Folks, get ready because there is so much to say about the fall 2020 fashion trends. This was a robust season full of simple and thoroughly wearable creations that still sparked our interest. I thoroughly enjoyed going through all of the collections presented in New York, London, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks and finding the patterns and consistencies that will ultimately become the fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends.
As is appropriate for a cold season, the number of coat options presented on the runways was massive, with so many different styles. In general, we noticed that most of the coat trends felt either cozy, puffy, or oversized, meant to ensconce and protect the wearer.
Volume, in general, was a big component not only of the coat-related trends but also of dresses, skirts, and sleeves, with a few designers interjecting volume all throughout their collections and others reserving it only to specific garments. This wasn’t frivolous volume – it was the kind of volume that protects the wearer, not like the armor of previous years, but like a cushion or a bubble.
I think this is a sign of collective fear and anxiety. Designers may have made strides to ensure that their business practices will make the world a better place (or at least not harm it), but they’re not convinced that things will get better, so it’s time to get under the covers and hide.
Beyond fear, the fall 2020 trends are also pragmatic – comfortable, tailored garments, simple silhouettes. We’re a little scared, and we’d much rather hibernate for the entirety of winter, but since we can’t, we ought to face it head-on without panic or hyperbole.
#1. Sustainable Stand Outs of Fall/ Winter 2020-21
Sustainability shouldn’t be a trend. I said this a few seasons ago, and fortunately, it seems as though designers had the same thing in mind, as more and more fashion labels find a way to decrease the ecological footprint of their business, and sometimes without making a big deal about it.
I want to give a quick nod to the eco-friendly statements and practices that different designers and labels showcased on the fall/ winter 2020 runways.
Marine Serre has become one of the most celebrated young designers of the last few years, and every year she puts the environment at the front and center of her shows. According to an interview with Vogue, more than 50% of her collection was upcycled, and she wanted to make a statement about wildfires with both staging and charred elements in the clothes, as well as about protection with coats, masks, and other garments.
The message Collina Strada wanted to put out there was on the kinds of changes people can make in their lives, especially when it comes to reducing their eco-footprint but shopping locally and growing their own food. Not for nothing, the collection was titled “Garden Ho,” with most clothes made out of upcycled dead stock.
Repurposed, recycled, and upcycled materials were also a big part of what we saw at Marni, Atlein, and Gabriela Hearst. Galliano introduced the “Recicla” label at Maison Margiela, where some of the pieces on the runways were repurposed from items found in charity shops.
There are more designers deserving to be mentioned here – Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney’s commitments to sustainability are well known, and there is also the statement-making, oil-spill layer of water models waded through at Balenciaga.
There are also brands that have achieved carbon neutrality, which include Gucci and Burberry, at least according to Vogue.
All of these labels and designers, not to mention the ones I missed out, deserve a lot of credit, but I’m still left with a bit of unease. Does it matter if high-end fashion is sustainable when the average person can’t afford anything but destructive fast fashion? Can any industry be genuinely sustainable under capitalism? How much of it is genuine, and how much of it is led by the need for good PR? I’m afraid an article documenting fashion trends can’t give answers.
#2. Voluminous and Oversized Coats
One of the most common coat silhouettes this season was very large and voluminous ones. These coats swallowed up the body in a way that felt cozy but also very sophisticated and high-class: the kind of coat to wear on the way to a gala or an evening at the opera to conceal a much more glamorous dress underneath. At the same time, these coats definitely offered a layer of space and protection, allowing to avoid too much interaction with the world.
Versace gave us a few different oversized coats, most of them based on a more voluminous trench coat design, with wider shoulders that gave the wearer a powerful effect instead of just swallowing them up. What we liked is that to change things up, a few of these coats were styled open and loose while others were styled with a belt at the waist to cinch things in.
At Maison Margiela, John Galliano went really eccentric with his oversized coats, with extra-long sleeves that gave them a “child playing in their parents’ clothes” feel.
Oversized coats at Chanel, Isabel Marant, and Marc Jacobs were all about chic, not overly embellished designs that exuded easy glamour, so we think they’ll be easy sellers.
#3. Figure-Hugging Coats
Standing in stark contrast to all the oversized coats are the tighter coats of the fall/ winter 2020-2021 fashion trends. These long coats were well-tailored and nipped it at the waist, so though they are still comfortable, they also flatter the silhouette. If puffy and oversized isn’t your speed, you’ll love these.
Chanel gave us the best of both worlds, contrasting larger coats with a few options in black or red tweed that had a high neckline or extra-long hemline, which helped to elongate the silhouette, while the cinched waist emphasized curves.
At Giambattista Valli, a dark gray coat covered in 3-dimensional floral appliqués wasn’t overly tight, but it was well-tailored to fit in close at the waist, giving a pretty, dress-like silhouette.
#4. Ethical Fur Coats
The runways were filled with glamorously big (even oversized) fur coats, but the increased awareness of animal rights meant that the precious material was actually faux fur more often than not.
Miuccia Prada has gone totally fur-free, so the playful fuzzy coats she presented at Miu Miu and the glamorous, soft brown coats she presented at Prada were all faux fur options that vegans and vegetarians can happily wear.
