What's a new year without taking time to look back at what we've experienced and learned the year before? Let's be honest, 2021 felt quite like 2020 but with slight glimmers of hope. Just when we were about to reclaim some semblance of normalcy in our lives again, COVID-19 threw some curves and mutations our way.
But learn a few things we did—whether they're fashion trends and tricks we should take into 2022 with us, or bury in the deepest recesses of our minds only for them to be uncovered a decade later for laughs.
1. Loungewear can be chic.
After nearly two years of working almost entirely from home, the loungewear segment has been getting a sleek upgrade. Sweats are well coordinated with fresh tone-on-tone colourways, and they look so good that you'd be forgiven for being spotted in a set while running errands. You definitely deserve all that ease.
2. But loungewear is not what you should be living in.
We say it often around here: there's power in fashion. Sure, they're super comfortable and you could probably spend the entire day in one (we don't recommend it though). But one of the drawbacks of spending so much time at home is that there's little delineation between work and life. Fashion sets the mood and can help to bring about some sense of structure. So maybe put on that shirt while you're at your working desk at home.
3. Comfort should no longer be sacrificed.
At the same time, we now should know better than to skimp on comfort just because something is in trend. There's no need to slip out of plush loopback cotton sweats only to get into uncomfortable heeled boots. Know your comfort level and dressing up won't be much of a chore.
4. Socks and sandals? They're cool.
The age-old debate of whether slides and socks go together has pretty much been concluded. We've seen it often last year from brands such as Dior Men and Fendi as they deftly pair socks with both slides and sandals. A foolproof trick is by colour- matching the sock and footwear to create a seamless illusion of sorts. Or simply choose the classic white socks with black slides route.
5. Crocs, however, are debatable.
The kids on TikTok may think Crocs are the too-cool-for-school footwear of this generation but we wouldn't necessarily adopt the style wholeheartedly. The divisive shoe brand has been amping up on its collaborations of late with Balenciaga producing some of the coolest iterations around. We're keeping our eyes peeled for the pair that Elliot Page wore as part of Balenciaga's upcoming summer 2022 collection. Salehe Bembury's Crocs design too proved that with the right partner, Crocs can be cool.
6. Never skip leg days.
This all spawned from that year-defining image of Milo Ventimiglia in what looked to be upper thigh-grazing shorts (in actual fact, the actor folds them higher while working out) exposing sculpted legs. If anything, it's a reminder that leg days should never be skipped, especially in preparation for the absurd styles of shorts that abound in the spring/summer 2022 collections.
7. Everything is eco-friendly in moderation.
Too much of a good thing may turn out to be bad. And that's exactly the case with anything eco-friendly as well. We've learned that cotton tote bags are not as environmentally friendly as they were claimed to be, and that underscores the point that everything should be done and bought in moderation. What's the point of an organic cotton T-shirt or a viscose shirt if they're all using up resources? In short, purchase consciously.
8. Collaborations are only getting bigger.
Collaborations are here to stay. They may be too rampant nowadays but as The Hacker Project by Gucci and Balenciaga showed, there are always ways of upping the ante. With that unprecedented coming together of two luxury fashion houses, there's bound to be more in the works. Versace and Fendi's collaborative collection was previewed soon after and is set for a May 2022 release date, and that's just one that we know of.
9. Nothing beats a good suit.
If Timothée Chalamet has taught us anything in 2021, it's that plain black suits don't cut it anymore. Suiting has definitely evolved and more contemporary options are certainly out there in the form of Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, Dries Van Noten and more. We could all do with a suit upgrade that's anything but staid.
10. And a good face mask.
It's been close to two years; there's no reason why your mask should not be a thoughtfully matching part of your outfit. There's also no reason why you shouldn't wear a mask where necessary.
11. Accessories are more important now.
Because you're doing an important civic duty and wearing a face mask, accessories help to bring out your personality. Opt for ear cuffs or necklaces to add to a look without needing to pile them on. Remember, moderation is key, even with accessories.
12. Monochromatic dressing is your friend.
It's not so much of a 2021 trend but more of a style hack. If you're stumped on what to wear, a monochromatic look is one that's almost always foolproof. Choose a colour, layer on tonal variations of that main colour, and you're all set. It also helps to lengthen your body too if that's something you want to achieve.
13. Please wear something under your outerwear.
The runways and red carpets were replete with skin-on-outerwear looks in 2021. We're not putting it past some people who may think that it's cool and would want to attempt the look. But look at it this way: imagine that dry-cleaning bill as a result of your sweaty body forming puddles on the inside of your blazer.
14. Never discount Kanye West.
The man might have had a rollercoaster of a ride in his personal life but 2021 proved that Kanye West (or is it just Ye now?) is still a force in fashion. Most recently, it's been revealed that a three-way collaboration between Yeezy, Gap and Balenciaga is in the works—an unprecedented partnership between three brands belonging to three different segments in the industry.
15. A knit vest is not just for the cold.
When it comes to versatility, a knit vest is hardly one we'd immediately think of. But its resurgence last year was met rather positively, bringing to light how it can work throughout the year. Layer it with a T-shirt or wear it as is for the warmer months, then bundle up with more layers when you're travelling for winter.
16. Not all sneakers are created equal.
We're not referring to sneakers in general, but rather, the kinds that we've seen guys sport with tailoring. This needs to be repeated and remembered: sports shoes and suits don't go together. If it looks like something built for speed, leave it for actual running.
17. Live fashion shows trump digital ones.
A number of brands welcomed the return of live, in-person fashion shows for the spring/summer 2022 show season and it proved how much better they are at showcasing the intention behind a collection. Digital fashion shows may have been useful in certain ways but nothing beats a live fashion show, even if you're (like this style director) a half-day's flight away and watching it through a screen.
18. Jennifer Lopez is essential for a glow-up.
Everything from the aughts came back, including stylish Ben Affleck. Is J.Lo who we all need to ensure that we don't turn towards bad sartorial decisions ever?
19. Digital fashion and NFTs are inevitable.
The metaverse is fast becoming a reality. As much as you're resisting the urge to dive into it, there's really no way around it. Instagram is working on making NFTs more accessible; Esquire Singapore released its first NFT sneaker series (with more to come); and Facebook is now Meta. Time to unclench, breathe in deep and just allow it to come in, folks.
20. A sense of frivolity isn't bad.
The year 2021 was expectedly unpredictable and we've had such moments of both highs and lows. So really, style and fashion shouldn't be all that serious, and that's the vibe we should carry on to 2022.
21. It's 2022—wear dresses if you're inclined to.
This goes to pretty much everything else in life, including those on this list. We place too much emphasis sometimes on what we should or shouldn't wear when it comes to menswear that we often forget it's just fashion. They can be peeled back at the end of the day, but what you can't shake off is the feeling of comfort and confidence of wearing something that brings joy and is true to your style. Live a little; life's too short.
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