Fall’s Top Trends Combine The Best Parts Of Party Fashion & Leisurewear

This fall, there’s a trend for every COVID-era mood (of which there are many).

Squiggly Line
In February, when fall ‘21 collections were presented — most often digitally with a few IRL exceptions — we had little idea of what the future would look like, in fashion or life in general. At the time, Canada was still figuring out its delayed vaccine rollout, with other countries at varying paces. And we were still living by COVID’s rules, unsure of what the next week would hold, let alone the next six months, when said fall collections were to be released. 
More than half a year later, with February’s collections arriving in stores by the truckload, we’re still no closer to transcending pandemic purgatory (despite a short-lived period of post-vaccine relief). Luckily, designers had the wherewithal to design clothing that could withstand whatever else 2021 threw at us. 
Advertisement
The trends for fall included both sides of the sartorial spectrum, ranging from peak optimism — think: party attire from Y2K at Blumarine and Saint Laurent and sheer, cut-out catsuits at Mugler and LaQuan Smith — to stylish pessimism, which included Bubble Boy shapes at Louis Vuitton, JW Anderson, and Simone Rocha, as well as garments rooted in tranquility at Proenza Schouler and Bevza. Unsure of how shoppers would be feeling or dressing come fall, today’s top designers provided us with a little something for all of our COVID-era moods (of which there are a lot). 
Check out six of fall’s top trends, below.
Photo: courtesy of Blumarine, Saint Laurent, Versace.
Didn’t you hear? Y2K is back — a point proven by labels like Blumarine, Saint Laurent, Versace, and ALYX, all of whom used their fall ‘21 collections as an opportunity to reminisce on old times and trends from the turn of the millennium. But it isn’t just Fashion Month headliners that are dipping their platform-adorned toes in styles from the early aughts. Rather, it appears that the entirety of the industry has gone back in time, bringing back trucker hats, whale tails, fuzzy fabrics, butterfly motifs, and more from the era. 
Photo: courtesy of Chanel, Miu Miu, Givenchy.
After a year-plus of life sans vacation opportunities, we’re using this season to make up for lost time. Sure, sandy beaches are always welcome, but with the Delta variant looming, snow-capped mountains feel like a safer bet. After all, between the ultra-padded attire, neck gaiters, and helmets, not to mention the social distance devices formerly known as ski poles, the slopes could very well be the safest travel destination of all.
Advertisement
At least designers seem to think so. For fall, the likes of Miu Miu, Chanel, Thom Browne, Givenchy, and more worked chalet style into their collections, including quilted materials, furry accessories, and Moon Boot-like footwear. *Buys ticket to Aspen.*
Photo: courtesy of Louis Vuitton, Sportmax, and JW Anderson.
We said movies influenced fashion in lockdown, but this is a step above the rest. For fall, designers like Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, Simone Rocha, and Jonathan Anderson at JW Anderson looked to take inspiration from the 2001 flick Bubble Boy — which is aptly about a boy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who spends his teenage life in a bubble to avoid getting sick (same) — sending bubble-shaped silhouettes down the runways. Any way to avoid getting too close, right?
Photo: courtesy of Our Legacy, Balenciaga, and Y/Project.
It’s official: despite a great deal of resistance from millennials who lived through the trend two decades ago, low-rise jeans are back. Count the runway sightings. Found at R13, Balenciaga, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Our Legacy, and more shows during Fashion Month, the heavily debated denim silhouette is now arriving at stores near you. Whether or not the masses will welcome back the style in the same way the runways have, however, is still TBD.
Photo: Courtesy of LaQuan Smith, Mugler, and Ottolinger.
After months of doing nothing but rewatching shows from the early aughts, when parties were prevalent and going-out clothes were plentiful, we’ve all but forgotten the subtle sartorial annoyances that once plagued us. Case in point: catsuits, the one-piece garments that, pre-pandemic, we avoided because of how difficult they are to take off. Now, though, we’d give anything to have our biggest problem be wiggling back into a bodysuit in a pint-sized bathroom stall at the club.
Advertisement
Photo: courtesy of Gabriela Hearst, Lemaire, and Proenza Schouler.
On the opposite end of the sartorial spectrum from Y2K’s array of sequin party looks and butterfly belt buckles is a more tranquil style of dress, one that warms your soul and weighs down your eyelids as opposed to quickening your heart rate and boosting serotonin. Labels like Lemaire, Proenza Schouler, Bevza, and Gabriela Hearst approached their fall collections with this more soothing approach in mind, opting for soft, cozy fabrics — in the form of knit hoods, sweater dresses, and coats — over rigid denim or leather, and calming, monochrome colour palettes, like chocolate browns and warm, fluffy oatmeals.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Trends