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Fashion in 2020: Expectations vs. Reality

By Haylee Thorson

It’s safe to say that 2020 has not turned out the way anyone expected. From COVID-19 and Australian bushfires to murder hornets and UFO sightings—this year has felt like the beginning of a very bad apocalypse movie. With everything that’s been going on, it can feel silly to talk about “surface-level” topics like beauty or fashion. However, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from all of the fear and negativity and focus on things that make us feel better, even if it’s only for a second.

While 2020 was supposed to be one for the books in terms of fashion trends, it ended up being far different than anyone anticipated. Instead of cutouts and crochet, we got cozy sets and crop tops. Instead of fancy bermudas and faux feathers, we got face masks and faded sweats. Instead of split prints and sheer fabric, we got slippers and satin robes. As far as most of us were concerned, fashion in 2020 was completely canceled. With absolutely nowhere to go, all of the trends that we had seen on the runway at the beginning of the year, had faded into obscurity.

While it was fun to daydream about all of the outfits we would wear the second quarantine was over, things are looking a bit grim now that we’re officially six months into the year and we’re still stuck indoors. However, instead of letting the 2020 fashion predictions sink to oblivion, let’s take a look at what could’ve been versus what actually happened.

What Could’ve Been: Cutouts

Side cutouts were supposed to be all the rage in 2020. Whether they appeared in the form of a dress, shirt or swimsuit, they were going to absolutely dominate the fashion world. Unfortunately, we might have to wait until next year to see this trend re-emerge!

What Actually Happened: Cozy Sets

Ah, loungewear. The official uniform of the global pandemic. Silk sets, cotton sets, jersey sets — you name it — this fashion trend was hands down the best thing to come out of quarantine. In fact, even when all of this is over, we hope this trend sticks around.

What Could’ve Been: Crochet

While crochet feels vaguely reminiscent of the early 2000’s, it was supposed to make a huge comeback this year. With visions of crocheted purses, dresses and hats dancing in our heads, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed that this one didn’t play out.

What Actually Happened: Crop Tops

Crop tops aren’t just for teenagers and supermodels anymore! With summer approaching and being stuck indoors, crop tops are the perfect way to stay cool without feeling self-conscious. Throw one of these babies on with a pair of old sweats and you’ve got yourself an outfit!

What Could’ve Been: Fancy Bermudas

Personally, we are a bit glad that this one never ended up happening. There’s something about this style of pants that brings back visions of middle school and we couldn’t be happier that we won’t be forced to relive those memories.

What Actually Happened: Face Masks

Face masks are undoubtedly the accessory of 2020. Whether they’re homemade or store bought, there’s something so comforting about protecting ourselves from disease and getting to hide our side profile at the same time.

What Could’ve Been: Faux Feathers

Faux feathers were yet another fashion trend that we had to say goodbye to in 2020. Whether they were used as an embellishment on a blouse or made up the entirety of a dress, these bad boys were gone far too soon.

What Actually Happened: Faded Sweats

Our old sweatpants have gotten heaps of use during 2020 and for that we will be eternally grateful. Whether they were worn during our weekly Zoom call or on our daily stroll around the neighborhood, they’ve been there for us no matter what.

What Could’ve Been: Split Prints

Split prints were one of the trends that we’re really sad about not happening. There’s something so playful and unique about two completely different patterns on an article of clothing and we hope that this trend will stick around in 2021.

What Actually Happened: Slippers

We’re not going to lie—slippers are infinitely better than shoes. Whether they are in flip flop form, fluffy form or fuzzy form, slippers never fail to make your feet feel phenomenal. All we can say is, we are not looking forward to going back to heels after this.

What Could’ve Been: Sheer Fabric

There’s something about sheer fabric that feels so incredibly high-fashion. It could be the see through nature that leaves little to the imagination. Or it could be the level of breathability that keeps you from overheating. Either way, we’re here for it and hope it’s here to stay.

What Actually Happened: Satin Robes

Satin robes are a godsend and have gotten so much use this year. Because we’re all at home, robe wearing is no longer reserved as a post-shower treat. Now, we can wear robes whenever we want and nobody can make us feel bad about it!

Well, there you have it—2020 fashion expectations versus reality.

While the main purpose of this article was to poke fun at the vast differences between prediction and real life, there is something to be said about the types of things we choose to wear during times of stress and discomfort. The entire world is in a state of disarray right now and there’s only so much we can do on an individual level. Choosing to wear sweatpants and slippers everyday might not be the most fashionable choice, but we’re doing what we can to feel comfortable and grounded during such a crazy time. Even though 2020 fashion didn’t play out as expected, people are just trying their best to keep it together.

And hey, there’s always next year!

Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram.


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