It was a true spring awakening this year as everyone emerged from what seemed like an endless cycle of quarantines and lockdowns that 2020 and early 2021 brought upon us due to coronavirus. As vaccines became widely available and business reopened to full capacity, the fashionable among us were more than ready to leave their homes with a new look. From an interest in “dressing up again” to the arrival of the celebrity-driven glam rock star-inspired looks on the red carpet, men’s fashion trends of 2021 had something for everyone.
Even a lay fashion critic could not say menswear was boring this year, as there were plenty of unexpected trends, too. Influences from the wild west, crop tops, and short shorts – thanks Milo Ventimiglia – made a surprising impact on the zeitgeist, while refined tonal dressing and platform soles continued to gain traction.
Menswear designers were having more fun this year, too, as the joy of leaving their home offices and reentering an in-person market served up much inspiration. From color clashing to amped up prints, adventurous silhouettes, matching sets, and the cementing of the man bag trend, designers were not afraid to test the limits of men’s fashion appetites in 2021.
Here, FN rounds up some of the best and perhaps more questionable men’s fashion trends that defined 2021.
The Best: A New Business Casual
While not everyone was ready to shed their sweats from 2020, comfort was still top of mind this year even as people began to return to the office. This conundrum ultimately led to a relaxation of some of the more stiff office dress codes for men. Woven shirts and ties were traded in for luxury knits as layers underneath soft-constructed suits. Sneakers were swapped with dress shoes, and colorful accessories were added for personality. This new look is best seen in collections from Italian luxury brand Brunello Cucinelli, which has admittedly always found a beautiful mix of casual meets formal. An unexpected leader in this trend was also found in the Seventh Collection from Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God.
The Best: Double-Breasted Suits
Perhaps a nod to the natural “sprezzatura” of Italian men, double-breasted suits are making a comeback. A staple of New York’s “Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Psycho” era, these suits got a modern update in new fabrications and colorways seen from the peacocks of Pitti Uomo 100 in Florence this June to multiple red carpets. Expect to see even more of these in 2022 as more men embrace their inner Patrick Bateman.
The Best: Relaxed Suiting
While we’re on the topic of suits, there is one more notable trend in this category emerging from 2021 – relaxed silhouettes, specifically in tailored clothing. Going back to wanting to be more comfortable in what you wear, men are embracing looser shapes when it comes to their suits. After all, who wants to wear a tight jacket and pants after being home for a year and a half? Shawn Mendes, Alton Mason, Justin Bieber, and Dan Levy were just a few of the men’s style stars wearing this trend in 2021.
The Best: Glam Rock Star
If you thought you saw a lot of glam menswear looks from celebrities this year on the red carpet, you weren’t wrong. Harry Styles and Machine Gun Kelly come to mind with their take on the update glam rock star-inspired look. These looks included details like sequins and feathers – two trims that aren’t typically featured on menswear garments. Designers like Alexander McQueen and Dior have also added more embellished items in their men’s collections. The jury is still out though on whether this will catch on in men’s daily wardrobes.
The Best: Tonal Dressing
Due to working from home and not leaving your house, some may have forgotten how to dress themselves nicely for work and events. This trend is perfect for those such people. Dressing all in one color, or in similar shades of one color, has taken over celebrity wardrobes this year. Valentino’s first men’s Couture collection also comes to mind for beautifully executing this concept. And, if you are little less adventurous with color choices, brands like Yeezy, Fear of God, and Zegna have dropped collections featuring a range of earth tones for men this year.
The Questionable: Western
Often one of the first things to come up when pondering iconic American fashion trends through history, “Western” style is making a comeback. Denim-on-demin, fringe, cowboy boots, large hats, all of these evoke the picture of the wild west. Designers brought these items to the forefront this year. From Dsquared2 to Ralph Lauren, and even Versace, which outfitted Maluma in a red Western-inspired look for this year’s Met Gala.
The Questionable: Short Shorts
It all started with that photo. No one could have imagined the social media storm that a seemingly innocent post-gym photo of actor Milo Ventimiglia caused. Sure, there were brands like Chubbies already touting shorter-inseam shorts, but Milo was credited this year as the catalyst for men to be comfortable with showing off their thighs. Prada and Fendi are hoping the trend continues to next spring/summer as both houses have included this silhouette in their next collections.
The Questionable: Crop Tops
Like short shorts, crop tops have reappeared in some men’s closets in 2021. Bad Bunny showed off his abs on Instagram this summer in a cut off long-sleeved knit. Evan Mock, always the adventurous one, also was seen in the trendy item. And, Fendi included a range of crop tops in its spring 2022 collection. The Italian luxury label offered a look at how gender-bending items like a crop top could be mixed in with signature menswear staples for a new, progressive look.
The Questionable: Hybrid Shoes
While this trend has undoubtedly started pre-pandemic, the need for comfy-meets-formal shoes were on the rise this year. The guys who didn’t want to wear a sneaker to the office, opted for models that offered a “dressier” take on comfortable footwear. Designers like Versace, Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Valentino all served up luxury offerings that delivered more traditional footwear styles – like brogues, loafers, and Chelsea boots – with comfortable sneaker style soles that added both height and interest to the shoes. Expect to see the same sole on men’s sandals come next spring.