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Fashion is never finished. Constantly growing and changing, it can be both exciting and daunting to keep up with the latest and greatest trends. But if you consider yourself a stylish man, you’ve got to make sure you’re in the know so you can continue to put together the best looks.
With this in mind, we here at SPY have pieced together four trends you’ll want to get to know for the year and four you’ll want to leave behind. Some of the trends on this list may surprise you, while others on here might leave you without anything to wear. Regardless, here are our predictions for men’s fashion trends in 2021.
Trends On the Way In
1. Outdoor (aka “Gorp”) Clothes
I find it fascinating in a year wherein so many of us are still stuck inside that clothes tailor-made for the outdoors are becoming prevalent. Things like fleece jackets and hiking pants are staples of the “gorpcore” (a phrase first coined by The Cut in 2017) trend which sees clothing ready-made for the woods hitting the streets and suburbs. The benefits of these highly-technical pieces —moisture-wicking, comfort, handy storage — make them great to incorporate with more traditional clothing, which means you feel cozy and look trendy when you slip on a fleece during your next Zoom call or toss on a pair of hiking pants when you take the dog for a walk.
Fjällräven Vidda Pro Hiking Pants
2. 70s Swagger
Celebrities like Tyler, the Creator and Harry Styles have kept the bold, patterned dream of the 1970s alive over the last few years, but now it’s time for everyone else to do the same. Here, we’re talking about plaid sportcoats, patterned pants, striking sweater vests and more. Warmer hues, like burnt orange, are also your friend — especially if you can get a pattern involved in the mix as well. And feel free to play with fun textures, too, like layering a mohair cardigan with some wool pants.
Sid Mashburn Virgil No. 3 Jacket
3. Return of the Birkenstock
Hot off a year of high-profile collaborations (including a fantastic one with Stussy), Birkenstocks are back in full force. Whether it’s a shearling-lined clog or true sandal, the shoe millennial kids had to have is now the shoe millennial adults should have in their rotation. Comfortable and supportive, they’ll pair with just about every single outfit and look you can manage to pull together. And they’re great for wearing around the house and for stepping outside to grab the mail or run to the store to grab some food, making them rather versatile.
Birkenstock Boston Clog Shoe
Cardigans are one of those knits that are incredibly ubiquitous, making them a great piece to incorporate into your wardrobe. While any cardigan will be on point for this year, we prefer ones that are slightly oversized, with bright colors and even bolder patterns. Invest in a nicer one that’s made with a hefty fabric like wool or cashmere, and you can maybe even get away with using a cardigan as a jacket replacement.
Norse Projects Adam Wool Cardigan
Trends On the Way Out
1. Tiny Sunglasses
The tiny sunglasses trend, which harkened back to the shades you’d see in late 90s, made an explosive return in recent years thanks to your favorite Instagram influencer. However, they’re certainly on their way out now. In their place, we prefer something more traditional like a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which feel are inherently timeless no matter the decade.
Ray-Ban Wayfarer Folding Sunglasses
2. Skinny Pants
The days of having your legs trapped in skinny jeans tighter than sausage casings are long over. We’re not advocating you give up on tailored or even tapered pants, but after a decade run, the reign of the skinny pant has come to an end. Think of moving from skinny jeans to slim straight or even straight-leg pants instead. Or, if you’re feeling really bold, feel free to spring for a pair of pleated wide-leg pants to show how far the other way you’ve gone.
Gap Straight Fit Chinos
3. Power Down the Electric Colors
If you’ve powered up your outfits with neon greens, electric blues and so forth, it’s time to turn off the lights. Instead of bright colors, trends have definitely shifted to bold patterns and materials with softer shades. Think more autumnal hues instead of construction worker safety colors and you’ll be well on your way.
L.L. Bean Chamois Plaid Shirt
4. De-flate Those Dad Sneakers
After a few years of sneakers with a width that could double as flotation devices, sneakers are finally coming back down to earth. If you’re still looking for a thick shoe, chunky boots are very much alive and well (thanks to a gorp-related boost) but the days of big kicks are done. Think instead about reaching for basketball shoes like Air Jordans or even a standard pair of Vans if you’re interested in a pair of kicks for the new year.
Vans Old Skool SK8 Low