Faux fur coats are what made Shrimps famous, and this season the label’s Hannah Weiland put-together luxurious designs fit for royalty (inspired by Queen Elizabeth herself). The show opened with a vintage-inspired knee-length coat made of brown faux fur, with jeweled buttons at the center, though there were many classier faux fur options on display.
Other brands showcasing faux fur coats included Givenchy, Michael Kors Collection, and more.
#5. Trench Coats
Picking examples can be a tough job with a few of these fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends, and this especially applies to trench coats. Do we prize simplicity or look for the designers doing something different with the design? Do we profile designers who just gave us a lot of trench coat options? It looks like it’ll be a little bit of this and a little bit of that because nearly every label this season gave us a trench coat or two to consider.
There was something otherworldly about the minimalist ankle-length trench coats at Haider Ackermann. The show opened with a pristine white trench, and later on, there were a couple more in tan. The length, clean lines, and lack of embellishments made them striking and memorable.
A trench coat is a Burberry staple, so of course, there were plenty to drool over! This season, many of the coats were made of a fabric with a subtle tonal shift that may have been tie-dyed, as well as options that could be cinched with a ribbon instead of a belt.
#6. Capes and Caped Coats
This is another one of our top fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends. Capes are just really cool – they’re old-timey and suggest the beginning of a big adventure, but they can also be really regal and sophisticated. A lot of designers presented capes this season, but unfortunately, we only have the space to talk about a few.
At Celine, a long plaid cape paired perfectly with a long, pleated skirt and high-necked blouse, contributing to a casual, vintage-bourgeois vibe.
If you love the drama of a cape but require the convenience of a coat with proper buttons, look no further than Givenchy, Jason Wu, and Salvatore Ferragamo. The three collections were not overly similar otherwise, but all featured long, gray coats with capes attached to them instead of sleeves.
There were probably hundreds of more capes on the runways at Michael Kors, Ports 1961, Marc Jacobs, and many more.
#7. ‘70s and ‘60s Fashion
For the third season in a row, the seventies were still a key decade of inspiration, although the ‘60s also seeped in a little bit, and some looks were from straight in that middle period between the two decades!
There were some “dress-up” vibes on the Gucci runway (or perhaps a time-travel theme), which included a very late-60s look with ripped jeans and a yellow peasant top. High-waisted flared jeans and trousers at Chloé were pure ‘70s style, especially styled with earth-tone tops tucked in or with bomber jackets.
Celine’s interpretation of bourgeois ‘70s style continued with more pleats, more flared pants (albeit with a tighter fit this time around), lots of earth-tone suede, and even a polo dress.
#8. ‘40s Silhouettes
The ‘40s dresses this season didn’t feel demure or overly feminine – just beautiful without being restricting. We saw both more casual dresses reminiscent of the era, with more of an elongated silhouette, and more extravagant options with voluminous skirts.
The vibe at Rodarte was full-on neo-noir, starting from the very beginning with Bella Hadid’s polka-dot housewife dress, styled with a veil, mesh gloves, and a belt pulling the waist in tight.
Erdem played with satin and mixed patterns but ultimately put together both bias-cut and big-skirted dresses that recalled the 1940s, both thanks to styling with gloves and scarves and thanks to clear vintage markets like embellished or puffy sleeves.
Even Marc Jacobs gave a nod to the ‘40s, with a long-sleeved, bateau-neckline dress in green plaid worn with a small red hat.
#9. Equestrian Fashion
Realistically, only the bourgeois can afford a high-fashion wardrobe, while the rest of us have to pay attention to the trends, so we can find more affordable versions. Equestrian-inspired outfits, however, seem so tightly entwined with old money identity that we’re not sure how much of them will trickle down to the rest of us. That said, here’s to the horse girls the fall 2020 runway trends represented.
Tory Burch’s horse girl meets Victoriana still managed to charm us, with high necklines, billow sleeves, and boots worn over tight trousers. At Self-Portrait, a few models rocked Bermuda shorts, blazers, and long socks, which, topped with a horse-riding helmet, really drove home the equestrian vibe.
There plenty more looks fit for the stables of the 1%, including at Chanel, Michael Kors, and Roland Mouret.
#10. Victorian Necklines
The modesty of the fall/ winter 2020-2021 fashion trends isn’t prudish, and there are certainly some sultry and revealing exceptions, but as a whole, it seems like designers felt the need to give us some coverage and protection. One of the ways this expressed itself is with the Victorian necklines – high necks, a bit of ruffle, maybe even a ribbon, but rarely gracing complex silhouettes.
The Rodarte collection jumped around through eras just a bit, so while the ‘40s ruled, there were also some garments representing an even earlier time. These dresses (a few in light blue, one in deep red) all had high-collars decorated with ruffles, slightly cinched waist, and an otherwise flowy, flattering design.
There was something very powerful about the way Tory Burch utilized the high-necklines of the very early 20th century less in dresses and more in blouses, worn with or without high jackets and often with tight trousers.
We saw a few more Victorian necklines at Ulla Johnson, Paco Rabanne, Zimmermann, and Dolce & Gabbana.
