Meet the new style codes of 2021

Now, more than ever, it seems important to focus on how fashion makes us feel as well as look. From the IMAGE 2020/2021 Annual, Suzie Coen reveals how slavish trend-chasing is bowing to chic simplicity and a more personal relationship with what we wear.


At its best, fashion can decorate your day, inspiring and edifying in equal measure. At its worst, it’s about the relentless rush of new trends.

Right now, we’re in a time of reflection, when we’re examining the purpose of fashion and what luxury means. More and more consumers are choosing to invest in beautifully crafted, seasonless pieces that can be worn whenever, because they’re built to last; slow burners that work harder for your money than fast fashion and allow for a more conscientious kind of consumption. Wearable, comfortable, inclusive but still effortlessly chic styles – doesn’t that sound like the blessed opposite of athleisure? And crucially, don’t exuberant pieces that inspire joy also feel necessary right now?

For one person, that may be feathered heels and for another, it’s the perfect pair of sharply tailored trousers. Dressing up and heading out into the world again will mean something different for everyone – and that’s definitely something to be celebrated.

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COOL MINIMALISM

WHAT

Clean lines and elegant cuts in neutral tones (camel, ivory, winter whites) deliver a look of pure sophistication.

HOW TO WEAR IT

Think powerful, interesting silhouettes provided by sleek, layered styling. The vibe looks expensive and polished but feels cosy and protective when you’re battling the elements. The appeal lies in its effortlessness.

It's a cinch

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A double winner, winter’s statement belt isn’t just flattering (emphasising your waist if you have one, creating one if you don’t) but it also transforms the pieces you already own and love.

Booty call

A pair of cream slouchy high-heeled boots – which sound terrible on paper, but are great IRL – will keep the look thoroughly 2020 and beyond.

MODERN BOHEMIAN

WHAT

Glam rock chic with a strong 1970s influence, which translates into joyous, uplifting clothes. Clashing patterns and colours are the sartorial equivalent of a serotonin boost.

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HOW TO WEAR IT

Mix and don’t match to your heart’s content – go for check and grid patterns in bright and contrasting colours, but keep shapes simple and streamlined. It’s all about pulling together seemingly unrelated textures with inspired confidence.

Excess all areas

Say hello to #neckmess, a jewellery trend (doing the rounds on Instagram) which showcases an artfully arranged, layered collection of pendants and chains, styled with a relaxed, thrown-together attitude.

Capsule kit

A small structured bucket bag makes an equally chic impact.

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MONOCHROME MASTERCLASS

WHAT

Uncomplicated two-tone hues and sleek simplicity make for an easy, elegant look. It’s a timeless aesthetic that’s super-striking on every woman, at every age.

HOW TO WEAR IT

Off-duty monochrome styling is about minimal effort but maximum glamour. Think understated, fuss-free separates that ooze
a restrained luxury and that sought-after just-thrown-on appeal. Trouser style tip: it’s okay to tuck into your boot again.

Clutch Control

Easy to carry and roomy inside, the new oversized and plush clutch looks like a pillow and is a dream handbag option.

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Stomp and ceremony

Stompy boots will ground a feminine look, adding grunge-style cool. It’s all about contrast. Heavy-duty, thick-soled boots give extra oomph. Wear yours with a smile.

FIZZY GLAMOUR

WHAT

Through all the quiet style offerings, there is still a thirst for drama and fun. Indulge your show-off side with lashings of glitter and shine. There’s something swishy and celebratory about sequins – they provide just the right amount of frivolity in a time of uncertainty.

HOW TO WEAR IT

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Temper jumbo sequins by opting for a wearable silhouette in the form of an oversized tuxedo jacket. Team with jeans and a crisp white tee for the ultimate high/low mix.

Bougie Woogie

A prim and proper top- handle mini bag delivers a dollop of ironic bourgeois dressing

Chain Gang

The weighty chain link necklace is set to continue its reign as one of the year’s most desired pieces. Think tough. Think chunky. Think your haute rebel update.

Photography by Jason Lloyd Evans.

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The IMAGE 2020/2021 Annual issue is on shelves now.

Read more: Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)

Read more: Doireann Ní Ghríofa: "Lockdown has been a good reminder of how important the arts are"

Read more: Three exquisite Irish cashmere brands to lounge in

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