Wow, These Print Trends for 2021 Are Bloody Great

There's no right or wrong when it comes to wearing prints in 2021. No particular patterns could be considered "out" and there's a great deal of freedom when it comes to jazzing up your daily wardrobe with all manner of motifs. Stripes? In. Polka-dots? Yes. Florals? Naturally. If it's printed and you like it, wear it.

If, however, you're a pattern and print fiend like me, you'll want to know what's looking especially new and lively for the spring/summer season ahead. And unlike other trends that require warm weather or even—whisper it—a holiday, you can jump right into print and colour ideas whilst the weather is still grim. In fact, now is a time when designers and stores are really backing the concept of joyful fashion, offering up a range of ideas that help brighten dark days and the sombre outfits we've come accustomed to. And you'll even find these details extended to other areas of your life, like with manicures and interiors, so there are plenty of opportunities for cheering oneself up.

So there's nothing particularly classic or subtle on the menu, but that's just how I want my fashion right now. Keep scrolling for the new print trends we predict will be big business in 2021…

Cheerful Chequerboards

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(Image credit: @thatcurlytop)

Tartan, plaid and gingham are all still entirely relevant but we've seen a noticeable uptick in chequerboard patterns. A coincidence with The Queens Gambit making us all be that little bit more interested in chess? 

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(Image credit: @hannamw)

These checks come in jumbo and micro forms, in bold colourways and more classic monochrome ones too. Make your move.

Quiet Tie-Dye

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(Image credit: @speddingemma)

The subtle tie-dye trend has really found its natural home in super-versatile mesh tops. All of our team is hooked, especially editor Emma Spedding. 

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(Image credit: @javiera)

You will find acidic tie-dye options on the runways and in stores this coming summer, but we're feeling muted tones for easier day-to-day wear.

Pastoral Scenes

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(Image credit: @mariejedig)

Blame it on our daily walks or desire to escape somewhere verdent and lush, but pastoral scenes are cropping up all over jumpers and cardigans right now. Not strictly a print, more of a motif for intarsia knits, but still, desirable either way.

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(Image credit: @prosenkilde)

Homespun sweaters are having a moment once more. Could it be thanks in part to the renaissance of Princess Diana's sheep jumper being reissued? Could it be our spare time leading us to a world of crafting opportunities? Either way, it's time to (online) secondhand shop the heck outta this one.

Super Stripes

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(Image credit: @nnennaechem)

Rainbow stripes are back and they're louder than ever. We'll be taking a tip from Nnenna here and pairing a sweater with a cute cotton collar peeking out from underneath.

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(Image credit: @karodall)

There are bold rainbow stripes in every possible form, and while dresses will likely be a smash hit come summertime, right now, the easiest way to wear this trend is with a jumper.

Lovely Hearts

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(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so it's no wonder that we're seeing more of this classic motif when we're missing our friends and family so much. Let's quite literally show our love from here on out.

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(Image credit: @heartzeena)

We've even noticed this trend popping up in beauty. Zeena's manicure may be a bit tricky to do at-home on yourself, but definitely worth banking for when salons are open again.

Retro Patchwork

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(Image credit: @champagnemani)

Loewe's patchwork cardigan became the most recognisable fashion item of 2020. Harry Styles wore one, it went viral, and then creative director Jonathan Anderson released the knitting pattern so that the whole wide world could crochet in unison. But even outside of that major moment we had already noticed modern patchwork ideas cropping up across many a cool girl's feed.

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(Image credit: @estellechemouny)

Like both Estelle and Imani (pictured previously), it's a good idea to counterbalance the hippy vibes with plain, minimalistic clothes. You can opt for a knit or even try out something printed depending on how crafty you want your outfit to feel.

Sweet Strawberries

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(Image credit: @noore)

This strawberry tulle dress (surely the antithesis of tracksuits?) from NYC-based brand Lirika Matoshi reached Instagram fame last summer, being twirled around in by influencers and celebrities across the globe. Along with a popular strawberry motif from Gucci and some surprisingly successful berry-dotted Crocs, it looks like this fruity print will be growing even stronger this year.

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(Image credit: @sorayabakhtiar)

We've noticed strawberries are ripe for resortwear and have been picked for swimwear collections, but we're pretty sure this will become UK picnic attire too.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the editor in chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was hired to launch a UK sister site and social channels, localise content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 15 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times and MatchesFashion.com, among many others.

Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy toddler and highly Instagrammable cat.