I've Worked in Fashion My Entire Career—I Predict These Will Be 2021's Top Items

Even though I never studied fashion, I landed a job in the industry after college and I’ve been working in fashion ever since. From my beginnings at a brand to a shift into my current role as an editor I’ve seen many sides of the industry that have shaped my perspective on all things fashion. But if there’s one thing that has been consistent, it’s my love of studying what’s on the runway and the cool trends people are wearing. That couldn’t be more true today, even though I’ve been watching runway shows on my laptop and seeing trends unfold on Instagram instead of in person with the recent shifts this year.

After logging hours combing through the coolest runway trends for spring and seeing the latest product drops, I have some predictions to make about the popular fashion items designed to be big in 2021. Ahead, I’m highlighting some of my favorite trends and an edit of the must-buy items if you don’t want to wait until next year to start wearing them.

Hip Cutout Pieces


(Image credit: @pernilleteisbaek; Pictured: Aeron top)

For spring, we're seeing cool cutout details on pieces across the board but these cool exposed hips might be my favorite take on the trend. From high-cut bodysuits to pants with holes on the sides, these pieces are just beyond cool.

Shop the trend:

'90s-Inspired Bags


(Image credit: @aimeesong; Pictured: Prada Cleo bag)

I'll admit that the '90s hobo has been making a comeback for some time, but with the launch of Prada's Cleo bag, the trend is again standing out as a must-own piece. If you make an investment in one bag for 2021, this should be it.

Shop the trend:

Pillow Shoes


(Image credit: @discodaydream)

Louis Vuitton's pillow boots just launched this week and I can already tell that they're going to be one of the biggest It-shoes in recent memory. Who doesn't want to slip into comfortable quilted boots like these?

Shop the trend:

Elevated Loungewear


(Image credit: @proenzaschouler)

While I'm not ready to part ways with my sweatpants, I have been thinking a lot about all of the elevated loungewear sets spotted in the S/S 21 collections from brands like Proenza Schouler and Totême. With everything from ribbed pants to sleek vests, these are a sophisticated take on at-home dressing.

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Second-Skin Tops


(Image credit: @champagnemani)

Second-skin tops are one of the pieces our editors can't stop talking about. The trend has been on the rise for some time now but after spotting it on the S/S 21 runways from brands including Miu Miu and Prada, you just know it will be an essential for the year ahead.

Shop the trend:

Checkerboard Prints


(Image credit: @camillecharriere; Pictured: Gimaguas top and cardigan)

Checkerboard prints everywhere for spring, but I'm falling ever harder for the pattern after my recent obsession with The Queen's Gambit. Unlike some other prints, this is one you can wear and re-wear without getting tired of it.

Shop the trend:

Utility Vests


(Image credit: @fionazanetti)

The puffer jacket has had a long run and while it still feels cool, it's the utility vest that especially relevant. Plus, it's perfect for someone like me who lives in L.A. and doesn't need true winter outerwear.

Shop the trend:

Relaxed Jeans


(Image credit: @izzydilg)

Just like the rest of our wardrobes, jeans are getting a more relaxed makeover. Designed with looser legs, these are the ultimate way to wear denim that's comfortable but also very fashion-forward.

Shop the trend:

Next, read about my favorite fashion staples after living in NYC, Paris, and L.A.

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.com, 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.