These Are the 2021 Fashion Trends People Are Drawn to and Repelled By

Fashion can be a very emotional thing, reflective of one's personality. And as you're probably aware, it can also garner strong feelings of loving and loathing. 2021 is still fresh out of the gate, but people already have some thoughts as to which trends they will and won't be wearing this year. We found an expert who has her finger on the pulse of people's emotional reactions to current and upcoming trends and that's Shakaila Forbes-Bell, who is Afterpay's consumer fashion psychologist. London-based Forbes-Bell is also the founder of Fashion Is Psychology, and she has tons of insight into the trends people will be wearing during this most unusual of years.

In case you're not familiar, Afterpay is a payment service that allows you to pay off purchases in four payments, interest-free, so you don't need a credit card (or the fees associated with one). Afterpay checkout is available at thousands of retailers, so there's plenty of IRL data to inform their trend predictions as well. That, coupled with Forbes-Bell's knowledge makes for trend predictions you can trust.

Read on to familiarize yourself with the trends you will (and won't) see a lot of this year, straight from Shakaila Forbes-Bell herself.

The Expert
Shakaila Forbes-Bell fashion psychologist



Repelled by: Uncomfortable Undergarments

"People are unwilling to let go of the comfort that their new work-from-home wardrobes have provided and this extends to their undergarments. Out with the underwire and scratchy materials and in with cozy thermals and soft-touch fabrics, the latter of which has been shown to positively affect wellbeing."—Shakaila Forbes-Bell

Drawn to: Elevated Basics

"Humans crave novelty, and the monotony of our pandemic uniforms stoke the desire for us to switch it up—that's where elevated basics come from. Outfits that make you feel both at home and productive will be the next phase of pandemic dressing."

Elevated basics



Repelled by: Skyscraping Heels

"Afterpay data reveals that high heels have drastically dropped in popularity compared to pre-pandemic times. With the closure of entertainment hotspots and our newfound obsession with comfort, it will be a long while (and take a lot of practice) until we strut around in 5+ inches again."

Drawn to: "Ugly" Shoes

"While many refer to them as 'ugly,' I think 'comfort first' is a better way to describe this evolving shoe trend. Afterpay consumers are coveting brands like Ugg and Crocs but not in the same way they did two decades ago. High-fashion collaborations with the likes of André Leon Talley and an emphasis on quirky colors have made 'ugly' shoes the new way to make a bold fashion statement without sacrificing your psychological need for comfort."

Ugg boots



Repelled by: Traditional Black Tie

"If events haven't been outright banned then they've been drastically changed, transforming the way we perceive black-tie dressing entirely. The rise of brides swapping their huge white frocks for suits and more adaptable dresses is a perfect example of how we're slowly elevating beyond traditional black-tie looks."

Drawn to: Socially Distanced Dresses

"Studies have shown that people have fun by merely engaging in the act of wearing out-of-the-ordinary clothing because it allows us to experience escapism. Outlandish dresses and voluminous silhouettes will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle now associated with loungewear basics."

Repelled by: Oversized Bags

"For many of us, travel and commuting have been severely limited, making the need for oversized bags redundant. Shoulder aches and overstuffing are so 2019. We're more invested in the ease and comfort of the tiny Y2K-esque shoulder bags which could fit a flip phone at the least and a tiny dog at the most."

Drawn to: Playful Accessories

"Afterpay's global trend report revealed that hats, sunglasses, and charm bracelets are growing in popularity. Accessories are an easy way to engage in self-expression and showcase your individuality. Playing around with accessories in quirky prints and new shapes will help you squeeze some fun out of your daily routine."

Repelled by: Boring Loungewear

"After realizing our wardrobes were geared more to aesthetics than to comfort, Afterpay consumers rushed to stock up on loungewear. One year on and we've come down with a case of what I call 'loungewear fatigue.' You can only own so many gray co-ords. 2021 is about injecting some fun into your day-to-day life by having fun with your wardrobe. Basics don't have to be basic."

Drawn to: Near-Vintage Fashion

"It's nearly impossible to look back on the past without rose-colored glasses. The associated nostalgia is one of the many reasons why fashion is so cyclical. However, with nostalgia cycles shortening, Y2K will be your new go-to era for fashion trends that help you engage with 'the good old days.'"

Drawn to: Decorative Masks

"We'll be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, so it's no surprise that they've maintained popularity among Afterpay consumers. Studies show that masks make social interactions slightly difficult so expressing your personality by wearing more decorative reusable masks may help you connect with others in a more meaningful way."

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