"Subversive basics" is a term I recently stumbled upon, and my interest was immediately piqued. I love wardrobe classics but always enjoy making them feel more exciting, and subversive basics do just that—with a few caveats. The term, according to Refinery29, was coined by TikToker and trend hunter Agus Panzoni, who describes them as "basics that rebel up to the point of losing their utility." Think cut-outs, sheer and keyhole features on white vest tops, black roll-necks, and classic cardigans. But I think they can go further than that. Oversized and non-fitted pieces and interesting denim silhouettes can also be considered as more "subversive." And I'd go so far as to say that these pieces are still very useful.
However, after falling down this microtrend rabbit hole, I now spot them everywhere. All over Instagram, some of my favourite stylish women have been doing the subversive-basics trend for a while. Before I show you all the looks I've spotted, it's important to give you some context in terms of this season's collections. From one-shoulder vest tops at Celine to cut-out knitted dresses at Phillip Lim, plenty of designers are looking to up the ante when it comes to giving new life to classic items in 2021. But after delving into the fashion archives, I realised that this isn't new at all. Avant-garde fashion designer Rick Owens has often pushed boundaries when it comes to more interesting basics by using cut-outs and oversized silhouettes. Back in 1994, Chanel had a whole show full of sheer tops and cut-out dresses. So as usual, this isn't exactly a new trend, just one that's been repurposed and given a new name.
If this sounds like something you'd love to try this coming season, keep scrolling to see the trend on the runway, then go on to see how influencers are wearing it. Finally, you can shop an edit of the coolest subversive basics I've seen this season.
ON THE RUNWAY
Courtesy of Celine
Style Notes: The one-shoulder vest, as seen at Celine, is the easiest way to dip your toe into this trend for 2021.
Courtesy of Ottolinger
Style Notes: At the opposite end of the spectrum is this bodysuit look from Ottolinger.
Courtesy of Bottgea Veneta
Style Notes: This might not be immediately obvious, but I think this fits thanks to Bottega Veneta's oversized silhouette and padded-out hips on the knitted dress.
Courtesy of Phillip Lim
Style Notes: Another knitted dress, this time it's from Phillip Lim. It's fitted and has subtle cut-outs at the top to provide a talking point.
Style Notes: Chanel's 1994 show featured quivering swathes of sheer chiffon.
Style Notes: Rick Owens's fitted dress slashed right up to the thigh is a great take on the subversive basic.