5 subtle ways I’m changing my wardrobe in 2021

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Like the majority of Americans, I spent the better half of 2020 inside. As someone who writes about fashion and occasionally gets dressed for a living, I was happy to take a break from outfit planning for a moment. And then, of course, the dread set in: Not only was the world imploding, but on an individual level, I found myself feeling creatively deflated. As someone who satiates a creative appetite by visiting designers’ studios, covering international fashion weeks and, ultimately, crafting outfits of my own, I was consistently coming up empty.

I like to say I’m a trend-curious minimalist who favors neutral colors in simple silhouettes, but in recent months, I’ve barely entertained trends within my own wardrobe aside from the expected shift to leisurewear. At the beginning of the pandemic, I tried getting dressed as usual to remedy my frustration and feel some semblance of normalcy. That often meant rigid jeans and oversized blazers and square-toe boots that I found when vintage shops didn’t just exist on Instagram. I’d plan certain outfits based on the weather as though it mattered, sometimes going so far as to pick out a handbag to “wear” with it then wait for the motivation to kick in from the comfort of my home-office, which I also call my bed. 

It was no use: My attempt to emulate my pre-pandemic style was exhausting and unsatisfying. As it turns out, I do get dressed for other people. But heading into 2021, I’ve made a few distinct shifts in my wardrobe to better suit the new normal. Most of these changes require me to look at items I already own in a new light: My pajama drawer was teeming with pieces that I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing outside. My jeans became too uncomfortable to fathom wearing them for an entire workday. I knew I wanted to dust off my accessories but couldn’t find the right use for them. These aren’t style resolutions in earnest, but rather, a few subtle ways I’ve begun to recalibrate my style to feel more like myself, but motivated. 

Ahead, check out the five small but transformative ways I’m changing my closet for the better for 2021.

1. Joggers To Flared Sweats

Don’t get me wrong: I love a jogger. I spent almost all of 2020 exalting the benefits of the lowly jogger. They’re comfortable, they look great with a chunky boot and they almost always fit a bit more cropped, making them the perfect length for my 5’2″ frame. I very much enjoyed their return to the trend cycle, but considering I wore them every day for an entire year, I’m ready to move on. Lately, I’ve been reaching for my new favorite sweat silhouette: flared pants. The ’70s-inspired silhouette is strangely versatile, too. Flared pants in cotton or wool make for a great pajama, but when you pair them with a chunky shoe or a lug sole, they feel instantly modern — and appropriate for an errand run. A wide-leg pant works for this reason, too.

Shop: Bleusalt Kaia Pant, $130

Credit: Bleusalt

Shop: Athleta Studio Flare Pant, $89

Credit: Athleta

Shop: LETT Rhodes Rib Flare Pant, $88

Credit: Verishop

Shop: Nylora Damien Pant, $175


2. All Black To Color-Adjacent Colors

My style M.O. has always been dependent on neutrals like black, navy or cream. But recently, I’ve found myself interested in wearing more “color-adjacent” colors, like olive green, celery yellow and even light blue. The key to feeling like myself is all in the silhouette. When I’m going outside of my color comfort zone, I stick with pieces that skim my body in comfortable fabrics like ribbed cotton or silk-satin.

Shop: Simon Miller Marek Pant, $188

Credit: Simon Miller

Shop: Shelby Pajama Top, $345

Credit: ARAKS

Shop: Textured Boucle Shearling Jacket, $188

Credit: Source Unknown

Shop: Reformation Hunter Crop Sweatshirt, $58

Credit: Reformation

3. Put On (Comfortable) Shoes 

The first thing I lost when working from home became the new norm were my shoes. Simply, there was no reason to bother — and besides, I kept a shoes-off home. As it turns out, it’s almost impossible for me to get motivated if I’m shoeless. And though I’m not about to lace up a pair of knee-high boots for exactly nobody to see them, I enjoy the way putting on a pair of slides or makes me feel more complete. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect, but I’ll take it.

Shop: UGG Laton Sandals, $100

Credit: Ugg

Shop: Tamara Mellon Roam Sandal, $495

Credit: Tamara Mellon

Shop: Skims The Slide, $78

Credit: Skims

Shop: Birkenstock Arizona Sandal, $44.99

Credit: DSW

4. Add A Scarf Instead Of Jewelry On Zooms

I’ve cycled through all of my jewelry by now — and if we’re being honest, I feel more comfortable wearing the same three chain necklaces every day. Still, I’m seeing the same advice everywhere: “Just add a statement earring!” But I don’t like statement earrings. I don’t particularly care for any piece in my wardrobe to be so bold. The next best transformative thing? A scarf. Besides, where else are you wearing them?

Shop: Manner The Agnes Scarf Untitled 1, $55

Credit: Manner Market

Shop: Toteme Black And Off-White Silk Venezia Scarf, $255

Credit: SSENSE

Shop: Loewe Alphabet Scarf In Silk, $690

Credit: Loewe

Shop: Madewell Silk Skinny Bandana, $9.99

Credit: Madewell

5. Give Graphic Tees New Life

My graphic tees were previously relegated to the back of my closet for sleepwear. Now, I’ve been favoring oversized tees, pairing them with flares or wide-leg pants for a look that’s put together without being too try-hard. If it seems like much, try starting with your favorite pair of jeans.  Even more: Tees don’t require a trip to the dry-cleaner.

Shop: As Long As You Can Breathe Tee, $45

Credit: One DNA

Shop: Ganni Basic Tee, $95

Credit: Ganni

Shop: H&M Oversized Tee, $17.99

Credit: H&M

Shop: Telfar Reversible T-Shirt, $95

Credit: Telfar

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