#11. Long, Slinky Dresses
Long, slinky dresses prove that sexy doesn’t have to be short, tight, or complicated. We loved the huge variety of them that we saw on the runways! Many of them were specifically made of bias-cut fabrics, which allows the dresses to drape over the body in a way that highlights curves without constricting, making for a comfortable yet alluring design.
It’s always noticeable when someone changes course, and the switch to simple, slinkier silhouettes at Valentino is a good example of that. We’re used to elaborate creations from the label’s Pierpaolo Piccioli (all that gold and feathers last season, anyone?), but this time around, it was all about the elongated silhouette, exemplified by the shimmering red dress Adut Akech wore to close the show.
At Chalayan, those long dresses held an additional appeal thanks to deep V-necklines, which kept the very loose design from seeming dowdy. It was all about the slinky silhouettes at Olivier Theyskens, with a few dresses made of the shiniest black satin, with a few neckline and sleeve options that were all draping just so.
#12. Flowy, Modest Dresses
As much as we loved all the slinky dresses on the runways, there was also room to appreciate those flowy maxi dress-meets-caftan designs, which were augmented for fall/ winter with thicker fabrics and more appropriate fall 2020 colors.
There were plenty of these dresses available at Roksanda, from a short-sleeved brown, black, and blue patterned dress worn over a blue turtleneck top to a chocolate brown satin dress with slightly puffy sleeves. Even the Oscar de la Renta collection included such a dress in aquamarine with sleeves that puffed out a bit around the wrist and a flowy skirt striped with white.
There were more conservatively voluminous dresses at Petar Petrov, Lela Rose, Collina Strada, and Molly Goddard.
#13. Short, Loose Dresses
The fall 2020 fashion trends also had room for some flirty short dresses with loose silhouettes and long sleeves that looked practical enough for any cool-but-not-freezing weather occasion.
Marc Jacobs presented a bunch of these dresses, but our two favorites were a white one with long sleeves and a ruffled skirt, and a red one decorated with the cutest Peter Pan collar.
The Victoria Beckham show included a few flowy minis, but our favorites were the two extremely elegant, high-necked dresses that closed the show. They had extra flowy sleeves and were worn with boots so high that they ended under the hem of the skirt.
At Chanel, we spotted a celery-colored tweed dress with a similar silhouette that looked perfectly warm for autumn when worn with boots and polka-dot hose. Cynthia Rowley, Ulla Johnson, and Stine Goya also deserve credit for some super-cute short, flowy dresses.
#14. Asymmetrical Shoulder Reveals
There were a ton of off-the-shoulder fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends, but we’re starting with the asymmetrical off-the-shoulder necklines, which played with geometry and felt particularly creative as a result.
The cold shoulder was a serious motif at Proenza Schouler, with most of the designs looking as though the neckline of the garment was pulled off to the side to reveal the shoulder, while in others it looked more intentional – what was memorable was the cohesion that repeated shoulder reveal at the show.
Trends were combined at Ports 1961, where a rose-covered dress with a slinky, long design had a neckline pulled off to the side to reveal a hint of shoulder. We saw a few more examples of asymmetrical off-the-shoulder dresses at Oscar de la Renta and Tadashi Shoji.
#15. Bandage Off-the-Shoulder
For the fall 2020 fashion trends, we saw a very elegant twist on the off-the-shoulder look, with a sort of bandage-wrap style piece of fabric wrapped over the arms, giving a straight, continuous neckline and beautifully emphasizing the collarbone.
The prettiest dress in the Richard Malone collection was a bandage dress (and this is not a dig – we don’t think he was going for pretty). It was made of a partially transparent, patchwork fabric in brown, burnt sienna, and beige, with the folded-over, bandage part in a burnt sienna tone that also matched the accompanying bag.
To break up the asymmetrical touch at Proenza Schouler, there was one all-black look where both shoulders were revealed, with a folded-over, bandage-like element. At Adeam, a tiered orange dress was decorated with touches of black fringe, which was also sewn into the elastic, giving the off-the-shoulder effect.
We saw a few more examples of this off-the-shoulder design at Emilia Wickstead, Badgley Mischka, and more.
#16. One-Shoulder Dresses
Is wearing a one-shoulder dress in winter a dubious decision? Probably. Is it glamorous? This time around, at least, it is, because each one-shoulder dress presented on the fall/ winter runways was more luxurious than the previous one.
Christian Siriano did what he does best, presenting really gorgeous gowns with a few lovely cold shoulder options. Our favorites were slinky, metallic numbers (one in pink, another in black) with one long sleeve and a high slit showing off some leg.
The ‘60s-inspired Ashish runway was a lot of fun and featured a few one-shoulder dresses that would have fit right in the era, including a long column dress covered in paillettes arranged in a psychedelic print.
We also saw some more one-shoulder dresses on the runways of Christian Cowan and Self-Portrait.
#17. Ruffles, Tulle, and Petticoats
Do frilly petticoats remind anyone else of dressing up in princess and fairy costumes as a child? The playful, fantastical touch of ruffles and petticoats stands out to us in stark contrast, making it pretty clear that most of the other fall 2020 fashion trends were quite sober.
