If your New Year Eve felt anticlimactic at best and utterly depressing at worst, you weren’t alone. What’s the meaning of a new calendar when so little has changed? Six months ago, we were sure 2021 would be different. Surely we’d be prepping for Fashion Week by now. Unfortunately, that’s still a big no for most of us.
Through the last half of 2020, we had to experience fashion shows virtually and vicariously through our friends in Paris, Milan, London, Shanghai, and Tokyo, where socially-distanced shows resumed. Once the schedules were out, the question remained: What would the street style look like? After years of multiple outfit changes and heels, what would editors and influencers wear to zig-zag around a city by foot, bicycle, or train? What feels appropriate in anxious times like these?
Aside from masks, which were the biggest visual change in our street style coverage, the trend was for easier, more casual clothing that merged pragmatism and personality. We saw a lot of great blazers and jeans—often flared or bootcut for a bit more polish—and grounded, hardworking boots and sneakers. Showgoers wore those sensible shoes with silk dresses and suits (don’t believe the “tailoring is dead!” headlines) and favored generous cuts over body-conscious ones. Our eyes skipped over the “total looks” borrowed from the runway, once a standard practice that felt forced this time around. Instead, we zoomed in on surprising details and artfully thrown-together outfits: vintage pieces mixed with new, outsize proportions, and spontaneous layers.
We also looked back at street style from the February 2020 collections, the last full-throttle season we covered. It reminded us that some of these shifts were already underway: The people who stood out most to Vogue’s photographer, Phil Oh, had their own original, unfussy style and confidence to spare—people like Maggie Maurer, Nicole Atieno, and Alton Mason. Fashion was getting more personal and less trend-driven; the pandemic only hastened that change. We’ll consider it one of the year’s silver linings.
Ahead of another month of fashion collections—starting with fall 2021 menswear and spring 2021 couture, followed by women’s shows in Paris, Shanghai, Copenhagen, and beyond—we’re revisiting 50 of our favorite street style photos from 2020. They’ll prove inspiring for those attending the shows and those of us watching online, at home. After a year in sweats, we’re all looking for clever, comfortable outfit ideas, even if it’s just for a trip to the market.
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