My Approach to Fashion Is "Buy Less and Smarter"—Here's My 2021 Shopping List


(Image credit: @bellathomas)

When it comes to shopping, I tend to invest in great basics and pieces that I plan on having in my wardrobe for years ahead. In my closet, you’re bound to find items that I can wear on repeat with any number of outfits. It’s an approach to shopping that can be summed up as "buy less and smarter”. Each piece I add to my wardrobe is very intentional and I consider the cost-per-wear of each item when making a new purchase. It’s something that has always been a part of the way I shop. In fact, my first big fashion purchase ever was a nylon Prada messenger bag that I bought in high school and still wear on the regular to this day.

As I think about my 2021 shopping, I have my "buy less but smarter” mindset in place and have narrowed in on some key fashion items for the season ahead. On the top of my list? Basics with a twist—from boxy tees that feel more elevated and polished than your average T-shirt to upsized shoulder bags that are the ultimate stylish spin on a practical carryall.

I also have more trend-forward pieces on my radar that are currently sitting in my shopping cart. Plissé pleats are one of the more elegant (but wearable) trends to pop up in recent memory, so I can’t wait to add a piece to my closet. I’ve also fallen hard for the cutout trend and think it has definite staying power after continuing to be a big trend in the F/W 21 collections. Ahead, the 9 key buys that have landed on this editor's 2021 shopping list.


(Image credit: @jordanrisa)

Plissé pleats are one of the most beautiful trends I've been craving in some time. While my wardrobe is still heavily leaning into loungewear, I think the soft shapes and delicate pleating add a cool, sophisticated element to any look.

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(Image credit: @rosiehw@pernilleteisbaek)

Sneakers are a bigger part of my wardrobe than ever before, so I've been gravitating to styles that feel more directional than the basic versions I've worn in the past. Specifically, puffy, cloud-like sneakers are topping my list and I have these Yeezy 500 sneakers sitting in my cart right now.

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Cutouts are one of the biggest trends of the season and have already made their debut on the F/W 21 runways at New York fashion week, so expect them to have major staying power. Designers continue to rethink cutouts in an infinite range of cool ways, so you can find just about any version you're ready to test out.

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For a day packed with Zoom meetings, reimagined tees are the piece I always reach for—whether it's a top finished with a boxy silhouette and shoulder pads, or exposed seams and an asymmetrical cut. Easy, statement-making, and comfortable, they're the most foolproof piece to slip into.

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Maxi skirts popped up in The Row's F/W 21 collection and since spotting them there, I'm predicting they're going to be a closet essential. I love the idea of styling them for spring with a cropped cardigan or an oversize button-down shirt.

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(Image credit: @oumaymaboumeshouli@meccajw)

Admittedly, my heels haven't been getting much wear in the last year. Perhaps that's why I'm suddenly craving a new pair. Always thinking about how much mileage I'll get out of them, I have my eye on versatile styles in neutral colors that could go with just about anything.

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(Image credit: @claire_most@discodaydream)

Designers made one thing clear on the S/S 21 runways: slouchy pants are a must-buy piece. Comfortable and cool, but tailored in all the right places for a hint of polish, I couldn't be more ready to add to my collection of relaxed trousers.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of The Row; @frenzlauer)

When the big bag trend hit a few seasons back, I never tried it out for myself. The bags seemed too big and too cumbersome to carry around. Now, there's a slightly more realistic version I'm seeing with the upsized shoulder bags in the collections of designers including The Row, Staud, and Frenzlauer. The sleek carryalls are just the right size to fit just about anything you could possibly need, without being too giant.

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I couldn't complete a shopping list without including some denim. Right now, baggy jeans are the only silhouette I want to invest in. Bonus points if they look like they were designed in the '90s.

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Next, shop 25 cool fashion finds I’m obsessing over right now.

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.