Molly Goddard always knows how to cheer us up! This time around, she did it by combining voluminous tulle skirts and dresses with cozy striped sweaters, often layering the tulle over the sweaters to show how we can keep warm and still have fun. Layering was also an important feature of how the petticoat skirts at Louis Vuitton were styled, often worn under puffy, unisex coats.
At Moschino, the tulle wasn’t just another element adding to the “let them eat cake,” late-18th century frivolity of the show. Noticeably, all of the tulle used this season was black (as opposed to the pastels opening the show or the brights closing it), and in one instance, even had a razored hemline that was a little edgier.
#18. Out of the Boudoir
The lines between underwear and outerwear continue to blur, with designers finding new and exciting ways to showcase intimates for fall 2020.
The triangle theme at Christopher Kane included a few triangle bras made of black lace and attached to become a provocative part of dresses or worn along with long skirts.
At David Koma, there were bras styled with dresses that purposefully revealed them as well as boned corsets and teddies worn cheekily over cyclist wear or denim. There were a few other sexy looks fit for the bedroom at Dior and Mugler.
Bandeaus have a different kind of sex appeal that is very different from other undergarments. They don’t feel quite as intimate, so they can be lifesavers under loose tops or super chic when worn with high-waisted bottoms.
That was exactly how a memorable gray tweed bandeau was styled at Chanel, with a matching high-waisted gray skirt and a scarf tucked in at the center. David Koma took inspiration from trench coat designs with an outfit combination of a tan bandeau and high-waisted, tight skirt decorated with buttons and pockets.
Brandon Maxwell made bandeaus bridal, with a gorgeous high-waisted full skirt and a matching bandeau, with the torso covered by a transparent, veil-like scarf tied around the neck and over the shoulder.
#20. Caped Dresses
Royal, glamorous, and elegant – that’s the vibe the caped dresses presented on the runways exuded this season. They felt especially harmonious next to all the capes, like a red-carpet version of the ubiquitous outerwear.
The same cape addition applied to the coats at Givenchy was also added to a couple of black dresses, making models look regal and sophisticated. At Balmain, flowy satin dresses with deep-V necklines were styled powerfully with thigh-high leather boots, long leather gloves, and satin capes in the same color as each dress wrapped around the neck.
The one casual example of a caped dress came from J.W. Anderson, in the form of short, knitted dresses with a cape in different-colored wool. There were many more caped dresses, making this one of the major evening wear trends, including at Rodarte, Ports 1961, Tadashi Shoji, and more.
#21. High Neck Jackets and Coats
Somehow, high-necked jackets and coats put out a serious vibe that a typical turtleneck just doesn’t have. They look modern and even futuristic in a post-apocalyptic kind of way, and most importantly – they’ll keep your neck warm if you forget a scarf.
We saw long, black, high-necked coats at Victoria Beckham, with a slightly oversized option to fit with the voluminous trend, and a tighter version to fit with the figure-hugging one.
There were tactical vibes to the oversized, high-necked coat we spotted at Chalayan, with cozy-looking lining at the neck and copious front pockets. For something a little less heavy-duty but still striking, Off-White presented high-necked jackets: one in militaristic olive and another made of light blue patent leather.
#22. Windbreaker Layers
Windbreakers offered a sporty outerwear option for those of you living somewhere that’s not cold enough for a heavy winter coat but is a little too wet or windy for a light jacket. They’re not the most glamorous of the fall 2020 fashion trends, but they’ll definitely give you a street style edge.
Versace gave a few windbreaker options, from simple and black to ultra-colorful, and what’s more, almost all of them were unisex! Some of these windbreakers also came with detachable inner-linings, which turn them into proper coats for colder climates.
The Louis Vuitton show opened with a few windbreaker linings on what seemed to be heavier coats, actually having a key part in setting the tone for the purposely mismatched styling of the show.
#23. Priestly Chic
A few designers decided to meditate on religion for the fall/ winter 2020-2021 fashion trends – or at least, that’s where they decided to take their inspiration from.
For Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia was explicit about taking his inspiration from the Orthodox priests he remembers from his childhood in Georgia. This resulted in a series of priestly black garments, each one slightly different to reflect different religious fashions.
Carolina Herrera combined a religious aesthetic with a bit of minimalist futurism and a ton of color. Wes Gordon presented both simple and not so simple robe dresses tied off with a tasseled cord that brought to mind the belts monks wear.
Even Gucci showcased a few looks clearly inspired by priests or puritans, with large crosses, capotains, and a lot of black.
Sure, there are a ton of amazing coat options, but as an alternative, you can just wrap yourself in a blanket and go out into the cold as cozy as can be. Are designers predicting a full year of social isolation? Do they just want to give us the sartorial equivalent of a warm hug? Whatever the case, I’m into it.
At Gabriela Hearst, models were swaddled in knitted blankets, with one in vivid yellow and a second in white with abstract streaks of color. The blankets also embodied the fringe trend, so they were fun but warm.
Blanket-style scarves at Proenza Schouler were less cozy and more glamorous since they were made of satin and clearly intended to be worn over eveningwear.
