Lou Heller's fashion trends for 2021

Lou Heller

Christian Vierig

Style du Monde

Asia Typek

Bottega Veneta

Tyler Joe

Lou Heller's fashion trends for 2021

Fashion stylist, writer and educator Lou Heller reflects on the trends of 2020 and predicts what’s going to be hot in 2021.

The trends to watch in 2020 quickly re-navigated during what was a dynamic and exciting year for fashion. The fashion set can spend months pre-empting trends and colours. This can all change in a split second when something trends on social media, a celebrity wears something we have never seen, or a designer decides to show something revolutionary the day after creating it.

In New Zealand, we are great at setting trends and sitting alongside the rest of the world with ease. We have our own style. We are small, we are punchy, we are edgy, we are in packs. One minute we’re wearing plain white tees with black strappy dresses, the next we’re in beautiful oversized pussy bow blouses. This can work in our favour in a lot of ways… or against us. I’m reflecting on my top 2020 trends and where our fashion ended up, and making some predictions on what will start to make its way here in the next year.


High volume – puff sleeves anything High volume is all about accentuation of that arm area; it’s all about the puff. It really stands out visually, and came through very strong for the whole year. You’ve got Aje and Ganni, and also places like Country Road and H&M that are bringing the puff.

Cardigans in general started to be really big in 2020 and I think that’s because people got over thicker knitwear. We’ve had cool cropped cardigans and really long ones, down to almost knee length. These grandad-folk-style items are great for layering under jackets and wearing with dress pants, skirts or shorts – the cardigan is a trans-seasonal hero. The traditional cardi colours are quite neutral, and on the flipside I’ve seen great lilacs and punchy greens.

Square-toe shoes These may have been around in the ‘90s, but there’s something super modern about this extra-functional trend. Pointy toes can be a bit of a one-look wonder, but the square toes carry a bit of a pared-back look that can be edgy and dressed up or down. Square-toes are about the open toe – they’re comfy and easy to throw on, and they fit well on wider feet. Brands that are hitting this trend well include By Far (very cool), Senso, Mi Piaci, and Christopher Esber.

Going green As in environmental, and as in colour. Eco-conscious fabrics and production practises are in. I do feel like the environmental buzzwords get a bit overused by companies that perhaps aren’t walking the talk, but there’s a real consciousness around now around hiring clothes, borrowing from friends, and hitting the thrift shops. Some businesses, like Maggie Marilyn, have scaled back and become very aware of what they’re putting into earth, and what’s coming out. Kate Sylvester has a ‘Reloved’ system where people can sell their Kate Sylvester pieces to a new home. Max is doing great things now with sustainable fabrics, and I know H&M has its own sustainability and social responsibility programme too. In terms of the colour green, everything from sage to emerald, forest and khaki just absolutely exploded in 2020. Lots of people think they can’t wear green, but they forget there are thousands of different shades to try.

Tan tan tan – anything tan Tan’s been around. It’s a timeless colour used in classic pieces – Burberry always has a quintessential tan trench coat. 2020 emphasised the utilitarian style and we saw a lot of things like boilersuits in this colour, as well as suits for women, t-shirts and cardigans. Every trend I’ve mentioned so far is available in
tan or camel.

What’s on the 2021 horizon

Mood dressing Think about waking up and dressing for your mood. Mood dressing is about being aware of how you can change your mood, or how your clothes can reflect your mood. Studies have shown that using colour affects how you feel, and high-volume colour lifts your mood. Uplifting colours like tangerine, lilac, pastel yellow and magenta have been around in the past but we haven’t seen them working together in a way I’m hoping to see in the coming year.

The daytime clutch – intense colours and fabrics Everyone is used to wearing handbags – they’re a safe option. We don’t necessarily think about carrying a clutch during the day because it’s considered a high-event night-time accessory. Daytime clutches take advantage of the light to show off interesting fabrics, designs and bold colours – forget about the night and use them any time.

Versatile power suits The power suit carries a sense of empowerment, and women are ready to stand in their power. A suit represents an element of androgynous sexuality that’s very strong at the moment. The versatility comes with the ability to pair the suit jacket with jeans or a skirt, or pair the pants with sneakers and a singlet or blouse. Make it your own. Go for colour: green, pink, gold, silver, anything you want, anything that works with your lifestyle. ZARA is always a good place to start because it’s cost effective, and you don’t have to put a lot of money up to try out a new style.

Modern folk Folk and boho styles have been around a while, but modern folk is a bit dressier, a bit more refined. Think structured dresses with embroidered handbags in cool designs and a bit of leather. Flirtatious, flowing shapes, cardigans, leather skirts with flowing white shirts and a fringe cardigan or scarf.

The horse trial look Anything that resembles something you could wear riding a horse or turning up to polo. Hats, riding boots, velvet blazers and tailored shirts with jeans, and high-necked shirts done all the way up. It’s that kind of paradoxical, beautifully structured, tailored relax wear. Think of the Hamptons, and bringing a bit of high society
to real life.



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