2021 Has a New Set of Styling Rules

We're not the type of editorial team that shrieks "all change!" as soon as a new season or new year comes along. We're always keen to uncover trends, of course, but in reality, you'll be much more likely to find us in a group DM discussing new ways to wear old things and how to shop the latest looks from vintage and secondhand stores or honing our classic fashion-finding skills to secure some long-lasting forever buys. And you certainly won't discover content on Who What Wear that encourages you to carelessly ditch everything from last year just because the calendar has switched to 2021. However, if some newness comes free of charge, then that's an altogether different and alluring prospect. But then again, that's what styling is all about—taking items you own already and reconfiguring them for a fresh outfit. Sure, this concept may not provide the immediate thrill we've come to associate with a purchase, but it will provide longer-term satisfaction. I promise. 

There are a few styling tricks that will bring your closet into the here and now, and I've been tracking their progress on Instagram—some particular outfit-building tweaks have been bubbling up from micro to macro status. A few may still seem a bit out there for you when January has barely begun and sweatpants are calling. However, I guarantee you that, slowly but surely, these little ideas will make a bigger impact as the months go on. Remember when you first felt silly shoulder-robing, wearing a crop top again, or trying the jumper-scarf hybrid (aka the scrumper)? It all starts somewhere… Keep scrolling to see the 2021 styling hacks I'll be backing.


Marrying two major loves from 2020, you'll find a noticeable increase in summer's big, flouncy-collared tops being layered under cute knits. From blouse-sleeve cardigans with prim Peter Pans to cosy cable jumpers with Victoriana lace, no combination is wrong IMHO.

2021 styling tricks: big collars under cardigans



Style Notes: A combination of black, white, and denim will never ever let you down—no matter the year, trend, or styling idea.

Style Notes: Vintage looking and oh so cosy, this off-white combination works so well with jeans. PS: These crossover styles are also having a moment.


Office attire may not exist in the same way this year, so could that be the cause of a sudden compulsion to wear two-piece suiting? Quite possibly. Either way, a matching waistcoat and pants are sharp and surprisingly comfortable when you opt for a wide-leg fit, so for those of you who want to do Zoom calls in style, here is your answer. Leave the shirt out of things.

2021 styling tricks: grey waistcoat suit



Style Notes: Yes, we will also want to wear ours with heeled flip-flops come summertime.

Style Notes: Let your waistcoat do all the talking—no jewellery or overstyling required here.


Shirt, jacket, cardi… You name an item with buttons running up the front, and I'll show you 20 cool women who have decided that unbuttoning and flashing a hint of midriff is the way forward. I find this can actually make some longer-line tops look like a better fit and can work well over voluminous trousers and skirts.

2021 styling tricks: unbuttoned cardigan with flared trousers



Style Notes: This is particularly favoured amongst cardigan wearers, with some new styles being cut to purposefully be worn open—see Jacquemus for inspiration.

2021 styling tricks: unbuttoned checked shirt with leather culottes



Style Notes: This tweak can make the most serious of shirts come to life. Who'd have thought a lumberjacket button-down could be so sassy?


It's a bit '90s school uniform, but it's also the ultimate in comfort and practicality—wearing your loosest-fitting jeans or trousers with either stompy ankle boots or chunky-soled loafers is the new daily-walk ensemble we'll be trying.

Style Notes: Pair with equally loose-fitting layers for a totally nonchalant Winona Ryder– or Julia Roberts–inspired look.

Style Notes: I know you're tempted to take those hems up, but stop—it's all about an ankle scrunch-up for this trend.


The comfy-shoe brigade isn't done yet. Clogs are back, and they're coming for your wardrobe. But what they signal is a movement towards cosy socks being worn with what are essentially "house" shoes, only out of the house and quite happily so. You'll find many a cool cat hitting their local shop in socks and Arizona Birkenstocks right now—this is simply the next stage.

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