Finally, the blanket-scarf-cape hybrids that every former goth kid is going to die for were presented at Libertine. It was a sepia-toned creation covered in a skull print that reminded us of Renaissance painting of hell, worn over a matching sweater.
We also saw blankets at Chloe, Balmain, and Givenchy.
If it can cover us and keep us warm, rest assured it was presented in the fall/ winter 2020-21 fashion trends! Ponchos are yet another option that we like, especially for autumn, and despite their slightly silly reputation, rest assured everything presented was gorgeous.
The Isabel Marant show opened with a poncho! The massive, white poncho went down past the knees and was fitted with a white hood. A similar black poncho made an appearance later on in the show. Both had a minimalist flair that would give dozens of styling options.
Max Mara also opened with a poncho – it had some witchy vibes because of its length and color, but the material it was made of, and the hood managed to give us sporty hoodie vibes as well.
At Etro, ponchos had a South American flair, with woven gaucho blankets transformed into short ponchos with fringed edges.
#26. Sleeping Bag Coats
If you thought blankets as a fashion item were already a stretch, we’re not sure how you’ll react to sleeping bag coats!
These puffy coats, one presented at Kenzo and another at Marine Serre looked exactly like sleeping bags with the bottom cut open, and a hood that connected in a continuous line to the coat, guaranteeing total coverage, warmth, and protection.
One of the parkas at Max Mara may have also qualified, thanks to its puffy, all-covering design, although it did look a bit more practical.
Does a fabric more luxurious than velvet exist? We’re highly doubtful. It’s a soft, warm material that feels super fancy, and we loved its various iterations in the fall 2020 fashion trends.
There was quite a bit of velvet at Oscar de la Renta, with our favorites being a pair of cocktail dresses that came towards the end of the show, with slightly puffy sleeves, a wrapped skirt design, and side cut-outs revealing corset boning.
Armani, which prudently canceled a planned showing at Milan Fashion Week and instead streamed the collection online, featured a series of romantic black velvet jackets worn with colorful trousers or skirts. The fabric continued to feature heavily throughout the collection in dresses, trousers, and even jackets.
At Zimmermann, bright blue velvet was an awesome choice for loose, high-waisted trousers, though the material in other shades was also used for a pair of overalls and many dresses and skirts.
There was so much more velvet that it’d be impossible to list it all, but other labels that deserve a mention include Isabel Marant, Adeam, and Off-White.
#28. Quilt Coats
Quilt coats continue the fall season’s theme of “I’m outside but I’d much rather be home.” Made with plush and often shiny quilted fabric, these coats are insulating and cute (usually coming in lighter colors).
The otherwise fairly dark Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga runways both featured pink quilted options. At McQueen, the delicate trench was styled with a punk twist, which included a black belt and high black boots. At Balenciaga, the pink, floral quilt was actually made into a frilly dress, though there was also a black quilted coat covered in a blue floral print.
Jason Wu broke away from the pack by presenting a quilted coat in black. The shiny coat had a long, streamlined silhouette despite the puffiness of the quilting, and even helped give an hourglass figure thanks to the slim belt that was keeping it cinched.
We also saw some quilted coats at Kwaidan Collection, LaQuan Smith, and Erdem.
Cardigans are an autumn staple, and we loved the various options presented for the fall 2020 fashion trends. They are the ideal soft, semi-casual alternative to jackets, and while in previous seasons, they felt very “granny chic,” this time around the vibe wasn’t so old or twee.
No one expected the Dolce & Gabbana show to start with a series of all-black outfits topped with slouchy wool cardigans of various lengths (including a crocheted one styled to look as punk as can be).
A long, gray cardigan at Christopher Kane was worn slightly open to reveal a bandeau top, and was kept lightly fastened with a blue jelly shape of the story the label had introduced in previous seasons.
The patchwork mishmash of knits at Marni resulted in a couple of off-kilter cardigan dresses that (perhaps unintentionally) exuded a ‘90s grunge vibe, made of large patches of wool in autumnal shades like mustard yellow and deep red.
#30. Pleated Skirt Suits
One element to come out of designers’ collective obsession with ‘70s bourgeois fashion was so oddly specific that we are sure it will become overreaching. Everyone else is calling it “the skirt suit,” but we want to narrow it down a touch further: what we’ve been seeing is suits with long, pleated skirts fitting for a ‘70s businesswoman.
This trend started with Celine last year, but Hedi Slimane moved on to something a hint more casual, and other designers decided to take on the look. Gabriela Hearst gave us a few pleated skirt suit options with calf-length skirts and sleek but not overly tight jackets in beige, yellow, or black.
There were a few pleated skirts and jacket looks at Michael Kors, with a gray suit jacket, long gray skirt, and a large tie ensemble giving a very direct nod to traditional suiting. Other designers to present their takes on skirt suits for the fall 2020 fashion trends included Chloé and Christian Dior, as well.
#31. Leather Suits
There was no shortage of leather-based fall 2020 runway trends, but leather suits, in particular, brought a more professional twist to the fabric usually reserved for outerwear and daring nightwear.
