period of isolation and distancing.

In its annual report, Stylight also selected ten personalities who influenced fashion in 2021, starting with Damiano David, from rock band Måneskin, who, like Harry Styles, is contributing on a large scale to deconstructing gendered dressing with crop tops, low-cut bodysuits, and fishnet tops. Britney Spears, the Y2K trend, and Ho Yeon Jung, heroine of the series "Squid Game," are of course part of this Top 10, as well as Jennifer Lopez, who made a resounding return to the catwalks as well as on red carpets this year.

*This report is based on Stylight's internal data from its 120 million annual users in the 16 markets where it operates. All data refers to the same time periods to ensure that the figures are comparable and to clearly show trends or products where interest has particularly increased. Clicks on different categories or product pages on Stylight's international pages were compared from January 1, 2021 to October 15, 2021. The same period also applies to the data on search interest on Google Trends.

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