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2021 was truly an epochal year in fashion

A happy, trippy mishmash of fashion trends of past decades, but with 2020’s comfort notes, found firm footing this year

December 24, 2021 03:45 pm | Updated 03:45 pm IST

From a fashion show in Istanbul last month

From a fashion show in Istanbul last month

“Fashion,” my highly astute and opinionated sociology professor in college once declared, “much like love, is blind, deaf, dumb and, occasionally, cross-eyed.” An adjective she probably should have also added to the fray is ‘epochal’.

The verisimilitude of her rather prophetic statement struck home like never before a few weeks ago when I found myself island-hopping my way through Lakshadweep. It was a pre-wedding stag trip with a motley crew of 30-something male buddies — each of us in varied stages of midlife crises, with receding hairlines and belly protrusions to boot!

Our host, the groom-to-be, decided that it would be “epic” if all of us turned up one afternoon for lunch in matching blue and orange tie-dye shorts and t-shirts. Co-ord sets that he had gotten especially customised, with the clichéd #groomsquad emblazoned on the front of the embarrassingly short tank tops.

Blast from the 60s

And while almost all of us cringed at the very idea of grown men togged out in what one of us called the “80s-inspired baba suits” that our parents dressed us up in as toddlers, we gave in. And we did so only because we were told that both 60s-inspired psychedelic tie-dye print and co-ord sets were fashionably “in” this year.

A flamboyant Ranveer Singh

A flamboyant Ranveer Singh

A perfect example of the Abilene paradox, where a group of people collectively decide to do something, despite it being counter to the preferences of individual members. And, gentle readers, that is exactly how the tenets of fashion in the pedestrian sense of the term have always played out. Monkey see, monkey do! Comfort, practicality and, often, common sense be damned.

How else can one explain the meme fest that is Harry Styles and, closer home, Ranveer Singh? Both channelling another 2021 fashion trend of what I call ‘gender agnostic’ dressing, with their 70s-inspired, puff-sleeved satin shirts with pussycat bows and pearl necklaces pat in place. Thus, reaffirming the zeitgeist of non-binary dress codes that first emerged in the new decade and went one step ahead this year.

It is safe to say that 2021 as a year in fashion has been an epochal one. A gutsy pastiche of everything from 1920s style fringes and tassels — seen on flapper-inspired shift dresses and handbags from fashion houses like Chanel, Fendi and Hermes — to the lurid, pop art appeal of bold neon colours and bucket hats. Both of which I could have sworn we had left back in the 90s for bad... er, I mean good!

Another example is the return of the 80s style oversized jacket with prominent shoulder pads and chunky Tractor Trek-Sole boots and loafers that high fashion brands like Prada and Balenciaga have revived this year.

Comfort rules

Maximalism got some serious street cred all over again with bold, in-your-face animal prints and florals seeing a massive comeback this year. Along with feather trimmings on everything from saree borders to the hems and necklines of cocktail dresses.

Style diva Priyanka Chopra

Style diva Priyanka Chopra

While 2020 whizzed by in a blur, leaving us cocooned in the slouchy comfort of our WFH-friendly, normcore-saturated athleisure staples of roomy pants and bulky sweatshirts, comfort ruled this year too. Albeit with a little more structure brought back to our neglected wardrobes.

Which is why, for all you baggy jeans lovers out there, it’s time to rejoice. Banished is the waist-hip-thigh cinched-in discomfort of those skinnier than skinny jeans. In its place has returned the high-waisted, wide-legged soft denim pant. But with a twist. The zipper fly that had, for decades, sat comfortably in the middle has migrated a bit, thanks to the very au courant diagonal fly trend, as seen on both men’s and women’s jeans, trousers and shorts.

Still on the topic of jeans, guess who’s left having the last laugh? Shamed and called a hoarder by friends and family, I can now happily air and wear my vacuum-packed stash of bootcut jeans from the noughties as they return to enjoy a renaissance of sorts.

So, here’s looking at you, 2022, with all the fashionable surprises you may have up your tie-dye, puff sleeves.

The Mumbai-based writer and restaurant reviewer is passionate about food, travel and luxury, not necessarily in that order.

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