A Look Back at 2020 Fashion Trends

Well, it’s been one hell of a year. Rather than brood over all the sh*t that’s happened this year, let’s escape for a little while and take a look back at 2020 fashion trends. In this list, I’ve made a point of choosing trendy aesthetics and articles of clothing that are relatively timeless or classic. It’s environmentally unsustainable to buy trendy clothes only to throw them away once said trend is over, so generally I think it’s best to stick to buying classic pieces you know you’ll wear for a long time. What’s also great is that a lot of these styles and pieces have a very clear vintage influence and are making a comeback from the past, so you can probably find most of them pretty easily at thrift stores.

  1. 1. Sweater Vests

    Ah, the sweater vest. I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the appeal of sweater vests until recently, having previously associated them with drab boarding school uniforms and golf. But sweater vests don’t need to be restricted to formal settings, worn with kilts, dress shirts and ties; it turns out they look pretty damn good in a casual ensemble with jeans and sneakers too. You can wear ‘em oversized, you can wear them cropped. You can wear them as a top on their own or with a blouse underneath. You can mix and match them in so many ways, it’s a shame they ever went out of style. They’re also just super practical, a perfect solution for when it’s chilly out but not chilly enough to warrant the wearing of a jacket. God, I love sweater vests.

  2. 2. Dark Academia

    Speaking of sweater vests, a new style has emerged this year by the name of dark academia. Essentially, it’s a very scholarly-looking style with a gothic edge, incorporating dark or muted colors, tartan patterns and pieces like trench coats, button-ups, blazers and satchels. It is very much the boarding school look, but a thousand times more form-flattering and varied. Some have said that although the dark academia subculture surfaced online many years ago, it became especially popular this year, as students, required to stay home because of the coronavirus, long for the school they once knew.

  3. 3. Cottagecore

    Cottagecore is basically a style that romanticizes a rural lifestyle. It’s about “the simple life,” harmony with nature and sustainability. Lace, aprons, ruffles and overalls are often part of cottagecore outfits, but I think the signature piece of this style is the flowy, floral dress, à la Gunne Sax or Laura Ashley. As with dark academia, some have theorized that cottagecore has risen in popularity in recent times because many are longing for an escapist return to (supposedly) simpler times, where no one had to worry about things like social distancing and mask-wearing. The famous strawberry dress by Lirika Matoshi has been categorized under the cottagecore label, though personally I consider it a bit too glam to be farmy or rural-looking. Nevertheless, it has the classic fit of a cottagecore dress, with its puffy sleeves, mid-length and soft pink color.

    Lirika Matoshi strawberry midi dress on model
  4. 4. Corsets

    Corsets are back after a hundred-year hiatus, although they’re not being worn as lingerie or undergarments anymore. Joining lingerie-as-clothing items such as slip dresses, now often worn over a blouse rather than underneath a dress, corsets can now be seen styled over top of other garments, or even as a top on their own. Companies are hopping on this trend and making new corsets for purchase, but many vintage shops are also selling the real deal-- corsets from decades past, perfectly preserved for your wearing pleasure. Many feminists have argued that corsets are a symbol of female control and suppression, but the way they’re being worn today-- as sexy clothing rather than carefully-hidden away shapewear-- seems to challenge this idea.

  5. 5. Y2K

    According to Investopedia, Y2K once referred to “a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000 at the turn of the Millenium. Instead of allowing four digits for the year, many computer programs only allowed two digits (e.g., 99 instead of 1999). As a result, there was immense panic that computers would be unable to operate when the date descended from ‘99 to ‘00’.” Nowadays, Y2K also refers to the fashion of the early 2000s, which we can see making a comeback in the form of purses with short straps, low-waisted jeans cheekily worn with a visible thong, and square-toed platform heels. Personally, I could never pull this look off, but it looks damn good on those who can.

Have you adopted any of these trends? Do you expect them to continue into 2021? What trends do you project for the next year? Let us know in the comments!