At Hermès, a suit made of leather combined trends, with a long, pleated skirt made of black leather, worn with a hip-length leather jacket and boots that went up past the hemline of the skirt. We spotted a remarkably similar look at Fendi, although the leather suit was made of toffee brown leather with a large-sleeved jacket elegantly cinched at the waist.
We always expect cool leather creations from Salvatore Ferragamo, and this season was no different with a shiny, chocolate brown leather suit with a pair of tailored but comfortable-looking trousers and a chic jacket with a collar and diagonal side zipper.
There were more leather suits at Rachel Comey, Zadig & Voltaire, and Annakiki.
#32. Leather Dresses
Designers stretched our ideas of what leather can do, by making dresses in all kinds of designs, from the sexy and daring to the surprisingly femme.
We didn’t see as many warrior princesses at Alexander McQueen as in previous years, but that’s not to say they weren’t there. There were a few shockingly pretty leather dresses made of a swath of leather wrapped over a corset, with a belt defining the waist.
On the LaQuan Smith runways, short leather dresses gave off bad girl vibes, with long black gloves adding to that effect. At Anna Sui, leather dresses had a witchy vibe, with feminine details like sweetheart necklines and ruffles, and combined with romantic goth accessories.
There were more leather dresses at Mugler and Gabriela Hearst.
#33. Scout and School Kid Chic
Despite the overall maturity of the fall/ winter 2020-21 fashion trends, children’s uniforms still somehow managed to break through on a few runways, bringing with them an air of nostalgia to more innocent times.
Margaret Howell leaned hard into this aesthetic, channeling girl guide and boy scout uniforms in her creations, including a lot of tan button-up shirts, pleated skirts, Bermuda shorts, kerchiefs, bucket hats, and black knee-high socks.
Galliano’s scouts at Maison Margiela wore comically oversized and square-shaped coats that looked a lot like girl guide blouses thanks to ribbons at the neck, with pleated skirts, and in a few instances even bucket hats.
Models walked the Thom Browne runway two by two, which only reinforced the uniform feel of the collection. They wore the kinds of blazers we’d expect to see on posh British schoolkids, pleated and plaid skirts, and lacy Mary Janes with thick socks pulled up.
Shearling is having a slow and steady rise, and though we’ve seen it in seasons past, it’s definitely increased in ubiquity for the fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends. Made of wool, this soft material exudes warmth and can be adapted for all kinds of styles.
For ethical shearling, look to Stella McCartney, who presented fuzzy coats that had the same allure as fur but were made of responsibly sourced and cruelty-free wool. The long, warm coats in beige or toffee are easy, wearable crowd-pleasers.
On a small scale, we had leather coats with shearling-lined collars at Valentino putting off biker vibes. Many other designers showcased shearling, often as a replacement for fur, including Petar Petrov and Celine.
#35. Puffy Cocoon Garments
There was also an artistic (or rather, more literal) spin on the idea of hiding in a protective cocoon or bubble of fabric, in the form of extra-voluminous and bubble-like dresses. These dresses weren’t designed to be flattering or practical, but they do convey the same message as many other garments this season.
Let’s start with Area, where a blue dress had a heart-shaped silhouette with balloon-like shoulders and a shape that only came to a tapered point at the feet. J.W. Anderson presented a few different voluminous silhouettes, including a few voluminous fuzzy dresses where, in order to achieve a balloon effect at the skirt, the fabric was folded under at the knees.
The Halpern runway was filled with sparkle, including a metallic, rainbow-striped dress that was very much designed like a massive balloon skirt but then slid over the head instead of fitted at the waist. We saw a few more cocoon dresses at Simone Rocha, Nina Ricci, and Guy Laroche.
#36. Architectural Hips
Like a peplum on steroids, big hip protrusions are another one of the more avant-garde fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends. It’s the kind of trend we expect to see the wilder pop divas have fun with, especially in music videos but also for the more eccentric red carpets.
The Moschino collection was clearly and explicitly inspired by 18th-century fashion, as was evidenced by the Marie Antoinette-like hair and by the very wide skirts which had the same circumference as an 18th-century number but a much shorter length.
Area also localized their cocoon theme to the hips, with a rounded heart shape at the skirt on a few dresses reminding us of a flower bloom. We saw a few more hip-focused creations at David Koma and Christian Siriano.
#37. Voluminous Sleeves
Volume was everywhere for the fall 2020 fashion trends, with puffy sleeves showing strong. Some designers looked to the past, with sleeves reminiscent of the 1900s, while others innovated with architectural sleeves.
One of the motifs running through the Fendi show was a geometric twist on puffy sleeves, where (instead of extending above the shoulders) the sleeves dropped a bit, to become voluminous and cylindrical at about armpit height. This design was used in large coats, jackets, dresses, and sweaters made for every occasion.
We saw leg o’ mutton sleeves at the highly romantic Rodarte show, decorating everything from gray skirt suits to blouses to vintage-inspired dresses.
Sitting somewhere between old-timey romances and modern drama, we have the mega-oversized sleeves on embroidered jewel-tone dresses at Dries Van Noten.
