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Looking back to look forward: The YStyle 2021 fashion and beauty forecast

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Feb 18, 2021 4:00 pm

Welcome, 2021, Take Two. That’s what this month feels like. After all the unpleasantness at the start of the year, now that we’ve welcomed the Lunar New Year, it finally feels like there’s hope.

There’s optimism with the spring/ summer collections making their way to stores, and a new season just begging you for a new look.

Some of us might be seeing these trends the second time around. There’s lots of nostalgia, imbibing the spirit of rebellion and freedom of decades past. 2020 came with a lot of lessons, and many are trying to shop more consciously, so a lot of classics are getting modernized.

Adapting to a world even with the coronavirus, we’re excited to go out. We’ll be donning looks that we’d love to show off. Maybe we’ll get to wear them out in public, among real, live people! But at the same time, they make you feel good — everything is tactile, the silhouettes make wearers stand tall, as we should. We’re going to need all the help that we can get to face this new year

In the mood for love

There are only two occasions where negative is actually positive this year: on your swab test, and in the strategic negative space of your clothes. After a year of slouchy and cozy athleisure, we’re ready to shed the comfy layers with a subliminal approach to sexiness.

  Sexy is back at Bottega Veneta, Versace, and Givenchy Spring/Summer 2021.

Curve-hugging ribbed knitwear will be 2021’s answer to 2020’s sweats and dusters. Body clinging, but in no way constricting, the latest offerings such as those by Bottega Veneta (Greenbelt 4, Makati) are comfy enough for staying at home but cute enough for stepping out. Think a curve-hugging, slinky knit cardigan à la Versace (The Shoppes at Solaire, Pasay), unbuttoned to the sternum, revealing a bra top for a flash of skin.

The opposite of Zoom tops, 2021 is going to be all about looks that need 360-degree appreciation in the form of slits, cutouts, or one big party-in-the-back over at Givenchy (Greenbelt 4, Makati and Shangri-La Plaza Mall).

The opposite of Zoom tops, 2021 is going to be all about looks that need 360-degree appreciation in the form of slits, cutouts, or one big party-in-the-back over at Givenchy.

The ‘80s called

Last year was a big challenge for haircuts. Chances are, you or someone you know played barber and hairstylist, chopping bangs, trimming layers, shaving a buzz cut. This willingness for drastic change is carrying over into 2021.

Now that we’re learning hairstyling from YouTube University and salons have opened up, the grooviest decade is coming up as inspiration as the mullet shows up on Rihanna, the shag on Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift, and a chic combination of the two on Euphoria star Barbie Ferreira.

  Tight curls are back in a big way, as seen on Blackpink’s Jisoo and Dyson’s trend report using the AirWrap.

Curls are back in a big way from Selena Gomez to Blackpink’s Jisoo that Dyson released a tutorial using its Coanda effect-powered AirWrap, now in Iron/Red (

The forever bag is here to stay

  Dior, Gucci, and Prada’s newest bags are all modernized classics.

I asked my friends in the frontlines of luxury retail what the top “one percent” are buying in these difficult times. While handbag sales fell 19 percent globally compared to an overall luxury goods decline of 16 percent (according to Euromonitor International), sales of bags by heritage brands remain robust.

Customers are investing in classics that they will love for a lifetime, maybe even hand down to the next generation. It’s the handbags that hold currency even when we hardly leave the house. Popular examples are Dior’s modern take on the Princess Diana favorite, Lady D-lite (available at The Shoppes at Solaire), Gucci’s spin on the 1960s Jackie (Greenbelt 4, Makati), and Prada’s sleek refresh of the sculptural Cleo from the ‘90s (Greenbelt 4, Makati). With their shoulder and top handle straps, these silhouettes fit nicely in the crook of our carefully sanitized arms now that we’re all about keeping our goods close to our bodies.

Un-sexy beauty Is hot

  Making way for the Lipstick Index is the Moisturizer Index, from mists to oils and luxe lip balms.

Unlike the 2000s, there was no Lipstick Index last year. In fact, lipstick sales plummeted 49 percent. Instead, we have the Moisturizer Index, according to Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda, with moisturizer replacing lipstick as the small but significant beauty indulgence that pepped the spirits and defied the economic downturn.

It makes sense, with all the handwashing and the dryness from being cooped up inside. With the change in people’s routines, mist formulations like Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray and oils like Wishful Get Even Rose Oil (both at are here to stay, especially now that dewy, mascne-free skin is the new foundation.

But that doesn’t mean puckers have gone bare. The taken-for-granted category of lip balms has since added cosmetic features like lipstick-level tinting, plumping and smoothing, from makeup brand Nars’ Soft Matte Tinted Lip Balm to the Birkin of lip balms, Hermès Lip Care Balm (

Blushing babes

Blush sales and searches are increasing this year, according to data provider Semrush and e-commerce partner Pattern’s data science team.

  Blush sales and searches are increasing this year, like this look on Korean beauty influencer Pony and Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton of Bridgerton.

And why not? Sure, wearing elaborate eye makeup compensates for the hardly-visible lipstick and contour under your face mask or lack thereof, but it can also feel like too much of an effort.

Blush can be as dramatic or as effortless as you’d like. You can complete your ‘80s-inspired hair with a bold, contouring swipe of fuchsia. Or you can only dab blush on the fleshiest parts of your cheeks and instantly look healthier and more rested.

For the latter, the most fuss-free out of them all is Nudestix’s collaboration with Korean beauty influencer Pony Park, Nude Bloom, a four-piece collection in a chubby crayon stick format that centers on a perfectly flushed glow that’s not unlike any of your favorite K-drama leads (

Bingeing steamy period pieces instead? While it’s hard to tell whether we’re seeing blush or sensitive-skinned Elle Fanning’s reported rash at Hulu’s “anti-historical” The Great, Daphne Bridgerton, the leading lady of the steamy Netflix period piece Bridgerton played by Phoebe Dynevor actually uses Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip and Cheek Cream in a lovely muted mauve called Lillium (

Banner photo: Rihanna, Barbie Ferreira, and Dua Lipa in the year’s haircut trend.