#38. Strong Shoulders
If you have to get out from under your cozy layers but are not quite ready to feel exposed, an outfit with strong shoulders might be exactly what you need. This was one of the fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends that will help us prepare to face the future with our shoulders square and our head held high!
The Balenciaga collection was truly memorable this season, with the extremely pointed shoulders being one of our favorite parts. Raised pointed shoulder pads gave models a slightly demonic and very powerful look, while in some instances, they really squared off the silhouettes, instead making them appear slightly cartoonish.
Vetements, now led by the brother of Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, presented a more down-to-earth version of those-hyper sharp shoulders, in jackets and coats that gave a squared-off silhouette as well. We saw more examples of strong shoulders at Isabel Marant, Collina Strada, and Christopher John Rogers.
All of the superheroes, celebs, and drag queens have finally had an impact on the major designers because latex finally had its fashion breakthrough in the fall 2020 runway trends.
We first noticed it at Saint Laurent, where many of the models wore tight latex leggings in black, red, or purple, often with blazers on top providing a professional contrast to the sexy bottoms. We saw a full latex suit at Balmain, including a surprisingly loose and slouchy latex blazer.
Sally LaPointe experimented with latex for thigh-high boots, and also showcased coated jersey tops and skirts that looked identical to latex but were likely a little more comfortable.
#40. Covered Faces
No designer could have predicted the Coronavirus outbreak, and, admittedly, we’ve been seeing masks and face coverings for a few seasons now. But yet, it’s impossible not to make the connection between surgical face masks and the glamorous masks we saw on the runways for the fall 2020 fashion trends.
Covered faces have been a staple for Richard Quinn since his very first major show in 2018, and for fall 2020, he presented an extra-glitzy version. The first few models to walk the runway wore glamorous pearl and jewel-covered full body stockings that also covered their heads, and over that, they wore blinged-out outfits to match.
The Maison Margiela show closed with a couple of dresses that looked as though they’d been made with the help of a hole puncher, with similarly-holey fabric wrapped around the models’ faces.
At Marine Serre, we know that covered faces were intended to make a serious statement about the climate or pollution, but the houndstooth mask she presented felt like a high-fashion reflection of what people look like on the street right now.
#41. Mix and Match
While most runway collections were styled pristinely so that everything matched, there were some standouts where the mixing and patching of colors and patterns was the point.
The styling at Louis Vuitton was very quirky, with sporty coats worn over frilly skirts or with pinstripe trousers and leather jackets over glittery cocktail dresses. Dries Van Noten went all out with tropical floral, plaid, and even snakeskin prints in vivids and jewel tones… all worn together in single outfits!
At this point, we expect clashing patterns and unusual combinations on the Gucci runway, where the styling manages to intrigue in new ways each year.
#42. Jewel Embellishments
The line between jewelry and clothing continued to blur on the runways, with designers using tiny appliqués and massive constructions to add glitz and glam to the fall 2020 runway trends.
Shiny black beads looked like polka dots at first, thoroughly covering slinky, see-through dresses at Mugler. Little brooches covered a few of the black dresses and jackets at Moschino, allowing them to better stand out next to all the color.
A few garments at Area were all jewelry, including the opening look, which included a top made of a heavy-looking twist of crystal-covered metal, and another look consisting of a skin-baring top and skirt pairing made entirely of a metallic fringe.
Others that presented jeweled garments included Lanvin, Erdem, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, and Y/Project.
#43. Sequins and Paillettes
Our main sources of playful glitz this season were sequins, followed by paillettes, their close relatives. They added some much-needed shine to an otherwise tame collection of fall 2020 fashion trends.
At first glance, the Ashish collection looked like it was simply made with colorful ‘60s prints, but on closer inspection, it became clear that the psychedelic patterns were all achieved with sequins and paillettes!
Sequins at Naeem Khan were very flirty, in the form of high-waisted trousers covered in the black, glittery things worn with a matching sequin-covered bandeau and a jewel-embellished jacket. There were also a few sequined dresses at Marc Jacobs in a few different colors and lengths.
#44. Feathery Touches
Last season, what we saw on the runways was an explosion of feathers, but for the fall 2020 fashion trends, designers dialed it back a bit, with touches of feathers embellishing garments rather than totally overwhelming them.
Jason Wu presented a number of dresses that were totally covered in feathers, from a delicate pale pink dress to an extra puffy all-black number. There was no shortage of feathers at Giambattista Valli, especially giving a fuzzy touch to otherwise serious skirt suits, as well as giving a playful fringe to capes and coats.
There were more feathers at Givenchy, Marine Serre, and Lanvin.
The swaying fringe that mesmerized us last year had been adapted to fit the cold a little better for the fall/ winter 2020-21 fashion trends. It was most common to see fringe added to long woven and knitted jackets for dresses.
At Bottega Veneta, the use of fringe was varied, with a few skirts totally fringed out from top to bottom as well as knitted dresses and jackets with the bottoms looking as though they had been shredded into a stringy fringe. Fringe also decorated a lot of knits at Gabriela Hearst, including colorful jackets and blanket capes, as well as a few soft satin scarves.
The fringe was all glamour at Tom Ford, with long, fitted skirts decorated with a very shiny fringe from top to bottom. We saw plenty of more fringe at Prada, Jil Sander, Roksanda, and more.
#46. Loose Trousers
Loose trousers are another one of the fall 2020 fashion trends moving towards practical, cozy comfort. There is also something a touch masculine and powerful about a pair of pants that isn’t skin-tight, especially in the way that they were styled on the runways.
Chanel guaranteed the chicness of slouchy trousers by presenting them in the brand’s iconic tweed, with buttons along the side that were styled open to give added flow and movement.
We felt a bit of a return to the early ‘aughts at Tom Ford, where loose trousers were worn mid-rise with shorter tops showing off a sliver of skin. The options were plentiful, from sweatpants-like materials to leopard print to a subtle gray suit plaid.
We also spotted some loose leather trousers for those bad girl comfort vibes at Self-Portrait and Khaite.
We’ve been seeing cutouts for a few seasons in a row now, and they continue into the fall 2020 runway trends. The sexy peek-a-boo trend features cutouts in garments – usually at the torso, to show off a bit of side, stomach, or chest.
Prabal Gurung played around with cutouts to show off skin, featuring multiple different dresses with side slits either on both sides or in an angle from one side to slightly over the stomach. The final gown, a stunning velvet creation, showed off the most skin with a large cutout over the side and hip that was surrounded with a crystal-studded edge.
Cutouts also featured heavily at Off-White, where Virgil Abloh added a large round hole to the side of a long white dress to show off nearly half of the model’s torso. We saw more cutouts and, by extension, lots of skin at Balmain, Marni, Versace, and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.
#48. Transparent Lace
Lace is normally seen as a sweet fabric, but because of its transparent nature, it can also be used in some extremely immodest ways, making for a provocative contrast that those with an irreverent streak won’t be able to resist.
This is exactly how Tom Ford used lace this season, crafting the tight, black see-through dress that Gigi Hadid wore, as well as a show-closing bridal gown, which only a few brides would be daring enough to wear.
Elie Saab’s red lace dress was designed with slightly puffy sleeves (trend!) and a pussy-bow around the neck. Since it was covered in a thick floral embroidery, it was only upon closer inspection that we realized just how much tantalizing leg showed.
What we didn’t expect was a pair of trousers made entirely of black lace on the Cynthia Rowley runway, which was later followed by a heavily ruffled black lace caftan. There were more seductive lace dresses at Paco Rabanne and Giambattista Valli.
#49. Half and Half Looks
As a relative to patchwork (which we identified as one of the fall 2020 print trends), half and half garments give a split down the middle effect for when you want to represent your internal duality on the outside.
Rokh combined trends, with a split-fabric trench coat that was half a classic beige and half a gray and black plaid pattern.
There were a few dresses at Givenchy that looked like they were made of a few scarves stitched together, but our favorite was a caftan with one colored a deep orange-brown shade and covered in a blue square pattern and the other half a sober black.
At Loewe, a lovely dress was presented where the torso portion was half cream-colored and half black with a beige floral print, while the tiered skirt portion was all made of that same black fabric. We saw more half-half looks at Monse, Off-White, and Tory Burch.
#50. Slouchy Suits
Genders were blurred on the runways this season, although it was more noticeable with men wearing what would have been considered strictly women’s wear in years past. One example going the other way around is the dapper women wearing slouchy suits that looked like a perfect way of staying comfortable in a cold office.
Loose trousers, blazers, and jackets were mostly cinched around the waist at Alberta Ferretti in a way that recalled the ‘80s, but there were also some proper slouchy suits that were still very much tailored but without pulling in where feminine curves usually exist.
Petar Petrov presented slouchy suits in white and gray with extra-long blazers and trousers that were still fitted and streamlined without being tight. Isabel Marant and Max Mara also presented a few slouchy suit options.
#51. Sweater Vests
A sweater vest has studious vibes. It’s a serious garment stereotypically favored by academics, and the runways didn’t change it up too much.
Knitted vests at Prada were decorated with pixelated ‘90s computer prints and styled with shredded skirts and short sleeves in a look that felt very proper despite holding some grunge elements.
Sweater vests were a good fit for the Lacoste brand, where we saw both oversized and more fitted stripes and plaid options. There were more sweater vest options at Gucci and Dior.
#52. Wrap-Around Dress
Another personal favorite from the fall/ winter 2020 fashion trends was what I have dubbed the “wrap-around” dress. I’m not talking about a Diane Von Furstenberg-style wrap dress (although those are certainly lovely), but about dresses that incorporated scarf-like aspects in the way fabric had been wrapped around the body.
The final dress, worn by Kaia Gerber, at Ports 1961 looked like it was constructed out of a single swath of white fabric edged with black that was then wrapped and tied around the body like the classiest toga.
At Atlein, the wrap effect came into play in dresses made of contrasting materials, with pieces of snakeskin-printed fabric wrapped and folded into neat black fabric. There were more examples of these wrap-around dresses at Balenciaga, Burberry, Hugo Boss, and Tadashi Shoji.
Photos via Vogue